How is a girl supposed to embrace her love of the past in a modern ranch house? I found the secret when my husband and I undertook a 1940s-inspired Hollywood glam bathroom remodel.
The concept started with my Siamese cat, Emily, a haughty feline starlet who loves to sit strike indignant poses. Everything about her exudes Hollywood glamour.
As I looked at her, an idea emerged. I wanted a 1940s glam bathroom. To which my husband responded, “a what?” I showed him some pictures, and he said, “oh, like in BioShock.” To which I responded, “in what?” Apparently BioShock is a dark video game set in Rapture, an underwater dystopian city built in 1946. Amazing! An art history major and a sci-fi fanatic agree on a decorating scheme.
We pulled ideas from the past and gave them a modern spin with geometry and color being the glue that holds things together. Squares are everywhere. And all the fixtures and accessories are done in brushed nickel (rather than the more period chrome).
For the cabinetry, we found a local contractor who built us a custom wood vanity, complete with little square detailing, for less than we would have paid for a boring vanity from a big box store. My husband built an adorable vanity niche to display my pretties.
My favorite thing in the room is the artwork featuring still-life photos I took of my great-grandma’s Larkin’s powder jar, a cut-glass handled mirror, a perfume bottle, and my mom’s pearl necklace. I printed in the photos in glamorous black and white. I added them to inexpensive frames refinished with brushed nickel spray paint.
The floor was probably the first deviation to the plan. We had picked out a smoky gray vinyl tile rather than real stone because in our small ranch house would we wouldn’t recoup the cost of stone at resale. Unfortunately our contractor didn’t want to install vinyl tiles in a bathroom. So it was off to look at Armstrong vinyl sheets.
As we were sat on the dirty store floor, surrounded by samples, the frustration grew. Finally my husband handed me a checkerboard sample that reminded him of BioShock. I was drawn to because it was “so period,” but I feared that much pattern in a small space. We talked each other into taking the risk.
Wrapping it up with Color
The cornerstone of my plan was a cool, elegant blue wall color, just like Emily’s eyes. Yet we just couldn’t find the right blue. We looked for months at what seemed like hundreds of paint chips. Every chip threatened to turn the room either into a nursery or a prison cell. Finally my husband handed me a dusty purple chip called “Smokey Ridge.” It was perfect.
After a year’s worth of planning and $8,000 spent, we closed out the project with my husband drawing me a nice warm bath.
Marie Young (Young Creative) is an artist and creative communications specialist. You can read more of her work on her blog, Creative Sprinkle. You can find complete photos from the remodel on her Flickr stream.