Friday, September 6, 2013

Ugly Bathrooms

Guys, this one ain't gonna be pretty.

As much as I love the charm and character of our duplex, which was built sometime in the 1940s, there are certain things that just don't jive with me, one of them being the way-too-tiny bathroom. One common thing I've noticed about bathrooms in Los Angeles art deco buildings is that they have some fugly-ass tiles in them. I mean, look at my former bathroom in my old place, built in 1929--lavender, black, pink, and tan, and white tiles, all in one:

Barf. But even our current bathroom makes that pink palace look like it's from House Beautiful.
Our current bathroom has always been my least favorite room in this place. I mean, we have this spacious, airy living room...

...and then we have this tiny piece o' crap:

To be fair, this is the worst pic I have of it, because I'd only ever take a pic to show that the ceiling has caved in.
It's too small, the colors are just --why? just...why? -- the sink, while vintage and cute, is not practical, and there's no counter space. If we owned this place, I would definitely tear it all out and pour in the money to renovate it entirely, but since we just rent, there's not too much we can do about it. Then, just when I didn't think it could get any worse, I came home to this a few months ago. What's that stuff on the ground, you say? Here, I'll give you a better view:

Oh yeah. Lying gracefully on our fugly beautiful mustard yellow and black tile floor is our ceiling, naturally.

Oh hey! Looks like our neighbors' pipes were leaking and our ceiling basically collapsed. After a week--YES, A WEEK!-- of hmming and hawing while we subsisted on public restrooms, our repair guy finally came to fix it. Turns out they had to drill off the entire freaking ceiling and replaster everything.

My outhouse
After another week, we finally had our ceiling basically back. The plaster was still wet and they needed to repaint the walls. They were just about to get it back to its fugly self when--enter my opportunistic brain:


Me, to the handyman: So...if you have to paint it anyway, can I choose a color?
Handyman: Uh, sure. I guess. What do you want?
Me: [Looney Tunes-style smoke cloud as I run off to Restoration Hardware]
Handyman: Um. Hello?
Me: [Out of breath] Here's a paint chip for Silver Sage from Restoration Hardware. Can you match this color at Home Depot and use whatever brand you want?

And that's the story of how I got to remodel my bathroom for free. Even though I know I can't change the whole bathroom the way I want too-- a white pedestal sink! a new medicine cabinet! white subway tiles on the wall and black and white penny tiles on the floor! reclaimed wood exposed shelves! -- I knew a new coat of paint could at least breathe some life into this tired old loo. I may as well stop running from the 1940s vintage tile thing and embrace it. Right? Right?!

So silver sage it is. It looks bluer in these photos than it actually does in real life, which is a nice mid-toned gray. I also decided to play up the black accents in the room (we had already replaced the toilet with a black wooden one). I hung a few black-framed mirrors from Bed, Bath & Beyond over the bathtub to accent the black tile and to reflect the light, giving the illusion of being a roomier space.

I also finally got rid of this horrible discontinued dirty shade from Ikea that we'd inherited from the previous resident...

 And finally addressed our first-floor privacy problems...

Prison bathroom frosting the glass so that we couldn't be caught nekkid in the shower by our neighbors...

...and installing a bright white Roman shade. The bathtub is now a lovely place to recline in bubbles.

For art, I hung up the silhouettes that I framed from Magic Castle, to make a little personalized His-n-Hers bathroom feel:

Look! All the mirrors are reflecting each other.
Then I ordered some onyx crystal black knobs off of eBay to replace the dinky, painted-over black wooden ones that were formerly on the ugly sink. They were only about $2 a piece, but classed up the joint a bit.

Cleaned up our shelves and added some plants, bath salts, and candles...

And that's how we went from before...

... to after:

The pictures don't really do it justice. But you can sort of tell. At least I can, now that I'm not getting a gag reflex every time I use the bathroom. It wasn't quite lemonade that I made from the lemons this apartment dealt me, but maybe, like, some sort of sugary lemon water. I'll take it.