Can you believe we’ve had the little pied-à-terre in Manhattan for ten months already? It really doesn’t feel like that long. Given that the entire thing is only 400 square feet, it’s kind of lame that (a) I haven’t finished working on it yet, and (b) I still really haven’t posted that many pictures. Thanks to some prodding from Adam and some inspiration from Dan, though, I did take some photographs of the not-so-cute bathroom this morning.
Here’s what we were looking at when we first rented the apartment:
Typical pre-war New York City rental apartment bathroom—in other words, poor layout, cheap fixtures, crumbling grout, bad plumbing, and a rusty tub. Not cute, and actually pretty gross. We were able to negotiate with the management company a bit to have the tub re-coated with epoxy and the tiles regrouted (both of these things were technically done, but they were done very poorly and unprofessionally—we’re talking new grout over old grout, epoxy over moldy caulk, and that sort of thing), but it was still pretty gross afterward.
I cleaned everything with bleach, scalding hot water, and a scrub brush, for starters. And I caulked. And caulked. And caulked. You can’t tell from the photos, but there were weird gaps and cracks everywhere. The other thing that’s not apparent from the photos is that although everything is white, there are about 50 different whites going on in there—even the white tiles are all different colors. After a few failed attempts at painting the walls gray (the result was sad and dark), I went ahead and rolled on my good old default white-uniter, Benjamin Moore Simply White. I used the Aura Bath & Spa formula, which is completely matte but still impervious to water/steam-streaking.
The idiotically-placed (it was behind the door!), oak-framed, triple-fold mirror/cabinet was removed and stored in our basement at the house so we can put it back when we move. In its place I mounted a little wood shelf from IKEA (a discontinued item from the FÖRHÖJA line) to hold my daily essentials. Because the sink is in front of the window (do NOT even get me started on the fact that there is an open-backed vanity cabinet IN FRONT OF A LOW WINDOW and not even attached to anything—whoever put this bathroom together was clearly a moron), I put up an extension mirror ($4.99!). This solution has worked out nicely, since neither Evan or I care about having a large mirror in the bathroom.
(Hmmm. I’m not sure why the shelf looks crooked in the photo. I checked, and it’s definitely not crooked in real life. I blame my lens.)
The print on the wall is by Yellena James, and the cute hand towel is the brilliant “I Wish We Had IKEA” tea towel from Skinny Laminx (it provides a needed dose of irony anywhere in my house or apartment, don’t you think?).
Happily, the space between the door and the tub is just the right size for the BJÖRKEN cabinet from IKEA (I think it’s been discontinued, which is a shame—it’s really nicely designed and well-made), and all of our toothbrushes and sunscreens and razor blades and other unattractively-packaged products get stashed in there.
Yeah, even the plant pot and the plant in it are from IKEA. Yes, and the shade on the window (my trusty favorite, ENJE). I like how nicely the plant distracts from the ugliness in the room. Every time I bring the plant into the kitchen to water it, the bathroom immediately looks worse.
We also changed out the showerhead. The new model isn’t going to win any design awards, but it’s super-functional, it only cost about $40, and the installation took roughly 5 minutes. Way better than the nasty thing that was there (we threw it in the garbage—I’m willing to leave the replacement behind when we move). I highly recommend little changes like this if you’re in a rental.
I know, this is decidedly not cute. The floor is grotesque, there’s no denying it. I swear to you, though, it’s CLEAN! I’ve bleached and Magic Eraser-ed it, and it still looks like this. There are three different grout colors layered on top of each other, and that’s not helping matters—not to mention that the floor is so out of whack that the vanity (does that hideous thing even deserve to be called a vanity?) has to be propped up with a shim. It’s just gross. Putting rugs down somehow seems to accentuate the grossness, and I don’t want to put anything on the floor that’s going to get in the way of being able to keep things clean. I just don’t know. I’ve seriously thought about painting the floor tiles or even putting down self-stick, solid-color vinyl tiles, believe me. Sigh.
You know what encourages me, though? GET LOAD OF THIS:
Incredible, right? This is, of course, the genius work of Dan at Manhattan Nest, who shares my “who cares?” attitude when it comes to security deposits (I’ve never lost one, actually—if anything, all of my landlords have been thankful for the changes I’ve made, even though I’ve never asked permission first). He covered the routing on the doors with 1/4″ planks of wood and painted the whole thing inside and out, and the result is just phenomenal. I’ve promised myself that if we can sign a lease for another year (we’ll know within the next two months, I guess!), I will take the time to rehab my vanity, too. I’m thinking deep, inky blue for the paint, though, because this bathroom definitely can’t handle another mismatched white.