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Tea Cupboard Tub and Tile Cleaner

May 25, 2024

Tea Cupboard Tub and Tile Cleaner

Vintage Bathrooms and the Art of Leaving Well Enough Alone

When it comes to vintage bathrooms, my motto has always been to leave well enough alone. You see, I’ve had the good fortune of living in a few older rental apartments, and I’ve learned that partially renovated bathrooms are far more the rule than the exception. Sure, sometimes you might find a mismatched toilet or a handful of replaced tiles in a different shade of pink (or yellow, or blue), but more often than not, there’s also a lopsided particle board vanity where a pedestal sink used to be, or a hardware store medicine cabinet that’s twice as big as necessary and semi-detached from the wall. And don’t even get me started on the bubbling laminate and the grout that’s gone missing.

In the worst cases, you might even find a poorly constructed tub fitter that squishes underfoot when you shower and ceilings that sometimes rain and eventually collapse. Needless to say, our very vintage bathroom feels like a real diamond in the rental bathroom rough. It’s pink. It has an enormous pink tub and a pink toilet and pink wall tiles bounded by maroon. The floor tiles are a color that can only be described as yellow-pink, which is probably just a convoluted way of saying brown. But you know what? I love it.

Embracing the Vintage Charm

When we first moved in, the shower head was a plastic handheld with a rubber hose that knocked us in the back as we stood to shower. So we replaced that with an inexpensive rain shower head, and it’s made all the difference. Mostly, we’ve recognized our good fortune and left things as they are. One of my friends is very hopeful I might still go the grandmother route and add in a matching 3-piece rug set, lest I (or the commode) catch a chill. I’m not tempted to wrap my toilet in a towel, but I do sometimes wonder if we should embrace some drama and go whole hog with some woodland wallpaper on the portion of the walls that aren’t tiled.

Making Small Improvements

Over time, we’ve made a few small improvements that have made a big difference in this space. For example, we have these silly little stacking cups that serve as our bathroom toys. They come in four different color ways, one of which is pretty much guaranteed to match a similarly vintage pink (or blue, or yellow, or green) bathroom. We have the original set and we keep them stored stacked up. They do sometimes need a scrub, so when that happens, we declare a toy cleaning morning and the kids have at the nooks and crannies with toothbrushes and forget entirely they’ve been put to work by their fastidious mother.

I also made three little towel hooks out of vintage glass knobs and hung them up with Sugru Moldable Glue by tesa. I have a small partnership with this company going live on Instagram later today, but suffice to say, I could not love this stuff any more. It’s a small DIY miracle for renters or anyone; apologies in advance for getting lost in their Youtube Channel.

Maximizing a Tight Space

In my humble opinion, trying to squeeze more storage into a small vintage bathroom is usually not worth the effort. That said, some of you might recall that I replaced the bathroom medicine cabinet and hung a shelf in our last bathroom, and I never regretted either upgrade for even a minute. Here, the original medicine cabinet is still in place, and we added the same enamel first aid kit that we’ve used for years now. (I can’t find the larger size that we have anywhere these days, but even the mini version linked here would be useful for stashing first aid items.)

We also replaced a broken built-in towel bar in the tub when we moved in. I try hard not to buy new plastic, but I made a concession for this $5 towel bar and I don’t regret it. The handle on the built-in soap dish, alas, is ceramic and long gone, leaving the broken off bits something of an eyesore on the tub wall. I don’t have immediate plans to fix it, but I did very much enjoy this 1978 gem on the subject. I’m still on the hunt for the perfect-fitting, eco-friendly-ish, pretty toothbrushes for the whole family to fit in our built-in vintage toothbrush holder. Now, as in 2008, the struggle is real!

Cozy Bathroom Essentials

Kids, and sometimes adults, need books in the bathroom. It’s a fact of life. We keep our bathroom books wrangled in a little wire basket I found a few years ago, which is raised a bit off the ground and not too big for a funny shaped bathroom. My friend Chelsea’s gorgeous book, FIELD, FLOWER, VASE came out today and it matches the tile, and Silas will sigh and tell me it’s “so beautiful” and so here it is.

As with many vintage bathrooms, we have a tub that’s partially freestanding with an l-ring corner shower curtain rod installed above it. When we had one of these years ago, I did what most people do: hang two regular-sized curtains and curse them out daily. This time, I searched for an extra-wide shower liner to span the whole length of the rod, and I’ve been so happy I did. It means less plastic, less cleaning, less billowing liner as I sing (or scream) in the shower. (If you embark on your own search, just measure carefully! Our rod is hung strangely high and I had to hang our liner on a double set of hooks to make it long enough to extend beyond the tub.) TMI: Our liner recently had a rather aggressive wash at the laundromat which has left it sadly beat up, so I think the next step might be to get a linen curtain custom-made to cover the battered liner.

Embracing the Charm of Vintage

At the end of the day, I love that we’re leaving our bathroom as-is. It’s super refreshing, and we’ve made it super cozy and charming. There’s something to be said for embracing the era of the living space you’re in, and although I didn’t know how to feel about our teeny pink bathroom when we moved here, it is now one of the spaces I will miss the most when we eventually move out.

If you’re lucky enough to stumble across a vintage bathroom, I encourage you to leave well enough alone. Sure, you might need to make a few small tweaks here and there, but resist the urge to gut and renovate. After all, these bathrooms are a testament to a bygone era, and they deserve to be celebrated, not destroyed. And who knows, you might just find that you grow to love the Pepto Bismol pink just as much as I have.

If you’re in the Nottingham area and looking for a cleaning service that can help you maintain the vintage charm of your bathroom, be sure to check out Adam Cleaning. Their Tea Cupboard, Tub, and Tile Cleaner service is specially designed to keep your old-school bathroom looking its best without compromising its character.

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