Retro Design Dilemma: Adding color to Terri’s 1960s bathroom

retro-bathroomDesignDilemmaReader Terri needs our help beautifying her 1960s bathroom, which received some 1980s updates that she will some day replace. Ultimately, Terri would like to replace the floor and vanity top. But for now, she’d like to work with what she has using paint, accessories and new light fixtures to help her love the house she’s in until she’s ready to commit to the more costly, longterm fixes. She’s given us an inspiration photo — and a letter — so read on, and get ready to offer your best design advice. 

80s-bathroomTerri writes:

I made the mistake of asking an interior design discussion website for help in sprucing up my vintagey bathroom! Of course no one listened to me when I told them I wasn’t removing the vanity and sink, flooring, etc. Although some day I might like to do that and put in something else, especially the sinks, as they are QUITE worn and cracked,  it just isn’t happening any time soon budget wise. So I picked out a 60’s-ish shower curtain ( which the design discussion site people all told me they didn’t like, but I love) Something to try to distract the eye from the cultured marble expanse on the other side!

My inspiration photo:

decorative-shower-curtainI may have originally said I would want to keep the shower curtain, but I am not adamant about that anymore!

retro-bathroommid-century-bath-vanityBut what to do with the vanity (paint?), the window covering, the wall paint color, the lighting fixtures? The medicine cabinet is going bye-bye. No wallpaper because of the texture on the walls.

retro-bathroom-closetI need:

  • Light fixtures
  • Window treatment
  • Mirror update
  • Wall color
  • Vanity/linen cabinet paint color
  • Towel/rug color

Thanks again for being a LOVE WHAT YOU HAVE place to go when we don’t want to gut everything.

Ok readers, let’s give Terri some ideas for paint, accessories and light fixtures.

Kate’s Flower Power Pretty Bathroom Makeover

retro colorful bathroomBoth Pam and I agreed that the main problem with Terri’s bathroom was that is was just too blah. Too much beige, not enough color, despite Terri’s attempt at adding some with the shower curtain. We like the pattern on the shower curtain that Terri chose, but the colors are to “muddy” to add the needed life to Terri’s space.

Whenever you are building a color scheme for an otherwise neutral bathroom, it is best to start with the shower curtain. Finding a shower curtain you like can help dictate the entire room’s color palette and really pull the space together. Pam found this Park B Smith Botanical Garden shower curtain at Bed Bath and Beyond for $25. The bright, happy colors really brighten up Terri’s bathroom. Then it was just a matter of choosing a color from the shower curtain to paint the walls. I chose the lighter, limey green because it looked good with the vanity top and I got the idea that Terri liked green from her “inspiration bathroom.”

green bathroom vanity

We mocked it up: Here’s the vanity painted the vanity the green color from Terri’s inspiration bathroom. Doesn’t look bad — but we are concerned that in this bathroom, the green makes the cultured vanity top (which Terri does not particularly like) stick out even more.

Next I would paint the entire vanity a crisp white, to make it feel clean and fresh. As you can see in the mock up, above, I tried “painting” the vanity green to mimic Terri’s inspiration bathroom. But alas — I felt that any shade I tried made the vanity — and that vanity top — a focal point. Perhaps in this case, that does not make sense, because Terri is trying to downplay the vanity top. So instead, Pam and I thought that ‘neutralizing’ the vanity and that vanity top — letting it recede — while adding strong color to the walls instead — could create the same colorful look Terri was going for.

For the towels, I would pick up one or two other colors in the shower curtain pattern, such as the red and orange. I found a rainbow of colorful towel options at Target in their essentials collection — including the “ripe red” and “super orange” towels shown above. Another Target find — this colorful flowered bath rug — coordinates with the shower curtain nicely. Of course Terri could also choose a solid rug in a coordinating color.

Pam offered another solution to jazz up the unattractive tile on Terri’s bathroom floor — cut to fit bathroom carpet. While not everyone will be a fan of this option, it would do the trick to inexpensively cover Terri’s bathroom floor. Most cut to fit bathroom carpet out there these days is neutral or greyed out, but I did find two places offering some more exciting colors:

Both Pam and I agree that Terri’s Hollywood bathroom light fixture is a classic choice that works well in the space. We noticed Terri’s bathroom mirror was delaminating a little around the edges and thought instead of replacing it, she might want to simply dress it up by adding a frame.

After searching around, I found Mirror Mate  — a company that makes custom sized frames that stick on to an existing bathroom mirror — which might work well for Terri. They don’t have any shiny chrome options, but their Broadway Brushed Chrome Slim Line bathroom mirror frame would look nice in Terri’s bathroom. The company also has several white frame options to consider.

I think the key here is to add some bold color to pep up the otherwise drab color scheme in Terri’s bathroom. Since Terri is on a budget, changing paint, adding a bright shower curtain and getting a few new colorful towels should allow her to make a change that will make her happy with her bathroom until the day comes when she can do a proper remodel of the space.

Pam’s In Mod We Trust Bathroom Makeover

retro mod bathroomOh you know me. I love me the crazy color. I saw this 1960s style “In Mod We Trust” shower curtain designed by Anderson Design Group for DENY, and I just had to see what it looked like in your bathroom, Terri. I agreed with Kate that based on your inspiration photo, the shower curtain you now have is “washed out” color. You can certainly go that route — heck, all the current fixtures in your bathroom are so neutral, you could go any color. But I do tend to think that adding the more saturated brighter colors well… brighten the space up — which seems to be your goal.

Once my mod shower curtain was in place, Kate and I tried a few of the different colors from the curtain as a wall curtain. Here’s the green — similar to the one in your inspiration photo. I then decided to go with an analogous color accessory set — yellow on the bath shelf from etsy seller TheGingerAppeal (spray paint it with a paint formulated to adhere to plastic)… on the mod mirror from etsy seller RavishingRetro (put bright color on that beige vanity top to brighten it up) and yellow in the fluffy, machine-washable cut-to-size carpet by Royale at Town House Linens (to cover the 1980s beige tiles). Then, how about orange and red towels – from the same collection at Target that Kate found. I tried the mockup just with orange. But then I added the red back — it adds a pop of strength the complement the strength of the green paint.

Thanks, Terri, for submitting your project! We look forward to finding out what you decide to do!

UPDATE: Thanks to all of the reader comments and advice Terri received from our Retro Design Dilemma, she was able to choose a direction for her bathroom. After some new paint and accessories, Terri is thrilled with the results.

blue-and-green-bathroomTerri writes:

The bathroom is FINISHED! Well, nothing for me is ever really finished, still could use a couple accessories… but at least ready to show off. I would love the readers to get an update so they can see how it went.

owl-shower-curtainowl-artI tried to get a blue-ish color to match the owls, but it came out a little blue-er than I would have liked. But it works. I bought a second shower curtain to make a curtain but didn’t quite like it, so I cut out a couple owls and modge podged them to canvas frames bought at the craft store and used a green polka dot for a valance. Oh, and what a difference a new door knob makes!

vintage-bathroom-vanitybathroom-mirrorsThe bright crisp white on vanity and trim made a huge difference! I got a new light fixture and new mirrors and whamo! I am really happy with it. Thanks for giving me the courage to break out of the blahs.
retro-bathroom-built-insThanks for all of your and everyone else’s suggestions!

What a difference a little color makes — great job Terri. Thanks so much for taking the time to share your “after” photos with all of us.


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  1. Mary Elizabeth says

    Good morning, Terri! I can see why you feel the need to get a temporary fix for your overly neutral bathroom until you can afford a complete restoration. I am the queen of little-by-little decorating changes. :-)

    Also, I can see what attracted you to that shower curtain. It looks Asian inspired. It has the predominant colors of your bath–gold, beige, and white–but it also has some other bolder colors. I’m looking forward to what Pam and Kate come up with, as usual, but to begin with, think about the bold colors in your shower curtain–like the burgundy and dark blue–and whether or not you would like to pick one of them to paint your cabinets, going with a lighter color (like the background color in the curtain) for the walls. Or do you want to shop for a new curtain that You don’t say what material they are made of or what kind of shape they are in, but are the boxes wood? If so, you may find that replacing the doors and drawer fronts would give the whole vanity a lift and might not be as expensive as you think.

    Also, if you have any sort of sewing skills at all (like hemming a skirt), if you buy a new shower curtain for different color inspiration, you can buy two of them and use the second one to make a matching valance or curtain for your window. And at the same time you pick out the paint colors, pick out several laminate and flooring samples that will help you look at the long-term picture. “I can’t afford to do anything about it right now” doesn’t mean “I can’t afford to dream about it.” Good luck, and let us see the result.

    • TerriLynn says

      You are very right. Any changes I make, like buying a new light, I want it to be the one I will be keeping. I dont want to have to buy two!

      I can sew, so can do as suggested and make curtains or shades for the window from shower curtains, and had already considered that.

      I certainly can afford to dream! and change the shower curtain, paint, etc. Major changes, like sinks and countertops just have to wait. The cheapest sink counter combo at home depot is $500 cuase that counter is 72 inches long! Thanks for all your kind suggestions.

  2. Mary Elizabeth says

    Bad self-editing there. I meant to say, “Or do you want to shop for a new curtain that has more of the colors in your bath inspiration photo?”

  3. Roundhouse Sarah says

    Here is the shower curtain from your inspiration photo;

    My parents used it in one of their bathrooms;

    In the inspiration photo they painted the cabinets a Kelly green which this curtain has none of. If you like the curtain, pick colors from it. If you prefer the bold green from that photo, I’d pick a different shower curtain.

    • Mary Elizabeth says

      Sarah, I was wondering where I had seen that shower curtain before.:-) It went great with your parents’ tile accent strips against the white. I agree it is a little out of sync with the green in the photo.

  4. says

    I’m all about consistency with painting woodwork and what not, so I’m going to start with the teeniest detail: I want to see the baseboard painted white like the rest of the trim, and it looks like there is quarter round in part of the room. It will look better if you install it everywhere or remove the few remaining pieces. Now at least you have a break between the tan walls and the tan floor. Your inspiration photo is a mostly neutral room with a very dramatic color on the vanity. If you want to stick with that, you may not even need to paint the walls. Going a little lighter might make the room seem airier though. Alternatively, you could put a blue like the lighter tone in your shower curtain on the walls. I did something similar in a bathroom in my grandmother’s condo with a lot of tan and it was successful.

    Your cabinets have a very different look than the ones in the photo, more cute than sleek. Also they’re probably not perfectly smooth. For this reason I would not go with a high gloss paint, but would stick with a more traditional satin or semi. The scalloped detail and trim around the doors is not modern, so you use two paint colors on the vanity and closet doors to play this up. Maybe the lighter and darker blue would work (if you don’t paint the walls blue). Or the green. Of course if you have a color in mind that doesn’t work with that shower curtain, you should hold off until you find a more suitable fabric and then pull your colors from that.

    Also the hinges are painted, which I think looks like some previous owner was a sloppy painter. A good way to get the paint off is to cook them in hot soapy water, like in a used crock pot. It takes a while but doesn’t damage chrome plating or anything.

    And finally, I spy a regular outlet. Is your bathroom on a GFCI breaker? If not, you need a GFCI outlet next to your sink.

    • Mary Elizabeth says

      Chad, all good practical tips for Terri. And I didn’t know about “cooking” the hinges and so on. I have to go back to Goodwill and buy my old crockpot. :-)

      • says

        Yeah I cooked my door knob back plates in a coffee maker. My parents happened to have saved the beaker from and old one that broke, and it was just big enough. This photo never made it to my blog, but I’ll rectify that once I get back to finish work.

  5. anne says

    I would definitely do a bold, deep color on the cabinetry and a light, soft neutral on the walls. If you like the inspiration room’s shower curtain, I say order it! Another great place to find really fun shower curtains and accessories is anthropologie. Lots of quirky stuff there. Get a nice rug in there in a mother bold color and up with some.funky accessories and it will look great! (I also suggest tearing out that medicine cabinet and finding a nice framed print to put there.) Have fun!

    • TerriLynn says

      I cannot even begin to tell everyone how much I appreciate all the help.

      I started to answer each question individually, that quickly got out of hand. LOL!

      So, I will try my best here. I am not currently set on ANY specific color scheme, though I really like the suggestions above, and see now that that curtain I chose is definitely washed out and the room does need the burst of color Kate and Pam suggest. I am really torn between the mod and the flowers! I love them both!

      And I DO have some play money for paint, curtains, etc. Just not a tear out, since we are painting the outside of the house, painted and furnished one room into a funky, kinda swanky bar/game room. The baths are the last on the list as far as big redo’s. But it cant stay looking the way it is!

      Thanks for pointing out the need for the GFI plug! We have been in the house a year and still have some of these little things to get done.

      The room is still the way it was when we bought it, same paint, etc. Yes, the trim all needs to be painted white and the hinges have been painted (and is so for the rest of the house too!) – thanks for the great tip on how to get it all off! Goof Off works, but does a number and hands. And is a lot of work.

      The vanity is wood, was probably built by hand by the second owner, and is the same as the master bath that was added on. I do want to keep that for now, probably permanently.

      Thanks for all the suggestions on things I could do with the sinks, ie tile, laminate, MM… but the sinks themselves are cracked and stained badly around the drain. So I dont see the value in spending any time or money on them. Until we decide on a permanent solution.

      The lights will go, still looking for help there… havent found anything that I just have to have. ???? Links anyone?

      The frame around the mirror is the way to go, and since the concensus seems to be to paint the whole vanity white, I think a white frame will be excellent. My husband can build that for me.

      MINDI – Fantastic job on the bath! So fantastic to see you here!

      • pam kueber says

        TerriLynn, I think you are very wise not to spend any more money that you really *need* to, to live with the bathroom, until you make permanent decisions. When we first moved into our house, one of the bathrooms had dark red walls (paint) that bothered me to no end. My husband would not let me paint them, as we knew we would need to re-do the bathroom at some point. He didn’t want me to spend a dime of money or an hour of effort on something that would be going soon. That said, the darn walls bothered me so much that one weekend I bought a gallon of white paint and repainted. I recall, they were so dark red, it took like three coats. I was glad I did it.

  6. Chelsey says

    I agree with some of the other commenters. If you like that shower curtain, run with those colors. If you want a bold vanity like the one in the inspiration picture, maybe go with the dark blue color in the curtain, with the light blue shade on the scalloped trim if you want to play that up, which I think would be cute. White walls might be good if you don’t want to get too crazy. Towels, curtains and accessories in the pink/red and green shades would bring it all together. I wouldn’t go with beige anywhere. You are all set on beige with the floor and countertop!

    If you love the green vanity in the inspiration picture, then go with a bolder curtain that complements that color scheme. It’s such a bright, happy color palette.

    Either way, I think it’ll be cute! And I know Pam and Kate always come up with great ideas. You’re in good hands!

  7. Allen says

    I’d be willing to bet if you don’t like that cultured marble sink and counter that you could cut out the built in sink part apply laminate of your choice to the flat surfaces and put a standard drop in sink (like the ones in your inspiration photo) and it would look pretty close to what you have in the inspiration photo. Another idea if you couldn’t lose the sink is to still cover the area with laminate cutting out the hole for the sink in just the laminate and fashion a frame of sorts to fit around the existing sink. Although with this option your sink basin will still be cultured marble. Just a thought!

      • pam kueber says

        Would the insides of the sinks really last, Roundhouse? I hear ‘ya for the top, but sinks get hammered with chemicals and water, daily. ?

          • pam kueber says

            I dunno about this idea. In this bathroom, for all the trouble: Make a laminate counter top, find two vintage sinks, badingbadong, you’re ready to go for another 50 years.

            On the other hand, I think what YOU did using MM in your bathroom, Ms. Roundhouse, was GENIUS!

    • Robin, NV says

      Allen, that’s a great idea. Swapping out the counter/sink for laminate and drop in sinks wouldn’t be terribly expensive and Terri would have loads of colors and patterns to choose from. It would also preserve those cute cabinets with the scalloped trim (which I would paint the opposite of what they are now – Terri’s preferred color on the doors and white on the scalloping). I also like Mary Elizabeth’s idea of buying two matching shower curtains and using one to make a valance for the window.

      If Terri wants to start slowly, I would start with picking a different shower curtain. The one she has is cute but it doesn’t have the boldness of the one in the inspiration photo. Start there and then match towels, rugs, and curtains to it. Once she finds the shower curtrain she likes the best, paint and countertops should be easier to pick out. Plus it looks like there is tons of room for cute accessories.

  8. says

    When I look at your room I see a lot of neutrals and when I look at the inspiration photo I see pops of bright colors. namely the green and reds. Your shower curtain is pretty but the colors are very muted. I think a brighter one like the one in the inspiration photo would jazz things up. I like Chad’s suggestion about painting the baseboard white to break up the beige. It all blends together at this point. Now, I’m going to make a bold suggestion for the cultured marble vanity top. How about making a mosaic out of bright ceramic tiles in different colors? I’m a mosaic artist so this is something that I would do in a heartbeat but it wouldn’t be hard to do for a DIYer. I’d use the finished (glazed) edges of the tile along the sink edge so that the cut edges aren’t exposed to water. Just put the tiles in a pillowcase and hit them with a hammer a couple of times to break them. Use a good mortar that can stick to the cultured marble-Mapei Kerabond is very good. Or, if you aren’t comfortable with that Modwalls has some great retro looking blends of small, square mosaic tiles. You will have to do some cutting along the sink edges. This would really add some color and pattern to the bathroom. Paint the vanity a strong, bright color like the inspiration vanity. It looks like the drawers in your vanity don’t close tightly. A darker color would help camouflage this more than a light color. Take out the medicine cabinet and hang a collection of art.

  9. Sandra says

    I can’t even begin to have an opinion on colors until I know why the light from outside is so blue. What’s out there that is reflecting the blue and is it always going to be there?

    I also wonder about the light in the room and what it is doing to the color. I wish the room were lit with a Solatube so I could see the real colors.

    Whatever you do, my advice is to harmonize with what you can’t change.

  10. says

    Terri you mention the budget is tight in relation to a remodel, but I’m not sure if that applies as well for general updating. Since you mention being willing to get rid of the current curtain I am going to assume you have a little to use towards freshening things up.

    I would do the following (based on only touching up the vanity with white), but getting close to your inspiration:
    1. Go get the curtain you love. BB & B always has great coupons, so I’m sure you could get it for less.
    2. I would pull out that lovely light aqua from the new curtain and use that on the walls. It would be light enough to change the look of the space, but also distract from the 80’s texturing. Blue tones go nicely with the tan floor and will actually draw the eye away from the floor.
    3. Paint the trim/baseboards all white.
    4. As previously mentioned get a nice rug/bathmats. That will distract from the floor. I always find the best deals at Marshalls, TJ Maxx or Homegoods.
    5. I would take off that scalloped piece, if it can be done without destroyed the vanity. Just paint it white to make it invisible.
    6. “New” hardware. My favorite places for these are Restore run by Habitat for Humanity and the clearance ones from Anthropologie (ever piece of hardware I’ve ever gotten there I only paid about $3 a piece for).
    7. Lighting – Restore always has amazing possibilities.
    8. If you did a curtain in the bathroom I would do a strip or small pattern. This leaves the amazing curtain as the focal point, but adds more layers of texture to the space.

    As you can see, I’m a real fan of Restore. The all vary in what they carry, prices, etc., but I always start there if I’m on the hunt for something retro. Many even carry a lot of paints and you just might be able to find the green for the vanity that you want (if you do the green vanity I would do white walls, as ivory tones will kick it back into the 80’s).

    Another place for discounted paint is the marked down section at Home Depot. There is nothing wrong with them they just ended being the wrong color for the person wanting it. I did this in my kitchen and saved a bundle. Only paid $7 for a gallon. Plus, it ended up being a really nice brand of paint/primer together. Took patience and waiting, but worth the savings in the end.

    This space has so much potential. Do share when you finish.

  11. says

    BTW I adore that kelly green, so go for it, if your budget and time allows. The closer you get to your inspiration the more you will smile whenever you walk into the space.

  12. Kate H says

    You are so lucky to have a window! I don’t know what’s on the other side of it, but unless you have a nosy neighbor, perhaps replace the bumpy glass with regular glass to let in more natural light. As for colors, it seems awfully gray in there, and while I adore blue, would it make you look cyanotic? I would go with something warmer: peach, pink, even white with a hint of pink could warm things up and would make your skin look fabulous. The gray of the countertop would keep the pink from being over the top.

    Maybe a different light above the mirror? Those show-biz lights are great for getting ready to go on stage, but for real life, they can be a little hot and stark.

    If you are already going to rewire, I would put an electric socket in a convienent place and put the lights on a dimmer. That way you don’t need a night light, and it would make bathtime so much more relaxing.

    • TerriLynn says

      I took the curtains down to let light into the room for the pictures. I need a curtain in that room. I think it might have been foggy or rainy outside which is why the window looks all fogged up, I dont remember.

  13. says

    So glad my bathroom brought you some inspiration! I loved it! Sadly, we recently had water damage and had to replace much of it ( with higher end materials) but I miss the fun, carefree feel this one had because it wasn’t expensive and I didn’t feel the pressure to make it “last forever.” A great reminder to me that it’s not about the money…we should more often do what we love… Good luck!

  14. Janet in CT says

    I am lousy at decorating but here are some of the things I would do if the bathroom were mine. First off, as already suggested, I would put up white matched floor trim. No-one has mentioned the mirror yet. I would take the full sized one down and put up two mirrors or medicine cabinets, one over each sink, and some art in between. There are so many gorgeous mirrors now and also a pretty nice selection of medicine cabinets, and I would consider wood painted frames to bring in contrast color. I am sure you can find lights you like too and I would look for the vintage reproduction ceramic ones in color if you can find them. I would leave the sinks alone; as long as they are in good shape, why replace them?! To get some more color in the bathroom, I would suggest getting a fabric shade to match the shower curtain. I have one and just love it and you can buy sheets or fabric to make matching ones. I love your shower curtain and the muted colors; I would try to match a shade – buy another one and have a seamstress make a matching one up for you. The great thing about a fabric shade is that unlike vinyl, it breathes. I LIKE your cabinets as is with the scalloped trim and would also paint them two different colors but I won’t get into color – that is strictly to your taste to match the curtain. One thing I absolutely love is ceramic cabinet hardware and would replace them to bring in more color. These are what I had in mind or find some with colors you like. It is a simple way to bring in some pizzazz. Good luck!

  15. Beth says

    I love the bold color suggestions. I had similar thoughts regarding putting a frame on the mirror (just use double stick tape) and laminate over the existing counter.

    Also, instead of wall to wall bathroom carpeting, how about a layer of sheet vinyl? There are some plain b&w options at the usual big box stores. You don’t have to adhere it to the tile and it’s pretty easy to do in a small space. It’s a fast cover up that you can reverse easily any time.

    Just make sure to spend lots of quality time on making your template. And before you cut, check three times that you’re cutting the proper side for the surface you want to be facing up. I’ve done the reverse too many times both with sheet goods and with carpet.

  16. Amy says

    Life’s too short not to have what you love.

    Buy the shower curtain from your inspiration.
    Pull out the pale turquoise color and paint the vanity. Accent with red.
    Live with it. It’s not the beautiful green, but it’s not the green/gold vanity raring up to greet you every time you walk in the bathroom, either. (I still have nightmares about a yellow/green combo I tried to pull off once….)

    AND –

    Troll craigslist and watch for a replacement sink/counter. Sometimes FREE, sometimes barter. If you see something you like for $50, call. See what they need: child care, dinner, someone to sit with an elderly parent, whatever. I’d offer a homemade lasagne for $50. Be creative. Upgrading does not involve spending a lot of money when the existing sink is that gold, marbelized, and worn thin. A plain top mount white bathroom sink can be found on craigslist every day for $20 – less than the cost of a shower curtain.

    I am convinced craigslist was invented for modern day hunter/gatherers.

    Best of luck!

    • pam kueber says

      Alas, the inspiration shower curtain is no longer available. There’s one like it – but it’s another color way.

  17. tammyCA says

    Your bird shower curtain kind of reminds me of something anthropologie would have. I like that store..for inspiration ‘cuz it is pretty expensive.
    I don’t know what you like but if it were me (and now thinking of anthropologie) I’d probably go all kinds of wild with a boho/bohemian/gypsy/’60s hippie style with lots of patterns/colors in wall art, rugs, towels, hanging jewelry, counter items to liven up a room and then the beige-y counter would fade into the background. That way you can paint the walls and vanity in any color(s).
    Look at what this etsy seller makes:

    Btw, I love the scallopy-deckle trim & want that in my bathroom when we have to have our vintage vanity torn out (sniff).

  18. Carol says

    Please keep the light fixture over the mirror. From what I can see in the photos, it’s great. The scalloped pieces look like they would come off fairly easily. I would replace with plain boards. I like Kate’s plan because the green looks so fresh with the white. If you have a friend that has some tools and could help for a day, you could replace the countertops economically. See Kate’s pink bathroom remodel for how-to on laminate countertops. Standard drop-in sinks are around $30. About $5 on Craigslist. Even cheaper and easier would be to take off the countertop and tile in a broken tile mosaic like another reader suggested. That would look awesome and sooooo inexpensive. Old framed mirrors are so cheap. How about one over each sink? Spray paint goes a long way in refurbishing something like an ugly frame. As for the floor, cheapest and easiest, big box laminate on the roll in the store. Go super light and it won’t look as inexpensive. Make sure the floor doesn’t already have grouted ceramic tile under the existing linoleum. If it does, it might be hard to bring back, but may be worth it. If you have never tiled anything, go to the Home Depot and Lowe’s classes and buy the how-to video. It’s a lot easier than you think and they are so helpful with questions. You can buy everything (mastic and grout) premixed so you can play with the mosaic work at your leisure. Believe me, if you can paint, you can do this. As with any project, just do some research and have patience.

  19. Scott says

    Hmmmmmm, looks to me like you’ve got the good bones there to go really Hollywood Regency with this. With some glitz you could really make that countertop work for you. The separate textures and pieces here now really lend themselves to two-toning or tri-toning. I agree with others that losing the big mirror in favor of a pair of smaller ones would really give you a more vintage feel plus you could then delete the small one. Home Depot stocks a very roomy chrome edged (not easy to find!) cabinet that looks retro on the outside but has modular shelves on the inside, the best of both worlds. And if you happen to like an ocean/fish theme, K-mart has some speckled sea-shell ceramic soap dispensers and soap dishes that would look great in your room. Fish would be another place to bring in some sparkle via vintage fish with rhinestone eyes, brass fish, or a chalkware family with gold accents.

    Have fun with it. Sometimes you don’t have to completely gut a room to get fantastic results.

  20. Lisa RM says

    I feel your pain! We just moved into a wonderful 1962 house that has been completely “oatmealed”. Beige on tan on off white. Bleck! I think we have the same tile you have and the same light fixture. The tile’s nice BUT. I’m finding that some sterling grey is actually really helping to debeige my bathroom oddly enough. (And I hate grey!) I added a subtle shiny textured grey shower curtain and similar throw rug from a thrift store just out of practical necessity but immediately I stopped hating the room. I plan to paint a couple of walls Tiffany blue before putting up shallow chrome and glass shelves to hold our collections of vintage perfume bottles and shaving brushes and add artwork. And I also thrifted that amazing shower curtain in the inspiration photo. It won’t work in our small bathrooms with our collectibles but it’s amazing and it’s going somewhere!!!!!

    • TerriLynn says

      Lisa, I love Tiffany blue. My last bedroom was that blue and black and the master bath was also. I loved it! Right now my kitchen is an aqua and yellow, and was considering doing the aqua in the bathroom. But I havent actually decided on a color. I am now convinced that going white on the vanity and brighter bolder colors on the wall will detract from the cultured marble. I am definitely taking cue from everyone’s suggestions.

      Underneath the stick on linoleum tiles in the bath is gold colored linoleum. I havent pulled it all up, wondering the condition of the rest of it, might be worth going back to those instead of the beige floors! I guess it depends on what I go with on the shower curtain and walls.

      Lots of great ideas from everyone.

  21. Mary Elizabeth says

    TerriLynn, here’s another idea. Since your vanity is hand-built and good quality and you intend to keep it, here’s another painting suggestion. You can paint the whole thing white and the inside panels of the doors and drawer fronts can be painted a bright color from the palette of your choosing.

      • Mary Elizabeth says

        One more thing. Get under the vanity and see whether the cultured marble top (g**ish and u*** and in b** shape) is simply screwed on (yay!) or glued in place (help!). Once you find that out, remember the suggestions here about how easy it will be to swap it out for a plywood counter covered with laminate (see Kate’s instructions on that part of her bathroom install) and with two drop-in sinks from Habitat for Humanity reStore, Craigslist, eBay, or old stock from the back room of a local mom and pop plumbing supply. You can keep looking for sinks until you find some cheap ones and do what the rest of us do–keep them in the basement or garage until you and DH are ready for the countertop replacement project. (Or maybe Crooked House Chad’s mom will let you keep them in her living room–see his blog!) Seriosly, the whole thing, even if you buy drop-in sinks from one of the big box stores, will be very cheap, much cheaper than the ready-made countertops you saw in the hardware store.

  22. TerriLynn says

    Well, the redo has begun. I took the clues from the bold colors in the above rooms. I will be painting in the next couple weeks, still looking for a light fixture, but have already replaced rugs, towels, shower curtain. I will send Pam pictures to add in a few weeks when it is all done.

    Thanks all.

  23. says

    If you have time to invest in the space, i.e., elbow grease, I think a plank paneled wall, attached horizontally and halfway up, if not all the way up to the ceiling, would look fabulous and painted in a white to match the vanity cabinets. I have seen on Pinterest it’s done using pallets; pull off the wood, cut to size, install over the wall and paint; usually free if you can find discarded/freecycled pallets.

    Also consider updating the doors on the cabinetry with simple moldings cut to fit and attach before painting; or make simple new plank style doors out of the pallet wood. Research Pinterest for ideas.

    Try a many colors Chevron “new” and fresh style shower curtain. I made shower curtains for our new house that needed custom sizing. Some great fabrics out there making it a very fun custom look.

    I also spray painted our “lovely” gold fixtures we inherited when we bought our previous home with Rustoleum Hammered Bronze (took everything apart I could and hauled to the garage for several light coats–all fixtures, shower door surround, knobs and pulls and vanity light bar). I was surprised how fresh it make the space look and they wore very well; I retouched maybe once before we sold the house. anything I couldn’t take apart I taped plastic drop cloths around the entire space and sprayed in place (ventilate well).

    Hang some inexpensive art print gallery in patterns and colors to fit the look (see the book with tear out 8-1/2×11 prints, “Art for the Eclectic Home”). Good luck

  24. TerriLynn says

    I got started this past Sunday on painting. I removed all the doors and drawers and hardware from the vanity, painted everything a nice bright crisp white! The baseboards got their first coat of white and got some quarter round to replace some missing pieces. I did get a second shower curtain to make a curtain for the window, and determined I needed new rods too. I dont have doors back on the bathroom yet but WOW!!! Already it has made such a huge difference. It is so bright and cheery in there, its fabulous! Next weekend I should be able to send in completed update pictures!! Thanks for all the great input.

  25. Julie says

    Oh, please! Updates, please please please… I read the entire thread and feel quite at a loss that the climax was left without resolution!

  26. TerriLynn says

    I sent updated pictures yesterday, Kate will be adding them to this post! Keep your eyes peeled! I LOVE LOVE LOVE it!

    • Kate says

      I’ve added the “after” pictures you sent — thanks so much for updating us. What a difference some color makes, huh?

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