Thursday, January 10, 2013

That 70s Bathroom: Phase 1

Here's what we're working with for the next few years until we do a true remodel of the upstairs hall bath:

bathroom_makeover 70s_bathroom
We're stuck with most if it for now, but I'm doing what I can to bring it to the second decade of the 21st century.

I've removed a lot of wallpaper in my days as a decorative painter trying to make ends meet in a down economy, let me tell you.  I've tackled up to 3 layers over plaster (damaged and un-), single layers over orange peel-textured drywall, paper-paper and vinyl-paper and painted-over paper, high dollar and low-budget, full rooms, talllllll stairwells and just borders.  This was the worst, but not because it didn't come off easily and not because there were multiple layers, but because when they removed the 1976 wall paper to put up the 1989 wallpaper they didn't remove the adhesive, they just primed over it.  It worked great for their project and made mine kind of shitty*.  I beg all homeowners and contractors to think about what it will be like to undo something when they are doing something.  I'm lookin' at you with the caulk gun and the silicone and construction adhesive, mister or ms.** 

Phase 1: Deal with walls and ceiling, mirror-to-medicine cabinet, add shower curtain, and fix the upside-down light switch and outlet.

bathroom_makeover 70s_bathroom
The shower curtain that started it all.

It started when I found this sample shower curtain in my fabric stash.  It's only half as wide, because it's from Macy's or Bed, Bath & Beyond's display where they have all the shower curtains hung so you can see them.  This is a narrow shower stall, so it's perfectly sized AND it's a contemporary take on a 70s paisley so it ties in with the avocado colored shower and sink that we're stuck with.  I chose a couple of colors from it to sample for the paint and found one that worked pretty well: Pittsburgh Paint's Butterfly Bush***.

bathroom_makeover 70s_bathroom
The wall color is closer in real life to the part of the wall shown on the right side of the photo, at least on my monitor.  I was looking for something in a black frame for that empty wall and realized I had another Ikea piece: the UNG DRILL that I had a mirror cut for last year, but I see that you can get them with a mirror now.

Walls & Ceiling: I was all excited that there were smooth walls under the wallpaper, something decorative painters in the Pacific Northwest dream about, but rarely get to work on.  Alas, my hopes were dashed when I discovered the situation described above.  Sigh.  I gave up getting them smooth because I was tired of sanding and didn't want to skim coat them as that is a lot of work and I'm not so skilled at it that it wouldn't then require more sanding AND we want to do a real remodel of the one-and-a-half baths upstairs to make one super-functional and luxurious-to-us bath in 5 or so years. So, I got them smoother, but not quite smooth-ish, then primed and painted them and the ceiling.  As part of this I also removed the old and added new, clean caulk to the shower perimeter.  Before all that, I turned those electrical fixtures upside-right.  I noticed when the switch is upside down and the light is on, the switch says "NO" which should make it extra obvious that it's not right**.  Probably 85% or our outlets in this house are what we both consider upside down, you know with the ground hole on the top.  Why?  I'll tell you why, "It's the Bitterroot!"

bathroom_makeover 70s_bathroom
Same ol' vanity, counter & light fixture, but with the new paint, medicine cabinet and part of the toothpaste collection.  Note the outlet is no longer upside down.

Mirror-to-Medicine Cabinet: It was a good quality mirror and I had assumed it was hung off-center in order to utilize studs for the mirror clips.  I was incorrect, they used anchors so why they hung it off-center is a mystery.  We brought the medicine cabinet with it's distressed black finish with us after Christmas in Portland and I was assuming I'd repaint it for this room, but since all our "art" in there is framed and matted in black it makes some sense as is.  We'll see how I feel after living with it, but for now it stays and I've done less work and spent less money.  I did replace the brushed nickel knob with an antique brass one which I'm digging with the black more than I thought I would.

bathroom_makeover 70s_bathroom foreign_toothpaste
A portion of my foreign toothpaste collection with two newly rediscovered empty frames to fill with some of the rest of the collection (so far).  That's right, those are Ikea RIBBA frames.  It made all the difference in my ability to mount the collection when Ikea opened in Portland.

The "art" so far consists of the portion of my foreign toothpaste collection that I have mounted.  I did it in the style of an old-school natural history/science museum (anyone remember the rock room at the old OMSI up by the zoo and Forestry Center?) which I think fits in with my take on the 70s, at least.  I have LOTS more toothpaste to mount and two empty frames, so I'll hopefully get to that soon.

bathroom_makeover 70s_bathroom foreign_toothpaste
We decided to put some of our wicker-y type stuff in here to go along with the woody 70s vibe, so I rejuvenated the wood on E's cabinet with Old English oil and plopped a trash can of mine in there (not pictured).

Shower Curtain: At first I was going to remove the shower door, fill the holes, put up a curtain and live with it that way.  Then I decided that the door helps with the functionality if we ever use that shower.  Eric has used it twice, I never have, but we'll definitely use it when I tackle the main floor bathroom where we shower now.  As long as it's hidden a bit with this goofy, cheery curtain I'm fine with it. I couldn't find a shower stall-sized tension rod at my local hardware store, so I decided to try a tension style curtain rod.  It works, but looks dumb so I have a new plan.  Stay tuned and wish me luck with that project!

Functional and free, but... .

Coming soon****; Phases 2 & 3 including some or all of the following: Light fixtures (maybe), shower curtain rod, TP holder, vanity cabinetry and hardware, possibly curtains and rod.

*I try not to cuss much here, but really it was shitty shit shitty.
** And yes, those are hate lasers shooting out of my eyes.
*** This is my second favorite paint-company-gets-it-wrong situations, because butterfly bush flowers are usually purple.  Unless there's another plant with the same name, of course.
**** I hope.


  1. So much better. I love your choice of shower curtain. And the toothpaste collection is hilarious. Don't love the avocado sink, but it's better than pink!

  2. Thank you! I know you can appreciate the source of the shower curtain which is the Goodwill bins; it probably cost 85 cents, was brand new and I thought I'd make a skirt out of it when I picked it up!

  3. GREAT job! You make me want to tackle some home improvement projects. Goodness that bathroom as dated and you breathed some fresh life into it. I love the colour choice and may think about that for our hall bath. J does like yellow and it goes well with Gray. Yes avacado for the sink isn't the best has gold sparkles :)

    1. Thanks! It's getting there! Just taking that wallpaper down made a HUGE difference to how big and tall it felt in there. I was surprised at how much I truly like it in there, as yellow is one of my least favorite colors - it just happened to be the right color for this situation.

      I was just ogling some really nice yellow/grey/white decorating fabrics at JoAnn the other day. Too bad you don't have a window in that bathroom; I could make you curtains!

  4. Wow. I love what a little paint and effort can do to a room. It really is much, much, mucho better!

    I don't think the curtain rod looks dumb. You could minimize it by making holes further down the curtain so it butts up against the rod. Or hang a valance in front of it. But I'm sure you already have a much better idea :)

    1. It's SO much better in there. It's 70s-esque, but way "fresher" feeling.

      I have remedied the situation and will be posting about Phase 2, soon hopefully. I'd like to find a TP holder before that, though.


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