Tuesday, August 23

Little Pink Houses

Were you starting to worry that we had lost all the Blush Pink in our house? Never fear...the upstairs bathroom is here. Whenever you need a fix of Pink. Like a Mary Kay-1950s-Barbie-princess dream.

Here's the what it looked like when we bought the house (make sure to click through to see the photos of the tub and floors):


Yes, we were dealing with the dreaded-by-all-homebuyers Pink Tiles. Friends and the internet tell me that this was a phenomenon that afflicted the nation in the 1950s - from Maine to Van Nuys.

My research indicated that the best way to deal with an element like this is to add other strong features to balance it, making sure to use a few pieces that incorporate both/all colors. The added complication of the all-grey fixtures meant that there are a good number of colors schemes that wouldn't work. Our general preference for green was out, same with a sunny yellow, or even turquoise. What colors do you think go with pink and grey? I go right to black, white, silver. So basically, instead of trying to fight the existing colors, we're going with what's there.

D. was busy being oriented to his new job and handling the tiling project, so this was my baby. We had agreed on using "Light French Grey" from the Classical/Colonial palette at Sherwin-Williams. It matched perfectly with the bathtub and toilet. I thought it was a little light, but it is a complementary color to the palette's "Aristocrat Peach," which is the exact color of our "pink" tile. I tested it, and it looked light but okay.

Check out the first coat:


As soon as I saw it, I knew it wasn't what I wanted. See the underside of the dropped ceiling: I didn't paint it, it's white, but you can barely tell the difference from the grey. I wanted a rich, dark grey that was strong enough to draw attention away from the pink.

I knew I was going to have to buy more paint anyway, because I had stupidly bought only a quart. I didn't have enough for another coat on the walls or for the bottom of the vanity.

So I made a split-second, executive decision to switch colors. Okay, in the interests of full disclosure, I have to say that I think my quick decision to abandon "Light French Gray" was influenced by the fact that I had been seriously considering an alternative color that was significantly darker: "Whetstone" by Martha Stewart Signature.

Off I went to Sherwin Williams to get a gallon of that, then hustled to get a coat of "Whetstone" up. Here's what D. saw when he got home that night:


I was really happy with it. The cool of the grey perfectly complements the warmth of the pink. The thing is that the first color matched the places on the tub and toilet where the light hit them, but the second color matched the shadow areas. So really neither was wrong, it was just a matter of the effect I wanted.

Another benefit was that I had an anti-mildew additive included in the second paint. I bleached out the patches of mildew above the shower, plus painted over with Kilz primer. But I feel safer with the additive, though I also think we need to add an exhaust fan. I hope it goes as smoothly as at Reviving the Colonial.

I'll post progress as we decorate with shower curtain, bathmats, accessories, and art, but for now, here's the completed paint job:


When D. realized that it would cost less than $50 to put in a new floor (42 square-feet multiplied by 98-cent vinyl tile), he agreed to consider the project. Yay! Because the yellow, white, and grey flecked linoleum wasn't working for me. We checked out the options for at Lowe's and brought home four possibilities:


From left to right:
1) a smokey grey faux stone with a peachy-pink secondary tone, very matte finish, Armstrong but one of their less durable products, and costing only 78 cents per square foot,
2) faux grey and white marble, very high shine and a beveled edge, ended up looking more grey in our bathroom than in the store, the standard 98 cents a pop,
3) higher-end Armstrong "Terraza" faux stone, darker grey and only a hint of pink, more sheen than #1 and has a mortar effect, warranted for 25 years and less than a buck each, and
4)this was a stretch, but I like to test everything. A white and grey industrial look, same price: 98 cents.

Feel free to submit your thoughts. We really debated over #1 vs. #3. For now, the front-runner is #1, and not even because it is 20 percent cheaper:


I'm concerned I'm making the same mistake as with the paints, and that darker will be better. But the smokey grey is softer and just seems to go so perfectly with our colors. As if there were millions of people out there looking for floors to match their Aristocrat Peach, Ballerina Pink, Rose Dust, and every other shade of pink bathrooms.

Actually, this ad was one of my inspirations, and I'm considering getting it framed to hang in the bathroom

That's my philosophy: embrace what you got. Fight pink with pink!


At 8:58 AM, Blogger erilyn said...

I like your strategy. Our bathroom also has pink tile, which I at first thought was a 50's addition, but the more we look at the edges and how it's integrated, the more we think it is original to the house. (?) Anyway, I'm not really too fond of pink but I think we're just going to go with it, pairing it with a khaki/tan color and white. Your bathroom is looking good!

At 9:14 AM, Anonymous Carol said...

I cannot imagine the motivations that went into picking the grey toilet and tub to go with that pink tile- were people just tired of white fixtures? Was it in an era when only interior designers cared about interior design? I demoed our "Elvis" bath (circa 1950's or 1960's) which was yellow and cocoa brown- the problem with the tile jobs of 40 years ago is they were set in solid concrete with metal mesh and makes TONS of trash. Hard to demo, but worth it. And the yellow and brown is WAY worse than what you have there. FWIW, I like the dark tile for the floor.

At 12:33 PM, Blogger Anne said...

Your bathroom reminds me a lot of my parents' bathroom - all the fixtures, though, are pink (and no tile, but hideous pink laminate countertop). To boot, when we bought the house, it was covered with about four layers of wallpaper, including one featuring Yankee Doodle Dandies all over it - big ones.

I like tile 3, personally.

At 4:03 PM, Blogger J. Blobbom said...

I like the advertisement. Definitely have it framed. Very cool.



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