Craig and Mike’s fast and affordable 1952 bathroom remodel

mid-century-mod-bathroom-greenBefore 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!

bathroom-before-and-afterCraig tells us the renovation story:

Here are some pictures of the bathroom, the only bathroom, in our 1952 home. Our house was a flip, and the bathroom was done with awful big box store clearance junk tiles.before-bathroom-builder-basic

generic-bathroom-floorIt 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!

retro-modern-tile-shower-surroundI’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!

retro-modern-bathroom-remodel4.25-colorful-ceramic-tile-showerWe were in a major crunch for time and had a month to do ALL renovations before we moved in.

modern-ikea-vanityThe 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!

  1. I definitely love the new shower door and the open, bright feel it adds to this small bathroom. The original with obscured glass was too closed-in feeling.

  2. Joe Felice says:

    The toilet paper is on the roll backwards. I bet you thought ol’ eagle eyes wouldn’t find anything to complain about!

    1. pam kueber says:

      haha, i may need to make another rule if you want to be on the blog: toilet lids down AND toilet paper hanging OVER

      1. Joe Felice says:

        Good rules. With only guys in the house, and my being a guy (I think), the lid issue is not as pressing to us as it is to the ladies. LOL Are there cats in the home? If so, and if they like to attack toilet paper, that would be the only mitigating circumstance for allowing backwards toilet paper. I finally broke down and just bought a new toilet-paper holder just for the kitties! LOL Oh, the things we do!

  3. Ladybird says:

    Really like the floating vanity. I’m sure you’ll have luck finding a great vintage vanity soon – but this is a great option for now. Nice color choices, too!

  4. Mike A. says:

    I really like the tile work. Want to thank you, after reading this, I searched for Kohler shower heads and did not realize Kohler has a reasonably priced modern line. I just bought the Awaken shower head.

  5. Robin K. says:

    Details matter. This is the proof. Your bathroom and I have been having quite the staring contest. Personally, I love the vanity. It izzzzzz
    completely mid-century modern in all it’s simplicity. Perfect choice. And I’m not just saying that because I’m using an Ikea vanity in my powder room remodel. 🙂

  6. JKM says:

    Very nice. I especially like the way you carried the random color pattern onto the sides, head, and sill of the window. Such attention to detail!

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