“The hard way”: Our new year’s tradition

pink-bathroom-fixtures.jpgWelcoming 2010, here’s the story that now has become our Retro Renovation new year’s tradition…kind of summing up the bumpy journey so many of us share:

We know about taking the road less traveled. To me, doing things the hard way has the same allure. The hunt for the perfect estate sale light fixture, the set of vintage cabinets that are just right, the document wallpaper that pulls things all together.

Honestly, the reason this blog even exists is that after completing big projects, I had so much info in my mental hard drive about the retro renovation alternatives available — all obsessively and endlessly researched — that it seemed a shame to simply be done with it when my projects were completed.

But the dangers of the hard way came into focus this week, when I pulled Palm Springs Stephan into the vortex.

A week ago Friday night I spotted the brand new, mint in box, never installed set of circa 1958 bathroom fixtures in this exact photo, on a forum. They’d just been posted. Hot! I happened to be emailing a bit with Stephan, and knew he was working on a bathroom reno.

Long story short, he was very excited about the prospect of pink fixtures and spent hours back-and-forth with the seller in Cheyenne, Wyoming, trying to certify the exact color, before he sent a certified check. Hours with a tile store to coordinate tile. Planned to switch the plumbing. Worked out shipping. At one point thought it was a done deal. Ultimately, though, the color didn’t pan out for him, and it’s back to plan A.

The moral of the story is — I guess — to know thyself. If you really truly want very special retro finds to complete your renovation vision, it’s gonna be a roller coaster. Requiring patience, tenacity, and a belief that once you put your vibes out there, the retro decorating gods will send you what you need. If you think that sounds fun — so then, will be doing it the hard way.

P.S. Anyone within driving distance of Cheyenne, Wyoming, interested in a set of brand new, mint in box, never been installed Crane bathroom fixtures? Tub, toilet with really cool seat, sink with chrome legs/towel bar, lav faucet, tub faucet. $1000. Email Gary, who seems very nice and appreciative of them, at: [item sold]. He can give you the whole story, which begins in North Dakota.

Oh yeah. They’re not really pink. They’re beige. Or taupe. Or a sandy pinky beigey taupe. Something like that. Buckle up.

This post was originally published Dec. 9, 2007, then again on Jan. 4, 2008.

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Comments

  1. Femme1 says

    But ya know what the really cool part is??? When I’ve found just the right thing (who knows…it could a light fixture, or a weird kitchen implement, or some vintage fabric from a junk store), and I don’t have a place for it, I put it away. Then, sometimes YEARS later, I’ll pull it out and whaddya know, it’ll fit in perfectly somewhere. I’ve had this happen with colors time and time again.

  2. 50sPam says

    I agree totally. About 10 years ago, I bought 20 linear feet of 60s pinch-pleat draperies. I literally took them down from a house at an estate sale. I lived in a 1985 home (long story). I had not even contemplated the home I live in now. Time passed, we moved, and the drapes were utterly perfect for our 1951 colonial-ranch. I had even sort of forgotten I’d bought them. For $20 Canadian, when that actually was even really cheaper!

  3. Femme1 says

    That pinky beige color was popular in the early sixties. It’s not a Mamie pink or a salmon pink. I’m sending Pam a photo (right now! I promise!) of a bathroom in the university building where I work. It was completed in 1960, and all the bathrooms are that pinky beige or blue.

    And remember that home economics classroom that Pam featured? It was completely filled with that same color metal cabinets.

    I appreciate that color more and more.

    • says

      There was a color called Sunset Tan that has some of the same qualities… I also think this pinky beige was offered by virtually all makers. A kind of “nude.” Today, you can get it as a tile – Rose Beige, I think it’s called – at Home Depot. I put this color in my small master bath, with white bullnose, floor and fixtures – and it’s quite nice!

  4. sumacsue says

    The moral is, to thine own self true. Then, maybe something great will come your way because your friends and relatives know who you are and what you like. Stephan’s race for the bathroom ensemble didn’t result in a victory, but, he got to go on the hunt because someone else, Pam, knew what he was looking for. Be confident in what you like, and let people know it. You might find what you want, you will have some fun along the way, and you’ll get to interact with some interesting people!

  5. lynngweeny says

    OMG Sunset Tan! Back in the late 70’s when I was going thru my surfer girl phase I painted the entire beautiful wood paneled interior of the vintage Airstream trailer I was living in, you guessed it, Sunset Tan. A total crime and I paid for it. The color looked like skin and for months after I felt like I was living in a human organ.

  6. sablemable says

    LOL, Pam! My husband had been retrieving MCM stuff from curbsides and dumpsters way before I was even into MCM! Of course, all of the stuff hasn’t budged from the garage or basement, but there are a lot of things that I don’t have to search for.

    Tomorrow we head down to Ft. Wayne, Indiana to pick up a pull-down light that was advertised on Craigslist. Retro Road Trip!

  7. says

    Know thyself, indeed! Equally as thrilling as finding mint, in-the-box finds, I think, is discovering new fixtures, etc. that are great reproductions. I know, I know — I just uttered a word akin to swearing when talking of authentic restoration. Still, there are wonderful places like Rejuvenation that have, for example, begun selling those great boomerang cabinet pulls for a bargain price. Although I still haven’t decided what to do with my cabinets (paint vs. refinish), it comforts me to know that my cabinet hardware will not require an exhaustive search.

  8. pam kueber says

    Jen — you are not blaspheming at all. This site is not narrowly about “authentic” — it’s about “harmonious.” I am all for new items that fit the bones of your home and combine the best of the old with the best of the new! When I first started trying to do my renovations about 6 years ago — there were few resources. Today – the number has dramatically grown. It’s all good!

  9. Kyle says

    I wonder if this was the “sandalwood” color my mother was so crazy about. It was a pinkish beige or pinkish brown. My parents married in 1959 and my mom had the house redecorated at that time. Our living room/dining room had sandalwood colored wallpaper and rugs, accented with turquoise, including a turquoise sofa and acqua-blue “Silver Pine” Franciscan china. She also had the kitchen painted in sandalwood and yellow, which wasn’t such a successful combination. She wanted sandalwood with a yellow accent wall, but the painters didn’t understand the instructions and she ended up with yellow walls and sandalwood-colored woodwork. It was quickly repainted “celery” and white, which lasted from the 60s into the 80s.

    • pam kueber says

      Hi Kyle, your mom sounds like fun! I think that sandalwood with aquas or mints or avocados make a great combination. In fact, this is what I have in my current bathroom. The 4×4 tile from Home Depot is called “Rose Beige” – same idea – I used white trim also from HD – very affordable.

  10. atomicbowler-dave says

    This is about doing things the hard way, isn’t it?
    I loved how the Craigslist poster that Shane referred to sold up the vintage toilet–“…actually flushes like they used to on one flush without plugging up as opposed to two or three..”!
    How true!
    See, RR types, we are environmentally ‘Green’ and conscientious in oh-so-many ways! We SAVE things, but we also SAVE water! I don’t know what fool thought up the low-flush mandate, but they obviously never go the bathroom, and definitely could not have had children!! We live with two of the new-school commodes at the time present, and in the garage we have 1/each simple plunger, 1/each compound plunger (watch the shoes!) and 1/each toilet snake! Never in my life have I plunged so much except perhaps when I lived in the sticks with a malfunctioning septic system!
    Probably the same folks who advocate the lo-flow showerheads that make one stay in the shower over twice as long in order to get properly clean, huh? Gotta love those actuary tables, I guess.
    There was a great ‘King of the Hill’ episode that dealt with those toilets–anybody remember?
    Dave

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