Remodeling the bathroom: 12 reasons I’m starting from scratch

1962 Ranch Mauve bathroom

I love my 1962 ranch house because it is mostly original and I can choose what I want to change instead of having to undo someone else’s “updates.” But, while I adore vintage bathrooms (especially the pink ones!), my original master bathroom is simply not cutting it in terms of function and cleanliness, plus its drab and dirty decor looks out of place with the rest of my cheerful house. That’s why — after living in our house and with this bathroom for 2 years — I’ve decided it is time to replace this old, original bathroom with the retro-modern bathroom of my dreams. I didn’t make this decision lightly — it’s a significant expense to remodel, for sure — but I count at least 12 reasons it’s time to renovate.

1. My master bathroom is mauve.  I’m not one to shy away from color… I’ve decorated with everything from bright orange to mint green, but mauve is my least favorite color ever. When I wake up and go into my master bathroom, this color is just not communicating the bright, happy retro modern vibe that I long for.  Even so, as much as I dislike mauve, I’m not one to base the need for a remodel on color alone. There are several other issues with my master bathroom that need to be fixed and quite frankly, it stresses me out!

small retro shower mauveLet’s start with the biggest offender, the shower. At first glance, it doesn’t look that bad…until you notice a few things…

mis matched tile2. At some point, the previous owners needed to repair the shower pipes, which necessitated removing some of the mauve tile. Instead of searching high and low for an exact match (they weren’t retro enthusiasts as many of us are), they replaced the missing mauve tiles with some brown tiles and called it “good enough.”

cracking grout3. The grout is also cracking in the shower, which is not good at all. Cracked grout can allow water to get into all sorts of places that it shouldn’t be. This needs to be fixed ASAP.

no storage in shower4. There is no where to put shampoo, conditioner, body wash, etc. in this shower. I had to rig up a few suction cup containers and this shower caddy to get the job done. Not an ideal situation at all! Added bonus of this set up: Every once in a while the suction cup containers release from the wall in the middle of the night while we are sleeping, which scares us!

shower foot print5. The final issue with the shower is the size of it. It is pretty cramped. An average sized person like myself takes no issue with this, but my tall husband with broad shoulders feels very claustrophobic, not to mention he has the tendency to accidentally bump the shower door open with his elbow while he is washing his hair, which gets water everywhere.

retro bath vanityNext we move along to the sink area. At first glance this looks like an excellent example of a peachy keen retro sink, complete with hudee ring…

retro peach sink with hudee ring

rust on sink drain6. …upon further examination, you can see that the sink is rusting. I have tried and tried to get the rust off, but it always reappears after a few days. It probably has to do with the sink not draining well. Many times it will have standing water in it. We have tried cleaning out the pipes, but I think the whole drain line from the sink to the floor needs to be replaced. I’m sure there is 50 years of gunk in there just waiting for me to discover it.

retro faucet7. The vintage faucet is also cool, but again 50 years of abuse has made it kinda crusty looking. It makes me sad because no matter how much I scrub, the sink never looks clean.

moisture damage8. The years of moisture have taken their toll on the mirror and the wood trim on the window (the window itself is the only new thing in this bathroom).

hamper in retro vanity9. The vanity is plywood and in decent shape. The two smaller drawers are great, but the pull out hamper smells like a thousand sweaty socks. I have tried nearly everything to rid it of that awful smell, but alas, I think the smell has embedded itself in the plywood. Now it is just a chunk of smelly wasted space.

towel bars10. There is a sad lack of towel bar space in this bathroom. All we have are these two bars, one works for the hand towels, but the other bar is not large enough to accommodate two bath towels while giving them adequate space to dry.

closet doors11. What this bathroom lacks in towel bar space, it makes up for in doors. There are two closets in the bathroom, the larger of which is where we keep our laundry baskets. It is very difficult to get them out of the closet and then out though the main bathroom door. It requires some tricky maneuvering skills and the doors constantly bang off each other.

switches12. The master bathroom also has plenty of light switches. There are a total of five different switches! When I remodel the space, I would like to have a fan timer switch and no more than two other switches. Five is far too many to keep track of!

This redo is going to be a gut remodel. I’m trying keep the cost down by moving as little plumbing as possible, but I am going to remove the mauve tile (which will basically necessitate new drywall), extend the tiny shower (to better accommodate my husband), replace the vanity, retile, paint and get all new hardware. From a design standpoint: My whole mantra is maintaining the retro while making it modern. I’m excited by the challenge of designing a new bathroom with the right retro vibe to fit the rest of the house.

I’ll be reporting on all the stages of my bathroom project here over the next several months. My next step is to draw up some plans and make a few mood board mock ups so I can source my materials. I’m also going to reread Pam’s bathroom remodeling checklist before I work out the budget. Stay tuned, this is going to be quite the job!

To follow all of Kate’s stories about her master bathroom remodel — Click here.

  1. Paige says:


    When I saw your shower I just about died, we had nearly the exact same shower & it was awful!
    One morning as I went to close the door it fell straight off, just hitting the counter & thankfully did not shatter, that was the end of the shower!
    We replaced the old shower with a newer shower kit, which in hindsight I wish we hadn’t, but it’s done.
    I’m looking forward to seeing your remodel!!

  2. Audrey says:

    We are looking for that exact sink! We have one, but we are also doing a bathroom remodel and would like double sinks. I’d rather find a matching sink than buy two new ones, but I’m having a hard time finding one. Are you planning on selling it?

  3. Jessica says:

    We had a similar rust issue with our guest bathroom sink. We thought the sink was going to have to be replaced (grey wall mount that matched the toilet, tub, and wall tiles all otherwise in great shape). Turns out Martha Stewart has a bathroom cleaning product that miraculously took the rust out–completely. Its an “organic” product, but holy cow did it work!

  4. I am glad you posted this. I do not have the close up pictures you provided for our our ex-bathrooms, BUT all those issues existed. The only thing that was still quite nice was the yellow in one and green in the other tile. But the best part of the bathrooms (the tile) stood on the back wall that had to come off the house. Long story. Anyway, as one reader said, remodel in the Danish modern style and you can’t go wrong. We remodeled in the mid-fifties clean and modern designers/architects like Eichler, Eames, van der Rohe. I had a bathroom reveal party last weekend and got the comment from one guest that the architect on our house would be pleased with the new bathrooms, that they fit the house perfectly. Yay.

    1. pam kueber says:

      Yes: Yay! No better compliment that “it looks like it belongs” or that “it looks like it always has been there” or “the original architect would have approved!”

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