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Vote for our The Hard Way Award — Bathroom Remodel winner for 2014

retro bathroomsUpdate: Voting is closed. Stay tuned for announcement of winner Friday, Jan. 23.

We believe that bathrooms are the most excruciating rooms in the house to renovate — and when you’re trying to do it the retro vintage way — The Hard Way — well, golly, there goes the ante, up up up! This year, Pam and I selected five finalists in our The Hard Way Award Bathroom Remodel category. Wanna help us select the winner? Voting is open through Wednesday night Jan. 21, we’ll announce a winner Friday, Jan. 23.

1. Rebecca’s mid-century mud set tile bathroom

midcentury bathroomRebecca and Keith won our The Hard Way Award – Kitchen Remodel in 2013 for their mid mod mad men kitchen remodel. In 2014, the pair jumped into another meticulous renovation, a gut remodel of their bathroom. Rebecca and Keith searched high and low for the perfect shade of aqua tiles for their midcentury bath, and after a long search, they found just what they needed from Nemo Tile. Installing the tiles with today’s standard approach was too easy, so they found a tile setter to install the tiles using the mud-set method — the old-fashioned hard way — a time consuming process that is nearly a lost art.

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2. Nanette & Jim’s Mamie pink bathroom from scratch

vintage pink bathroomOur next nominees — Nanette and Jim also are previous The Hard Way Award winners, in 2014 for their gorgeous vintage blue bathroom. Mere moments after their blue bathroom was completed, Nanette and Jim jumped right into a second major project, gut remodeling their main floor bathroom and turning it into a Mamie pink paradise. The couple filled the space with carefully chosen details — vintage fixtures and faucets, a tiled countertop, an arched shower opening, an inlaid Marmoleum floor, and vintage wallpaper and accessories. The results are stunning and as we like to say, the pink = retro botox. Makes you look at least 10 years younger. As long as you don’t leave the bathroom. Which we might never.

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3. Kristen & Paul’s 1940s style aqua and black tile bathroom

vintage-aqua-tile-bathroomKristen and Paul’s 1940’s style aqua and black tile bathroom was completed on a careful budget. The couple special ordered their aqua glow Daltile months ahead of time and stored in their garage waiting until they were ready to remodel. The aqua glow tiles were perfect to recreate the look of the bathroom’s original wallboard — we loved seeing tile brought up higher on the wall, such a great look. To keep the budget in check and preserve the original character of the space, all of the original fixtures were saved. The couple used readily available, inexpensive black and white hex tile flooring, black bullnose, liner tile and base tiles which added a lot of bang to the space for very little bucks. In the end, this bathroom is both beautiful and budget friendly. Bravo.

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4. Shelly and Greg’s 1958 Universal Terra Cruiser pink bathroom covered under layers of 1980s paint

vintage pink bathroom

vintage pink sinkWhen readers Shelly and Greg purchased their 1958 Universal Terra Cruiser — dubbed “The Love Shack” — they knew it needed some work. What they likely hadn’t realized, was the number of hours — and bottles of Citristrip — they would need to spend carefully removing a 1980s paint job from the original pink toilet, tub, sink and shower surround — and their pink kitchen sink and pink gas stove, too. It would have been too easy to rip everything out and start over from scratch, but Shelly and Greg persevered and now have the original, adorable vintage pink bathroom — and kitchen — of their dreams. (Special thanks to the Retro Decorating Gods, too, for cheap crummy 1980s paint.)

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5. Robert and Caroline’s sizzlin’ midcentury bathroom remodel

midcentury bathroomRobert and Caroline get kudos for restoring the original St. Charles steel kitchen cabinets and kitchen (gorgeous!) in their 1953 ranch home, but we were also super impressed with the genius idea behind the renovation of their home’s main bathroom. The original tiles and grout in the bathroom were in bad shape, and needed to be replaced. The couple wanted a colorful and quirky midcentury bathroom, but didn’t want to blow the budget buying pricey tile. With a little help from their creative daughter Roundhouse Sarah — owner of a Gilbert Spindel round house and a super active reader-contributor to Retro Renovation (we love you, Sarah!) — they used builder basic, affordable white tiles for the bulk of the bathroom and used NOS vintage sizzle strips that we spotted on ebay and featured here on the blog to use as liner tiles. The result is as versatile as it is amazing — by repainting the walls or changing the shower curtain, Robert and Caroline can completely change the look of their bathroom. We love it!

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Vote for your favorite, through Wednesday night:


  1. Kristen says:

    Thanks Carol,
    The aqua glow tiles are even more beautiful in person… it was hard to capture the depth of the color in the photos. The photos look almost blue gray in some angles, but the glaze is very entrancing, like you can look through it… i guess, hence the name aqua glow. Thanks for your vote!

  2. lynda says:

    I also think all the bathrooms deserve to win an award. My favorite is the the bath by Robert and Caroline. I think the sizzle strip tiles are very pretty. The strips make a basic bathroom so interesting. I also think the bath would appeal to many people if they should ever sell the home.

  3. lynda murray says:

    I know I’m being a cop out , but I cant pick a favorite on this one! They are all so different and unique. If my life depended on it….I would have to say the liner tiles that vary in design, and color, stand out in my mind. so I guess my vote would go for Robert and Caroline. Just because to me they were very daring, and stepped outside the box.

  4. kirk says:

    about to make an offer on a mid century house in escanaba…will also be needing to do some “updating” and bringing it back to it’s original feel. where in Northern Michigan are you? Sourcing product up north is a bit tricky. I live in LA, CA so can get anything I need/want here….the UP…not so much.

  5. Amy says:

    This is my first abstention – sorry! These are all so great. I remember looking at each as they were featured on RR – I still can’t decide on a “first place!” So I’m “copping out.” But congratulations to all 4 of you for your effort and love of this era!

  6. Lauryn says:

    How in heavens did I miss some of these stories?!? Especially that fantastic love shack trailer!! 2014 was busy, for sure, but still. Not sure I can handle picking a favorite, but I will most definitely be having fun looking at these bathrooms.

  7. Mag says:

    Holy Kacholy! This is torturous having to choose to vote. I wish the system allowed us to rate each one individually, rather than voting on one. There are so many things I love about each and every one these baths, and I want those features to count!

  8. ShellyinPhx says:

    Whatever the outcome, this has been a BLAST! Thanks for all the love for The Love Shack, and thanks to Pam and Kate for including our humble trailer bathroom!

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