“Fun with plastic bathroom tile” is the theme of today’s reader bathroom spotlight: Readers Lori and Ed — whose gobsmacking fun kitchen was featured a while back — at the same time designed this adjacent powder room to keep the happy, eclectic, colorful vibe going. Lori loves color — a gift from her grandmother, who designed rooms combining lilac and mint green, as one example, she told me when we talked via the phone recently. I am particularly excited to show this bathroom because Lori shows us how we can combine different colors of tiles in a bold way that I don’t think I’ve ever featured before.
Creating a fun design with plastic tile
In this case, the bathroom is designed using plastic tiles that Lori bought on ebay. I think you can still get vintage plastic tiles like this *relatively affordably* today on ebay — IF you take your time and can wait for the right deal(s).
To create her design, Lori laid the different tiles out on the floor to experiment and come up with her pleasing design. She also is a collector of vintage decorating catalogs, so she was able to ogle ideas there.
Part of what made this small-bathroom project possible, I think, is that plastic tiles may mostly come up for sale in small batches — they were leftovers. So here, Lori could combine a number of lots into one cohesive, colorful design. Another thing about plastic tiles: They came in various sizes — notice how Lori was able to make really good use of narrow liner tiles to “section” the different colors. She also has courses of 2×4-ers in green and pink. Overall: A very very pleasing, graphic design — it just “makes sense” — and as already demonstrated in your kitchen, you have a terrific gift in putting shapes and colors together beautifully, Lori!
When I first saw this bathroom, I was confused about whether the tiles were plastic or ceramic because as seen in the photo above, there are grout lines. Lori explained that the plastic tile in her kitchen was installed the ‘traditional’ way — just butting one plastic tile up against the other (the edges of the tiles curved downward to enable this type of install.) For the bathroom, she wanted to do something different, so decided to make the tiles look like they were grouted. To get this effect, her husband (I think she told me that Ed installed the plastic tiles), left a wee bit of space between each tile, then smoothed the mastic that burped up in between each tile to create the ‘grout’ line.
Among the subcontractors Lori and Ed worked with, one had worked with plastic tiles in decades past and was able to recommend an appropriate adhesive available today. Readers, on questions like this, I recommend you consult with pros — perhaps the professionals in longtime local tile stores can advise. Another idea — how about trying a company like Mapei, which seems to make a variety of mastics, to see if they can make a recommendation.
Here’s a closer look at the sparkle laminate. Remember, if you want sparkle laminate today, you can now get it at Make It Midcentury.
The floors are a Congoleum VCT in a (now-discontinued) color Bubble Gum pink. Note, there ARE colorful VCT floor tile options still out there, see my roundup story for where to search. And the additional details in this bathroom: That’s a vintage pink toilet peeking out, and who doesn’t love some vintage chalkware fish and a little vintage hamper — just a few, carefully edited decorative accessories to complement the busy, designed-to-steal-the-show tile.
Lori says she uses this bathroom to put her makeup on — yes, the pink bathroom “retro botox” effect — all that pink takes 10 years off, at least — at it again!
I designed the pattern that we used to resemble an original fifties style bathroom wall.
And I think she accomplished this fabulously! Thank you, Lori and Ed, for sharing yet another story with us! Such a happy space — you are among my top design role models of all time! xoxo pam