Rose stencils atomic ‘painted wallpaper’ to perk up her vintage bathroom

retro-atomic-painted-walls-pink-bathroomReader Rose was inspired by our story about Lora’s painted Franciscan starburst “wallpaper” treatment and decided to attempt a similar feat in her vintage pink, grey and white bathroom. Using some atomic style fabric she found as inspiration, Rose created a pattern of googie shapes in shades of grey, pink and aqua to liven up her already adorable bathroom with just a little paint, some Sharpie markers and a whole lot of patience.

vintage-pink-and-grey-bathroomWhile Rose loved her original pink bathroom, she felt the room’s plain white walls were lacking in pizazz.

midcentury-pink-and-grey-bathroom wall-stencil-templatesRose had just completed a similar wall stenciling treatment in her kitchen and was thrilled with the results, so she decided to try the technique in her pink bathroom too. Inspired by the pattern of the “Atomic Dishcloth Deluxe”  fabric she found at The Crave Yard, Rose devised a way to bring her own variation of this retro inspired textile design to her bathroom walls.

mid-century-retro-starburstAccording to Rose, the process of painting the walls was messy and time consuming —  especially the first step, creating “flecking” on her white walls using charcoal paint and a toothbrush. Pam says that she has used the process in her collage classes: You put the paint on the bristle ends of a toothbrush then run your finger across the edge of the bristles so that they “throw” the paint off in flecks. Yes, very messy, but gratifying!

starburst-retroWhen the flecking had dried, Rose made cardboard templates of the shapes she wanted to use. Then she used these templates — along with paint ub shades of pink, grey and aqua — to paint the base shapes onto her wall. As Rose worked, she made the pattern randomly, trying to evenly distribute the shapes.

retro-wall-shapes-paintedNext, Rose used Sharpie markers to add the black lines, dots and other googie shapes on top of the colorful paint. She also used a white oil paint Sharpie marker to add white on top of some of the kidney shapes.

retro-atomic-painted-wall-pattern retro-googie-painted-wallsThe end result is charming and fun. Rose’s decision to add the aqua color to her wall pattern and bring aqua accents like towels and window treatments into the room really helps kick the bathroom up a notch. The previously calm feeling bathroom now has an exciting new energy.

mid-century-atomic-bathroom vintage-pink-bathtubRose has documented the project extensively over on her blog Sears Modern Homes. Other than the fabulous end result of Rose’s many hours of hard work, my favorite part about her documentation of this project is this quote:

People’s reaction to The World’s Most Beautiful Atomic Powder Room is mixed. Some fall in love with it, and others say things like, “Well, as long as you and Wayne like it, that’s all that matters.”

Well Rose, you can count us in the camp of folks that fall in love with it. Bravo on a job well done and thanks so much for letting us feature your adorable pink bathroom.


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  1. Kathy says

    WoW Beautiful I love it! You did a great job.

    I have the same pink sink and toilet with light blue boomerang laminate.

    My sink is chipped 🙁 I Need to find a new one. I want to save my pink bathroom!

    • Mary Elizabeth says

      Do not give up, Kathy. Leave a permanent search on eBay, then go to the Habitat for Humanity stores in your area on a regular basis. Also, we got our new old stock pink sink from a mom-and-pop plumbing supply house. Then we found our green one online. It will happen for you, don’t worry.

  2. Katie B. says

    Love it! The aqua really brightens the whole room. It was great before, but now it has a whole new vibe. Good job!

  3. says

    Oh, that’s fabulous! I think it looks really great, and perks up the bathroom a whole lot, really—it pulls everything together. Great job and tips!

  4. Ellen says

    I just can’t believe that there are people who wouldn’t love this bathroom! It’s so cute, stylish and creative. I might try this with our bathroom renovation. Is there a word that is used to describe going back to the original design?

  5. Anastasia says

    OMG, I love it! Reminds me of covering a wall in paint with sponges, you can deal with things as they happen. I LOVE the idea of adding to the design as I feel “up to it”. (No painting during the rainy season here, just don’t try it if you can’t open the windows)

    On another note an area nearby when I’m at has a lot of GREY with pink bathrooms still in existence, just like Rose’s & I think that’s why they have survived for so long! This was an amazing project but I sure bet it was a BLAST!

  6. Danita says

    Rose, I just LOVE your vintage bathroom. Thank you so much for preserving. Your bathroom has more charm than today’s styles, and I especially love your touch on the walls. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Tava Bronston says

    Count me in as a camp member of I love Rose’s pink bathroom!!! Rose, hats off to you for the cleverness, creativity, and most of all patience. I love the energy the created by the colors. What fun!!!

  8. Mary Elizabeth says

    Wow, Rose, you really nailed it with this bathroom and your painted-on “wallpaper.” The color scheme of the tile and fixtures is identical to mine, and I never would have thought to add aqua to the mix of gray and pink. (I used some green in the fabrics, but I like your idea better.

    I love your pink sink, Hudee ring and laminate countertop. Were all the fixtures original? I’m especially curious about the toilet. (We retrorenovators are as curious about toilets as little boys undergoing potty training.) Is it new or original?

  9. Jennifer Kepesh says

    I actually gasped with delight when I saw this, and now I am thinking, “could I pull this off in my little adobe ranch despite its more hispanic feel? Maybe?

  10. Josie says

    Great job! Totally different feel, and it really underscores how versatile that grey-and-pink scheme is. I’m quite fond of that soft grey, it can let you go as hyper or as tranquil as you want and only change the paint.

    Also I just found out when you covered LuRu’s sci-fi kitchen, but my husband LOVES the atomic patterns. I had never thought much about them but I will be pondering now.

    Great job, Rose! Thanks, Retro Renovation.

  11. Elissa Marsden says

    I think it’s perfect. My husband and I are about to embark on a retrorenovation and feel so inspired and confident we are making the right decision when we see such a gorgeous bathroom as yours. Well done !

  12. says

    We are so flattered to see our textile used as inspiration for this project 🙂 it turned out so lovely!

    We just launched an almost identical WALLPAPER matching our barkcloth!

    save yourself from the stencilling 🙂


  13. Kathy Rickwood says

    I have the same countertops, do you know what pattern that is and who made it? There were several companies that made laminates, but I can ‘t find that particular pattern in pink. Let me know if you know.

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