Home Improvement

How I Turned our Tired, Retro Bathroom Into A Showstopper

September 1, 2020

Our retro master bathroom was tired, outdated, and lacking function. After my mini-makeover, our bathroom is now a showstopper without any major renovations!

If you have been following along, I decided to give our master bathroom a budget-friendly update to add functionality and style. When we moved into our home a year ago, the master bathroom had wallpaper and the original blue shower tiles and sinks from the 60’s. We had already removed the glass shower doors etched with swans and replaced the leaking blue toilet for one that worked, but the bathroom still needed some updating.

Here is a reminder of what our bathroom looked like a few short weeks ago.

How to add function and style to a retro bathroom | Building Bluebird
#bluetile

And here is that same view now.

Designing a master bathroom makeover around the original blue sinks and shower tiles | Building Bluebird
#vintage #bathroom makeover #retro

And here is the shower and toilet room at the beginning of the makeover.

How to highlight midcentury blue shower tiles and add organization | Building Bluebird

And here is that same view now.

How to add function and style to a retro bathroom | Building Bluebird
#bluetile

Retro Master Bathroom Makeover

Modern Artwork

When I began planning this bathroom makeover, I knew I wanted to incorporate this custom art I had made for Chris’ birthday last year. The abstract paintings show two of my family’s favorite places, the mountains, and Cape Cod. The blues worked perfectly with the vintage blue tile and we went from there!

This wall originally had a towel bar attached, but it was not super functional. I decided to reinstall the towel bar next to the shower (shown further down) and add a hook for the hand towel closer to the sink.

Bathroom Walls

Once the wallpaper was removed, I painted the walls in Sherwin Williams, Snowbound. The neutral white wall color allows the blues to really pop!

Here was the floral wallpaper before:

How to update a tired, retro bathroom  for more style and function | Building Bluebird
#retro #masterbathroom #vintage

And here is that same wall with fresh paint.

Designing a master bathroom makeover around the original blue sinks and shower tiles | Building Bluebird
#vintage #bathroom makeover #retro

Electrical Updates

All of the outlets in our home were installed upside down, including in the bathroom. After years of use, outlets become loose and no longer hold plugs tightly. In our bathroom, this caused my hairdryer to constantly stop because the heavy plug would pull out of the socket! I replaced all of the light switches and outlets with new, white outlets and flipped the socket right-side up.

One big function issue was the original vanity light and the medicine cabinet. The glass domes on the light hung in a way that prevented the medicine cabinet from fully opening. It was only a matter of time until I opened the cabinet and shattered the glas light fixture. I replaced the fixture with a new light and love how it gives the space an art deco vibe! I was careful to keep the design of the fixture appropriate to the vintage elements throughout the bathroom.

Retro Vanity

The plan for this makeover was to design around the elements within the space without tearing anything out. The vanity is built into the room and was not being replaced. A gave it a quick update by installing new knobs.

Here was the vanity a few weeks ago. The knobs each had painted flowers on them and added to the outdated design of the space.

Master bathroom makeover on a budget | Building Bluebird
#retrobathroom #bathroomakeover

And here is the vanity after I swapped out the knobs with a simple round knob.

Retro master bathroom makeover reveal | Building Bluebird
#bluetile #vintage

With the medicine cabinet now fully accessible and the vanity cabinets organized, I was able to finally clear off the counter! I added a vintage tray to collect odds and ends. The tray holds a small bowl that is the perfect spot for my jewelry that I take off at night. I added a re-fillable, glass soap dispenser that is functional and super cute!

Retro master bathroom makeover reveal | Building Bluebird
#bluetile #vintage

Hooks & Racks for Towels

I knew that a key part of adding function to this bathroom was installing a TON of hooks! I started by added a dual hook right next to the shower.

Over the toilet, I installed the towel rack that was originally in the vanity room. This makes much more sense and can easily be accessed from the shower.

Master bathroom makeover to add style and function | Building Bluebird #vintage #retro

I installed double hooks on the back of each door as well. My goal is to avoid towels hanging on every doorknob of our bedroom and bathroom.

Master bathroom makeover to add style and function | Building Bluebird #vintage #retro

Shower Organization

Our shower tub was filled with bottles that lined the edges of the tub. We would knock over bottles every time we used the shower. Here is a quick reminder of the space before the makeover.

Budget-friendly master bathroom makeover | Building Bluebird
#retro #bathroommakeover

I replaced the curtain rod along with the shower curtain. I really struggle with tension rods and decided to swap out the old brown one with a brushed nickel rod that connects to the wall.

Retro master bathroom makeover to add function and a modern touch | Building Bluebird

The entire design of the bathroom is centered around the original tiles and I wanted to make sure they really popped. I created a homemade cleaning recipe and scrubbed the tiles until they sparkled! Watching the grout go from brown to white was so satisfying!

Retro bathroom makeover with design tips and organization tips | Building Bluebird

To eliminate many of the soap bottles in our shower, I installed this stainless steel shower caddy to hold three refillable soap dispensers. It is SO nice to have soap bottles off of the ledge of the tub! Chris and I decided to cut down on the number of shower products we used. Instead of having a body wash that was made for “him” and “her”, we use the same one. The same goes for our shampoo and conditioner. This allows us to buy products in bulk which creates less plastic by purchasing fewer plastic bottles.

Retro bathroom makeover with design tips and organization tips | Building Bluebird

For more tips on making your bathroom more “green” check out this blog post.

And with that, this retro bathroom makeover is complete! I love the challenge of making every space the best it can be. Our bathroom now functions to suit our every day needs and it looks pretty too!

Bathroom Products Used


Want to easily find this post to reference when you start planning your bathroom makeover? I’ve got you covered! Use the pin below to save to your Dream Bathroom board.

How to add function and style to a retro bathroom | Building Bluebird
#bluetile #vintage #masterbathroom #bathroommakeover

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4 Comments

  • Reply Katie September 15, 2020 at 5:06 pm

    This looks so much better Lindsey!

    • Reply lindseymahoney September 18, 2020 at 3:39 pm

      Thank you!!

  • Reply electric and automation Auckland November 28, 2020 at 5:41 am

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    • Reply lindseymahoney November 30, 2020 at 9:44 am

      Thank you so much! I’m glad you found it useful 🙂

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