One Mid-Century Modern owners take on bathroom remodel
Mixing original features with a modern feel
In a previous article, I gave descriptions of cleaning the linoleum floors and chrome fixtures in our bathrooms. My husband and I found ourselves dissatisfied with the results despite the effectiveness of our efforts. We decided that the bathrooms really needed an overhaul. The larger, full bath would become our first renovation. My mission with our bathroom remodel, and any work in our new home, has been to preserve the Mid-Century Modern style of the space.
The biggest impact of our renovation was the flooring. We had the old, cracked linoleum floors removed and replaced with in 2-inch Hex Carrera Marble tiles on the floor, 3×6 Carrera Marble tiles at the base of the wall and 3×6 transparent glass tiles on the walls. The blue-green hint of color in the glass tile compliments the rich grey and white of the marble. We wanted to reference the hexagon tile styles of the 1950s with the flooring. We decided on the classic subway tile in a more cutting-edge material and hue to achieve a mix of retro and contemporary styles.
Our outstanding handyman, Apolo, executed the renovation. He had to conform to strict requirements. One such, rather difficult request was to keep the original grey wall-mount sinks. At first we wanted to have a new vanity but soon we determined this would be very difficult and costly as the sinks are oddly shaped with lots of curves. Instead, we had our handyman refinish and paint the old vanity, giving it new life. He sanded the wood to remove a few layers of paint and then used a spray gun to apply the new paint. The old vanity looks completely refreshed.
The sinks desperately needed to be cleaned. Once the sinks were detached I set about to clean them. I decided to use CLR cleaning solution to detach the decades of grime that had accumulated. The chrome faucets had to be removed first, as chrome easily tarnishes with CLR. I donned yellow latex cleaning gloves, headed to the garage, placed a sink in a heavy-duty trash bag and set to work scraping off gunk with the cleaner and a metal putty knife. Once done, I hosed the sinks off outside and let them dry on our patio.
We needed new countertops for the vanity. At first we resolved to try a DIY countertop using tinted epoxy resin. This method is popular as an inexpensive upgrade for laminate countertops, making them appear as stone. We went with a pure white resin over cut-to-fit melamine boards. It seemed easy enough from the instructions and various YouTube video tutorials. However, we were far from successful. We were left with wrinkly white boards unsuitable for any counter. Sum it up to say that such a project should be left to the pros.
After that mishap, we decided to go with Carrera Marble countertops. We found a great deal on a remnant piece at a local stone yard. We had their fabricators cut the stone to fit the space and our handyman did the installation. We couldn’t be happier with the end result. It just looks “right.”
We had a successful DIY experience in patching up the voids left by the dilapidated medicine cabinets. Though we believe the medicine cabinets were original, they were broken beyond repair with excessive rust and jagged chips in the mirror doors. Our handyman removed the cabinets for us. My husband and I then set about to cutting soundboard to fill the void and then installing furring strips and drywall with lots of compound. We are pretty happy with the results of our first attempt at drywall. We found the perfect mirrors for the wall at a bargain price from IKEA. They look luxurious but were well within our tight budget.
As for the fixtures, well, we’re not quite done yet. We need to switch out the shower head and knobs as they are old and ugly. They are not original so I don’t feel any attachment. We kept the original faucets, which look brand new after being vigorously scrubbed for a second time. The lighting fixtures were originally going to go but our handyman recommended cleaning them before chucking them, which brought them back to life. They now look crisp and bright, matching the feel of the room exactly.
One of the last things to take place was painting the room a crisp semi-gloss white. Before, the color was a light beige which made the small room and everything in it appear yellowed with age in any light. The same color is used throughout the house and looks just fine. We decided to go with white to tie in the vanity, moulding and tile grout, as well as the white in the marble. I was even a little surprised at the difference the wall color makes. It is perfection.
We had a few hiccups with the plumbing, as one might expect with an old house. A few pipes needed to be replaced due to incompatibility as well as an excess of rust. This pushed the project back a few days and was an extra expense, but worth it for our peace of mind.
Blending old and new was the right choice in updating our Mid-Century Modern bathroom. The results look great and also saved us a good chunk of change on materials.
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