Before and After: A 1980s Bathroom’s Bold Redo Gives Its Original Green Fixtures Staying Power
If you remember actor David Harbour and singer Lily Allen’s Architectural Digest house tour, you’ll know that carpeted bathrooms are highly controversial. Even David Harbour poked a little fun at himself: “You just roll out [of the tub], get those wet feet in there for years and years,” he joked on “Late Night with Seth Meyers.“
Green carpet had been part of the bathroom scenery in DIYer Anne’s (@ourhouseofdisco) home in Switzerland since it was built in 1980, and she (understandably) was ready to make a change. “There were carpets all over the house,” she says — including in the kitchen (!!) and the bathrooms (!!!), where moisture and humidity can make them notoriously prone to latent stinkiness.
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“The green carpet had to go,” says Anne, who moved into her place in 2021. “But it was clear that we also wanted some old things to live on. I made a special challenge out of the olive green bathroom.” As such, she decided to keep the green tub, toilet, and sink, in addition to the tan square tile on the walls.
Anne says this was partly a budget decision; it would have been much more costly to rework the plumbing and swap out the fixtures. Instead, she decided to highlight them, doubling down on the color with bold stripes.
To get her striped look, Anne first ripped up the carpet from the floor; she had a black cast-iron floor laid, and she painted over that and the the tub’s surrounding tile with a bold green and white striped pattern. The painting process was easier said than done, though. First, Anne had to prime the tiles so that paint would stick to their slick surface. Next, she taped out her pattern, making sure her lines were perfectly even and parallel. Anne initially painted the stripes a light peach color and decided she didn’t like it, so she decided to completely sand that off and redo the project (using the same methods) in an avocado green to match her fixtures.
Anne’s pro tip for painting stripes? Use a piece of tape to denote which stripes will get color; this way, you won’t mess up your pattern if you don’t start on the edge. She also painted the edges of her tape with white “so that the green paint would not run under the tape later,” she adds.
“The effort was worth it!” Anne says. She liked her new green and white stripes on the floor so much that she decided to continue them on the ceiling and on the back of the bathroom door.
The stripes, plus the new black faucet (for the tub and the sink) and the black cabinetry (made from three IKEA IVARS fitted with a marble countertop), give the vintage-favorite green color a modern spin.
Anne also got rid of the curtains around the window to create a more streamlined look, plus added a new shower curtain in a window pane pattern that better matches the bathroom’s new playful, organic modern vibe. The tan color of the shower curtain also ties in nicely with the tan tiled walls.
Anne still plans to update the mirror in the space, but overall, she really likes the bold new look she’s created — and she’s grateful to have been gifted with the green fixtures in the first place. Anne calls her bathroom “the new old bathroom,” a fitting name for something that makes a totally contemporary design with 1980s materials.
“I think I have transformed an unattractive bathroom into something special and cool,” she says. “It took a lot of time but didn’t cost that much. I think I got the maximum out of it. I really like it now.”
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Correction: A previous version of this post said Anne was based in Germany. She’s based in Rechthalten, Switzerland.