This Dated “Pinkish-Beige” Bathroom Gets a Makeover with Vintage Flair

published Apr 9, 2024
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Neutral white and tan bathrooms can often look bright and airy, calming and spa-like. However, if the finishes aren’t shiny and new, white and tan bathrooms are more than likely from the 1980s and 1990s and look a little outdated. Dale Aucoin’s (@cleanqueer) bathroom was the latter.

The small-space consultant and home organizer has lived in his current New York City studio apartment for five years, and he knew from the get-go that he eventually wanted to give his bathroom a full-scale renovation. 

“It looked like it had last been updated sometime in the 1990s with the cheapest tile they could find. The floor was a gray tile that didn’t really match the pinkish-beige tile on the walls,” Dale says of the bathroom he started with. “It looked like they had tried to cover all of the walls floor-to-ceiling, but they ran out of tile, so there were a few areas by the door that didn’t have tile at all.”

After a problem with a leak from the upstairs apartment, Dale knew it was time to take the plunge and get the renovation ball rolling — starting with demolishing the old bathroom!

Credit: Dale Aucoin
Credit: Dale Aucoin

Renovating in a studio? Prepare for dust. 

Dale hired professionals for his bathroom renovation, and he made sure to keep in contact with them through every step of the process. Because he lives in a studio, he knew the renovation would likely take over the entire apartment. 

“The first step in the process was getting my apartment ready for the renovation,” Dale says. “I took up all of my rugs and put them in the closet, then I covered all of my furniture with plastic. If I were to do it again, I would have been much more liberal with the plastic, and I would have sealed up the closets and kitchen cabinets as well. There was dust everywhere!”

He also opted to stay in a hotel during the 16-night process. (Demo took about one day, and then it took the rest of the time to put everything back together.)

Credit: Dale Aucoin
Credit: Dale Aucoin

New blue tiles add vibrancy.

The hotel stay was ultimately worth it, though, as Dale now has a bathroom that’s “so much better than the old one,” he says. He particularly loves the bright new tiles, which he feels better match the age of the apartment building.  

The floor tiles are Merola Porcelain Mosaic Tiles from The Home Depot, and the walls are covered in a 4-inch-square “electric blue” option from Daltile. The black border details and coving around the floor really add to the retro feel.

Credit: Dale Aucoin

The bathroom is more functional now, too. 

The addition of a mirrored medicine cabinet gives the space a streamlined look, and adds storage that Dale loves. (He chose silver hardware for the rest of the space to match.)

The sink and tub stayed the same, but Dale had a plumber swap out the faucet and shower head and controls. “In terms of function, the shower is so much easier to adjust, and the water temperature remains constant now,” he says.  “That’s probably the biggest improvement.

Dale says reusing a tub or sink “can save you a fair bit of money” in a bathroom reno. “My tub was kind of a mess but I was able to have it reglazed [for $450] for less than it would have cost me to replace it,” he adds. In total, his bathroom renovation cost $17,000.

Credit: Dale Aucoin
Credit: Dale Aucoin

If you’re renovating in an apartment building, you’ll have to make adjustments.

If you’re in the same position as Dale (aka, you own your apartment and want to do a significant renovation), or if you just want to be a considerate neighbor during renovation, heed Dale’s next bit of advice. 

“If you live in a condo or co-op building, check with the building manager to find out if there are any restrictions on when the workers are allowed to work and any other special conditions,” he says. 

For example, in his building, construction could only happen Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Also, the workers could only use the freight elevator, which has to be operated by someone on the building staff.  

Knowing these details helped Dale plan for how long his renovation would take and made a complex process just a bit smoother. For more advice on dealing with a large home transformation, check out these four tips for living amidst a renovation.