When we moved into our current home, #1 Son was six years old and Darling Daughter was a baby in my arms. It was a house that needed a lot of work. We worked on it for a whole month before we could even move in. After the kitchen was inhabitable and several coats of paint had brightened the rest of the house, we sat down and made a list of what would be nice to do over the next twenty years or so. The pink bathroom was always on the list.
We took a little community ed class on how to remodel bathrooms from our house’s era. The basic message was: DON’T. They talked about how the tile was exceptionally well installed, the floors problematic, the engineering very tight. This bathroom has exceptionally well installed pink tile. Would not have been our color choice, but we could live with. (#1 Son was the most perturbed by it.)
The gold foil wallpaper and ceiling paper needed to go, however. It was not an easy job, but once the walls and ceiling were painted a fresh white, we decided to live with the rest. And we did — much to the kids’ chagrin. The vanity was built for children — absurdly low, and our children grew absurdly tall. The pink was no one’s favorite, but the tub and toilet were this horrific not-quite-mauve, not-quite-taupe, not quite salmon color. The drawers and the tub were gross. Whatever — they had a bathroom. They shared it and grew up into fine people and moved out.
When we said we thought we’d redo the pink bathroom for real they both said, “WHY NOW?! We’re gone!” And we said, “This is what empty-nesters do.”
I won’t get into the harrowing details of the remodel…. Suffice to say that we stuck with the pink tile, as advised twenty years ago, and this was smart. And we kept the “retro” flooring because it really is extremely sturdy, and it looks better with the other changes. We put in a new toilet and changed the color of the terrible taupe‑y/salmon‑y/mauve‑y tub. My husband ripped out the gross lilliputian vanity and it was replaced it with one designed for adults of tall stature, with drawers that suck themselves in and are clean and don’t have questionable stains. We put a granite countertop in and a new sink with a nifty faucet that puts the water out exactly where it should come out in the sink. (You don’t think this is important until it is done right — a marvel!) My husband freshened the grout throughout.
And then came the time to choose a theme for the bathroom. We got the family together so everyone could have their say. And people…I’m so proud! Our offspring suggested a literary-themed bathroom! (Swoon!) We ordered posters and shower curtain from Litographs. This lovely company takes the texts of books and prints it really small and makes art/a scene from the book out of it. So clever! So fun!
We chose books that have been important to our family and to the kids’ reading lives in particular. Frog & Toad, Winnie-the-Pooh, Nancy Drew. There’s not a lot of wall space in the bathroom, so we had to be selective — it was difficult to pick only three. But the decision for the shower curtain was unanimous—Pride & Prejudice.
The space is changed — it makes me smile every time I walk by the door, in fact. So clever! So fun! I think my work here is done….