Before moving into their 1952 house, Craig and Mike needed to move fast to remodel the bathroom. They bought the house from flippers, who had improved some features. But, the construction job in the house’s only bathroom was lacking, and the surfaces were builder basic blah. With no time to waste, they kept their choices retro-simple, starting with 4″ tiles in colors inspired by Craig’s vintage Fiat 500 motorcar. This story underscores one of the great things about midcentury bathrooms: Usually, the most period-appropriate materials to use are unpretentious — and affordable — yet, they can be put together in delightful ways!
It was a good thing we decided to do the bathroom, as the flippers didn’t do a proper vapor barrier, and the floor underneath the tub was rotten! I have to say, I found some before pics of the home online from when the flippers purchased it, and it was truly trashed with nothing of any significance left to be saved. Luckily, the flippers were able to bring the hardwoods back, so I give them kudos for that at least.
We used the United States Ceramic Tile product to redo the bathroom in our 1952 home and created a mosiac in 4 colors: spring green, light taupe, yellow and white. The bad part was we didn’t order enough from a tile store, but then we found boxes upon boxes of more of the same at the ReStore!
It even inspired us to throw in the white tiles into the mosaic pattern we created, which tied in the Kohler tub and toilet nicely! Oh and my partner Mike and I are both 6 ft, so we bumped the shower head up a bit, it’s much nicer that way!
I’m not even sure how the idea for the bathroom came together, except I wanted a mosaic, but I didn’t like the glass tile mosaics (or the price). The spring green was an almost identical match to my previous car — a new Fiat 500. Since I’d heard that color was the original 50s Fiat Verde Chiaro, I went with that as the inspiration!
The vanity is Ikea, and the lighting is new from a lighting gallery…but we’re always on the lookout for a fab vintage piece to switch out. As I said, we were crazy pressed for time, and I wanted as much of a midcentury modern feel as possible. After over a year it’s still not quite finished, as I’ve been VERY particular about accessories! I’m on the lookout for a match for the one yellow and white ceramic fish I found at Goodwill!
Resources for Craig and Mike’s retro bathroom remodel:
- Tile: United States Ceramic Tile from a local tile retailer and also ReStore in colors: spring green, yellow, taupe, and snow white.
- Lighting: ‘Retrodome’ light from a local lighting store, recessed shower lighting from Lowe’s
- Tub/toilet: Kohler from Lowe’s
- Shower doors: Home Depot (Sterling, I think) in clear and chrome
- Mirror: Lowe’s ‘style selections’ (I like that it had the look of a recessed medicine cabinet)
- Vanity and sink: Ikea GODMORGAN/ODENSVIK in black brown with RÖRSKÄR faucet (I actually love how functional these are, the storage is a welcome addition! And it floats, good for big feet)
Thank you, Craig and Mike, for sharing your story and all the photos. Great job!
- See our story: 12 places to find 4″ x 4″ ceramic tile