Return of the Ugly Bathroom
We call in the experts to help three challengers for the title of World’s Ugliest Bathroom.
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Ugly Bathroom: Pink to the Max
Dina Bica’s house in Irvington, N.Y., was built in 1952. The master bath features a peachy pink tile, a pink tub, sink and toilet, and black marbleized Formica countertops. The medicine cabinet is also framed in black Formica. Because the house desperately needs a kitchen remodel, Bica can’t afford to remodel the bathroom right now.
She tried to buy some pink towels to spruce up the room but found the salmon shades in the bathroom impossible to match. Her husband, she says, hates the room with a passion. “He thinks it’s the ugliest thing in our house.” On the positive side, the tub is large, and the previous owners installed new faucets on the sink and new light fixtures above the mirror.
Pink bathrooms are prevalent in many 1950s-era homes. Pink, the color of optimism, was a reflection of the buoyant mood of postwar America in the 1950s, says Kohn. Kohn also attributes pink’s popularity to the pink silk ball gown (embroidered with 2,000 pink rhinestones) that Mamie Eisenhower wore to the 1953 inaugural ball (www.chron.com).
Mamie aside, pink can be a tough color to decorate around. Adams says the color is so dated that the best solution is to cover it up. She recommends installing a new white toilet and sink, reglazing the tub, and painting the tile white, but she warns, “Kids, don’t try this at home, because you’ll never achieve the right finish.” Adams says local tile-glazing companies in her area (Boston) charge about $7 per square foot to reglaze tiles in white.
Adams would keep the black accent tile and the black Formica and do an elegant black-and-white color scheme. Black-and-white wallpaper in a toile pattern could work well then, with matching fabric for the window and shower curtain. Another possibility is to add a third accent color with the black and white, such as red or chartreuse. White tile would “definitely make the bath look bigger,” Adams says. “Those colors from the ‘50s had a definite hue and are pretty recognizable as outdated. Ask yourself if the color is one you like and want to live with.”
If the answer is “yes,” the other option is to keep the tile and play it up. Kohn recommends painting the walls a soft cream and painting the window frame black to match the accent tile and Formica. “The matching mirror and countertop are sort of a funny, authentic piece of architecture,” Kohn says.
Choose one long black area rug for the floor, and then “make this a fabulous ‘50s look,” she says. Kohn suggests installing a vintage knickknack shelf painted black and filling it with a collection of 1950s figurines and a vintage pink transistor radio. Add some framed Rosemary Clooney album covers and “you’ve got yourself a motif,” Kohn says. Other ideas for walls and accessories include framed black-and-white family photos or framed magazine covers from that era. Other motifs from the 1950s include playing cards and zebra stripes. Towels should be black.
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