what’s a girl with the blues to do?
by victoria comment


okay, so i’ve got this really crappy (yes, crappy!) 1930’s pale pink and blue bathroom tile. and there’s really no way around it, since i’m a renter. i thought about painting the blue tile white, but honestly, i think the tile is so old it just wouldn’t look right against the vintage pink. so, i need your help! looking for any and all suggestions as to what you’d do to make something special out of well, something quite un-special.

one idea i had was to just go with the kitsch factor and cover the walls in vintage seascapes and beach scenes. or, do i just leave it as simple as possible with just white and chrome accessories? what do you think? i’ve got the baby pink and blue blues!

seascapes like these covering the walls, via green zebre, and factory20.

97 responses to “what’s a girl with the blues to do?”

  1. I think the cheapest most reversible thing to do would be to paint the walls a darker shade of grey. It would tone down the brightness of the pink and blue and make the whites and grout seem brighter. Love the seascapes!

  2. good morning.

    i like the girl-y pink so, if that was my place, i’d try to paint the blue tiles white or a shade of pink (i know that would be a tough paint-job, especially around the floor). and i would use white accessories with a rustic-y wood accent or two so the room wouldn’t be too sweet.

    if painting any of the tiles isn’t possible due to their condition/location or because it would just be an awful task, then i would fill the walls with seascapes to highlight those blue tiles, to make them more intentional. and i’d again use white towels and accessories (skipping the rustic-y wood pieces or chrome this time).

    whatever you do, though, am sure you will make it great. i hope you will please show us the “after”.

    thanks for that bit of a sneak peek into another room in your home. :)

  3. I agree with B. Go for something radical on the walls re: paint colour. How about black or, slightly less scary, a vibrant azure blue (reminicisent of the Med sea) Good luck!

  4. I really love the old school vibe that’s going on in here! I say kitsch it up! I love David’s idea of a shade of grey on the wall (I think a lighter misty tone would be really nice) or at least a bright white to match the fixtures (in one picture it looks bright white and in the tub picture, it looks like a dingy yellow). I really love how the vintage sea scapes look with the pink and blue — especially when they have pinks and blues in them, too.

  5. i like the grey walls idea…maybe a deep grey like some of the seascape backgrounds. def do the seascapes but veer away from having to much pink in them and play up the blue (but that’s because i’m kind of a pink hater)

    and i’m commiserating because i have a ‘vintage’ bathroom tiled in lovely shade something akin to vomit

  6. I think some vintage looking polkadots would look good in there. Either framed on the wall or in the form of towels and curtains.

  7. First thing I thought of was to play up the blue and the seascapes and/or kitsch….Or….maybe try to find a bunch of paint by # seascapes, still lifes etc. they would probably have both colors in them and be the focal point. Good luck with this fun challenge, please share your decision.

  8. I vote for paint the walls and kitsch! I wouldn’t touch the tile. Dark grey or maybe a pale pale PALE pink? The white walls are just too harsh IMHO, and you can never have too much kitsch.

  9. Wow. That’s exactly the same pink tile that was in a house I rented in college. We didn’t have the great fortune of that blue, though. I say go with it. Kitsch it up! I like the idea of paint-by-numbers on the walls, with a nice crisp white shower curtain. Whatever you do, I’m sure it will be lovely.

  10. I think a gray would be nice. A gray like that antique industrial table thingy, and the gray clouds in the sea scapes. And MORE sea scapes.

  11. Oh man.

    I think I would just go as bright as possible and add some more color to it, so it just looked bright all over. Maybe some lime green and white polka dotted curtains or towels. Bright oranges, tangerines, tans, and yellows, too.

    Either that or I’d add black and white, in a bold print like damask.

  12. Instead of turning the blue tiles white…paint them grey.. It wont look to “new” with the older pink ones…but it will change the look of it. Pink and grey look awesome

  13. wow, i think your landlord and mine had the same bathroom decorator! i’ve been struggling with the *exact* same thing.

    i’m planning to paint the walls a pale latte color (though i think with the brightness of your pink & blue, a pale grey would probably be better). and in your case, since the blue tiles are throwing you off, maybe something like this (trimmed to fit, of course), would be a good temporary fix? http://www.2jane.com/category/products/tile-tattoos

  14. Here’s what I would do: paint the walls a pale shade of that same blue, like an acknowledgement “Yes, it’s blue!” Keep the trim and furniture white, accessories chrome and white, stick to white and light neutral towels. Then hang up a couple of kitschy paintings as well. That way all the accessories tone the room down, while you still acknowledge that it is a vintage color combination.

  15. I IMMEDIATELY thought—just paint the blue tiles BLACK—It would be a superior art deco look!!!! PINK and BLACK tiles would look FABULOUS!!!!!! That’s what looks odd to me are the blue tiles next to the pink. I am an artist-and have followed color and design-love interior decorating and fixing up spaces with little $!

  16. Kitsch it up! I would love to see to see an amazing floral wallpaper or crazy stenciling and I like the thought of lots of paintings. I actually have the exact same tiles in my bathroom, and I’ve grown rather fond of my pink toilet…

  17. Man I LOVE the crappy pink and blue tilage! it looks awesome retro. Reckon all you need is a lick of paint and maybe a different bathroom cupboard affair to soften the place up…
    have painted tiles before and after a little while in the bathroom it all bubbles up and looks 5x as bad. so i would say no painting tiles.

  18. i too really like your vintage tile & sink! I have a vintage bathroom but it was”updated” w/ plain home depot “renter’s special” materials. YUK. Have you been to Retro Renovation’s pink bathroom page? they have a campaign to save the pink bathroom! I agree w/ the pink & black suggestion & the adding blue polkadots suggestion (the white does need to be painted)…maybe add a colored toiled seat. Can you change out the mirror to something more vintage?

  19. Oh dear…That blue is quite awful!
    I once wallpapered over bathroom tiles…Don’t try it! It was awful too.
    I think your only option is to make it look intentional…”kitsch” being the word!
    The sink is great though…

  20. I would use one of these fabrics for inspiration http://www.mainecottage.com/ProductBrowseCustomize.aspx?prodType=0&step=FABRIC_BROWSE

    and paint a similar abstract floral/bird pattern on the wall. maybe a pale blue background, with the same blue, pink and white in the pattern.

    or, in a completely different direction, chalkboard paint (i know apt therapy had a post on custom chalkboard color) on the walls, and beautifully written design quotes on the walls – using blue, pink, or white chalk (depending on the chalkboard paint color).

  21. I too rent in the bay area and have 60’s yellow and mint green tile in my bathroom. No shower curtain options since there is a sliding shower door. I went with it and got a couple key accessories. Bath mat that ties in yellow, green and light blue. Small white vase with blue flowers, some yellow mums. I vote to keep it simple.

  22. we had a similar situation in my father in laws bathroom. we used a glossy automotive paint on the tiles (in the shower stall too). We chose a creamy color to keep the vintage feel and still worked with the tub and sink. it looks beautiful – so much better than i thought it could! Now, the thing about this path that could make it work for a renter….it will come off EASY. Test it on some loose tiles and see what ya think!

  23. I am one who loves this tile job. My SF bathroom is similar only I got the pink and black tile and pink tub and sink. I think what you’ve done is fine. I went with a pink flamingo paint-by-numbers, a vintage lighted CHANEL sign and “period” Modess ad! And it looks like you have the original window not the crappy replacement windows that are so prevalent.
    Finally, these tiles are 100% better than your old brown kitchen tile, yes??

  24. thanks so much for all these great suggestions!! i am considering them all – so keep ’em coming!

    sparkie – yes – much better than the hideous brown tiles in the old place. guess i’ll always be cursed with tile dilemmas!!

  25. i would totally go with seascapes and oddball paintings like you have pictured. i actually kind of like it..haha but i’m odd like that..;) my bathroom is so dull and boring, that i think your’s is just bright and beautiful. i’m still trying to figure out what to do in our’s…

    kitsch it up!!!

  26. If it were my bathroom I would rock the retro 50’s vibe- paint the walls baby pink, change the hardware to brushed nickle, add some fun star shaped mirrors, retro art work- think Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s & Marilyn Monroe, Warhol style- pick up the color but add contrast with black and white. Really luxe and vintage and fun.

  27. OMG, my bathroom is the reverse of yours, blue with pink tile and the walls are pink!!!(and not a good pink) Plus the owner put up mirrors(those small square one’s) all over and dropped the ceiling in part of the bathroom and put up florescent lights. I have been living with it for six years. I have this fabulous anthro ruffled shower curtain I bought last year, but I still have samples of paint on the wall. I probably will paint it white or grey, but every time I go in there it makes me sad. Good luck with your dilemma, and don’t wait 6 years to make a decision.

  28. There was a wonderful article in Real Simple long ago where they updated some bathrooms just like yours. In each case they added bold wallpaper (I know they make kinds that you can peel off later when you move) in geometric patterns, stripes, and big flowers. Then they added colorful accents from places like Anthropologie, sticking with the color scheme already in place. It was amazing what new window treatments, rugs, shower curtains, and towels could do for a room. Good luck!

    Very Fine House

  29. I’m in the paint the wall camp. What colour, not sure. Not sold on grey. I’m thinking you can’t fight the wacky colours so you have to use them and then maybe neutralize with accessories. Wish I could suggest a colour!

  30. Wow, that really is a Pepto Bismol pink, V! I’d be inclined to paint the walls grey (as suggested by David) and then put up some really great modern art prints — stuff with a pop sensibility, or with text — with a bit of pink here and there to tie it in. Make it into a hip little art gallery!

  31. I’m a little biased towards wallpaper, but I’d say go for a bold, modern wallpaper to mix up the retro tile with something fresh and contemporary. I’d probably avoid going total kitsch and instead try to make the bathroom tie in with the rest of your home’s gorgeous mix of old and new.

  32. Hi Victoria! I’m so feeling your blues, I had a horrible peach bathroom in my last apartment…

    My suggestion is adhesive plastic to cover the blue tiles, and then paint the walls in grey or black. Pink and black with white and chrome accessories might be cool, or what do you think? Perhaps throw in some dark wood to soften it up?

  33. Love that bath. All you need is a collection of paint-by-number art. Or you could do the Tiki route with bark cloth and a South Seas theme. It’s fabulous.

  34. Embrace the kitch! I also vote for painting the walls dark. Any tone. My first choice would be charcoal, but you already have a lot of that, so what about a really dark blue, or a really dark maroon, red? Then I would give it baroque touches, such as bold floral paintings, cherubs, or the like. I think the dark paint will do the trick. Good luck, I’m sure you’ll find a great solution, given that the rest of your house is looking so amazing :)

  35. Can you cover up the pink tiles with plain whitewashed wainscotting? Something that can be removed when you leave (some day).

  36. we had a similar situation with a VERY minty bathroom…just wrapping up the re-do now!

    after we painted the walls a creamy light grey the tiles seemed a lot more tame. we chose art and accessories with highlights of color similar to the tile. similar to your seascape approach…

    just wrapping up the accessory shopping so i can take the “final” after shots but here are a few in the meantime… my dream bathroom? no. but it is not nearly as bad as it could be. :)


  37. I think it would be a shame to paint over the tile. I love the idea of kitsching it up and embracing the color. Someone mentioned toile and I thought of this: http://host.pappapak7.com/~sisboomc/item_104/Nuala.htm or http://host.pappapak7.com/~sisboomc/item_83/Carole.htm or http://host.pappapak7.com/~sisboomc/item_95/Karen.htm or something similar on the walls. Or decopauge with vintage handkerchiefs? I also think the paint by number/amateur sea scapes look great in there. Add some pottery in those grey, white and aqua shades. Get a funky 50s lamp. I think does and could look really great!

  38. I definitely think the starkness of the white is making the tile look worse. I agree with what others have said about embracing the vibe. I would suggest going over the top and putting up a funky floral or coordinating pattern on the walls. Sherwin Williams makes this “easy change wallpaper” specifically geared to renters. There are some awful patterns in most collections, but search the catalogue a gem might be hiding in the rough. If I recall, the dahlia easychange collection had some retro florals in it. Good luck!

  39. Okay, this is your opportunity to start a new collection (if you haven’t already) of bathing beauties, etc., from the 20s-30s and do it UP like a cabana/locker room at the beach circa that era. Oh, yeah, I can see black & white photos of cute girls in their bathing caps, maybe even their actual bathing caps!

    A couple of these girls…(the 2nd & 3rd, mostly)


    bridge talleys from that era, maybe some locker room baskets

    can I come over? I kid….

  40. oh no! you all have some really great suggestions, so now my head is spinning with ideas!

    ideally – i’d love to cover it up, but then there’s the floor. it’s pink too. i know it can be done, but i also have $$$ to consider.

    i love all these suggestions though and you’re giving me great ideas!

    love those ideas, emma! and carlene – i thought about a bathing beauty idea, with the seascapes, and some vintage bathing suits framed. that kind of thing!

    thanks so much – i love these ideas!!

  41. Reminds me of a passage from Rachel Ashwell’s “The Shabby Chic Home”
    On leaving things alone…”I would have never chosen a pink-decorated sink or a marble with as much gray in the veins as this, but I came to leave it alone. Now I have become rather fond of the textures and detail, a nice variation on my usual white.”
    While you may never get to the point where you are “rather fond” of the pink and blue…you may come to have fun with it! It doesn’t have to be forever. Play it up with your cute oil paintings. You may at least feel you’ve made it your own and come to embrace it…just a little.

  42. As a renter with dark wood paneling in the kitchen that I am not allowd to paint… I feel your pain. And I love love love the idea of kitching it up.

  43. Ack! My last home had that same pepto pink tile, but it was paired with burgundy, so I went classic with burgundy accents. I’m thinking with the blue though, you should go kitschy, bathing ladies and all!

  44. I was thinking to add beaucoup color – bright orange, touch of green. I also like covering the blue tiles with black – what if you got black shelf paper and applied it in strips. you could even use an exacto knife to cut lacy patterns into the paper, I think a whisper of blue behind black and pink could be sassy.

  45. I would go all Dottie Angel with it – lots of bright white and bright color with some fun bold vintage florals somewhere. Maybe a white table with some bright colored tins/accessories? Or paint all the tile white.

  46. I had to laugh when I found the “SAVE THE PINK BATHROOM” pool on Flicker:
    You’ll even see your Keep Calm & Carry On sign in pink over one toilet! My favorite inspirations from the pool were the vertical pinstripe wallpaper in charcoal and white or adding navy blue to the palette.I agree that it’s best to work with the tile instead of trying to disguise it.

  47. we have a similar challenge in our bathroom- 1930s aqua and black tile. not what i would choose, but it’s in such pristine condition we don’t dare tear it out. we painted the walls a lighter version of the aqua so it reads as neutral, and played it up with graphic black and white accents.

    i would do something similar in your bath- find a neutral pinky shade for the walls, and add a lot of graphic black and white and turquoise accents. like this: http://www.jaysonhomeandgarden.com/product.php?productid=2813 and http://www.vintagemint.com/2009/02/18/silhouettes/

  48. Don’t know what your financial situation is but why not ask the landlord to at least redo the floor tiles. They will win in the long wrong!

  49. So question –
    I always wonder what to do with art in the bathroom – won’t it get all wet and yucky and ruined. what do you do to it to avoid it.

    I want to hang art in my bathroom.

  50. there was a pink tiled bathroom in lonny (issue three, page 64) that had black and white albert hadley wall paper. it was AMAZING. you could totally do a similar pattern in a stencil since you’re renting and probably don’t want to wallpaper. check it out, page 64!


  51. damn! you guys have some great ideas! i’m inspired!

    and thanks for the wallpaper tips – these are great!

    katy – i know what you mean, but my bathroom doesn’t get very steamy – so i think the artwork would be okay!

  52. Perhaps some white sheer curtains top to bottom of the window would help soften the color combo, and cover the wall behind the toilet with paintings with blue and pink hues in it…

  53. My bathroom is alot like yours. I put up a large print vintage wallpaper. It brings it all together. Check out hannahs treasures for vintage wallpaper or retro pams blog gor inspiration.

  54. i say stick with white and chrome accessories. you seem to have those, and it’s the path of least resistance. i don’t think you seem like the type to kitsch up the whole bathroom and be able to live with it everyday

  55. Hi Victoria,
    Since you asked…;p I would be tempted to put up a kitchy, but subtle (can something be both?) wallpaper, like this:
    And then do ornate gold frames and kitchy art – I love the bathing beauties, or maybe old soap ads?
    What a fun challenge! I say make it an unexpected talking point. :) Have fun!

  56. hey, I totally LOVE the pink and blue tile, what are you thinking? Anyways, my friend Cami told me I should send you my art because it would go well in your bath. Really, this isn’t a spam…

    go whole hog on this one…you can’t make a home something other than what it is…

  57. I rather like it, especially that the same tile covers the floor as well. I suggest painting the upper portion of the walls with cabana-ish stripes in green or yellow with white, damask print towels and the bathing beauty art work suggested previously. Have fun!

  58. Well,it might seem quite odd but while I was reading your posts I saw a beautiful pic of Twiggy 6.15.10 wearing a dress with just about yr bathr colors…framing this pic and putting it on the wall is my idea of humoring the whole situation!!odd for mod!!xxx

  59. wow! … first of all I can´t believe there are actually blogs dedicated to pink bathrooms! .. that´s great! ;)

    Anyway… I think your problem is not so much the tiles on the walls, those are quite kitsch and you can work with them … but the floor tiles are your real problem. Try lining it with vinyl, it is fuss free and if it really doen´t work, you can just remove it! I think if you get that neutralized you´ll end up with a quite interesting space … I like what you are doing with the pictures on the wall… carry on that way!! … by the way, thanks for all your posts … I visit your blog daily and it is great!!! ;)

  60. I think you should get pick up some fabulous art nouveau poster to hang right over the toilet. LIke one of Alphonse Mucha’s paintings with florals and swirls. Many of those paintings have similar tones of pink, peach, and blue that would compliment your tiles. And an oversized hanging like that would keep the eye focused on the artwork and not the tiles. And then accent with more of your rusted silver metal (like your bathroom sidetable)

    Here’s an example of the posters i’m talking about

    hope that helps!

  61. I would lay black and white vinyl tiles and then give the whole thing a sense of humour with some neon accessories.
    Think plastic elephant watering cans, astro turf toilet mat’s and a crazy shower curtains.

  62. I like it just the way it is in that picture that shows it with the window. It has a pretty kind of simplicity, and the unusual colors are just the right amount of quirk. The violet tulips really tie it together, too. That’s just me though.

  63. thank you for the amazing blog!! Your posts are really interesring!♥
    also,I love your photos:)thank you!

  64. Actually, I think the pink and blue tiles are fun. A lot better than the standard all-white you often find! I like the idea of the sea-scapes on the wall, though. Big fan of decorating the walls in bathrooms. Mine is full of religious kitsch from all over the world!

  65. Are you kidding? Pink and blue vintage tile rock! Go with it!! I did in my green/yellow 30’s bathroom. Way too much fun. Seascapes are good. Maybe play off the tile with a screaming matching blue paint. Well, maybe not. Hmmm…have fun with it!

  66. I have a SF, 1930s bathroom too…but mine is lavender and mint green. Green tub, sink, and toilet, too, which kill me. I am coveting your color scheme and those WHITE fixtures!
    I painted my walls a lavender-pink and use white towels and shower curtain…and leave it at that. And I cringe just a tiny bit every time I walk into all that minty-lavender “loveliness”!

  67. Had the same situation in my rental kitchen with yellow and hunter green tile (and originally taupe walls!) We went with the “if you can’t fight it, work with it” approach and have an adorable retro kitchen now. Painted three walls yellow, one turquoise and made some kitchy curtains out of an old 50s tablecloth. It’s spectacular and we love it. Go with it.

  68. Sheer white curtains, soft cool grey walls, lots *lots* of seascape paintings – my brain wants to hang them almost salon style. And white towels to go with the white curtains and fixtures. Maybe even spray paint the metal drawer thing white too.

    I would not paint the tiles, it would not stick well to the ceramic glaze.

    I also made the jump to pink elephants on parade, which if your so inclined, would be a really fun theme.

  69. Embrace the pink and blue. Paint the walls a deep dusty rose pink close the the same value as the pink tile. Then re-hang the marine paintings and other artwork/items that’ll pull those colors together. The old medical cabinet looks good there too.

  70. oh my god, I kind of love the tiles! Yes, I would paint the walls a dark suedy grey or aquamarine/grey/sage. Don’t worry, in the old house i grew up in we had the original banana yellow tiles in the bathroom with black trim and my dad painted the room fungus green, then repainted it bright shocking yellow.

  71. no, don’t kitsch it up; that’s letting the room win. if you can’t control everything about the decor, bathrooms really aren’t for decorating fun; it never looks good unless you can do everything. so let it be purely and strongly functional. white walls, white towels, everything very simple, nothing clashing or competing with the weird tiles. if you “talk back”, they get louder. think art gallery. maybe one big black and white photo, something personal, in a silver frame. Don’t use the overhead light, use an angle light pointed against the wall–the indirect ‘on the bounce’ light will make the colors look less harsh, and incidentally is much more flattering! great blog thanks.

  72. I love what you’ve done. The industrial table counter balances the old tile and pinkness. I love that deep purple flower. Keep doing what you’re doing!

  73. My first instinct would be to take the blue up the walls – wouldn’t necessarily need to be the same exact blue, but something close and really vibrant. Then maybe fun patterned window treatments – I’m thinking of an Anna Maria Horner floral or something like that. The fabric would contain the blue and pink, but also introduce a few other colors. Then keep the rugs, towels, etc. white and other accessories would be more vintage style. Good luck!

  74. you need a ceramic pink poodle! my bathroom is the same as yours but black instead of blue… “Lulu” fits in perfectly and draws lots of compliments!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *