Subway Tiles / Steampunking My Bathroom 2

I have watched a lot of those home improvement, DIY and various home makeover shows over the last 10 or 12 years. Already, some of the things they were promoting in the beginning, people are starting to turn up their noses at and feel look dated. I remember watching shows  where they painted beautiful, natural maple cabinets to “update” a kitchen. I cringed. What could be more timeless than natural wood? Then they started putting in glass tile backsplashes in almost every kitchen. The same tiles started showing up in the bathrooms, as well. Then the buzzword became “subway tiles”. This puzzled me. They were tiny compared to the tiles I’ve seen in the subways I have ridden. The only thing that made them “subway” was that they were shaped and arranged in staggered fashion, like bricks.

I am steampunking my bathroom and I wanted to paint the walls in a faux finish mimicking original subway tiles. When I began to research, the first site that came up had someone lamenting the ubiquity of subway tiles in home decor right now, and how that is going to date every home that uses them. Oh the irony of being trendy! A few sites down was a company that has just started reproducing old style subway tiles in the last couple of years. They give the history and have them available in a variety of sizes and colors. They confirmed my hunch. The tile size I was seeing on the far side of the tracks in Philadelphia was 6″x12″. That is what I wanted to go with. I also wanted to intersperse with a couple of rows of 3″x12″ tiles to accommodate two color bands. I can’t afford tiles. Time I have. Painting is like Zen. I painted our living room, hallway, steps, etc., all with a 2-1/2″ brush.

I thought I could use a white paint Sharpie to draw the lines on the walls, using a straight edge. That didn’t work on the high gloss paint. So I found my tiny paint brush and my bright white paint. Trouble is, I can’t paint a straight line to save my soul. I never could and it has gotten worse now that I have a slight tremor. Well, the colors I had chosen are on the cartoonish side of reality, so my painting will just add to the whimsy.

DSC02908Let me say something about the colors. The first time I painted this bathroom, I took my rubber ducky to the paint store. We computer matched the yellow for the walls and the beek for the trim and the tub. My wife came home from Ladies’ Night Out and hollered at me, “Can I not leave you home alone anymore?”

At least I had not painted anything Rubber Ducky Lipstick Pink! For real, the lips on the rubber ducky are pink! Anyway, I painted over the orange and took the towels back to the paint store to match the blue for the trim and tub color. Bethann was pleased. Well, at least, she tolerated it. This is the second generation: Rubber Ducky Steampunk, if you will. The egg cream paint color is chosen based on a rubber ducky fabric. The custom blue paint was optically matched from the same curtain fabric. It is an interesting, light, robin’s egg blue. It has the subtlest touch of green to it. It changes its look between sunlight and artificial light.

Self Portrait in the mirror of the new medicine cabinet
The first thing I did was GFCI upgrade to the electrical before I began using power tools in the bathroom.

The light fixtures I made from 3/4″ galvanized pipe with a black pipe transitions to a 1″. I used lampsocket plug-in adapters. I wired them with lamp cord, then inserted them in the pipes with black tool insulating coat, normally used for cushioning tool handles. The shower curtain rod is made from 3/4″ and 1/2″ galvanized pipe. It allows more room in the shower than the aluminum, off-the-rack one, plus is more sturdy and won’t fall down mid-shower.

I’m not done yet. I have custom tiles to paint and the soap holders to install; not to mention what I may do to the sink and toilet.DSC02878DSC02872

Left end of shower curtain rod
Left end of shower curtain rod

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Our house is not just our house. It is also the base of operations for The King’s Jubilee to which we have dedicated our lives and resources for three decades. It is also a small native plant refuge for birds, insects, butterflies and small mammals in the middle of an old borough in part of the urban sprawl outside of Philadelphia. If you want to help us save our house you may make a donation via The King’s Jubilee using the Paypal button below or go to GoFundMe and help us out there. Thanks!

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