1950's boomerang bathroom- Resale question

orangedaisy52August 19, 2010

I've dreamed of redoing this main family bathroom for 7 years now, and it looks as though we could be selling in the next year or two. My DH is job hunting closer to family as I type.

So this is the main bathroom used by all three bedrooms (the master has a tiny half bath) and it has a tub that came without a shower. The tub surround is tiled to about waist height. We installed one of those add a shower's, so there's a shower ring and large shower curtain. To be quite honest the shower works very well...but I don't think it would be "up to code" since it doesn't have a thermostatic valve" and the steam is causing obvious damage to the most recent paint job, in the wettest areas.

So now that we probably won't be doing a major gut and re-do, I have to scale back and figure out what to do for resale. The options I've come up with are...

1 Leave it alone, just repair peel and stick vinyl floor and recaulk around tub.

2 Keep 1957 cast iron shallow 60 inch gray tub (which is in remarkably good condition for an oldie) and do all new tile, valves, faucets, shower head etc.

3 Remove tub and tile, replace with paneled unit and Vikrell Tub.

4. Corian tub surround?

To compound the issue, there is a wood window in the shower and I would really like to change it to glass block...not going to work with a panel tub surround. I currently have the window blocked by a clear vinyl shower curtain with a regular shower curtain over it.

So all the fixtures are gray, and the vanity top is bright orange boomerang formica. Floor is gray peel and stick.

I of course, just want to gut the thing, but as my DH says...its not about wish fulfillment.

The only other shower in the house is a tiny, low ceilinged basement shower.

My house is in central Indiana, 3 bed 2 bath, might go on the market for 220ish or so. We didn't have a bubble here, but sales are slower than they used to be.

I'd love to hear your advice! thx

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My thoughts are you are very lucky the tub is gray as it is now an in color again and goes with most things. I'd keep the tub and do a full tile surrounding it to make it up to today's standards as far as taking a shower.

Then I'd keep the vanity, but paint it if it is still in good shape. Replace the top with a granite or solid surface that works with the gray of the tub. Spend $100 and get a white toilet and repair the floor so it looks good again.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2010 at 2:00PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Wow thanks! I had actually been wondering about the toilet. It is next to the tub and I had been concerned that white and gray would look patchwork.

The toilet and tub are actually in a separate "room" from the vanity. I hadn't thought about replacing the orange other than in a total gut redo with all new cabinetry, but I could price it out. Nothing prefab is going to fit. The vanity and attached tall cabinet are custom fitted mahogany cabinets from the 50's. They're in very good shape and coordinate with the rest of the house, so I'm hesitant to paint them.

How funny, I had no idea gray was in again! :-) Sometimes you get lucky.

I'm open to more ideas too! Thanks

    Bookmark   August 19, 2010 at 4:19PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Yes don't paint the Mahogany. I assumed it was already painted. My bad.

Check a few stone yards and see if they have a remnant that might fit your vanity, or you could get a laminate top.

If you do a white tile surround then a white toilet shouldn't stick out. Even if it was white and the surround wasn't it still won't stick out. It will just look like the old toilet was replaced with a newer more water efficient toilet.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2010 at 4:29PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Here is a link to a google picture search that shows a lot of gray baths so you can see what colors works with gray and for inspiration. Most fixtures are white, but it still gives you an idea.

Here is a link that might be useful: Google pic search

    Bookmark   August 19, 2010 at 4:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

OrangeDaisy -- any chance you could post photos? Your bathroom sounds really cool - I'd love to see it!

    Bookmark   August 19, 2010 at 5:34PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Wow...the 1953 LA house was amazing...I'm still in shock. okay, so I've never been able to embed photos, but here is a link to a hopefully public album. Please let me know if you can't get in!!

Here is a link that might be useful: Bathroom photos

    Bookmark   August 20, 2010 at 8:11PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Wow, what a funky, cool bathroom! I would want the toilet to be either all white or all gray, but I wouldn't change a thing in the rest of it.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2010 at 10:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

That bathroom is so retro that it's in again. I would not touch that tile !! To rip that out and put in a tub surround would be a sin !! I would replace the toilet seat with a gray seat, or replace the entire toilet. I'd sand the cabinets and put a fresh coat of poly over them. Maybe switch up the hardware if you feel the need. I'd find a moderately priced tile and redo the floor. Maybe a slate tile with touches of both the orange from the countertop and the grays from the tub etc. I love that bathroom!! Maybe I'm an exception, but I don't think it needs a gut redo.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2010 at 11:19PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I can certainly see what your saying about keeping it....I so wish that the PO/builder had just tiled all the way up.

To leave it as it is means not having a functioning shower that is up to code on the main living floor. I highly doubt I'd be able to get more of that tile!

Unfortunately the moisture is damaging the paint above the tile, and probably damaging things I can't see. Do you see my conundrum? The current shower wouldn't get past a home inspection IMO.

My original gut plans included doing a very nice MCM bathroom that functioned for the family. I'm very aware of the unique value of the design aesthetic.

Funny you mention the toilet seat...you noticed its white :-). I had previously bought a Bemis special matching toilet seat in the exact gray, but it didn't stand up to being sat on every night for bath time and was always sliding off :-(. Frankly the toilet looks cool but clogs several times a day. I'd like to replace it with a Caroma.

So given that I, and likely anyone who would buy my house, would want a functioning normal shower on the main floor, I'm considering the retile option. I guess what might be good about Corian panels or some such is that I could put those up and not have it clash really with the tile that runs around the rest of the room, KWIM? Yes, I would have to cut out the tile actually around the tub to do it, but it wouldn't stick out too much. Whereas, if I put new tile around the tub, it would be new tile abutting original tile.

Okay I think for a first step, I'm going to go out and get a new bathroom fan and see if that helps with the moisture problem. It has to be done anyhow. Perhaps using a fantech inline will let me keep the cool ceiling plate.

Thank you for your compliments on my bathroom...we really do appreciate it.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2010 at 7:02AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I love your bath! I understand its limitations, yet I would encourage you to stay close to its original vibe while improving its function. You might want to check eBay for vent fans. A remarkable number of new-in-box originals (Nutone, Fasco) from the 50s and 60s show up there.

You might be able to find the tile or something darn close to it. Retro Renovation has tons of resources for faithful renovators. This link is to tile at that site.


There is an active group of midcentury homeowners in Indianapolis. The blog linked below has tons of inspiration and connections to those folks.

Good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: Atomic Indy blog

    Bookmark   August 22, 2010 at 5:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Looks like a beautiful, quality architectural bathroom to me, worth preserving.

If it was my house, I would
- get a grey toilet seat
- tile just the top half of the shower stall in white or glass mosaic, leaving the existing tile as-is
- stain the vanity dark and add a high-end top and sink
- replace the vinyl floor with tile that carefully coordinates with the retro tile

    Bookmark   August 22, 2010 at 9:30PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

That is not what I pictured at all from what you said. It is actually really cool!!!!!!!!!

Now there would be an easy fix to get a tub surround and that would be to just continue the tile up from where it ends with something that compliments it around the tub.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2010 at 11:10AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I understand your problem not having a shower, you do need that.
Do you open your window for ventilation? Can you remove the glass wall for better ventilation? In one way I like it, but it also cuts the bath in half. I would tile all the way up in one continuous tile that has the retro look?

    Bookmark   August 23, 2010 at 12:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You said, To compound the issue, there is a wood window in the shower and I would really like to change it to glass block...not going to work with a panel tub surround. I currently have the window blocked by a clear vinyl shower curtain with a regular shower curtain over it.

Another option for privacy would be to replace the glass in your window with exterior glass like your existing decorative glass. I believe the term for it is "cross reed," and it is available.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2010 at 8:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thank you soooo much!! I love the atomic Indy site..I hadn't seen it before. I've seen hundreds of other MCM sites but not the one in my own backyard (I'm only 60 miles from Indy).

I'm poring over retro renovation too. I love your idea of just tiling the area above my current tile. If I used a white translucent glass tile it would look really nice.

The reason I suggested glass block for the window is that it would allow the window to be flush with the tile, with no wood frame to rot. Perhaps I can find reeded glass block to coordinate with the partition wall.

There is a vent fan over the bath/toilet area, so once I get a new blower unit or something I think the ventilation will be okay. Right now it works but loudly and not terribly efficiently.

The wall actually makes the rear of the bathroom much more private, which is important when its shared by a family of four!

I hope I can do one of those nice tile floors in that same sort of 50's pattern that's on the walls. Don't remember the name for that pattern.

I just want to make the bathroom something that won't send buyers running the other way!

    Bookmark   August 24, 2010 at 9:37AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

An option for your floor, recycled glass terrazzo tiles. FritzTile also makes it. ;)

Here is a link that might be useful: Daltile recycled glass terrazzo

    Bookmark   August 24, 2010 at 10:59AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

In a tough real estate market I would gut it and remodel. Take your time and do a professional job. Small bathrooms can look great with a good design, good tile setter, quality fixtures. Don't buy the tile from Home Depot etc..buy from a tile shop. They will help you pick the right tiles, recommend a good tile guy etc. You can save money by tearing out the old bathroom yourself. It's easy. Get some boxes, bags, hammers, dust mask, tarps, turn off the water, power and have at it. O

    Bookmark   September 4, 2010 at 6:35PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Wow...you're the first to suggest that. I'm guessing that gutting and replacing everything would be 15,000 or so...not sure I'd see that back at resale. I'm in the midwest here and yes the market is slow but we haven't had many price decreases in the mid market range, which is where I am.

I guess I also don't really have 15,000 to throw at it right now. Can you explain why you think it would be better to gut it and build a whole new bathroom?


    Bookmark   September 5, 2010 at 1:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I had two older homes. 1100 sq feet, 1000 sq feet with small bathrooms. The homes were in very good location, but dated and not exactly what people were looking for; i.e. vaulted ceilings, large bathrooms, large kitchen.

- I gutted all four bathrooms myself. Hammer, wrecking bar, boxes I got from the local supermarket. I was messy but not so difficult.

- The first bathroom I used Lowes/Home Depot tiles on the shower/bathroom walls, floor to the bathroom. Then a wainscoat and big dramatic chair rail above it. This bathroom was a real show stopper and the realtor loved it.

- I hired a guy to put up the tile work, plumber installed the new shower head, pipes, drain. About 1,000 dollars total.

- I set the new toilet, vanity, light fixture, sink, painted everything myself.

- All done for about 2k and a few weekends, nights.

- Second bathroom had a tub, so I just gutted the walls, floor, new tile, vanity, toilet, drywall, cement board etc. Paid for plumber, tile guy. 2k done.

Second Home -

Same deal, gut myself, kept the old tube that had a nick in it. Bought the repair paint at lowes, and special cleaning spray. Shined up perfect. New vanity, tile, lights, toilet etc..tile guy installed tile on floor and around the tub. I put in the chair rain, wainscoat, painted. Looked great.

Last bathroom was the best. Went to tile shop and found a big selection and quality of tile. They were great and this shower turned out perfect. I hated to sell the house because this bathroom was so nice. It sold the house. large floor tiles, all around the shower, installed vent fan because it never had one. This bathroom was 3k because of the better tile, but it sold the house.

I think a good price range with you doing some of the messy work is about 3k-5k depending on what you keep and what you replace. Checking craigslist you can find tile, vanity, light fixtures or go to the salvage stores etc...

Bathrooms were a big selling point for those homes. Just look online for tile ideas etc...then copy what you see. I think hiring a good tile guy is best because it is harder than you might think and they know the tricks etc. Putting up the cement board in the shower/bathroom stall hire a guy that knows how to make it square. It's important for the tile guy.

Looking back, I enjoyed the remodel and learned a lot about it. I live in a newer home down and have a few bad tiles in the bathroom, but I won't do any major remodeling.

I think you can do it for a lot less than 15k.

Good Luck!

    Bookmark   September 5, 2010 at 2:46PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Totsuka, your bathrooms sound gorgeous...I'd love to see photos. I'm afraid my skills aren't quite what yours are and I'm a busy Mom with two young kids, so the situation doesn't lend itself to such a DIY solution. It does sound like fun though. Even my DH isn't all that handy and awfully busy to boot. Fortunately its a big bathroom and the layout is okay. Perhaps you're right that 15k is an overestimate.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2010 at 9:11AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I think the tile work looks great. If it were me, I'd leave the tub as is and I'd paint the walls white to tie in with a white toilet. I'd replace the flooring with a nice slate. For the counter top I think a faux granite (with the same colors as the mosaic tile) laminate would be pretty and practical. Probably I'd paint the cabinets a soft gray (not as dark as the tub) or white, just to update them.

Enjoy your project!

    Bookmark   September 9, 2010 at 8:43AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I might suggest checking into an aluminum replacement window w/ that reeded glass.

And I might get a gray toilet seat just for the showing period. Somehow, someway.

I would *not*, actually, get a white toilet; I do think it will look like patchwork. Worse than a stainless dishwasher in an otherwise-white-appliance kitchen.

Also, I might get a couple of bids for an "OK but not luxury" redo of the bathroom. Then I'd know if it would cost $8,000 or $15,000 or $6,000.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2010 at 4:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Well...it's still very easy...just read a few books on bath room remodel...look on the web...do it one step at a time..you can look at craigslist to get a handyman to come and do the rip out..or go to HD/Lowes and hire a few illegals...just put down canvas drop clothes....plenty of trash bags of boxes to put the trash into...only takes one day to gut a bathroom..turn off the power/water...then just get photos of what you want...call a dry wall guy to do the drywall/cement board around the existing tub. if setting a new tub...call a plumber...you could hire one contractor..but they will want their cut and that is usually not cheap...a electrician can run any new lights..plumber will set the fixtures, new toilet etc...the hardest part is picking a good design and setting the tile...I wish we saved our photos from the old bathroom remodel...but we moved and can't find anything now...

    Bookmark   September 10, 2010 at 4:41PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Pond Dye Dumped Into My Pond and Stream... Water Rights Question
I never posted once in seven years, and now I post...
something to check when buying a home (pets/carpet)
something i wish i'd checked out before purchasing...
New front door--ok to put lockbox on back door?
We have a new (quite expensive) front door and screen...
Home Buyers Please Vote: Would you rather ...
1. A $2,000 kitchen appliance allowance or any stainless...
Hall bathroom with claw foot tub, garden view but no shower.
We have a 4 bd, 3 bath house that I am getting ready...
Sponsored Products
Englund Natural Stone Vessel Sink
Signature Hardware
P.T. Support Rail Wall-Mount Plate - Wood
Signature Hardware
KOHLER Bathroom Cimarron Single Hole Pedestal Combo Bathroom Sink in Ice Grey
Home Depot
Chantilly Mirrored Vanity Tray - MOCHA/GOLD (10 X 6 X 1.5)
$230.00 | Horchow
Toto LT512#51 Ultimate Self-Rimming 1-Hole Sink - Ebony - LT512#51
$108.40 | Hayneedle
Whoo Bath Rug
$24.99 | zulily
Extra Basket Accessory for Tension-mount Shower Butler
$49.50 | FRONTGATE
Antique Copper Whitehaus 614.121WS Three Holes Knob Bathroom Faucet
$239.00 | Blue Bath
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™