Pam’s Blue Bathroom: Things I’d Do Differently

Designing a bathroom is a tough job, because you must pack a lot of function into a small package. In this final video in my three-part series on my blue bathroom renovation, I spotlight several things that I woulda coulda shoulda done differently. That said, I’m very happy with the bathroom overall. I’m not one to have regrets. Note, the titles were not loaded into the end of this video, we discovered after uploading it via vimeo. So, argh, please ignore that woman at the end panning in and out. We’ll fix it sometime soon. Maybe.

Bathrooms are tough: See this followup: 84 costs to consider when remodeling your bathroom.


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  1. Guy H. says

    I love this one! This was my favorite of the 3 videos. The previous owner of my house was a senior citizen and we have grab bars in the shower. I actually find they are useful at any age.

    I understand your comment about the grout. I actually prefer the really dark grout for the floor. It is MUCH easier to clean!

    I love the waste paper basket!

    • Dena says

      I’m surprised WHITE outlet covers weren’t used, instead of the other color (whatever it is). I think that would look lots better. And those could still be changed!

  2. Elizabeth Mary says

    Hi Pam,

    Love the videos and all the handy helpful hints you have given. I do have one thing to offer and it has to do with your worry/concern about all the wall switches on the wall being ugly. Did you think of covering them with your wallpaper? I have seen that done and done so well that they just fade into the wall.

    Well, soon I am off to your neck of the woods today to visit my favorite craft show.

    Elizabeth Mary

  3. wendy says

    Great videos, thanks for taking the time to do them. The best tip I ever got was to test grout colors. Narrow your choices down to two or three. Glue 4 pieces of your tile to a scrap piece of plywood, leaving space for your intended grout line width. By pieces, I mean either 4 full pieces of your tile if it is small, or break one of your tiles into four pieces if you’re using 4 x 4’s. The edges don’t have to be straight, you just need to see how the grout looks with the tile. Set up as many as these 4 piece samples as you have grout colors to test. I was testing two grout colors, so I did two of these 4 piece sets on one piece of board, separating them by 8 or so inches. The glue you use doesn’t have to be anything special, just enough to hold the tiles on the board. Let dry overnight.

    Next, mix up small amounts of each color of grout. You’ll only need a couple tablespoons of the grout, but be sure and mix it to the consistency of peanut butter. Grout each sample, and let dry overnight. Gently wipe the haze off the tile. As Pam mentioned, grout will dry to a different color, and never matches the darned card on the display. I did 700 sf of tile in a previous home, and doing this saved me from making a terrible mistake in choosing my grout color!

    Where do you get just two or three tablespoons of grout? If you are working with a tile shop, just ask. They will probably give you some. If you are buying from one of the Big Box stores, buy the smallest boxes of grout available. A small investment to prevent huge regrets. To be honest, I took two tablespoons of grout out of each box, and returned the one I didn’t use. Bad girl!

    Another tip: When you are ready to grout your actual project, mix the dry grout well before adding the water. You want to get all the different grout ingredients dispersed evenly so the color will be uniform. If you need more than one box of grout, this is even more important, as bags or boxes of grout can be slightly different, even from the same batch number. Mix the bags/boxes together. You’ll have more than you need in your mixing pail – just pour the excess back into the bags or boxes, then proceed to add your water. Small steps like these go a long way to having a great looking finished product.

  4. Andrea says

    Hi Pam,

    Your bathroom videos are a great resource…especially for thinking through those pesky details like light switches. I agonize over every detail of everything and in the past have sacrificed function for “style.” But when you live with small annoyances every day you soon realize no one else would care if there were four switches in a row!

    I’m not completely renovating our turquoise bathroom but need to replace the tub, have some of the original tiles re-grouted, and replace a modern sink/vanity installed by previous owners with a more appropriate one (LOVE yours!).

    Your shower gives me a lot of ideas— if I can match my turquoise tiles, it would be great to just remove the tub and create a shower like yours. Hmmm…

    The videos were very timely—thanks for “catching me” before I’ve agonized my way into any decisions yet, so I can rethink it all!

  5. says

    I think all the things you would have done differently fall into a category: Looks over function. I think you need to take the time to really decide how you’re going to use the bathroom. Frame out the shower and stand in it. Is it wide enough? Sit on the toilet and reach for the paper. I’m not sure why all of your switches are separate – wouldn’t it be easier to have the overhead and vanity on one?

    Lots of good “think about it first” ideas here. Overall, your bathroom is very nice!

  6. says

    Pam, thanks I have really enjoyed your bathroom videos! I don’t have a mid-century home (mine was built in 1981), but I think these are great tips regardless of the time period of your house! Carrie

  7. G.G. says

    dark grout is absolutely the way to go – went with it and haven’t regretted for a second.

    It’s not that hard to move the switches- With a couple hour’s work you could easily put in a larger box by the door, get your timer installed and get the switches rearranged the way you want them. It might seem like a hassle beforehand but in the long run you would be glad you did it.

  8. Gavin Hastings says

    I put the primary light switches of the bathroom next to the bathroom doorway OUTSIDE in the hall. I am all for the “safe house as you age” idea and it just made sense not to enter a dark, hard room in the middle of the night. Fortunately, I haven’t gotten to that stage of life….YET..
    Don’t fret about your t.p. location-it is perfect for a house with children.

    • Gavin Hastings says

      Oh…and because this house sees alot of entertaining- I put the bathroom lights on dimmers. Just a thought to share.

    • Maryanna says

      Isn’t this just *begging* for that prankster spouse of yours to turn the lights off while you’re taking care of business? Heehee!

    • says

      I thought I was the only one with the bathroom light switch on the outside. Guests can never figure it out. But, since the tub and shower is right next to the door it’s the only way to keep from getting electrocuted.

      • Gavin Hastings says

        Bill- Originally they were pull-chain fixtures, which meant you really had to enter the room in the dark. Due to a built-in; the hall was really the only choice…but to me-it makes perfect sense.

  9. Maryanna says

    I love the blue and white you’ve chosen. Very mid century style without freezing the bathroom in a particular decade.

  10. Franklin Smoot says

    Ya know, you can still have a timer with some minimal re-wiring….wire the overhead light to where the fan is currently switched, then put a timer where the overhead light switch currently is. I’d probably move the double switch to be nearest the door opening as well.

  11. says

    Now that the kitchen reno is over, I’m starting to plan the main bathroom reno! This was a very timely series! I will incorporate enough foundation to support a hand-rail which I can anticipate using in the future!

    (PS: We have the Grohe shower removable head that is adjustable on a shower bar which can accommodate different heights & abilities & eliminates the need for a second shower head. )

  12. says

    My house was built in 1959 and our bathroom light switch is outside the bathroom. There was no room for it inside the door. It works out fine.

    I love your bathroom, Pam. It’s timeless.

  13. S. R. says

    Our house had white tiles with white grout when we bought it, and both were filthy. I bought the best grout cleaner I have ever found at Ameritech Industries, but even better, they sell grout dye that is incredibly easy to use and works great. Our grout is now a dark gray, although I might have gone lighter (my husband would have gone even darker). They have many colors, so you can probably get that cement color you were thinking of (I don’t understand the differences in their dyes, but they are very responsive to questions–I just didn’t ask that one before I ordered). Two tips though: 1) They don’t take returns, so be sure of what you want when you order, and 2) Don’t buy their terribly overpriced knee pads–you can get the same for half the price at Amazon or Ebay. It turns out I didn’t need them at all, but I think my husband will find a use for them, the poor dear.

  14. Marta says

    I’d definitely cover the switch and outlet plates with wallpaper. It’s easy, and makes them all but disappear. Make sure you measure width and height with a soft tape measure for accuracy, and add a half inch to both for wrapping around to the back, which keeps the paper from lifting with repeated cleaning. Miter the corners by cutting out a ‘V’ that stops about 7/16″ into the 1/2″ overlap. Don’t be tempted to do full 90 degree miters; it leaves the corners more vulnerable to lifting/tearing.

    For the cleaning reason, instead of just cutting out the little rectangle for the switch, open it by laying the covered plate face down and cutting an ‘X’ about 1/16th” smaller than the rectangle so you can wrap the paper to the back. Same for the outlet holes, but those you can trim some off the ‘X’ points before wrapping if you want. Always use a fresh, clean blade for cutting, as wet wallpaper tears easily.

    To match the paper on cover and wall as close as possible, look at where the center point of the top edge of the installed uncovered plate hits the wallpaper pattern. Find that same point on the paper for your plate cover. Your match point for the top cut line will be 1/2″ above it. I find it easiest to have a template the size I need cut from a piece of cereal box with the top center marked. I line that up to the match point, make sure it’s square, mark it, then cut it out.

  15. Marta says

    Love the look of small tiles in bathrooms! I put 2″x2″ 40’s green tile on the floor in our main bath with a grey grout so dirt wouldn’t show. It’s been ten years, and it still looks great. But, I’ve since discovered a diy-friendly epoxy grout called SpectraLOCK that doesn’t stain and never needs sealing. We’re using it with hex-shaped tiles in a bath at my daughter’s 1880’s house, along with a new paint-on water/vibration barrier that’s eliminated some major sub-floor headaches.

    The tile/grout combo is white on white, and she has two small boys and a new puppy the size of a bulldozer. I figure we’ll know within 6 months if that grout’s going to stay white:). Here’s the link to the company:

    I did a lot of research on the product, and what I found was as long as you pay strict attention to the directions, the results are wonderful. They have some add-in products, too. You can make your grout glow in the dark, or glitter in the light. Wouldn’t glittery gold grout look great in an MCM bath that has white-with-gold thread/glitter laminate?

  16. KM says

    You are absolutely right about the fiberglass shower pans- they are harder to keep clean. If I had it to do over again, I’d go enamel on cast Iron, too.

    • pam kueber says

      I use Lysol Basin Tub and Tile cleaner on mine — the spray bottle, not aerosol. I let it sit a long time then wipe it down. I sometimes have to do this a couple of times. I don’t do it every week, but I think that if I did it would be easier. If I do this…. the fiberglass comes out great.

    • pam kueber says

      Cool! Thanks. I also see they have a double-switch cover plate. I would also need that because I have multiple switches together… Hmmmmmm

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