Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Problem with Paint Colors That Look Like Baby Poop

The problem with paint colors that look like baby poop, is well, self-evident: 

Prunes? Or roast beef dinner, do you think? 

I can't tell either, which should give you the idea that this particular shade of mauve is about as unidentifiable as the contents of a soiled diaper. Is that brown? Purple? Who knows?

I'm not a fan of mauve on the principle that it's an indecisive color. It's not gray, pink, purple, lavender, tan, or taupe, so I just want to slap it around and tell it to make up its mind already. But this particular mauve seems even more sunk than usual into mauvian identity crisis. I don't know what this paint chip was named. I don't want to know.

When we first moved in, there was carpet in this main floor full bath, which covered up a layer of mauve (ack!) broken tiles (see the floor along the edge of the room in the photo below). Hours of scraping later, we ended up with this dried glue over plywood subfloor, which we lived with for longer than I care to admit. But even that was better than the carpet with years of other people's dirt (shudder) ground into it.

In the meantime a friend replaced the leaky toilet with a new one, and a plumber neighbor has been over to fix the leaky shower twice, the slow moving sink drain once. At one point I tried to make myself like the bathroom color by buying a shower curtain that coordinates with it (see photo again, above). And I like the shower curtain just fine, but the color purple in the shower curtain was actually a rich, vibrant plum, and instead of perking up the wall color, it just showed it up, showed it how feeble it really was. And so I hated the paint color even more.

The neighbor installed a vinyl peel-and-stick tile floor for me last May. It's intended to last a few years until I can decide what I really want to do with this bathroom and have the money to invest in some tile.

I left the bathroom alone while I fell down the rabbit hole of kitchen painting, and now that I'm pretty well done with that project (except for one stupid curtain), I'm ready to tackle this room again.

I have a lot of ill will for this room. Things I hate:

The toilet paper holder. It was installed on the wall crooked (though admittedly this photo makes it look  more crooked than it is, based on the angle of the camera), and was loose. After having the roll fall out on the floor more times than I could stand, I had a wee temper tantrum and yanked the whole thing off the wall. So. This photo is where that matter stands.

The ugly light fixture. This is an airport landing strip in a bathroom that is barely 7 feet across. Turning it on transforms my bathroom into a lavender-roasted Easy Bake Oven hell. I took out a row of lights just to make the amount of light and heat manageable. Yes, I know they sell smaller, lower wattage, frosted bulbs. But that would be spending money on this thing, and my entire being rebels against it. No.

This photo shows two of my biggest peeves with this bathroom. First, the monstrously big mirror. It goes right down to the backsplash. There is no way not to get the mirror dirty washing hands or brushing teeth, even if you're a tidy adult, and I've got four not-so-tidy boys. The mirror is always gooey and disgusting.

The second is the sink itself. Because of the bathroom's narrow footprint, the counter space front to back is just a little over 16 inches. Obviously a petite-scale sink is the only thing that's going to work in that space. Whoever did this little downgrade chose a fiberglass bar sink, of the type you'd find in an RV camper. It's impossible to keep clean, and looks as cheap and tacky as you imagine that it does. The faucet has a chemical mar or etching in the finish that looks like it might be from some kind of plumbing adhesive.

The shower rod is also on its last legs. The original ceiling chain broke and I rescued it with a length of lamp chain (while running around the house wrapped in a towel with shampoo in my hair, and cussing. I'm nothing if not classy). And it also needs a wall repair. It looks like there have been several:

Readers might notice I changed the shower curtain out for a white one. It didn't really help, but whatever. 

Now that I've had my rant, I need to take stock of the things that are okay about my bathroom. I won't say like, exactly, but it does have a few points to give hope. 

The window: 

The original sash window still has its original frosted glass panes. I think they are cool. 

The overhead light fixture is also original, a ribbed glass globe shade, and I think with a good cleaning it will be just fine. 

The cabinets look to be made custom to fit the space, and the person who made them did good work (yes, I'm missing a knob). While I'm debating painting them, they are oak and not too fatally "orangey." Replacing bathroom cabinetry is an expensive proposition, and in an area where you'd need custom fitting, even more so. I consider this my greatest plus. 

It's not really a plus right now, but I think the tub will be. It is the original cast-iron tub, and I really love the art deco design on the outside. I'm not showing you the inside of the tub, because really, I think showing readers the baby poop paint was enough unpleasantness for one post. Trust me that the enamel finish is long gone. Even when I've scrubbed it with bleach and determination it doesn't look clean. In the distant future I'd like to have it re-enameled to it's former glory, probably in aqua. But it's going to have to wait. 

So what's the plan? 
A facelift that gets me to the point I can live with this bathroom until bigger investments (tile, tub enameling) can be made. It'll include a list of 10 mini-projects: 

1. Upgrade the cabinet hardware. I've never cared for wood knobs in kitchens and bathrooms, and I think something sparkly and chrome would light the place up a little. 

2. Grout the floor. You can actually grout vinyl floor tile, and I think it will give the flooring a more finished and less temporary feel. 

3. Paint. Oh, for the love of strained prunes, paint. Something clean, airy, and bright.

4. Replace the light fixture. 

5. Replace the mirror. 

6. Replace the toilet paper holder. 

7. Replace the shower curtain rod. 

8. Add art and decorative items. 

9. Replace the counter top (with the square footage being very small, this shouldn't be a top dollar expense).

10. Replace sink and faucet. 

I'm not setting a deadline for any of these, but will simply see how many I can get done this year. If I get even half way down my list, I'll be happy. 


  1. Thankfully, you've got some good bones to work with in there. I really love the window and the vanity cabinet. I bet just changing the paint color and replacing that light on the wall would make things better enough to give you steam to get it all done and have a room that you love.

  2. I so wish I had pictures of a bathroom I once lived with to show you. It had hunter green carpet and the same everything else that yours does. Minus the baby poop color. Instead, it was a chalk white. Oh, and NO window other than a skylight.

    In some kind of fit one night, I tore out the carpet and lived with plywood floors for almost a year. It was better than the carpet. Eventually we tore out the big boxy oak cabinets and replaced them with a pedestal sink, and painted the walls a light bright blue. You'll get there. (And I'd do the paint first. Think it will make the biggest difference for you.)

    Is it OK that I laughed out loud several times while reading this? Really, not at you. With you. :-)