MCM Kitchen Wrap-Up

We’ve been living with our new kitchen for over six months now, and I feel like I’m used to it; like its always been there.  I have a hard time imagining what the old space looked like because this new design flows so well with our lifestyle.

It took awhile to add all of the finishing touches — there was a whole wall to fill with something.   I stashed away some odds and ends that I collected over the last year and used them for that blank wall.  One of the pieces is a replica Ball Clock.  We have a similar one in our living room above the fireplace and liked the idea of keeping the retro-clock theme moving along into the kitchen.



I also found a neat little metal cabinet at IKEA.  It was much heavier than I thought it would be, and Vic mounted it to the wall, but not to the studs.  I almost broke my hand when the whole thing tore off the wall one afternoon and I caught it!  I patched up the wall, repainted it, and hired the construction crew to drill it properly into the studs.  It’s not centered, but that leaves me room for a fun little art print to place to the right (once I find one).

The wooden table is also retro-looking and I had it made by OrWaDesigns out in Washington.  It’s the same company that made my custom cabinet in the dining room.  I couldn’t find a great mid-century credenza and was losing patience, so I hired them to make this table for me. I’ve got room to store my vintage Pyrex bowls and we have a spot to place yet another retro-looking object — this red radio. It also plays my iPod!

I still have a little bit more work to do on this room.  I haven’t been vintage shopping in long time but would like to order some vintage 60s prints or find some more clock.  I’ll know it when I see it!

The odd thing about the new kitchen is that I ended up losing cabinet space.  That’s not such a bad thing because the old cabinets were cavernous.  There was stuff in there from when we were newlyweds, old Christmas presents that we never got around to using, and bags of expired food.  An archaeological dig best describes the process when I crawled into the cabinets and threw everything out.  Oh look!  Baby bowls.  Some old toys.  A dusty box of Panko.  Bags of pasta.  Some cans of vegetables I bought years ago because I felt like I was supposed to buy them.  So, now there is less space we are forced into being more efficient.  I actually save a little bit of money at the grocery store because I have to think about where I’m going to put that can or box.  The kitchen is also very organized now — a place for everything and everything in its place.  I’ve conquered the chaos!  I almost feel a little bit guilty that I have more free time because I’m not scrubbing that gross old floor or clearing off the counters.  Just a little bit guilty.

I love that our kitchen is unique.  I’m also glad we didn’t cave to the peer pressure and purchase granite.  The colors are soothing and make for a great food-prep space but also a fun place to just hang out.  I sit at the counter and complete freelance projects while drinking coffee, which is perfect for my home office.




A New MCM Kitchen, Part 5. It is done!

I keep trying to find the time to sit down and write this out but it’s been a challenging few months with work, children, PTA, and Christmas.  Not to mention the finishing touches for the kitchen were being worked on and I wanted to wait until the dust settled before embarking on pictures and my thoughts.

The process took about three full months from start to finish and I’m still waiting for a couple of items to complete the kitchen.  But, it was so worth it.  Every single day I walk into the kitchen and flip the light to a room that is everything I wanted.  It is MCM-inspired with lots of modern conveniences and a layout that I’ve been plotting for almost a decade.  I love how it flows from the living room to the dining room and because all of our furniture is either true MCM or inspired by that catchy time period, our home is finally cohesive.

I really wanted cabinets with a natural wood look because I lived with white-ish cabinets for so long and know how dingy they can look over time.  These were custom made by Mark Nixon and with the help of Rick Carmondy, the designer who embraced our love of MCM instead of trying to sell us a more traditional concept, these cabinets are fabulous!  We have two magic corners instead of either empty space or incorporating a lazy-suzan into the spaces.  The door opens, and with a quite ingenious system, the shelves pull forward and into view.  Lovely!


Simply pull the door open


The shelves are connected to the door


and a rolling system pulls forward another set of shelves!



And, the item I was really super excited about—the hidden stool.  I expressed my deep concern to Rick about my shortness and how I don’t want to climb on top of the counters anymore, but without cluttering up the kitchen with stools.  His eyes lit up and said he had the perfect solution. Take a look at these pictures:


I love surprises!  It’s like Christmas morning every time I use this kitchen.


Incorporating as much space as possible was important to me and Vic, and we had the cabinet maker build us a pull-out pantry next to the fridge.  It’s sort of amazing to see how much can actually be stored in there, and this works out great because we always seem to have lots of little bottles, cans, bags of pasta, and all kinds of miscellaneous groceries that use to just get tossed into the old cavernous cabinets and it was a crapshoot if they would be used.



I am also smug in knowing that tearing down that annoying hanging cabinet that separated the old kitchen from the dining room would actually add to the space. What did it add?  Light.  Lots and lots of glorious light and it made the room appear almost twice as big.  The soffits are down and the fridge is against a different wall, which further opened up the space.  Not only that, but it just makes it much more efficient to have the fridge by the stove and a niche to prepare food.



Also, having new appliances has been a life-changing experience.  We lived with such junk for so long that these new-fangled appliances are blowing my mind.  We kept just the dishwasher since it was only a few years old and the original stainless steal sink.  I like the look of it and the fact that it’s a double.  It is possible I would have bought the exact same sink so I had the guys re-install this one.  The faucet is a treat though!  It has LASER water—Ok, maybe it’s not laser water but it comes out in such a smooth stream.



Let’s talk about lighting.  MCM lights are really cool and I’ve seen some great examples of bubble lights in vintage shops.  I had a detailed conversation about lights with Rick and he came up with a stunning over-the-sink light.  To me, it sort of looks like a UFO!  Especially when the top and bottom lights are on.  It also reminds of the famous jack bookends from the MCM heyday.  I’ve seen lots of staged pictures of MCM spaces and there is almost always a jack.  I just love it so much.


I found the two pendant lights above my peninsula counter.  Like the UFO light, they are new but I love the shape and the bright color. We wanted the kitchen to remain a bit neutral and speckle it with fun bits of color.  These get the job done and are fun to look at!


Under-the-cabinet lights were also installed and I highly recommend this for anyone thinking about a new kitchen.  It’s so nice to chop vegetables in the late afternoon when the Michigan sun sets low in the winter.  I rarely turn on the big recessed lights since the pendents, the UFO,  and the counter lights are normally enough.


The tile.  Do you like it?  We didn’t want to overdo it with a large bright pattern.  I love the turquoise stars, which is reminiscent of 50’s googie architecture—think of the Las Vegas sign.  Plus, I love anything that is like a starburst.  These are from Ann Sacks and we had to special order the colors, but trust me, there is nothing like this in Home Depot!  The white is a bit darker than the rest of the tile in the kitchen.  For that, we decided upon giant bright white subway tiles, but instead of a brick pattern, we had them set stacked above each other in order to keep the design simple and make the turquoise stars the center of attention.


One of the parts of the kitchen I love is the counter.  It’s not granite!  Nor is it marble.  It’s old-fashioned laminate.  There are thousands of patterns to choose from and Rick, much to our relief, picked out this soft gray pattern.  It’s subtle and also has that MCM vibe to it.  It’s really easy to clean, just using a damp washcloth has sufficed fine, and it’s durable.Vic and I haven’t been shy in cooking and making a mess in here, and this stuff has held up.  All in all, a great choice. It doesn’t take away from the specialness of the terrazzo floors, which have a busy pattern, and it looks nice.


The terrazzo floors! I’m still in love. Easy to clean, easy to sweep, and easy to look at.  Here’s a close-up shot of the fun colors inside and see how nice it looks next to the cabinets!  Simple yet it will never go out of style.

This is all for now!  We still have some counter-stools to source and a whole wall to decorate.  I have some things on order that are being made and shipped soon, so once those arrive and are installed I can call this complete.

Just for fun, here’s my robot cleaning the kitchen for me:



A New MCM Kitchen – Part 4

It’s been almost two months and we’re still in construction mode!  But, things are improving and I’m crossing items off the to-do list.

The cabinets:  They are IN!  Perfectly level and attached to walls.  The trim work still needs to be done and shelves installed, plus the pulls and knobs.  OK, maybe they aren’t as completed as I thought. I’m just excited they are in place.

The Floor:  Terrazzo is so pretty. So. Pretty.  We ordered the terrazzo tiles from Wausa Tiles.  If you use them, be wary. This special order took months to complete and today as it was being installed it was discovered that one of the boxes had the wrong tile.  And every single tile had busted corners in that box.  That was disappointing because this tile was not only so expensive that it broke our budget, but the install guys were halfway done with the job and it’s not like I can pause life for 2 months and wait for another box.  I authorized the tile guys to take the wrong tile and use it where the fridge, dishwasher, and stove are going, so those appliances will sit on them and no one will see it.  Not the worst thing in the world, but c’mon.  Like we weren’t going to notice that!

Grout work on the floor begins on Monday.

Countertops:  Should be installed this week.  Leaving those as a surprise.  Hint:  It’s not granite.

What’s left to do?  Install the lighting, backsplash tile, install appliances, figure out what to do with the big blank wall (looking for an authentic credenza from the ’60s.  Plus have a few ideas swirling around my brain), painting, trim work, new pocket door, plumbing.

Here’s a sneak peak:


Look at that floor! It’s terrazzo tile. Next time you’re in a bank or some mid-century building, look at the floor. It may be terrazzo.


Here’s a close up so you can see the pattern.


Nutty — our defiant and bossy guinea pig who has big plans to set up shop under the cabinets.

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Today is November 1 and is the open house for the Ransom-Gillis house in the Brush Park section of downtown Detroit.  Nicole Curtis, from the show Rehab Addict, worked with Quicken Loans to restore the crumbling mansion.  I thought it would be an easy manner to walk up, get in line, and take the tour.  An hour, maybe two, tops.  Awwwww no.  I went with my husband, two kids, and my in-laws and we were stunned by the amount of people there.  Thousands showed up!  It was a gorgeous afternoon, all warm and autumn-y, enough to just throw on a sweater.  Apparently, all of metro Detroit had the same thoughts we did, and the line stretched down the street, around the corner down to street behind the old mansion, and wrapped around both sides of that street before tapering off.  It would be at least a four hour wait so we just set off and took some pics of the outside.  I saw Nicole Curtis a few times and she looks and sounds just like she does on TV. I don’t know why that was surprising to me — maybe because I never run into celebrities.

I really hope this area can be revitalized; I hope it will be filled with people who are actually interested in caring for the properties instead of letting it rot.  What a waste when I look around these acres.  But, let’s leave the past behind us and look forward.  Always look forward.  Pointing the finger and placing blame doesn’t provide solutions — you’ll see me on Team Solution than Team Whiner any day.


Me and my daughter in front of the RansomGillis House.


Nicole Curtis! I love watching her show Rehab Addict. Her fierce determination is quite inspiring.


The famous tower. Inside on a table, I could spot a globe.


Me and my husband Vic. You can see the nice new lawn — it’s really the only spot of greenery in the area. The rest is very unkept but I hope this inspires other residents to take action and improve their properties.


Just a Sunday stroll through Brush Park.


For those of you unfamiliar with Brush Park, here are two examples of neighboring mansions down the street from RansomGillis. Boarded up, ransacked, and graffitied. I guess these are the original McMansions but I bet the insides are way cooler than today’s architecture.


The front of the massive line. This house is so beautiful on the outside and really wish I could have seen the inside. What an inspiration to a side of Detroit that I gave up hope on of ever seeing anything positive!


New glasswork.

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A New MCM Kitchen – Part 3

It’s been 41 days since I’ve had my old kitchen ripped out.  It’s still not finished.  How does HGTV manage to install new kitchens in 2 days?  I’m trying to keep my humor in check because I don’t want to freak out and have the job suffer.

So, what’s been done?  Well, the demo.  The electrical has all been updated and new outlets and spaces prepped for lighting.  Drywall is complete along with fixing and rearranging the water pipes for the sink.

What’s taking so long are the cabinets.  Vic and I made the bold choice to forgo Big Box merchandise and hired a cabinet maker to design and create the cabinets. That takes a long time!  Plus, he got held up by another job (not my problem, but it became my problem with all of the delays) which dragged the project down by two weeks.  I thought by now that the room would be complete but it’s not even halfway finished.

The good news is, is that the cabinets are in and are what we ordered.  But, it’s already taking a week+ to install them.  Our construction company is pretty top-notch and the guys are sticklers for detail.  So much so, that it is going to take days and days to level the cabinets and the floor and make sure it’s perfect.  And, you know what? That’s good because we’re paying them for this level of detail because we’re not moving anytime soon and we want this kitchen to hold up.  I just have to keep repeating that to myself.

“The kitchen will be done and you are going to love it.”

But, we still have the floor to do, which is going to be way more than just a quick tile job.  All that is left of the floor is the original floorboards, so that needs to be built up before any tile can go in.  We also have the backsplash tile.  Appliances to go in.  Plumbing.  A gas line to install.  Lighting to hang and connect.  And painting.  I guess it will be closer to Thanksgiving when all is done. Yikes!  And . . . there’s been talk about the guys going hunting since it’s deer season.  Oh dear (deer?).

All of the above is one reason out of many that we didn’t do this years ago.  We are managing quite well without a kitchen but we’re getting tired of crockpotting it and there’s only so much that can be bar-be-qued. Although, I can make a good grilled cheese sandwich that is literally grilled.

Here’s some pics of the cabinets.  They are not fully installed so please excuse the wonkiness and mess.


Here’s a sneak peak at what’s to come…these doors open to reveal what I call a robot mechanism for the shelves. It will make more sense when this is done.


Here’s the secret little flip-down panel in the front of the sink.


Every inch of space is going to be functional — this tall rectangle is my pull out pantry. It’s skinny but I know I can cram a lot of stuff in there.

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A New MCM Kitchen: Part 2 Demo

Well, after Day 1 the demo is mostly complete.  It’s a bit surreal not having a kitchen or being able to walk into the room and throw my purse on the counter.  I’m adjusting to making coffee with my sister’s borrowed drip machine in the bathroom —kind of like a hotel!  I keep telling myself we’re on a vacation, sort of half nice hotel/half camping.  In the depths of the old kitchen I found a brand new cast iron pan that one of us must have received as a Christmas present one year.  No joke, the corner cabinet under the oven wall unit was longer than I am, so stuff would get tossed in there and unless I emptied the front layer and crawled in, there was no way anything was coming back out.  We used the pan to heat up leftover pasta on the backyard BBQ and ate outside with paper plates.  I kind of like not washing dishes! The kids think it’s funny to make toast and frozen waffles in the garage, and through it all we’re all keeping our sense of humor about the situation.

I am so amazed at how big the space is now!  Even before the demo, the kitchen was large.  Now with the soffits gone and with the glass hanging cabinet taken out the kitchen is enormous.  I can’t wait for how much we’re going to enjoy all the light coming in and when it’s finished the dining room and kitchen will be an amazing place to spend time in.

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On the left is the view from when I walk in from the door from the living room.  The right is from the dining room.  I really love how the corner wall unit oven and the surrounding cabinets are gone!  That design took up a ton of space so it’s going to be a big change when our new cabinets go in and everything is square and cornered properly.

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This drawing on the wall was unearthed by the construction crew.  It’s a rendering of the corner oven!  On the right is where the GE wall unit fridge lived.  We found two layers of old wallpaper on the bottom of the soffits.  One had a pattern of blue roses and the other was a pink and beige geometric pattern.


And, this picture was found during demo!  If anyone recognizes this handsome fellow let me know!

A New MCM Kitchen: Part 1

You guys, it’s happening tomorrow!  It’s KITCHEN DEMO TIME!!!!!  My heart is pounding, my palms are slightly sweaty, and I don’t know how I’m going to sleep tonight.

We moved in here 12 years ago and planned on doing a kitchen remodel within the first year or two. Like everything else in the house, it just never happened.  The sad thing is, is that our kitchen is a great space. It’s huge!  We cook several meals a day here, stand around and chit-chat, and have enjoyed the massive amounts of counter-top space.  The problem?  It’s not designed well and it’s falling apart.  Some tile is breaking away from the wall.  The old wall phone died and the line doesn’t work.  The cabinets are super deep but stuff gets shoved in there never to see the light of day.  Plus, the old counter-tops are so worn that everything leaves a permanent stain.

The floor is a waste land. It is from the 80’s and has lots of pores in it, which means just walking on it leaves gray smudges embedded all over it.  The old GE pink wall unit fridge — a super cool MCM piece — died a few months after we moved in and I never found out what happened to the shelves. They were simply missing.  We did replace the old dishwasher and the wall oven, plus the stove top range.  However, we purchased the cheapest ones we could find since we totally meant to demo the kitchen anyway.  Please, if you’re going to buy appliances, spring for something nice.  I could never fully wash off the grease and grime and over a decade of grossness has accumulated on the stove and oven.  Believe me, I tried soaking the stove parts in hot water and soap and bought and manufactured my own cleaning concoctions, but since the pieces were made with cruddy materials they just didn’t hold up to normal usage.

To top off my dissatisfaction is the constant stream of clutter on every surface.  If you’ve been reading my blog, you know I hate clutter because 1) My goal in life wasn’t to be a maid and pick up after everyone and 2) It gives me a headache.  There just isn’t a good place for stuff even though the space is huge!

Over the next coming weeks, I’ll document the progress. I don’t have any qualms about ripping out this kitchen (don’t worry I’m going to try to sell the GE wall unit fridge to someone who wants to use it for parts — if you live in the Detroit area and want it let me know and we’ll talk price) because I believe it’s 80’s era crap.  We worked with a wonderful interior designer, Rick Carmondy, who helped us design a real thoughtful space.  The soffits are coming down.  The old glass hanging cabinet that we’ve all crashed our heads into will be outta here, and that nasty floor is coming right up.

What we hope to accomplish is to end up with a space that is MCM inspired.  The cabinets are custom made by Mark Nixon and will have some great touches to them.   I’m really excited about a secret pull out drawer he built into the baseboards that will house a step ladder.  I’m 5 ft. tall and one day I will be too old to jump on top of the counters to reach high cupboards so this is a great solution.  The new fridge is going to be placed on the wall where the old hanging one lived, and I’ve got free reign to come up with some clever options for the blank wall.  We are getting terrazzo floor tiles!  And, to top it all off, we went for Formica counter-tops.  Yup.  No granite for this lady.  Never liked it, never will.  I think it all looks pretty much the same and while I do respect how durable it is, it will totally clash with my terrazzo floors.  Wait until you see the tile!  We have a nice surprise and it will make our kitchen really unique with an interesting MCM flair.

While cleaning out all of our stuff to store in the basement, I snapped some pics of the old space.  Sure, there are a lot of good memories associated with this kitchen.  We’ve had many parties here with good friends and family, I prepared food for my babies here and bathed them in the sink when they were too tiny to go in the bathtub.  So many art projects have been created on these counters and my husband and I have done our best thinking while standing around drinking coffee.  But, it’s time to move on and create something amazing.

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And for some memories:

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Soccer Girl!

A “Tuscan” Bathroom Goes Retro: Part 4 Completion

My bathroom is finished.  I love it and never want to leave this room because it’s so pleasant, especially the shower.  I have my glass shower doors and it only takes a few seconds to clean with some homemade vinegar and water spray instead of using mold-killer spray and still having to put the curtain through a hot water and bleach wash once a month.  There is plenty of storage now for all four of us, and while the bulk of the room is black and white, that left me with lots of options to add colorizing agents to brighten up the space.

I’ll let the pictures talk for themselves:




The old mirror is now framed in metallic orange, on the right is my vintage medicine cabinet from Germany, and the backsplash with turquoise trim.


A little medicine chest is great for storing odds and ends to reduce clutter on the countertops. Less to clean equals more free time!


We re-used the old shower head and moved the corner shelves over here. The top one is Vic’s and the bottom one is for Valentina. Everyone gets their own soap so I don’t have to hear any complaints.

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I like the look of natural wood on a door. It matches everything! I had some leftover round plastic pegs from Ikea, so I screwed those into the door to hang extra towels.


Here’s my floating shelf from an Etsy shop.

Visit MrSelecta on Etsy to order your own floating shelf.


The old vanity from Lowe’s with our new backsplash.


I’m really happy with the decision to go with black grout on the floor. I think it looks fab.


I love how color just pops out against all of the black and white tile.

A “Tuscan” Bathroom Goes Retro: Part 3 Construction


Nino helping Kurt with construction.

On a Tuesday morning, Kurt showed up and smashed through my old bathroom. Within hours the old bathroom was gone and just a dim memory.  The project took about 3 weeks but it was truly a great experience to design something unique.  A lot of work went into this and along the way some surprises were uncovered:

  • The old ceiling fan didn’t vent anywhere.  It just pulled air into the soffit!  The mystery of why I had so much mold was finally solved.  Kurt crawled into my attic when it was 10 degrees outside and installed a proper venting system.  Months later and no sign of mold anywhere.
  • Thank goodness I agreed to get a new tub. When the old was taken out, we could see that half of the floorboards were rotten and causing the tub to sink a bit.  Half the floor had to be ripped up as well so Kurt could cut out all of the rotten wood and replace it. That also caused mold in the tub because as the tub slowly sunk, it was breaking the seal around the walls where water would settle.
  • NOTHING  was “square” in this room.  The walls were always slightly slanted, along with the floor and ceiling.  Kurt had to spend a lot of time muddying up the walls really good to get it as square as possible.

Floor rot from where the tub resided and shooting out into the flooring area.


Kurt hard at work without time for a smile.


The ceiling had to be re-leveled and mudded up real good.


New tub, which actually helped us gain a few inches in this room because the walls are straight instead of rounded like the old tub.

A Christmas Miracle did happen one day when I received a call saying my special order trim tile was in — somehow it only took a week instead of two months!  That was good because Kurt was hyperventilating at the thought of tiling the tub area without the trim.

Here are pictures of the progress being made:


Walls are up and my niche shelf installed.


Kurt was inspired by a home-design show and took a piece of my backsplash tile and inserted it into the niche. I love that idea. It adds interest and helps keep the black and white theme going.


The soap dish and the lower corner shelf.


Oooooh, that turquoise is a stunning color!


Since the tub area was grouted in white, Kurt and I discussed using a black grout on the floor.


We kept the white grout for the backsplash.


In the meantime, I ordered a new bathroom door and since I have some experience now with staining doors, I handled this part myself.  New Year’s Eve 2014 and I’m in the garage staining.


There were a lot of odds and ends to complete this project.  I had a shelf I needed to order off of Etsy since I couldn’t find a suitable one in any of the stores near me, I had the old mirror framed, and I ordered a very cool vintage medicine cabinet off of Etsy (what would I do without that website?) that was coming from Germany.

“Tuscan” Bathroom Goes Retro: Part 2

It’s been busy around here lately, so once again I need to catch up on this blog.

Our bathroom renovation is complete.  My shelf came in, I have great towels, and everything is in its place. Before my contractor Kurt got started on the project, I snapped some pics of how the old “Tuscan” bathroom looked:


My poor robots! They were washed away and that’s what started this whole crazy project.


The pink tub is peeking through in the corners, along with some mold. How delightful!


The big 1940’s mirror hung here (you can see our attempt at texture-painting and how I just painted around the mirror when I was tired of looking at that mess).


The best feature was this shower fixture that moves up and down. We salvaged this piece.


View of the floor. The tile was just something we picked up at Home Depot or Lowe’s.

My husband did work hard on this, but he hates doing home repair and it took a long time to complete. Everything was functional, but it just looked blah.  After 10 years, there were some issues such as the drywall was starting to crack in some places and the original 1958 fan was broken.

I called Kurt, owner of Sengstock Construction, who has done work on my home in the past and is always up for a new challenge.  He came by and was willing to tackle the demo and construction of the new space.  However, I had only a vague idea of what I wanted to take its place.  Creating a bathroom that was classic, not too neutral, with vintage-style tile was going to be a challenge.  The vanity, toilet, and showerhead were staying and after some debate with Kurt and my husband, I agreed to tearing out the old tub instead of spraying it white again.

I located some tile shops in Sterling Heights so I could browse their selections.  It was a bit daunting because the first tile shop had only “McMansion-type” tile.  Everything was beige or white or black.  It was pretty much all granite or marble too.  The salesman looked at me like I was a madwoman.  But I stuck to my guns and moved on to the next shop, Lifestyles Tile.    This shop carried quite a bit of vintage tile, and I even found the old pink!  I settled on white octagon-shaped tile for the floor, and the same for the backsplash except those had tiny black diamond tiles in between the octagons.  Charming.

The most difficult part was choosing the trim tiles.  Since this bathroom was going to be black and white, I felt like it needed a unique pop of color.  There were many bright colors to choose from, but stashed under some samples was a gorgeous turquoise tile, which came as trim!  My heart only slightly dropped into my stomach when the sales man said that was a special order and would take a couple of months to get in.  I ordered it anyway because I just wasn’t going to settle for something that I only sort-of liked.   I knew Kurt would have a heart-attack over this, but I figured I’d just keep supplying him with coffee and snacks to keep him calm.

The white subway tile was easy and I spotted an insert for a shelving system that goes inside the shower walls.  Of course I needed that!  It sinks between the studs in the shower and then gets tiled so it looks like part of the wall.  Rounding out my supplies were a new soapdish and two corner shelves because this was my chance to beef-up the storage space in the bathroom.  Think of the future when designing a bathroom – is there enough room for your family to grow into it?  It’s me, my husband, a soon-to-be-tween and a toddler.  Everyone comes with their own set of junk and I like a place for everything and everything in its place.

A “Tuscan” Bathroom Goes Retro: Part 1 The Old Pink Bathroom.


It’s been awhile since my last post, but I’ve been busy with our master bathroom.  I think you’re really going to like this when I give the final reveal.

Full disclaimer:  I am totally embarrassed about what we did 10 years ago.  We had a full vintage pink bathroom when we moved in but it needed some work.  I’ve never in my life stepped foot inside a pink bathroom and it just looked so old and dated, and not sophisticated with muted tones, granite countertops, and marble in the shower.  This was 2003 and one of the peaks of McMansion “Tuscan” style spreading around the ‘burbs.   I failed to realize that we don’t live in an European villa, but in mid-century Detroit, so a pink bathroom truly would have been the last word in sophistication and style but every single person we knew laughed at how pink the room was and we all talked about how it must go.

The big problem was how this particular bathroom looked when we moved in.  The tile in the shower had some mold issues and the pink tub had a lot of chips, making it look shabby.  Also, the giant pink built-in vanity was made from wood which was sort of crumbling and soft in spots, plus it smelled super dank along with the sunk-in giant medicine cabinet. To top it off, someone went absolutely ape with a rectangle sponge and some pink, white, and green paint. The walls looked like a backdrop to a Duran Duran video.  The glass doors were also gross and old and and for God’s sake there was a pink toilet.  A pink toilet!  What the …… ?  Why?   Thinking back on it as I type this, I wish I could go back in time and save that bathroom.  The floor tile in pink tiny rectangles was in excellent condition, we could have repaired the tub and bought new glass doors, and replaced the rotting vanity. I would have done something nice with the walls and added fun shelves and sparkling fixtures.  Right now, I even think a pink toilet is charming.  And cute.

Here is the one photo I found taken before the sledgehammer hit it:

Pink Bathroom

Do you see that sponge job on the walls? This was obviously someone’s idea of “art.” Or they were high on meth.

I’m  heart-broken that we smashed this up and dumped the pieces.  That tile is gorgeous!

But back then, I was all about GET THAT PINK OUT!  While I was pregnant with our first child, we realized we saved enough money to go ahead and demo the bathroom and put in something “new.”   Well, my husband was going to have to do the demo and building because I was preggers, and we set off to find tile and fixtures.  Ah, we were so young!  I seriously recommend not doing any major construction until you are set in your ways knowing what your “style” is and knowing the history of your home.  We were totally sold on “Tuscan” style tile and a giant pedestal sink thinking that’s what we need to move this ranch into modern times! We had absolutely no plan and figured that whatever was out there would just magically go together in a charming fashion.   After six very long, very frustrating months, the bathroom was finished.  At the time, I liked it.  I didn’t love it, but I liked it.  The moldy tile and cabinets were gone and we had the pink tub reglazed in white, with a white toilet put in, soft blue walls, and bluish-gray-tan tile in the shower with giant sanded grouted lines, beige tile on the floor, and silver fixtures.

The space worked for us, but the mold came back and no matter what I product I used there was always a ring of yuck around the tile and the tub.  I hated the pedestal sink because there was no storage in the bathroom because we also got rid of that awesome giant medicine cabinet above the sink and replaced it with a mirror (I will point out that the mirror came from our old 1940’s home in Harper Woods and is a vintage piece).  I had things stored in boxes on the floor and I really hate clutter like that.

While pregnant 7 years later with Baby No. 2, I was nesting and convinced Vic we needed a new vanity in the bathroom because I could no longer deal without storage.  So, we bought a nice new sink and cabinet.

Fast forward to November 2014. I am scrubbing the bathroom and can’t get the mold off the caulking in the tub. Again.  I sigh and put my really cute robot-themed shower curtain in the washing machine with hot water and bleach to get the grime and, you guessed it, mold off.  The shower curtain was supposed to be temporary since I was promised nice new shower doors but we ran out of money during that remodel and just never found the time or extra cash to get it done.  Normally, I used cheapo liners but I was sick of that and wanted something cool and spent some good money on this robot curtain.  I took it out of the wash and of course, the robots washed off!  I was left with a dripping (but clean!) sad mess and I got angry that no matter how I scrubbed and cared for that room, I wasn’t getting any love back.

Over the years as I learned to appreciate my 1958 rancher, I came to deeply regret that pink bathroom remodel because I feel that with just a few fixes, it could have been a rather special and unique space that fit the style of this home.  We’ve learned our lesson to never, ever ever in a million years Tuscanize a mid-century space.  Even if “everyone is doing it.”

                     Here is my list of do’s and don’ts for a bathroom remodel:

  • Research your home and stay true to the original style, even if it isn’t in vogue.  Who cares?!  The space was designed to reflect that time period and adding chunky huge features to a mid-century room just cheapens the look and ends up looking fake.  Plus, this stuff is unique because so many people have torn it out of their homes and had it sent to a landfill. If you look on eBay or Etsy, those old fixtures are selling for a lot of money, which tells me how rare and special these things are.
  • Try to re-use the features left behind.  While the old wooden vanity needed to go because of rot, we could have saved the fixtures and the sink.  Plus, we should have restored that medicine cabinet.  It was huge and something new like that now would easily cost hundreds of dollars, which is why we didn’t replace it.  It was too much money for a new one.
  • When replacing, get something that fits the space. The pedestal sink we bought was giant.  Which means it stuck out far into the room and was just annoying to deal with. A sink and cabinet flush to the wall would have been better.
  • Don’t waste your money on something temporary. We put up a shower curtain with the idea we were going to save for a glass door system.  Ten years later and it was still there.  It wasn’t a big expense, but wait until I write about my kitchen and the “temporary” stuff we put in there.  Not cool.
  • You need storage.  For some reason, my husband has spent a lot of time convincing me that we don’t need storage because ideally if there is no storage, we won’t accumulate stuff.  I really can’t stop laughing at this.  I’m giggling right now.

I’m not 100% ready to write and post pics of the new bathroom.  I have a shelf I ordered from Etsy to complete the space and it’s not here yet.  So, when that arrives and I get in installed, there will be glorious pictures to post.  If you have a vintage pink bathroom, do you love it?  Post pics in the comments because I want to see your vintage bathrooms!