More fun with atomic starburst decals — Leila keeps family tradition going with her bathroom decorating project

Baby in vintage bathroom on board! I “met” Leila on our Facebook page and was entranced by her bathroom makeover, which was driven by her desire to create a wallpaper look but with decals. All the more fascinating: This is the house she grew up with — and she even shared photos of her as a baby in this same bathroom — yes, that’s Leila, captured in Kodak circa 1961, in the classic pink-blue-black tile bathroom before her mother started switching things up! 

The bathroom today — after Leila’s mom changed the tile years ago… and after Leila did some of her own decorating recently.

Leila wrote:

Hi Pam:

Yes, I’m thrilled that you are interested in using my bathroom on your blog. This is a small bathroom in an upstairs flat in snowy Buffalo. I started out wanting to change the very dated wallpaper that I had with some starburst mid-century pattern wallpaper. When I could not find exactly what I wanted, I investigated other options. I decided to try decals, and I found exactly what I wanted on Etsy


The hardest part was trying to figure out the placement so that they looked random. I cut out some foil in the same shapes and taped those to the wall first -to play around with the placement before I actually put on the decals. I also changed the hardware from wood block pulls to huge, mid-century round knobs which I also found on Etsy.

I scored the vintage Dixie Cup dispenser at a flea market — brand new with silver starburst cups to match!

The scalloped valance was handmade by my father in the 1950s and I treasure it. These inexpensive changes completely transformed my bathroom. I admire it every day while getting ready for work. Now I just need a soap dispenser and some towels with a mid-century vibe! Thanks.

I grew up in this house and I wanted to play up the vintage features I remember from my childhood.  I have pictures of me as an infant being bathed in the sink. It’s not a pink bathroom, but it is still very special. 🙂

Here are two pictures that span 50+years.  

That’s me after my bath circa 1961…. 

…. and here I am today sitting in that same spot in front of the mirror.  The bathroom tiles used to be pink. Don’t hate me — I had nothing to do with their demise. Blame it on my progressive mother who was always changing with the times. And like you always say, you have to work with what you’ve got — so I’m trying my best to highlight the vintage features that do remain.

This bathroom is packed with built in storage, as you can see. The cabinetry was all handmade by my father back in the 50s. It’s almost primitive compared to today’s standards. There are no drawer slides and some drawers are cockeyed, but I love it because it came from his hands. There is even a door behind the shower that opens to easily to access the plumbing.  

But by far, the most genius part is the huge swing out, hinged laundry hamper shown in the picture. It is practically hidden yet conveniently placed for dirty clothes and towels. Every house should have this! 

Thanks for your interest.  I stumbled on your blog years ago and it was like finding a friend — all these like-minded people sharing my passion!.  Someday, I’ll tell you about my vintage clothing collection 🙂


Fabulous, Leila. I love love love it! What a treasure to this home, and you are a wonderful caretaker! Thank you for sharing your story and all these photos with us!

  1. Leila says:

    My laundry hamper does not have any type of liner- but that is a really good idea for lifting and carrying laundry. I don’t have that issue because my laundry room is directly behind the bathroom so I only have to carry the laundry about 5 feet and just dump it in the washer. It’s another great feature my father added to this apartment back in 1952. Very few people have a laundry room with laundry basin on the second floor, just steps away from bathroom and bedroom where all the dirty clothes are generated. So convenient!

  2. Pam Kueber says:

    Yes, I think I’ve written about the dynamism of threes before: The theory is, our eyes are made to match thinks in pairs. So, when we see that third item, we kinda subconsciously have to stop and think about what we are seeing — it’s more interesting, odder, more surprising. In general, this is also the power of odd’s vs. evens.

    That said: There is also a time for symmetry. And almost always: Balanced asymmetry.

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