A “Country Retro” pink bathroom design for Megan

Reader Megan has a design dilemma — how to mesh her classic pink and black tile bathroom with her country style. For help with this week’s Retro Design Dilemma, I turned to Pam, since retro and country are two styles I’ve never tried to blend before. She jumped right on it, explaining that Mary Emmerling is one of her design goddesses. Emmerling was the longtime creative spirit behind Country Home magazine up until a few years ago — and a huge driver the country style that has always popular in America. Pam says: Country style is likely still #1 in America. So how to meld country — with classic Mamie pink retro? Read on to see what Pam suggests…


Megan writes:
I came across your website looking for ideas of how to tastefully remodel our lovely 1950s pink tile bathroom. We are in the process of remodeling the only bathroom in our house because the tile needs grouted very badly.  Many people have suggested that we get rid of that “hideous tile,” but it’s staying!  It will save us thousands of dollars, it’s in excellent condition, it’s original to the house, it’s rare, and it’s very valuable.  You will also be happy to know that we are keeping all of the original towel racks and toilet paper holders, lighting, and vanity.
For now, I will share with you a “before” picture and provide a list of what all we are doing to preserve, de-feminize, and update our bathroom… We are very down-to-earth, country people.  Our home has a lot of antiques.  So, I guess I would classify our style as “country.”
We plan to: re-grout tile and re-surface tub, remove wallpaper and paint (Any suggestions on a wall color?), strip and stain the cabinets, mirror, and vanity to match the oak door, replace the counter-top, sinks, and rusted drains, replace the shower curtain with shower doors, replace the flooring with vinyl tile (Any suggestions on a tile color to match your suggested wall color?), replace the sink and tub faucets and shower head, replace the cabinet hardware, new curtain rod and curtain, decorations, new towels and rugs.
Thanks, Megan

Ideas for a Country Retro Bathroom for Megan

Pam sent me a list of her ideas for Megan’s retro country pink bathroom, and I was able to put together an idea board to help visualize the transformation.

      Pam suggests using a shower curtain instead of glass sliders. She points out that there’s plenty of tile on the walls that will remain visible even if the shower curtain is closed. A shower curtain is a great way to add design… it will allow for more elbow room when you shower… it will hide any unsightly shampoo bottles… it will save you the trouble of having to scrub those tracks and glass doors that get scummy so fast…and, it will keep the budget under control. For a shower curtain: How about this

Retro Barber Shop shower curtain from Bed Bath and Beyond

    — it’s sort of masculine-country-kitsch.

  1. If Megan wants to go more than a little bit country, this black and white Cabin Check gingham plaid shower curtain from Country Curtains would surely take her there. An advantage to choosing this style is that coordinating window valances or curtains are available. Pam notes: You *can* mix a checked bathroom curtain with a tile wall — but you have to be careful of the scale. You wouldn’t want everything to be 4″ squares, for example.
  2. I found these pink oil can bath accessories from Target. I know we are trying to de-feminize the bathroom, and that these are pink — but using the pink at least one more time in the bathroom will help it feel more finished. It is always good design to repeat colors throughout a room.
  3. Pam suggests using a darker pink, white or light grey towels in the bathroom. I think the light grey would be particularly nice because it is a bridge color between the black tiles and the white in the shower curtain and tub. (These towels would also work well with Pam’s paint color choice in #6)
  4. Megan’s pink and black bathroom tiles.
  5. Pam’s paint color tips : A slight off white with a touch of gray, or a light gray would work well. Idea: Once you get the shower curtain and floor that you are going to use in your hands, use them to select a color. Take them both into a good paint shop with a good designer who can help — and pull your paint from those pieces. Most all paint stores now have computers to shoot a closeup digital image of any color in any item, and then match it.
  6. Since Megan wants vinyl tile for the floor — how about sheet that would probably still be very affordable but give a nice smooth finish. Keep it neutral with a subtle pattern, how about this Mannington vinyl sheet floor. You could also use vinyl tiles in this vein (pun), they are readily available at stores like Home Depot, Lowes, Menards. Make sure the color leans toward the gray — not the beige — to complement the black bullnose tile that is so prominent in the bathroom.
  7. Megan mentioned refinishing the vanity to match the oak door.


Wall decor for a pink and black country retro bathroom

As far as the decor is concerned, Pam pointed out that there is chrome in your faucets and light fixtures, and therefore it makes sense to use a chrome shower rod to match the finishes and coordinate with the grey towels and wall color. She also thinks that the wall spaces above and across from the toilet will be super fun to decorate – especially now that your walls will be a blank canvas. Pam’s advice: Either go shopping around your house to see what you have, or, taking your cues from your bathroom colors — pink, black, gray, brown — and from your style — country — start hunting around at thrift stores and tag sales and see what the retro decorating gods send you. I would suggest adding something nice sized in oak on one of the walls — not shelving or a cabinet, but something more decorative — to repeat the oak vanity in one other spot in the room. Also, if you use the barbershop shower curtain, you can potentially play up this them in your decor — with vintage pharmacy prints on the walls, as just one thought. And Pam repeats one of her decorating phobias: Keep your toilet lid closed when you are not using it, dear. It’s very bad feng shui to leave your toilet open – it let’s the “money energy” of the house flow down the drain. We don’t want that!
Note: Because I can harness the magic of Photoshop, the toilet lid is now closed — let the positive energy return!

What do you think of these ideas, Megan?
Do you like them?
What do you think readers?

design dilemma

CategoriesPink Bathrooms
  1. Marcheline says:

    Since I love retro decor and can’t stand country, I would definitely go with combination one… since it’s art deco more than country. Let’s see if THIS comment gets deleted, too. 😎

  2. Patty says:

    Since they don’t want a shower curtain, it seems futile to keep suggesting them. A shower door makes the room more masculine, IMO.

    1. pam kueber says:

      Well, yes, but since they asked my opinion I gave it — especially since I think a shower curtain is a strong opportunity to counterpoint all that pink.

      1. lynda says:

        And… a shower curtain is so much easier to take care of than glass doors and all the metal trim and runners.

  3. Magan Menard says:

    I’d do Gingham…it comes in a variety of colors and screams country

    Id use this picture for inspiration…as you can see teal and pink look nice together.


    This next picture is a good example of a color palette that works with pink to de-feminize it I like that olivey-lime green with the yellow and pink.


    Here is an example of pink and olivey green (it’s a kitchen image but you can get the idea)


    Below is a picture of an apron but it is the exact theme I was thinking.
    You could do cream walls with this green gingham as curtains and accenting it by sewing matching trim on the bottom of your towels. And use country decorations to solidify your theme. Then when you get sick of country you only have to change out the curtains and decorations.

    [link broken]

  4. Patty says:

    Since they want to de-feminize, I’d stay away from toille.

    I would consider vinyl sheet flooring that looks like hardwood. Match it up to the door or if there’s hardwood in the hall.

    Come up with a theme for the bathroom to guide your selection of accessories and/or pictures on the wall. I’m thinking maybe “beach” in general, or maybe lighthouses or sailboats. Or fish. Don’t go overboard with stuff or it will be more ladylike.

    Throw some green paint up on those walls. Ignore the black.

    I have peach walls, same black bullnose, and an insert with tiny green diamonds. My walls are green and the black seems less prominent. I think the green would work great with that pink. Blue might be back to girly.

    1. pam kueber says:

      Oh yeah, you reminded me why I didn’t recommend toile in the first place: They wanted less feminine, more masculine. Yup. That’s how I ended up with the gingham style check and with the barbershop. I also left the oak vanity as is — because to me, that’s what you’d find in the country. That is: natural wood.

  5. Stacy says:

    Here’s the shower curtain I used in our bathroom. It’s a little more English country than American. Still crisp, and marries the black, white, and pink with a little taupe too. I think it melded nicely with our retro light fixtures.
    [link broken]

  6. kathy Vasey says:

    I’m also changing a bathroom into a pink bathroom. I made the shower curtain out of white base with black and pink polk-dots. I have the chrome curtain rod and and sewed a strip of the polka-dot fabric on the shower liner. Also there is a black and white tile that surrounds the shower. The floor is a vinyl that is black with white specs and accents are white. There is still more tiling that needs to be done by the sink. If I knew how to post a picture I would try.
    I love all the positive ideas that everyone posts about their pink bathroom.

  7. Lynne says:

    I can’t tell from the picture, is the vanity painted now? I’d paint it and the mirror black so the black of the tile would be brought around the room more. Maybe glass knobs on the vanity?

    I’m sure you could find a pink and black wallpaper that would give you enough of a country look. I think you need pattern, not just paint. Maybe a stencil?

    As for the floor, I would do a wood floor, but I’d paint it. Use a stencil, or checkerboard, or banding of some sort using black paint, to again pull that black around the room.

    I’d put shutters on the window.

Comments are closed.