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A Literary Bathroom

Melanie Heuiser Hill A Literary Bathroom

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….

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