Kristen and Paul’s 1940s style aqua and black tile bathroom, built from scratch

vintage bathroomfamily2When we last heard from Kristen and Paul, the couple had a stash of Daltile Aqua Glow wall tiles stacked in their garage and were eagerly awaiting the day when they could be installed in their charming 1899 home’s main floor bathroom. Fast forward a year — and their bathroom is now complete. Kristen loves it so much she wanted to sleep in there for the first few days after it was complete, and yowza, we don’t blame her — what a gorgeous bathroom!

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Bathroom before

While Kristen and Paul loved their original bathroom’s color scheme, the vintage wallboard just wasn’t standing up to daily abuse and cleaning, so they marshaled their energy to gear up for a gut remodel. After months of careful planning and finding just the right tile, they began their bathroom remodel. The couple was able to keep and reuse their vintage tub, sink and medicine cabinet, saving them a bundle and allowing room in the budget for them to hire a contractor to do their tile work.

Daltile Aqua Glow field tile with black trim

Kristen writes:

So here’s the story on our new vintage bath remodel:

Our bathroom is the last room to be remodeled in our entire house. We are used to doing most of the labor ourselves however I knew that with the precision of the tile that I wanted to hire a professional. And though it is a small bathroom I knew it would be costly so we waited to do this room last until we were absolutely sure we knew what we wanted.

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Bathroom’s original wallboard.

What we started out with was not bad by any means. The last major remodel to that part of the house was done in the 40s or 50s so we were left with very nice vintage fixtures including an Art Deco style medicine cabinet. Although I loved the original turquoise wallboard, it just did not hold up to splashing, flushing and toddler potty training over the years!  We were told that this type of wallboard paneling was a thick paperboard with painted surface. We could never be clean it properly without wiping the finish and painted surface off and eventually it just got too gross! (see close-up photo). I knew something more permanent and cleanable would have to be installed.

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I basically knew that I wanted the same kind of look…just done the way it should’ve originally been done with shiny and scrubbable tile. I even selected a tile in the same blue family… The glorious aqua glow ceramic 4 x 4 wall tile from Daltile.

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Just a note… My local Daltile showroom said that this tile was discontinued, but I was able to find it online although I had to wait for 3 months for it to be delivered.  It was well worth the wait because I can’t imagine a more perfect shade of vintage blue. I love it so much…I wanted to sleep in the bathroom the first couple nights after it was finished!

  • Editor’s note: We reached out to the PR department at Daltile to ask whether or not aqua glow had been discontinued and were told: NO, it has NOT been discontinued. However, it is a custom order. We’ve heard from a few other readers who were told by a tile retailer that this color was no longer available. Hey, we’ve also heard from readers who say that their local tile store doesn’t know about Daltile’s Mosaic Tile Designer. These retailers are wrong. Moral of the story: Push back, people! Vendors are so accustomed to selling what is popular today and are often not as informed as customers like us who have done the research about less frequently purchased materials. Call Daltile customer service directly if your local store tells you they can’t order this color or the mosaic flooring — special order may be more work to buy, but it is do-able.
  • And: Looking for 4 x 4 pastel tiles for a vintage bathroom? See our story 30+ places to find 4″ x 4″ ceramic bathroom tile in vintage colors.

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The floors are sheets of 1″ black-and-white hex tile by American Olean. I had considered a more square or rectangular motif tile floor, but decided I had a lot of block/rectangular angles going on and wanted something to contrast – I love the way they look like little polkadots!

6″ wide black cove base tile — a wonderful detail

I asked Kristen what inspired her to use the black 6″ cove base tiles around the bottom of the wall — a detail that both Pam and I absolutely loved. She replied:

Well, I like a lot of contrast.  So I knew I wanted black bullnose borders at the top with pencil stick trim… it just seemed to make sense to add the black cove at the bottom.  I think the tile guys actually suggested that’s how they usually finish the bottom…. and I studied vintage bathrooms. And I could not find Aqua Glow specialty pieces, so we had to fill in with the black. Yes, I believe they are 6 x 6… on that detail, I pretty much just referred to the tile guys, I had never heard of cove base before. 😉

vintage bathroomAt first my tile guys were not crazy about working on an older home with plaster and lath board walls, but as the work was finishing up they really started liking the look. They even said it was nice to work on a project with a bit more color than the taupe and beige tiles they are putting in newer homes.

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The paint color is It is Gold 3 by Laura Ashley.

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midcentury ranch

I have included one preview shot of our mid century modest winter home that we just bought in southern Florida! (It has a pink tile bathroom — the floor is very similar to yours—hooray!) We are super excited about it and plan on decorating it up retro and renting it out on the off-season…. So if you’d like I can keep you updated about that as well.

retro family
Family photo by Jordan Barclay Photography.

Well, thanks again & it is always an honor to be featured!

No: Thank you, Kristen and Paul, for sharing yet another lovely project with us — you are very talented indeed. We absolutely love the tile you chose for the walls, trim, floor — your bathroom is adorable, just like your family.  We look forward to hearing about your new adventures in your little slice of retro Florida, too. Keep us posted!

See more of Kristen and Paul’s home:

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  1. John says:

    My favorite quote from the article about what the tile installers said, “it was nice to work on a project with a bit more color than the taupe and beige tiles they are putting in newer homes.” One day the world will rediscover color in bathrooms again!

  2. Mary Ann says:

    Love your bathroom! I am putting the same floor in mine. What color grout did you use? Love how the hexies pop!

  3. Hanna says:

    Funnily we also have this same hamper, but in black! I love your bathroom, we’ve been hoarding a stash of tile while we look for a sink for ours. Can’t wait to eventually install it!

  4. Kerri Stahl says:

    I just love your talent and vision. I am not crafty in the least, but I adore anything “old” or vintage. I have a yellow and black tiled 40s bathroom and I am regrouting the tiles and reglazing the tub. I want to introduce a bright and fun color with turquoise curtains in an atomic age fabric. I was wondering if you would mind sharing where you bought the fabric for your valance. Thank you!


  5. Dan says:

    I really like the Gold 3 paint color, but when I look at the paint chip on their website, it looks almost beige (more neutral) but in your photos it looks more orange (which is what caught my eye, I really like it!) Is it just the light that makes it look orange, is this really more of a beige color?

  6. Paula Treadwell says:

    Thank you thank you thankyou!!! My son’s bathroom is turquoise blue, not too far from this color, in the vintage home we’re buying in Texas. I was hoping a yellow shade would bring out the tile while still remaining masculine. It looks fantastic! You have an amazing color scheme and did a fantastic job on the remodel! Your shelving is both stylish and familiar. I’m putting our pink metal corner shelf and similar, but made from wicker over-the-toilet shelf in my pink bathroom. I hope I can find similar ones for the blue bathrooms too!

  7. Penny W. says:

    I love your bathroom! I also plan on moving to Florida, East Coast one day and would love to renovate one of those homes. I have that exact hamper but in white!

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