Kathi paints and stencils her bathroom walls to look like midcentury wallpaper

So many great reader opinions on our story asking whether to paint or wallpaper Laura’s 1957 bathroom, but here’s an idea I forgot to mention, and which several readers suggested: Stenciling the walls to look like wallpaper. Kathi followed up to share photos after she stencilled her walls — what a transformation of this already glowy lovely midcentury bathroom >>>

Kathy wrote:

I’ve attached a couple pictures of a stencil project I did in the hall bathroom of our 1954 ranch.  I used this stencil I found on Amazon and two shades of metallic stencil creme from Royal Design Studio. [Pam notes: The Amazon links earn me a wee commission if you click and buy.]

The refresh was completed by (a professional) removing about 4 layers of flooring (sadly the original layer was too damaged to restore) and installing a vintage-feel vinyl flooring.  We also replaced the non-original light fixtures with something more appropriate and scored an older wall mirror at a neighbor’s garage sale.

Overall very pleased with the end result and like having the look of wallpaper without having to worry about the durability in a humid place like a bathroom.  

I’m currently working on our daughter’s “big girl room” which involves stenciling “Flamingo Lagoon” on to the walls of the original Ming Green bathroom.  I’m using four colors instead of two for this pattern, so I’ll need the Retro Reno gods in my corner. 

Wish me luck!

Luck!!! Thank you, Kathi, this is just beautiful! Indeed, since many readers are wary of putting up wallpaper given the humidity of bathrooms, stenciling is a wonderful option to get the look … without the paste. Arguably: Just as much work, though!

The new flooring looks fantastic, too! And — what pretty and spacious bathroom you have. I love the soft cocoa tiles and slightly more cocoa fixtures. And that built in cabinetry: Oh how many of us would just love to have that in our bathrooms! 

The flooring that Kathi used:

Indeed, questions started flowing in and Kathi replied:

… The flooring is  Armstrong Flooring DecorArt Corlon. I believe the color we chose was Stone Harbor. It’s a commercial grade product (thanks again to RR for all the inspiration) so a little spendy, but I’m hoping it’ll last for another 60 years!

Be sure to send us photos of the the Ming Green Flamingo Lagoon when it’s done! 

  1. Mary Elizabeth says:

    Yes, all those geese with (usually Federal blue) ribbons. Since we live in a farming area, I can tell you that geese do not cotton to ribbons. I have one souvenir from the 1980s, which is a little wooden goose with a magnet on the back and a dangling heart that says “Clean” on one side and “Dirty” on the other. It goes on the dishwasher. One of my precocious grandchildren, age 4, was sitting at the kitchen table and staring at the dishwasher, silently figuring out the letters in the word “Clean.” Finally, he asked, “Is that magnet a duck or a goose?”

    I replied, “It’s a goose.”

    “Well,” he said, “then that goose lies.”

    This was 20 years ago, and of course I have to keep the goose.

  2. Mary Elizabeth says:

    I love what you did with the bathroom. It looks more like it might have in the 1950s than before. Love that Suez Tan when the decor around it is complementary.

  3. Kathi says:

    The flooring is Armstrong Flooring DecorArt Corlon. I believe the color we chose was Stone Harbor. It’s a commercial grade product (thanks again to RR for all the inspiration) so a little spendy, but I’m hoping it’ll last for another 60 years!

  4. Elizabeth Minish says:

    Totally nailed it on this re-do. The wall colour was an inspired choice to “flatter” the colour of the tile and fixtures. The stencil job just put it right over the top. Kudos indeed!

  5. Joe Felice says:

    It does look like wallpaper, only without the repeating pattern.

    I had an aunt who used to put designs on her walls with an embossed roller that painted the design on the wall. I never tried it, because it seemed you have to be very exact, especially with getting the right amount of paint on the roller, and sing just the right amount of pressure. Then you’d have to be sure to roll in perfectly-straight lines.

  6. Joe Felice says:

    using just the right amount of pressure.

    Apparently, there is no way to edit comments once posted.

  7. DJ says:

    Beautiful!!! I love the colors and the stencil pattern you chose! And yes, the flooring! Your bathroom is a 10, for sure!

  8. Wendellyn says:

    Hi Pam,
    Sorry I didn’t know how else to contact you. Perhaps you already know about this company, Vance Solutions for Your Kitchen, if your readers are needing a hudee ring I have found a company in Illinois. They have several (18) standard sizes and are even willing to make custom sizes and they include the mounting clips and screws. Their prices seem reasonable. They also offer several other items for the kitchen which can be also used in the bathroom. Their web site is vanceind.com, phone# 847-983-0960, address, 5617 West Howard Street, Niles, IL 60714.

  9. Wendellyn says:

    That is great! I am relatively new to your site, so I apologize about not knowing. If I am lucky enough to get the sink I so badly want, I will need a hudee ring.

  10. Amy Weinholtz says:

    I have the same stencils and plan to use them in my 1969 bathroom, also because of potential humidity problems. We have accent tiles in the shower tile that look like the stencil, which is what I wanted to replicate – blue & avocado on white. I got a window & shower curtain to coordinate.

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