Full disclosure: this post has been a long time coming. A LONG time. I usually don’t hold out for too much time between doing projects and mustering the energy to post about them, but for some reason I lost all enthusiasm for posting about my bathroom back when I gave it the first round of love way back in the summer. I think I needed some emotional distance with this room before I could discuss it openly? Maybe it’s because there are still several things I need to deal with in there, so it still doesn’t feel finished?
Who am I kidding, nothing is ever finished. Ever. I will futz forever. Don’t tell Max.
In actuality, the bathroom was basically the first thing I tackled when I moved into this apartment. It’s a difficult room to photograph and, like most rental bathrooms, the amount of things I can easily and realistically change in there are few. Luckily, the more permanent fixtures are fairly plain an inoffensive, so I’m not overly fixated on wanting to change things that I can’t. I’m happy with how far it’s come thus far though, and maybe finally posting about it will light a necessary fire under my ass to get going on tying up some of the loose ends I’ve been avoiding.
I know, I have shocked and appalled you with my entirely unexpected and unprecedented decision to paint the walls black. I’ll give you a moment to collect yourself.
When I moved into this apartment, the bathroom was no exception to the horrible paint choices that the rest of the place endured sometime around the late 1990s, nor the subsequent 15 give-or-take years in which the tenants evidently owned multiple cats and gave up cleaning. The walls were painted a shade of lavender, one of those colors that’s supposed to be cheery and whimsical but only succeeds in making you feel like you’re taking a shit in a nursing home filled with broken dreams and unrealized ambitions. If I took shits. I don’t. I’m bionic.
Functionally, the biggest problem was a complete lack of storage, as there is no sink cabinet and the medicine cabinet was sized to accommodate only about three aspirin tablets and a travel-sized tube of toothpaste. Now, I wouldn’t say we’re overly vain or maintain complicated beauty regimens—I would classify our gorgeousness more as a natural occurrence than the product of extraordinary effort, if you must know. However, in the service of maintaining Max’s fancy hairdo and our general hygiene, we needed a bit more space to put the things that make achieving this goal possible. Out of necessity, I actually mounted those shelves (harvested from the bedroom) as a temporary measure until we could find something more permanent.
I toyed with the idea of some combination of vintage cabinet/mirror/shelving, but we really wanted to get this done and ultimately, for a bathroom, I can’t think of very much I’d really want out in the open. Enter the deliciously massive and endlessly reflective (the insides of both of those doors are mirrored, as is the back of the unit) GODMORGON medicine cabinet from IKEA. It is huge, it is wonderful, it holds everything. I will not show you the inside because I am ashamed that it is completely full.
Yes, in fact it does drive me crazy that the cabinet is not centered over the little stupid soap dish and toothbrush holder things. Yes, it does drive me crazy that those stupid things are not centered over the sink. I hope we can all get past it.
I will never get past it.
If you’re super observant, you’ll notice that the new medicine cabinet also covers the only outlet in the room, so I just cut a small hole in back so we can still plug all our do-dads in and anything that needs to charge can just be stored completely out of sight.
The old light was that super basic fixture that all NYC landlords favor for everything. Ignore the fact that it looks like the ceiling once caught fire around it. I’m sure there’s a perfectly logical and benign explanation, like that the ceiling once caught fire around it.
I have to say, I’m pretty annoyingly smug about the new light fixture, which cost all of about $10 and 15 minutes to make. It’s just some leftover red cloth-wrapped cord I had from my bedside FRÃ„CK hack lights, a basic ceramic socket, and a plain ceiling canopy that I spray-painted high-gloss black (but left the little nuts brass). The bulb is a big round frosted 100 W incandescent, and that’s it! I also changed out the light switch for a dimmer, and the light this thing gives off is really nice and deceptively flattering, and instantly made the room cozier.
Not unlike the other doors in my apartment, the bathroom door had seen its share of use and abuse over the years, leaving both the door and the frame scarred from old shoddy hinge repairs and replacements. The door actually didn’t even close all the way, so I had to take the whole thing down and shave down the bottom. While I was at it, I used Morgan from The Brick House’s genius suggestion to use paint stir-sticks to fill in all the old hinge holes. Of course it worked, because it came from Morgan and she is made of magic.
I went back and forth on what kind of hinges to use, but ultimately just went with the same size that was already there (so I wouldn’t have to do more chiseling or thinking) in an oil-rubbed bronze finish. New brass hardware seemed too flashy and since the size of the hinge was already different than the other bedroom door, I just decided to keep things as inconspicuous as possible.
OMG, this picture terrifies me. Can you believe this is actually pretty flattering? Yeah, things were bad. Real bad. Let’s break it down.
Horrible grimy door/trim. Rusty nasty pipe. That fucking window. The black part at the top was insulating foam that somebody stuck in because the window is too gunked up from paint and grime to open or close, and I guess it got stuck open at the top. Note that the top pane of glass is inexplicably painted. More on that in a second. The only good thing here is the screen print on the wall, which our friend Shannon made and gave to us. It’s been moved into the bedroom now, don’t worry.
Even though there’s a towel bar in the room, it’s directly across from the shower, weirdly close to the side of the toilet, and hovers over the toilet paper roll, which is really odd when there’s actually towels hanging on it. Since I prefer to just hang my towels on hooks anyway because I am lazy like that, I mounted them to the door instead, which is significantly less awkward.
Aside from removing the foam and persuading the window to close, I still haven’t touched the window and instead hung an IKEA ENJE shade in front of it (reused and re-cut from my last apartment) so that I could more effectively ignore its heinousness. So far, I have done this well for a full 8 months, but I’m excited to try my hand at some window restoration and see if I can get the thing gliding open and closed like it’s not 120 years old. Out of the 6 windows in our apartment, this is one of two that are original (or super old, at least), and I want to take special care and attention with making them feel less betrayed by the world. In any case, stripping the paint off the glass will at least bring more light into the room.
How is the light with the dark paint, you ask? I KNOW these pictures aren’t very convincing (partly a function of the actual weather outside), but the dark paint definitely does not make the room feel small or dungeon-like, even though it’s on the walls and the ceiling! I promise! There’s still quite a lot of white going on with the wall tiles, and I think the dark walls actually make the walls recede, which makes the room feel more spacious and taller. Or something like that.
If you are dating Max (which, if you are, and you are not me, just know that I will find you and destroy everything you hold dear), you quickly learn that the boy sees penises in many everyday objects, which has begun to taint how I view the world. Not that I necessarily see penises in everyday objects, but that I now wonder if Max would. So it was with great care that I finally felt comfortable in purchasing these particular hooks for the bathroom door, specifically because they did not look like penises.
Luckily, when Max saw them, the first thing he said was that he liked them. Then he told me they looked like penises.
WHATEVER, THEY ARE BRASSY AND CLASSY AND OH-SO-VINTAGE AND OH-SO-$5.
Vintage paint-by-numbers tickle me, too. I sprayed them with a coat of matte varnish to prevent them from peeling in the moisture, which seems to be working perfectly.
I like my crappy sun faded amateur thrift store art. Deal.
I hate my supposedly lucky money tree plant thing. We’ve been together for about three years and it seems to thrive on neglect and bad vibes, because I do not like it and would very much like it to just die so I can replace it with another plant that I do like. Occasionally I’ll give in to guilt and give it a little water. I have some kind of caretaker complex I’m really trying to work through.
There are a few things I still want to deal with in here, including that I think we really need an extra-long shower curtain, mostly because they’re fancy and luxurious, but also because the super-tall medicine cabinet just feels weird towering over the standard curtain like that. It’s like it makes both things look ridiculous. I also really need to scrape and replace all the caulk, because no matter how much I clean it, it is still poorly applied and gross. And fix up that janky window. And find a good bathmat that we can both agree on, which I am anticipating will be one of the harder decision-making processes I’ve ever negotiated. Wish me luck.
Walls/Ceiling- Benjamin Moore “Graphite,” Matte, Aura Bath & Spa formula, $40
Trim- Benjamin Moore “Super White,” Semi-gloss, already owned
Door- Benjamin Moore “Onyx,” Pearl finish, already owned
Medicine Cabinet: IKEA GODMORGON, $180
Window: IKEA ENJE shade, already owned
Hooks: Vintage, $10
Light Fixture: DIY, $10
Shower Curtain: Target, $10
Trashcan: Simple Human, already owned
Bathmat: IKEA SIGNE, $4 (did they stop making these? wtf.)
Plastic Deer Figurine- Vintage, $1
Paint By Numbers horses- Vintage, $10
Woman Portrait- Vintage, already owned
Plant- Fiery Depths of Hell, already owned
OH YEAH. So you might already know that the Apartment Therapy Homie Awards are going on right now, but if you don’t, I just told you! I don’t honestly, truly, seriously care about my blog competing in any competition (especially against a few good friends!), but I saw that I’ve been nominated (thanks dudes!) and now I am shamelessly giving in to temptation to campaign ruthlessly for votes. Because there is nothing better than winning. NOTHING. GIVE ME PRIZES AND ACCOLADES. VOTE.
Think of all the fun things in the world. Now put them on the internet. Now make them into a single website about home design. Now turn that website into a blog. If that blog is called Manhattan Nest, you are a superior kind of human being and also my friend. VOTE.
So let’s win this mo’fo’ this year. You and me. Me and you. Mostly me. A little bit you, if you vote for me. No one likes to be on the wrong side of history. VOTE.
Do it for Mekko. She wants you to.