Yellow. And black. Plastic. Tiles.
And a shower chair.
That has been used by someone that isn’t you.

Just let that sink in for a second.
Try to picture it in your mind.
No, it’s not gross enough, try again.
Closer, but not quite.
Yes, there. Gross, isn’t it?

Shower Chair

Someone else’s shower-butt was on this chair

That was my bathroom. It was the one room I looked at and immediately thought “oh, this needs to be gutted immediately. There is no way I can possibly deal with any of this.” Oh readers. How silly I can be. Thankfully the shower chair was gone by the time I got the keys (a million thank yous to Realtor Dan for getting rid of it!), but that only made a partial improvement in the room.

The problem, of course, is that gutting any room is a challenge. But gutting a bathroom is an undertaking. It disrupts your entire life. And not only that, but it’s expensive. For such a small room, the cost is (seemingly) disproportionate to the square footage. And frankly, while I didn’t completely clean myself out in the closing costs (I would never be so foolish!), and even though I have a toilet and shower stall in the basement to use as back-up, the money and time and effort for a bathroom gutting was just not in the cards at the present time.

So, as with everything else in the house, it got a cleaning and a painting. A bright, semi-gloss white that had been left behind in the basement by the previous owners was given to all the surfaces that weren’t tiled. And I tossed in a few relatively low-cost extras that made a world of difference.

Bathroom comparison

Step one, two, three.
(Click to enlarge!)

The Shelf Thing

Now I know that plenty of bathrooms have these over-the-toilet sorts of shelving units. They help to expand storage options (of which there aren’t many in this small bathroom area), so I get why it was installed. But. Like everything else in the house, it was sticky and it smelled. And frankly, I didn’t even want to touch it, even with gloves on. Out it went, and good riddance.

Bathroom Shelf

Why was it sticky??

What was funny was that they’d never actually bothered to move the cabinet more than a few inches out from the wall when they painted, so you could see some of the older colors. Like the atrocious mauve color that I’ve tried to re-create below.

Atrocious Color

Your monitor may vary.

The kicker was that I found some of that same color not only behind the heating vent cover, but also on the black trim tile, which means that at one point the bathroom was mauve and black and yellow. Yowza!

The Tile

Okay, so the tile had to stay for the time being. Even though it is yellow. And plastic. There is probably no way to get it off the walls without having to take everything back to the studs. Cue the bleachy bleach of bathroom cleaner (and an open window and a fan!) to get the tiles looking (and feeling) cleaner.

Melted Tiles

Plastic Melts!

Another tricky challenge was the tiles that had gotten cracked, or melted (!!!), or simply fallen off, or that were behind the (GROSS) toothbrush and soap holders that I was planning on removing. And while there were plenty of things left behind by the previous owners, replacement bathroom tiles were not one of them. However! Replacement kitchen tiles were! Now granted, they were white(ish) and not yellow, but at a (brilliant!) suggestion from my dad, and through a very careful endeavor of prying off some whole tiles and rearranging things, I was able to create a patterned line around part of the room, alternating the white and yellow tiles so that it almost looked like it was designed that way on purpose. Which it was, but you know what I mean.

Tiling pattern

Hard at work!
(Photo courtesy of K. Lang)

The Fixtures

Old and dusty and sticky and gross. Yep, that pretty much covers it. The vanity fixture over the medicine cabinet looked like it was supposed to have another cover or decoration of some sort, but we discovered that this entirely utilitarian appearance was the cover. Not to mention that it was equipped with a number of harsh little clear lightbulbs.

Bathroom Fixture

Doesn’t this look like it needs another cover over the one that’s there??

Less than $20 at your local big-box hardware superstore earns you a NEW and IMPROVED fixture that can be outfitted with white globe lightbulbs that help to make a world of difference. It’s bright as heck (especially when I’m a morning zombie), but it’s a million times better.

The other fixture in the room was the combo light/fan over the tub itself. The one that had been there was loud and rickety and filled with dust and smoke and (you guessed it) grossness. It too needed to go, and the new one is clean and quiet and wonderful.

We also swapped out the light switches and outlet, because I really didn’t want to touch the old ones. Even after cleaning.

All electrical work done by my dad! Thanks, Dad!

Finishing Touches

What do you do when the tiles in your bathroom are yellow? Do you try to mask it or pretend they’re a different color? I suppose you could.

Or you can do your best to embrace the fact that you have yellow tile and get one of the craziest shower curtains you can find! Take a guess which direction I went.

Shower Curtain

Pick a color, any color!

It actually helps to tone down the fact that the room is half yellow. I don’t know exactly how it works, but it does. It’s cheerful and graphic and bright, and it helps to tie the room together. Rug on the floor and a shade over the window (recycled from its previous life as a kitchen shade from one of my old apartments!) helps to disguise the dark window trim and lighten the whole thing up even more.

With all of that done, I’m surprisingly okay with the bathroom now. Oh, it still needs to be gutted at some future point time, but I’m able to live with it for now. I would never ever actually put yellow tile in my bathroom (or anywhere), but I think I’ve made the best of a very colorful situation.