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Plans for Updating Our Retro Master Bathroom

August 5, 2020

If you own a home built in the 50’s or 60’s, there is a good chance you have at least one retro bathroom. Our home was built in the late 60’s and we have 3 original bathrooms! This month I am excited to tackle a budget-friendly makeover to our master bathroom! My goal is to highlight the charming aspects of our bathroom while adding more function for our family’s needs today. After living with this bathroom for the last year, I have identified a handful of quick fixes that will modernize the space and add efficiency.

We restored a retro blue bathroom in our flip house last year and it turned out so well! With a good cleaning, fresh paint and a few modern accessories, we took this dirty bathroom into a modern sanctuary for its homeowners.

Here is what it looked like when we first purchased the flip:

Blue, retro bathroom design

And here is the bathroom after:

Updating a retro blue bathroom while keeping its charm | Building Bluebird
Updating a retro blue bathroom while keeping its charm | Building Bluebird

Plans to Update Our Retro Master Bathroom

Before we moved into our home last year, we updated all of the floors. Each bathroom has carpeting in the sink area and tile in the shower/toilet room. We updated the carpeting from baby blue to a neutral gray to match the carpet in the bedrooms. We also removed the swan shower doors for easier access in and out of the tub. Once we moved in, we updated the old showerhead for a more efficient one.

Retro bathroom with blue tiles & swan doors

The blue toilet in the master bathroom was barely functioning and I am embarrassed to admit how long we lived with it in that state! The toilet flushed but would never stop running. For almost 1 year we would turn the water on and off every time we used the toilet! It was a 3-gallon toilet so it used a ton of water for each use and I was so happy when we finally swapped it out with a more efficient and fully functioning toilet.

Retro bathroom with blue sinks and floral wallpaper | Building Bluebird

Remove Wallpaper & Paint

The biggest game-changer will be removing the peeling wallpaper and painting a crisp white on the walls. A clean, neutral white color will allow the fun, blue tile to be the star of the show.

Updating a vintage bathroom with budget friendly updates | Building Bluebird
Updating a vintage bathroom with budget friendly updates | Building Bluebird

Cleaning the Shower Tiles

I need to clean the tiles in the shower and scrape off the remaining caulk from the old shower doors. The anchors from the door screws are also still intact and need to be roomed and filled. I plan on re-caulking the entire tub for a fresh. clean look. Finally, I will give the entire shower a major scrub to really make it shine!

Blue tile bathroom

Vanity Updates

The vanity is built into the room so I do not plan on replacing it. I will be updating the doorknobs and replacing the leaking faucets with chrome fixtures. Depending on how the vanity looks next to the new wall paint, I may end up painting the vanity, too.

Built-in vanity in 1960's bathroom

Lighting & Electrical

The current lighting above the vanity is really not my style. The glass covers also prevent the medicine cabinet from opening fully. I plan on swapping out the current lighting for a design that allows us to use the medicine cabinet. A common feature of older homes are outlets installed upside down. Over the years the outlets also become loose which causes plugs to dangle and fall out easily. This happens ALL THE TIME with the rectangular plugs that come on hair dryers. I will change the outlet and install it with the two eyes at the top of the outlet. Another common feature in these retro bathrooms are humidifier vents that are super loud. I would like to update the vent for a quieter and more efficient unit.

Blue sinks in this 1960's retro bathroom

Bathroom Organization

Our bathroom is in dire need of organization! I am going to go through all of our items in the bathroom and finally get them all organized with clear bins and hopefully tossing a good amount of it. I would like to keep the vanity top as clear as possible instead of the basket of junk currently residing there.

Adding organization and function to our master bathroom

In the shower/tub room, I am going to add more hooks for our towels and shelving above the toilet. In the shower, I would like to install a dispenser unit for our shampoo, conditioner and body wash. All of our soaps are currently around the tub and on the floor of the tub. The goal is to pare down the items we use in the shower to use less plastic and allow us to buy items in bulk and refill. I would like to get a glass soap dispenser for the vanity as well that can be refilled easily.

Adding function to a dated bathroom

Style & Decor

To give this master bathroom some personality and style, I want to add a few fun decor elements to the space. I will add some artwork to the walls, a few small plants and a nice scented candle. I may even get really wild and buy some new towels and shower curtain!

How to update and modernize a 1960's bathroom

Retro Bathroom Mood Board

Here is a compilation of my plans to modernize this dated bathroom.

Retro bathroom mood board updates | Building Bluebird

So many people live in homes with these retro bathrooms and with a little elbow grease they can really shine! I hope this project will inspire you to make some of the updates to your retro bathroom that has been sitting on your to-do list.


Want to save this tutorial to reference once you start your next project? I’ve got you covered! Use the pin below to easily find your way back to this tutorial.

Updating a retro blue bathroom while keeping its charm | Building Bluebird
#vintage #bluetile #retrobath

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