From French Provincial to Retro Modern: Mike and Lindsey’s pink bathroom before & after

“We went back and forth on just gutting the whole thing, but … [once] I …saw some cool examples of pink bathrooms and ideas from others, a plan started to form on how we could make it our own. Suddenly, pink was kinda cool.”

Lindsey and Mike

I am going to subtitle this story, “The versatility of midcentury bathrooms.” When Mike first sent me photos of his and wife Lindsey’s 1949 pink bathroom “before”, well, I kind of liked it. Very girly, blingy, French Provincial — a classic, enduring decorating style — the room was nicely done. However, Mike and Lindsey just weren’t feeling the frilly love. But rather than ditch the pink (indeed, Mike admits that at first, before they found our websites, they were in pink-shock), they kept the bones of the bathroom — the gorgeous pink tiles — and focused on making *relatively* easy cosmetic decorating changes that transformed the charming country pink bathroom into a retro modern pink bathroom. Such is the versatility of many midcentury bathrooms: 4″ ceramic tile is about as timeless as you can get in a bathroom. Except for during the 1950s, it’s never been hugely “In”. But, it has never been hugely “Out,” either. As a backdrop for any decorative look, 4″ ceramic bathroom tile is pretty darn versatile. It’s affordable, too — especially if it was there to begin with. Read on for Mike’s excellent story about this bathroom before-and-after transformation. Oh, and guess what? There is a second, even bigger pink bathroom in Mike and Lindsey’s 1949 house… But let’s start at the beginning… –>

Mike writes:

So here is our bathroom story….

The bathroom “before”

We will be completely honest and say that we did not love our pink bathrooms at first. During our house hunt in 2009 we were specifically looking for a mid century ranch. Lindsey and I were both moving from 1920’s era homes and had started to really get into vintage, mid century design and style. We both love original tiled bathrooms, but when we finally settled on this house, the pink bathrooms were not exactly what we were looking for. Pink!?? Green, blue, grey, or even black and white would have been great.. but two completely pink bathrooms…pink?…. not really sure about that…

We decided to leave the bathrooms alone as we tackled the rest of the house. We were just not sure what to do with them. We had no idea how to work with all that pink. But not too long after moving in, a loose piece of wallpaper got the better of me and I just could not resist reaching up and peeling it off… and I was off to the races with no real plan on what to do. We went back and forth on just gutting the whole thing, but I thought there must be a way to work with this all this pink. The tile seemed to be in good shape and I just could not bring myself to tear out one of the only original features left in the house. That was when I came across the “Save The Pink Bathrooms” site and Retrorenovation.com. I quickly saw some cool examples of pink bathrooms, ideas from others, and a plan started to form on how we could make it our own. Suddenly, pink was kinda cool.

I certainly understand what you are saying about the “before”. To each their own. The entire house was similar to the bathroom. I guess what I would call french country cottage? Although not our style, it was very well done and I appreciated all the effort and attention to detail the previous owners put into the house. it was owned by a young couple, similar to us, and they had spent the previous 3-4 years redoing the whole house, and then we went in and re-did it all over again lol…. so this house has gotten a lot of attention the last 10yrs, it probably has an identity crisis at this point :).

By far, the two biggest projects were renovating the floor and the built-in vanity.

The floor had been completely covered with a faux wood stick down linoleum. Who knows how long it had been there or what I would find under it. It was a painstaking process using a heat gun and putty knife to pull it up inch by inch. Once it was up, the thick glue left behind had to be scrapped off with a razor blade and the tile scrubbed with “goo off” over and over a again. I have well over 50 hours into that floor. Amazingly it turned out great and luckily ran into very few cracks or damaged tiles.

Bathroom floor with the laminate removed

The built in vanity had been given some sort of special paint/epoxy treatment to make it look like old crackled wood.

Not really sure what that was about or what it exactly was, but it definitely could not be painted over.

Hours were spent scraping off of every nook and cranny, filling damaged spots, sanded, and painted.

Then, on to removing the wallpaper…. After it was removed, the walls had to be skim coated, primed, and painted.

Shower door looked to be a replacement from the 80’s and showing signs of rust. Took a while to find a new one in a appropriate style, size, and reasonable price.

The sink and cabinet had seen better days and took up too much floor space in this narrow bathroom. We wanted to do the bathroom in a twist of vintage and new modern, so the wall mount sink from Duravit with the chrome legs was a good fit and a reasonable price. I could also tell a wall-mount sink with legs had been there originally because of the old mounting points on the walls and two spots on the tile floor where the legs would have rested. The chrome legs on the sink led to doing matching finishes in chrome on the boomerang hardware, towel bars, recessed toilet paper holder, recessed soap holder in the shower, and outlet covers.

A few finds from etsy on the vanity stool, art for the wall, and candle holders over the toilet rounded things off.

The light above the sink took forever to decide on. Have had three different lights there and finally rested on what we have now. Really wanted to do sconces on either side of the mirror, but that would have meant bringing in a electrician. In total we spent about $2K.

The pink master bathroom

We also have a all pink master bath that is the last room in the house for us to tackle… just started pulling up the same faux wood linoleum floor, oh what joy. (included a pic of the start on the master bath floor)

Resource Highlights:

Hardware: Rejuvenation boomerang drawer pulls.

Shower door:  Basco from The Shower Door Store.

Towel Bars, recessed soap dish, recessed toilet paper holder: All from Franklin Brass found searching through your blog posts

Sink: Duravit Happy D wall mount sink with chrome legs. Don’t recall where it was purchased, but was around $500 shipped.

Lighting: Above the back vanity, Eglo frosted globe light. Above sink, Jonathan Adler Havana light (*affiliate link)

Prints: Seller/artist on etsy.com — Tonya Newton, Gamma Gamma Hey — that I have bought a few prints from for the house.

Let us know if you need anything else

Thank you!

Mike and Lindsey

What can I say? Not much! Lindsey and Mike, you two did a fantastic job. And you are toooooo cute! Many thanks for so generously sharing your story, your photos and your resource list. Now, can’t wait to see your master bath when it’s done. Two pink bathrooms, happily renovated/renovating. You are a lucky — and smart! — pair. xoxo

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Comments

  1. MikeD says

    Thank you for featuring our bathroom Pam! Also thanks to all the other pink bathroom renovators from “Save The Pink Bathrooms”

  2. Becky says

    Fantastic job…though I will admit that I am a girly-girl and I like the before better. ; ) That being said, my mouth is still hanging open at the built-in, tiled vanity…I have never, ever seen that before. Now it is my Holy Grail of pink bathrooms!

  3. says

    Looks Great! what a difference.

    I, too, have had the pleasure of removing a glued down floor except in the opposite way. Years ago, my 11’x22′ kitchen in a 1924 house had 1970’s 1″ square tiles that were laid in a rubber grid. I spent HOURS with heat gun in hand and then glue remover after all pieces were up (the glue was thick and really stuck down) we revealed a maple floor.

    The point being, Mike, is that I soooo feel your pain. It’s really back breaking work and I’m so glad you stuck through it because that pink floor is gorgeous.

  4. says

    Looks great guys!

    I have also had the joy of using a heat gun to remove press and stick vinyl tile (off of original wood flooring in over half of my first house) it was tedious, messy, yucky work!

  5. JKaye says

    What this post shows is how flexible a pink bathroom can be. I really love the restyling of this bathroom because it looks so fresh and clean and has a sense of intelligence about it. A cerebral look, if you will. But, the French Provencial look was well executed and certainly worked well with the pink tile.

    I would like to know the brand and name of the paint color, and am curious as to how that color was chosen instead of going with some other color. Also, in that little strip of decorative tile, is there a little black dot, or am I imagining it? What I’m wondering is if the style of the tile strip had anything to do with the choosing of other decorative items that all have a round shape, and all work together so well without looking like they came in a boxed set.

    Sorry you have to take up another sticky floor in the master bath. Can’t wait to see the re-do of that room, and would love to see more of your home!

    • MikeD says

      Thank you all for the kinds words

      To answer a few of the questions:

      Paint color is “knitting needles” IIRC, from Sherwin Williams. It is a gray with a blue hue, depending on the light. If the window is open and there is natural light, you can definitely see the blue, but if it is just light from the fixtures it has a nice soft gray color. I chose the color because of some pink/gray tile color combo’s I have seen on past blog features. Kinda wanted a pink/gray/black color palate.The towels and rug are a slate gray color.

      The detail trim on the tile did indeed impact some choices. One of them was not doing a patterned wall paper, which we almost went with. The cut outs in the light fixture above the sink mimics the pattern in the tile detail.

      The curtain is actually made from a shower curtain from Target IIRC. Lindsey has made all the curtains/panels in the house her self (we have a lot, and none are store bought pre-made. Lindsey found fabric and made them all) We have had 3 or 4 different fabrics in that window at one point I think lol

      One thing about this redo is that we were in no hurry. It is the guest bath and does not get used a whole lot, so we had time for it to be down for a long time. I changed things several times and had time to hunt around and find just the right items, which took several tries.

      We sent Pam other pics of the house, as we have redone every room now except for the master bath. Pam is welcome to share them or I can post a link to photobucket if I can get them all loaded there

      -Mike

      • pam kueber says

        haha, yes, in doing this story, i saw that mike first contacted me in Nov. 2010! mike, hold off on the photo bucket – give me a chance to look at your rest-of-house shots — i may indeed do a follow up. also, what does “IIRC” mean?

        • MikeD says

          IIRC (if I recall correctly) lol

          We have “before” pictures of every room we saved from the realtors listing before we bought the house. Just like that before picture of the bathroom. There seems to be interest in compare and contract on the French Provincial style to ours. Just let me know, I am happy to upload all the before and after.

  6. Nate says

    While I do appreciate pink bathrooms, I have never really liked one. I LOVE what you have done. Absolutely amazing transformation. Congratulations. All of your hard work was definitely worth it!

    Oh, I have that exact wall heater in my 60’s apartment bathroom. So nice on the one cold morning that we have here in TX.

  7. Dianne K says

    You two did an awesome job on remodeling.I absolutely love the pink tiles and I am glad you left them…but I love the black and white curtain.It gives it a oh so vintage flair!!!

  8. Wendy M. says

    Wonderful job! I love the accessories you chose…the curtain, the prints, the candleholders…they all look great! I have great respect for all the time you put into your re-do…it looks like it was well worth it.

  9. marcia says

    i can not tell what color the walls are now? are they an advocado green color or are they a light blue? in one pic they look like blue and i like that best but in other pics they look greenish to me…?

  10. marcia says

    Great choices with the drawer pulls, the sink, the mirror, the light fixture and the wall art prints!

  11. Josh LaPorte says

    Wow! I love both versions but that’s an amazing re-do! I must admit that I am gradually starting to really embrace french provincial and mediterranean decor, maybe too many years of clean lines? The cool thing about french provincial is that it plays really nicely with modern; I mixed french provincial dining chairs with a chrome based glass dining table, super-ornate mirror frames in rooms full of very modern furniture…

    Guys, you did an amazing job! The bathroom looks fantastic and would probably convince others to keep their pink bathrooms!

  12. CC in Virginia says

    The “After” is such a huge improvement (in my humble opinion). The “after” retro-rendition is very well done and such a wonderful tribute to the pink bathrooms of the 1950s. Great job!

  13. says

    wow – you did the right thing! It looks wonderful and the gray walls are perfect! Sherwin-Williams rocks! Glad to see that there was a beautiful tile floor underneath that horrible faux wood flooring – light fixture is a great choice and only spending 2k? Can’t wait to see your next bath project :D

  14. Danny P says

    It hurts my soul when I watch one of those HGTV designers see a time capsule bathroom like this and immediately begin attacking the tile with a sledgehammer. All their bathrooms end up exactly alike with dark wood floors and shades of green and blue … which some designer will also bash with sledgehammers in 40 years or so.

  15. Jan says

    Excellent job – the floor would have driven me mad and I’d have stopped. I’m thrilled that you kept the original vanity.

    I also am a girly girl so I like the way it looked to begin with, but for a 50’s retro look, it’s terrific.

    I certainly want to see the other rooms – post that link to Photobucket!!

  16. Jennifer says

    Is that heater built-in? If not, was it always there or did you purchase it? I adore it!!

    We are about to move, and have a 50s blue bathroom currently.

    • MikeD says

      yes, it is original and built in. Never used it, not sure if a gas line is hooked up to it or not. Have one in the master bath as well

      • Jennifer says

        You should try and use it, see if it’s hooked up. I bet it would be nice on those cold winter mornings. :D

  17. Marta says

    Absolutely love everything you’ve done with one exception; I would have kept the skirted chair, and changed the bow to match the curtain. My favorite thing, though, is that great little running trim tile. So simple, but so beautiful.

    Great job, guys! Can’t wait to see what you’ve done with the rest of the house.

    • MikeD says

      The “before” picture is the previous owners items, it is one of the many pictures we saved from the realtor listing when it was for sale showing exactly how the house was from the previous owners.

  18. says

    We have the same boomerang pulls (but vintage originals) in our original pink and grey bathroom in our basement. Sadly the last original item in our pink master is a leaking shower, which is our next reno project/ gut job since the plumbers can’t find the leak :(

    It’s great to see others appreciate these rooms and the quality of the workmanship. As they say, if it ain’t broke…

  19. Maryanna says

    I love everything you’ve done here! Especially the fabric used for the curtain (any info on that?), and the boomerang pulls.

    One other question…do you have plans to replace the soap dish and toothbrush holder that had been mounted above the sink?

  20. says

    Wonderful job! The before was well-done for what it was, but the after is so sleek and clean! I don’t know why anyone would ever paste down that fake wood junk over a perfectly functional and lovely tile floor. So weird. I especially love the JA light fixture over the sink. I’ve been eyeing that collection for a while.

  21. Andi says

    Just an echo of all the accolades—fantastic, beautiful job! I liked the before version, and I love the after. Can especially empathize with all the agonizing on every minute detail…but your attention to those minute details really paid off!

  22. Kate H says

    Love it!
    What will you do about the little spots above the sink that something else was attached to, and now isn’t? Is there something you can put there to cover it up or do you have to find a new tile? What’s the best thing to do in this situation?

    • MikeD says

      Shoot, you notice them. lol

      That is one of the last little things I need to do, cover up those holes somehow. Pam posted that great info on World of Tile that has all the different pink 4×4 tiles available, but they require sending in a sample to match and I don’t have a tile I can remove to send them.

      I considered installing replacement soap holders, as that is what was there before. But how high I mounted the sink and the faucet I chose would make them awfully close to the faucet and might even interfere with it.

      Any suggestions?

  23. apsutter says

    I like them both but I’m glad that they replaced the sink and the blue paint looks lovely with the pink.

  24. Kersten says

    Looks fantastic! Oh, that floor- what a process, but oh my goodness, well worth the time and effort. There must be some sort of creative way to cover those holes in the tile above the faucet…

  25. says

    Whoaaaaaa…. gorgeous! The atomic candle holders and artwork, plus the cool light fixtures, and the curtains… it just pulls the whole thing together! Love the pink tile! Very inspirational. Thanks for sharing.

  26. MikeD says

    Don’t know if this info will get noticed, but thought I would post it since I was asked about it yesterday. On the shower door replacement, I saved about $100 by buying the standard door that comes with clear glass and then applying a frosted window film to it as opposed to paying the large up charge for it to come with frosted glass. It was not done for privacy reasons, but more for not having to worry about water spots showing on the clear glass every time the shower is used. We have hard water and if you have a glass shower door you better clean it after every use or it will look terrible in no time. The frosted also gives a nice soft look. You can also change up the look over time by going with different styles

    I think I got mine at the below link, but noticed that Lowe’s now sells it as well

    http://windowfilmworld.com/index.html

  27. Patrick Coffey says

    Wow Mike what a transformation. I will admit I am such a purist myself that I would have gone as far as to find a vintage toilet and sink, but I love the way you made that modern sink and toilet blend right into the vintage decor that was already there. It is very obvious that a lot of time and effort went into your retro renovation and I must say that the photos of the finish work show that all your effort was well spent, congratulations your bathroom looks fantastic

  28. Susi says

    Could in enquire of where you got the atomic candle holders over the toilet? I am about to retro renovate my bathroom and I love those guys! Thanks!

    • MikeD says

      I happened across them on http://www.etsy.com for like $15

      Just search under “vintage” and you will have pages and pages to look through. I had to paint the ones I got, I believe they were gold if I remember correctly.

  29. Sarah says

    Very cool! I’m looking at houses and am going to put an offer in on a 1960 ranch – only one owner and everything is original, including the pink bathroom. It has the cabinet style sink with a tile countertop.

    Wondering what you ended up doing with your master?

    Sarah

    • miked says

      I can say the master bath is officially underway at this point. Half the floor is done and the general plan is coming together in my head. Lindsey is 8 months prego, so things are a little slow going and probably will be for the rest of the year :). Goal is to be done by the end of the year and we will certainly send Pam a full run down

      -Mike

        • MikeD says

          LOL…. i may have a rude awakening on how this kid will impact my renovating time. The whole retro nursery redo has already cut into the bathrooms schedule! :)

          • pam kueber says

            Be super careful about kicking up dust — lead dust especially — now that a weebit is on the way. You know what I always say: Consult with properly licensed professionals!

  30. says

    We just bought a house built in 1934 with a pink bathroom that almost looks identical to this one. You’ve given me hope that we can make it look good. Can’t wait to see your next one!

    • MikeD says

      Thank very much!

      Looks like we might have a plumbing problem in the shower and the tile may have to come out to get to the pipes :( We will have to see….

      The master bath re-do has stalled a bit while I wait for the vanity to be built. But I think it will be pretty killer when done

  31. Bill says

    Greetings,
    Looking at this bathroom, I can almost compare it to mine in age. Except mine is yellow and black, with no shower. I have the built in vanity, and built in heater (which doesn’t works). However, someone installed 12 x 12 tiles (slate color) and an oversized vanity sink. The goal is a pedestal sink, and white tiles for the floors.
    Thanks
    Bill

  32. says

    What’s your paint color scheme on the walls, vanity and cabinet? The colors balance with the tiles so beautifully! We’re just beginning our search to replace our pink-tiled 1949 bathroom’s over-the-top yet period multi-colored floral wallpaper (kinda Dorothy Draperish, so I’m living with it for now), and I love the colors you’ve chosen. We’ve got the original Crane console sink, toilet and tub, plus a glam built-in vanity, but want to go for a bit more elegant and polished look, either with paint or wallpaper or a combination. Thanks for the inspiration! Adore the site, too.

  33. Cindy says

    Is that the original floor?

    I have a 60’s ranch style home with a bath with pink sink/tub and turquoise floor to half-way up wall tile. Trying to decide what to do with floor which previous owner put in… a white tile floor that doesn’t seem to work.

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