Nanette & Jim’s Mamie pink bathroom — built from scratch — to look like it’s always been there

Vintage pink bathroomnanette-and-jim-250Nanette and Jim won our 2013 The Hard Way Award for their blue bathroom remodel. Now, this dynamic duo is at it again — this time, with a gut-remodel that transformed their upstairs bathroom from 1980s builder-grade bleck into 1950s Mamie Pink Magnificent. Every bathroom remodel is gonna be epic — at least 84 decisions/details to consider. But aim to do it retro, and you dial up the degree of difficulty exponentially. Buckle up, in our story today, Nanette shows us how It Is Done, in blow-by-blow, do you have what it takes detail.

Vintage pink bathroomNanette writes:

This bathroom was a total mess, we’ve wanted to remodel it since we first moved in many years ago. The entire bathroom was remodeled DIY style right before we bought the house and done so poorly.

Vintage pink bathroom

The shower started leaking down to the basement almost immediately due to poor construction. Everything that was put into the remodel was the cheapest Home Depot option possible, it just didn’t hold up. The tub would creak when you showered, we honestly feared it was just going to fall through the floor one day. As paint started to peel we could see pink showing through all over, and it just killed us.

Vintage pink bathroom

We are fairly certain that this was a pink bathroom the seller decided to update / modernize when they put the house on the market. The previous owner was a 92-year-old man, had lived here since 1950 (house was built in 1945), his daughter was selling the home for him. We cringe that they gutted many elements of our time capsule home and “updated” them poorly, but at least they left many others we adore.

Vintage pink bathroom Vintage pink bathroom

We put in the basement bathroom with the intention of gutting the upstairs bath as soon as we could afford to do so. We jumped in feeling like, we had this one after doing the last — it would be easy, right? Well, as these projects go, it was a whole new set of hurdles, and I can truly say it wasn’t easy by any means and uncovered many new issues to deal with along the way.

Tile:

Pink is B&W (70W pink, same as Kate’s retro pink master bathroom).

Vintage pink bathroom

We used the large hex (4.25 x 5 9/32) on the counter top and 4×4 everywhere else. We really liked working with B&W. Their prices are very reasonable, and their customer service was exceptional. Since we live on the West Coast, the shipping was also reasonable, not to mention they fired our entire batch to ensure the color would all match.

Vintage pink bathroom

White Tile is Daltile from Home Depot. We actually preferred the B&W white, it was a slightly softer white, but for the price we couldn’t say no to going with Daltile at Home Depot. We were able to pick it up as we needed it and return what we didn’t use. That said, we had to order some specialty pieces like the cove base direct through Daltile (through our contractor). The black shower hex is also from Daltile.

Vintage pink bathroomVintage pink bathroom

Our gorgeous tile work was installed by the same tile guy that did the blue bathroom in our basement. He really blew us away with this job, just look at that arch, it took some time to figure out how to create an even arch with materials that do not curve and cannot be cut to curve. He even tiled the inside of the arch.

Vintage pink bathroomVintage pink bathroom

The detailing of the tile work is so old world, he’s truly an artist that cares for his craft.*

Vintage pink bathroom

*Side note, after we started this project, well down the road and had installed the curb for the shower, a contractor pointed out that we needed 30″ clearance to meet code wall to wall inside the shower; we were several inches away. Evidently this is code for showers but does not apply to tubs. There was a tub in that space before, and it was less than 30″ and evidently that meets code so… The suggestions were to knock down the wall and move the shower back into the bedroom a few inches so we had clearance. The second was to create a curb-less shower so the entire bathroom drains into the shower (no need for a door). We didn’t like either of these options. After much deliberation with our tile guy, we managed to pop out the curb a touch (which is why our bathroom door doesn’t open as far as it used to), and move the shower door installation over off center of the curb to give us just enough clearance.

Plumbing:

vintage sink

When it came to the plumbing for the pink bathroom, we had several strokes of luck! Managed to score the vintage Crane sink from Rejuvenation as they were closing out their salvage yard.

Vintage pink bathroom

It was missing the down pipe connection, which as it turns out is hard to find and may have cost us more than the sink to replace, but we found a local plumber that had some Crane parts!

Vintage pink bathroom

We also found a circa 1938 American Standard pink toilet in good condition, but missing its matching seat/lid and needing new seals. I discovered it’s a tad hard to find a matching toilet seat/lid combo so I decided to visit a local plumbing shop that we had gone to before — George Morlan Plumbing Supply.

I walked in and asked if they had any pink toilet seats, they laughed… then one guy said wait a minute and ran upstairs. He was gone for quite some time but returned with 2 boxes with NOS pink toilet seats in them. One of the pinks didn’t match well, but the other was a near perfect match. It had been sitting in storage for so long it was not priced and not in their computer system. They cut me a good deal and jokingly told me I couldn’t return it. It just goes to show it never hurts to ask! [Editor’s note: This is Pam’s favorite part of the story, she says. Classique!]

The plumber who installed the toilet informed us that our toilet has a special feature of the day (circa 1938). It has a cleaning feature, when you flush it, it swirls and fills all the way up to the top of the rim before flushing down. The first time you flush it, it’s pretty frightening, it appears to be backed up and about ready to overflow but nope, it’s supposed to do that. It’s such a champ though, works like a dream! [Editor’s note: No, maybe this is Pam’s favorite part of the story! She wanna.]

Vintage pink bathroom

The faucets/handles for the shower are also NOS, I found them on some random search online. I purchased them (Sayco 2080D-2 tub and shower set) through Locke Plumbing. [Editors’s note: WOWZA, why have we not spotted this before!]

Flooring:

Vintage pink bathroom

We have a friend who installs flooring and specializes in Marmoleum who got us excited about using Marmo. We really wanted to install Marmoleum downstairs, but we just couldn’t find a color combo that would work down there. It was also challenging to find a color combo that we thought would work upstairs, but after much deliberation I found a good combo only to find the black (Litho) had been discontinued. We managed to score some for our small space on closeout.

Vintage pink bathroom

The installation process was super interesting, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to watch. They have to start with a very smooth flat surface, and from there it’s basically like making a pattern for a dress and gluing it together piece by piece. We even used a piece of the leftover flooring to do a counter top on our basement bar.

Vintage pink bathroom

Marmoleum colors:

5303 Litho — limited to what’s on hand, discontinued, may be gone in a week or two,

5305 Scrabble – pinstripe

Lighting:

vintage light

The vintage wall mounted light over the sink and the fixture on the ceiling came from Hippo Hardware, a local salvage shop.

Vintage pink bathroom

They rewired both, they even repainted the white parts of the one over the sink so it looked all shiny and new when I picked it up.

Vintage pink bathroomVintage pink bathroom

They have a large stock of lights to choose from along with other salvage items. Don’t be scared by the old wiring, it is their policy to rewire light fixtures before you to take them home, they figure why rewire them until they are sold, makes sense to me!

Vintage pink bathroom

The Fresnel shower light came from Amazon.

Cabinets, wallpaper, mirror and decor:

Vintage pink bathroom

  • Wallpaper is from Hannah’s Treasures! It’s the same print that we used in the blue bathroom but in pink. We fell in love with the idea of using the same paper in both bathrooms to pull the projects together, but along the way we almost went with something else. Many months of indecision and samples later, we finally decided to go with our original idea, and it looks great! *

*Side note: If installing wallpaper into a small space like this, I’d recommend doing so before installing a toilet or other things that will not allow you to have floor space below the paper installation. OMG it was so challenging to install this little bit of wallpaper while straddling the toilet and counter tops. It took us several days, could have been a 1/2 day project tops.

Vintage pink bathroom

  • Very large mirror:  We ordered the beveled glass mirror from a local glass shop and picked it up ourselves, it was super affordable. Figuring out how to hang it was a little challenging since we didn’t have enough lip on our tile to allow it to rest on the tile as planned. Other traditional ways of hanging these mirrors tend to create moisture problems from the mirror resting in a metal tray on the bottom that fills up with water. We also discovered that our wall had a large hump so we couldn’t mount/glue it on the wall. We found some brackets that did the trick at an amazing local hardware store — W.C. Winks Hardware — that specializes in odd fasteners and the like.

Vintage pink bathroom Vintage pink bathroom

  • Custom built cabinetry with pulls from Rejuvenation, (we do plan to swap those out with some that match our kitchen, I just located them at Winks).

Vintage pink bathroom

Vintage pink bathroomVintage pink bathroomVintage pink bathroomVintage pink bathroomVintage pink bathroom

The little things here and there, it’s the joy of the hunt for the bargain for me, I have yet to find all the perfect little pieces to go into the space but that’s the fun of it, when I see something I’ll know and it will be glorious!

Vintage pink bathroom

While this was technically a remodel, it was a lot of work. While the bathroom plumbing locations remained where they were before the remodel for the most part, the p-trap, drains and heat ducts were all hanging down in the head space exposed in our basement bar below. When we remodeled the bathroom, we also opted to finish the original knotty pine basement / bar which had sat half finished since the 1940s. I won’t say anything more about this other than it’s another exciting story of wonderful salvage! More to come!!

nanette-and-jim-500

~Nanette & Jim

Bathroom design/photos by me, Nanette Wallace, all rights reserved.

Woah. We told you. Epic. Nanette and Jim, you are rockin’ it, big time. Thanks you so much for sharing your story, your resource list, wonderful photos and of course, the love of pink bathrooms.

Be-Safe-graphic2.3

Get our retrolicious free newsletter.

Newsletter-sign-up-2NMAS

Get our retrolicious free newsletter.

Comments

  1. Mary Elizabeth says

    Forgot to ask about a couple of your accessories. Is that a swan light? One of my relatives had one over the TV in the 1950s, and one of our neighbors had flying ducks in a similar fixture. And is the handled pink tidbit plate Portuguese? It looks like one I’ve seen.

    • says

      Hey Mary, that is a swan light /TV lamp. I have a pretty fair collection of TV lamps and this one works so well in the pink bathroom. It’s really fantastic with it’s nice soft glow at night with all the other lights off in there. The pink leaf plate/bowl thingee with the handle says Made in USA and something else I can’t make out.

  2. says

    This is just gorgeous. I always drool over the arched showers in so many earlier-in-the-mid-century homes (they seem to be especially prevalent on the West Coast) so that shower is easily my favorite part of this remodel. And that floor! We really wanted to put a little pinstripe on our Marmoleum kitchen floor but couldn’t find anyone willing to do it, and there is no way we have the DIY skills to do that ourselves. Kudos to you. What an amazing job!

  3. Lynda Peregrine says

    We have the same existing Marvin-the Martianesque lav faucets in our recently acquired mid-60’s ranch— one of the reasons we bought the place! It also has an existent pink bath and original Formica throughout. So glad it wasn’t ‘updated’!
    We used Marmo, too— your selections and border detail are fab. This is so stunning and the arched shower reminds me of Chateau Marmont/ East Coast coolness— infinite kudos!

  4. Michelle says

    That is the most functional and beautiful bathroom I have ever seen. Fantastic job. Thanks for sharing.

  5. SoCalLu says

    Thank you for sharing the vision, details and decisions for your lovely bathroom. I live in Gardena and know of B&W tile. My 1939 home has a pink bathroom with arched top small shower stall and rounded walls to ceiling (so the surface of the walls and ceiling are the same w/ no corners). I need to make some changes (we cannot age here w/ the current set up) and have been thinking about how to keep the colours and character of the bathroom. The arched shower (when made bigger), keeping the rounded walls, and keep the pink tile are what I want. You’ve renewed my enthusiasm for the possibilities!

    • says

      Thank you so much, I’m so happy to hear that our bathroom has inspired you to hang onto yours! I love the craftsmanship in the old original tile work, it is so hard to achieve anything like that these days. Our tile guy really got into the arch as far as making square tiles look like they are bending. He created a map to work from with the angles that each tile needed to be cut in order to make them match up top and bottom as they arched over and around. Turned out so nice, we were blown away!

      We also have coved ceilings in our house but only in the living room/dining room, they are so lovely, I do hope you hang onto those as well!

      Good luck to you!! I really believe that if you have a vision and some drive to achieve it you most certainly can hang onto the vintage and make it function for your modern needs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *