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. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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?

  4. apsutter says

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

  5. 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…

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. 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

  9. 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.

  10. 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!

  11. 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

  12. 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

  13. 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.

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