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My Atomic Powder Room

Pink bathrooms. I love them all. I wish I could save every pink bathroom in America. I eschew the fools who decimate and destroy old bathrooms.

For one, it violates the First Commandment of Old House ownership:  “Thou shalt not destroy good old work.”

Secondly, the quality of workmanship and materials found in older bathrooms can’t be replicated by the modern junk sold at Lowes and Home Depot.

I loved the 1960s. And that’s why I love my old house. It was built in 1962, and it still looks like 1962.

We purchased this house from the home’s original owner (his estate, actually) and it looks much like it did in 1962. Style-wise, this old house would best be described as a “Mid-Century Modern” brick ranch, and (be still my heart).

Soon after we closed, I started looking for Retro Wallpaper and couldn’t find a thing. Then I saw a blog at Retro Renovation about a woman who did her own “Atomic Kitchen,” I decided to give it a try in my own 1960s kitchen. It turned out beautifully.

Next, I was ready to hit the bathroom. And yes, it took a lot of time (more than 100 hours), but oh boy, what a blast! My only regret is that I’m now out of rooms to “decorate” with Retro designs!

If you like the look, please leave a comment below!

To read about My Atomic Kitchen, click here.

To see vintage images of real-life 1950s kitchens (including a PURPLE kitchen), click here.

I also “restored” the bathroom in my 1925 Colonial Revival. Read about that here.

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It started

The trouble started when I saw that blog at Retro Renovation. It inspired me to replicate the "Atomic Ware" pattern on my own kitchen. And when I was done, it looked gorgeous!

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Bath

By contrast, my old bathroom looked dull as dishwater!

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bath 2

It needed some snazzy new colors!

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Crave yard (see link below)

At "The Crave Yard" (see link below), I discovered this pattern and thought it might work for my bathroom. I used this as a guide, but my own pattern was a bit different.

To see all manner of cool retro ideas, visit The Crave Yard here.

fve

It started with "flecking" the walls which made a big mess. I'm still finding charcoal gray flecks on the floor, the toilet, the shower curtain, etc. I used a toothpaste and a $2.99 sample can of charcoal paint to do the flecking. I dabbed the paint on the toothbrush, and then ran my index finger along the bristles, which sent all manner of gray specks flying onto the walls. I did a few practice runs with cardboard before I went crazy on the walls.

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Bath 3

Using that pattern (taped to the door trim) as a rough guide, I started behind the bathroom door. I figured it was the least noticeable part of the whole room. The door came off the hinges and stayed that way for several days.

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32

I used templates to draw the patterns on the walls. Spacing was random. REAL random.

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six

Next step was to paint "between the lines." I used Sherwin Williams Duration paints (quart size). The colors were pink, turquoise and gray (pink and gray were color matched to the existing bathroom colors). The turquoise was a wild gamble, but it worked. The chair atop the counter helped my aching shoulders. Kneeling on the counter left me too low and standing was too high. The chair was jusssssssst right.

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messy

The process was rather messy. Note the dead pen in the trashcan. I killed off at least 40 pens.

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Even before I was anywhere near finished, I began to fall in love.

Even in the early stages, I began to fall in love.

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undne

You can see how the black lines really make a difference.

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post 437

The cacophony of retro designs created a mid-century modern masterpiece. I was very pleased.

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home stretch

As I finished up around the door (which was back on its hinges by this point), I was quite smitten with the overall look. You can still see the "pattern" taped to the bathroom mirror.

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curtains

The turqouise worked out well. The towels were found on clearance at Bed, Bath and Beyond ($5.99 each) and that curtain, well, that's another blog. In short, it was a white curtain that I dyed turqouise (too dark). And then I bleached it (too light). And then I dyed it again (too dark). And then I washed it in hot water (just right).

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Pretty 376

Am I pleased with the end result? Abso-galootely!

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Pretty 2

I can not walk into this bathroom without a big grin on my face. The dots and the colors make me smile.

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nice

Even Mr. Grumpy Bear likes it. ;)

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Even bathrub

When we finished, I noticed that the bathtub was smiling.

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I made a few of my own

These are the "Atomic Balls" that I added to the pattern. They were easy to draw and looked right at home.

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North star

The pattern on the right is known as "North Star" and figuring out that six-point cross about drove me to hard liquor. The amoeba was easy and fun.

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not a rtocket

And my old favorite, the starburst.

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Who doesnt love ameoga

Two amoebas walk into a bar...no wait, that's something else.

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I went for a slightly differen tlook over thes shower head

I went for a slightly different look on the wall with the shower head.

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picture s84746

The whole gang.

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templates

I created templates to draw the patterns on the wall.

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About 25% of pens

Shown above are the pens that survived. This represents about 25% of the Sharpies used in the project. Many gave their lives in service, and went to the great beyond.

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For the amoeba, I used these oil-paint sharpies (white).

For the amoeba, I used these oil-paint sharpies (fine and regular).

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Peoples reaction to The Worlds Most Beautiful Atomic Powder Room is mixed.

People's reaction to The World's Most Beautiful Atomic Powder Room is mixed. Some fall in love with it, and others say things like, "Well, as long as you and Wayne like it, that's all that matters."

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And we do!

And we do love it.

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A lot

A whole lot!

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Please leave a comment below!

To read about Sears kit homes, click here.

The blog that piqued my interest originally can be found at Retro Renovation.

Read all about my kitchen dots, here.

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  1. Maureen Scalley McGlynn
    April 22nd, 2014 at 10:49 | #1

    I love it, it is awesome. I think you have another career in making hand-painted walls. :)

  2. April 22nd, 2014 at 10:55 | #2

    Rosemary, I think this is absolutely an awesome way to honor the era of the house and not destroy something original.

    The pink and grey are so classic to the 60s, and adding the turquoise was perfect!

  3. April 22nd, 2014 at 13:24 | #3

    Rosemary,
    Not only would I be grinning, laughing in delight when I walked into this labor of love room, I think I’d park a chair in there and just hang out!

    I also love your kitchen.

    The walls, the counters with the stainless steel edges, the cabinets…all of it!

    As you know, I’m a huge fan of this project!

  4. Linda
    April 22nd, 2014 at 17:29 | #4

    We had a pink and gray bathroom in our mid 50s house when I was a kid.

    I loved those colors. And I would love to have that ceramic bathtub.

    Don’t ever get rid of that.

  5. Betsy Thompson
    April 22nd, 2014 at 18:40 | #5

    Absolutely beautiful!! How did you do the flecking?

  6. April 23rd, 2014 at 08:28 | #6

    @Betsy Thompson
    Hi Betsy,

    I used a toothbrush to do the flecking. Sounds pretty primitive but it actually came out beautifully.

  7. Chris
    April 23rd, 2014 at 09:47 | #7

    Love it, Rose! You did a splendid job!

  8. April 24th, 2014 at 17:23 | #8

    Great job, Rose! It sure looks like the real thing but the art teacher in me would like to see a few half images at the ceiling line, and whole images going around corners here and there!

    I know the paints and markers are put away but sometime when you are wondering what to do put in one or two and you will get rid of the empty spacing look at the top.

    This comment in no way diminishes the spectacular job you did but just wishes to see a bit more.

    With best wishes from Maggie’s grandma (Karen) who is still on the lookout for Sears homes in Schenectady, NY

  9. Shari D.
    April 25th, 2014 at 10:54 | #9

    Marvelous! I love the little rocket ship above the shower head the best, I think!

    It’s a wonderful tribute to the time this house came from, and having had an art teacher/school system art department director for a grandmother, I know exactly what Karen is saying when she says she “wishes to see a bit more!”

    And as long as there are untouched rooms in your house, there’s always something else to “play with!”

  10. Jan
    April 25th, 2014 at 21:29 | #10

    Fantastic job and I absolutely love it! Talk about a labor intensive project! My favorite is the story about the curtain over the window!

  11. April 26th, 2014 at 10:27 | #11

    There are only two rocket ships in the whole mix. There’s another one that’s painted green, and it’s my favorite, too.

  12. Akon
    April 28th, 2014 at 09:53 | #12

    I’m smitten with the 60s! Who knew pink hardware works so well given period accents?

    This really reminds me of my grandma Eva’s bedroom in the house my grandpa built for her as a wedding present in the late 50s-early 60s; pink wall-to-wall carpets and curtains, light walls and by the door, a sink for her to wash out her unmentionables.

    Through the curtains, everything was bathed in this surreal, soft pink light. For sweeter dreams?

  13. Debbie
    May 14th, 2014 at 12:04 | #13

    Awesome!! My sister is just starting a facelift to her home with a retro feel. Gray, turquoise, tomato red, pops of pale yellow.

    She bought a fabulous 2nd hand sofa and love seat for her living room.

  14. Joy
    May 15th, 2014 at 14:48 | #14

    Love, Love, Love it.

  15. Laura (So Ca)
    May 16th, 2014 at 02:04 | #15

    Rosemary,

    I just love your Atomic ideas and the bathroom came out so pretty.

    I love the walls (that pattern is so Jetson’s) and your BBB purchases were such a great tie in idea. What a pita getting to the right curtain shade.

    Wow, you’re one multi-talented lady! Wayne is married to the Energizer Bunny, I swear.

    The pink bathtub is fantastic, and I love the fact you left the mirror alone, and didn’t do a glass tub enclosure. I hate them. They make the spatial perception of a modest bathroom even smaller. The shower curtains are very retro. Perfect. Damn good job, lady.

    Funny, that I’ve been getting into the new COSMOS series, and your Atomic pattern is growing on me big time.

    LOL

  16. May 16th, 2014 at 06:41 | #16

    Thanks, Laura.

    You’re very kind. :D

    Honestly, I loved, loved, LOVED this project. Wish there was a way I could figure out how to do it full time!

    The bathroom has been finished for about two months, and still - everytime I walk past the bathroom door - I glance into that room and grin from ear to ear!

  17. Libby
    May 21st, 2014 at 21:36 | #17

    I love it. It reminds me of the bathroom in my grandparents’ house, built in 1940.

    It had the same pink tile walls and pink fixtures with black trim. Grandma accessorized with loud, strawberry-Quik pink towels embroidered with palm trees and flamingoes with matching window and shower curtains.

    The whole room looked like a flock of flamingoes just exploded all over it! If I remember right, the floor was a rather hideous maroon and black streaked linoleum that didn’t go very well.

    I like the “atomic” décor a little better

  18. Kerry
    June 10th, 2014 at 22:55 | #18

    As an artist, I have to commend you on a job well done. It takes determination to complete such a project.

    A few times when I have had to paint the same thing over and over I reach the point where I think I’ll scream if I have to do one more.

    I hope you don’t try to varnish over it - your Sharpie will probably smear.

    The colors are perfect, and I love it! I’ve never been a fan of atomic — as it was on the way out as I was growing up in an Early American livingroom.

    But this so reminds me of Mom’s old cups and plates - almost identical design.

  19. June 11th, 2014 at 09:30 | #19

    Thanks so much for the kind words, Kerry.

    It’s been two full months and I *still* love looking at it. The room looks so bright and happy.

    And yes, it did take some persistence to finish the project, but it was a lot of fun, too. When people visit our house, I proudly show off the bathroom and *everyone* touches the wall and says, “Is this wallpaper?” and then they exclaim, “YOU PAINTED EACH OF THESE DOTS?”

    That’s fun to watch, too!

  20. Carmen
    December 20th, 2014 at 00:52 | #20

    Oh my goodness! The bathrooms in the 1954 “mystery” house have the same pink tub in the full bath and identical pink sink in the half!

    The previous owners updated the rest of the Pepto-inspired facilities with sleek, white, and thoroughly modern choices.

    I need to select my paint colors within the next few days, and was going to pick a boring off-white.

    I am SO glad I stumbled upon your post! Thanks for sharing your efforts and ideas….I feel newly inspired! Really nice.

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