Monday, January 07, 2013

Respecting The Wayback Machine

Here's the story of a little something I did before Thanksgiving when I was all jacked up on pre-company anxiety.

When you see the result of the project below in context and you want to cock your head to the side like a curious puppy and scrunch up your eyes up trying to figure out why I'd be so happy with it or what the big deal is, be kind and remember, it is the culmination of years of untold embarrassment, procrastination and indecision, wrenching thoughts and questions about how to cover a trouble spot while finding a way to be able to hang towels and make it all look somewhat cohesive.

You see, about 7 years ago there was an incident. That's right, I said "7". Time and gravity had taken their toll on the towel bar in our bathroom (with a little help from years of use and one final blow). Pink tile was built into the bathroom courtesy of the Wayback Machine in 1956. That Machine is responsible for a lot of things that need work around here. Never mind that the tile is old, out of date and sports a beigey-pink hue, because while quite ugly by today's standards, it was probably considered kinda glam when it was new. I have decided, out of necessity, to embrace what 1956 gave me, because I don't have the cash to despise it or to pay for its overhaul. The tile has seen almost 57 years of wear and has experienced the effects of three kids, and of course been the victim of my lethal decorating shenanigans. It deserves a little respect.

On that fateful day 7 years ago, I was taking down a small but heavy mirror that was hanging on the wall above the towel bar built into the tiled wall. The mirror slipped and dropped onto the bar holder before I caught it, and off the bar holder came along with two of the wall tiles. One of the tiles shattered. Nooooooooo! I was left with this:

See those little finger marks in the white area, that's where I patched the hole where the towel bar gripped into the wall. I used plaster, which was the wrong thing, realized the futility of trying to fix it and walked away leaving it like this for 7 years. 

The Law of Liz

I knew instantly that I was in trouble. My stomach went knotty. You see, I have a history. A history of broken things remaining broken... for a very long time. It's the law of Liz in the age of, well, of any age.

The years of the future flashed before me. My heart sank at my fate.

I know - it just looks like two missing tiles. Well, in the world and mind of silly me, it was a complicated and tricky set of multiple problems, and I really needed that towel bar. I was not of the mindset that the repair required was within my perceived skill set and I didn't have a replacement pink tile. Oh woe. Translated, that really means I just didn't want to have to deal with it, and that, my friends, is the crux of oh, so many a matter. In light of the marred wall, at that very moment I knew what was coming. It was as good as official. The wall would look like this for no less than one year (the historical timeframe within which the "big stuff" is always to be left to languish). I was heartsick about the prospect, as if a prognosis had been rendered and I was powerless to do anything about it. What's worse, that sad, historical timeframe turned into a much more pathetic one.

Face it, I'm a lightweight

I know. You laugh. You're mocking me, aren't you? You chuckle at my naivte. You think, "my goodness, she's a lightweight." She was undone by THIS pebble of a problem?

Yes, my friends, and the Chinese have written proverbs about the likes of me for good reason, but still I persisted in my wanton ways. Or am I just thinking of Chinese soup? Either way, my fortune had been told to me in this sight that lay before me, and I believed the writing on (or rather the gaping hole in) the wall.

The first year passed. This eyesore provided ample opportunity for lessons in humility as it was also in direct view from the toilet seat, where cruelty has it that no one has been shielded from the in-your-face reminder of my weakness and lack of resolve to craft a solution. The other end of the towel bar is still attached to the wall and has been serving as a less than stellar towel holder. Towels have a habit of sliding off of it, and it's an eyesore when there is nothing covering it.

This neglected problem was a callous reminder of my failure, a reminder to me and all who entered and sat pondering life from the throne of the pink palace that I had failed. But really, look at this bathroom. It's the size of an animal cage and about as appealing. Depending on the light, it can look muted and beigey-pink or just plain pink. Creative ideas had been chased for years and none ever seemed to be the right thing or at the right price. Short of tearing out all the tile in the bathroom and replacing it (and that was not happening) I had sort of given up, hoping a great fix would someday just appear to me. Until then I gave it my best "Oh, well!" and moved along.

However, Thanksgiving company was set to arrive. How many more times must I host company with this in their face. To avoid heaping embarrassment upon myself and my children, something had to be done. Certainly if I really, really tried more than ever (instead of just shrugging my shoulders and putting it off until another day), I could come up with at least a make-do fix. Anything would be better than empty wall and missing tile. So I spent a couple of weeks of intense effort trying to find something, anything, to buy that I could at least hang on the wall. May I say that there are a whole lot of ugly pictures, shelves and decorations for sale out there, and at great cost. So disappointing. I was also looking for some sort of a wood piece of the right size to cover the hole, one with hooks. All I could find was the WOOF sign below, so I bought it and that's when everything finally started to come together.

On the Way to the Last Minute
You see a funny thing happens on the way to the last minute. I will spare you the stories of what I almost did, but couldn't, and all the hassles. However, the hassles and problems are what led me to my resolve, as is the story of my life and my long-winded posts. You see, things gel, ideas bud and bloom and one thing leads to another when you actually put your hands behind your ideas, get to work, face the troubles head on and just do something.

I thought buying the WOOF sign might save me the trouble of cutting wood (Ha, that's funny..."saving trouble", I said. Good one. I laugh!), as well as saving the expense of buying hooks and attaching them. This is what started me on the final path toward the "gaping hole in the wall" healing, but healing doesn't always come easy.

The woof sign received a coat of brown paint to cover it. Then it dawned on me that wood cut from a pallet I had out back could cover this to give it a more natural look (the original sign would have shown through the wood pieces if I hadn't painted it anyway). So I ended up cutting wood after all. The pallet had some perfectly rustic and burned spots, so I used that part. Once I covered the sign and sanded it a bit, I wanted to paint words on it or embellish it somehow, but decided to leave it plain until I could think of just the right thing.

Here is the woof sign partially transformed. The little birdhouse is something I made a few years ago. It has two black and white images of retro ladies on it and bright flowers cut out from magazines and collaged on. The lady has her hand to her forehead and is saying, "All right - So I've changed my mind!" The other lady says, "That's funny." Yes, I realize it's random, but I like it and it kinda fits in with the birds on the other side of the room.


I still had some of the joined wood pieces I made long boxes from (seen in a previous post HERE) and realized I could make two shelves out of one. So I cut a longer and a shorter shelf from one length so I could put one on the damaged wall and one on the opposite wall above the toilet. I had found the wood pieces attached in a pile in an industrial area of town, so all I had to do was cut it - or so I thought. In the end, I wanted to "rustic-i-size" them, so I ended up spending all morning hacking them up and sanding them so they would look more weathered. As I plotted placement, it dawned on me that it would be better to put both shelves on the same wall for continuity and was thrilled that the smaller one would actually cover (with a little cosmetic work) the gaping hole. Sweet! I could use it instead of the painted woof sign. Primo! Now it was all making sense. So I used the WOOF thingy on the empty space of the opposite wall.

See what I mean about this bathroom. The tile goes all the way around and then there is the old medicine cabinet and light fixture and the blow dryer rarely gets put away, not to mention we still have stick-on floor tiles circa 1984. Hey, it was an improvement at the time and quite acceptable back then. Besides we were young and just starting out with very little money to our name, having just bought our first house at 23.

These shelves and the WOOF hook thing were something I was gonna screw in and be done with quickly, but after a full day of distressing the wood and coming up with fixes to problems with getting the shelves attached and making a huge mess...

Waa laa!

I'm Gonna Need That Someday

The shelves were up. I was thrilled. The hole was covered. Great joy! Now what was I gonna put on them? I stole the metal birds from my living room, deciding the bathroom needed their perky disposition more. The little piece of wood by the yellow bird had been lying around for ages, and now serves to cover the caulk that I had to thickly apply to fill in a huge gap. The branch on the top shelf blew off one of our trees during a tropical storm. It was so cute, I saved it, knowing I could use it for something. I was right! I have a pile of Christmas tree stubs I was going to use for another project and thought how perfectly they would add to the natural feel of this little vignette. The hat has been in a closet for years, and I had been wanting to find a way to incorporate it in my decorating. All my "I'm gonna need that someday's" were vindicated.

The  hooks with the perfect patina came off of a turquoise hat/coat rack I got out of someone's trash about a year ago.

The stand was broken, but I loved the color and it was covered with old brass hooks that I knew I would be able to use eventually, even if I never did anything with the rack itself.

Here you can also see where I hung my sunrise/sunset sign. You can view that post HERE.

This bathroom is still in need of much work and it's still pink! I'm no fan of the jalousy window, the shower curtain is dark and blah but believe me I have searched the high heavens for something just right to no avail. Since they are expensive, I'm not settling for an interim. I'm thinking that I will probably have to make my own to get the cheery colors and look I want anyway. So this is no room reveal. Not at all, just a gaping-hole-in-the-wall shelf reveal.

I hung up one of the towels I recently appliqued (see that post HERE) because they had the colors and cheery feel that complimented the birds. The little rug came from Homegoods, and I like that it's round and its natural texture jibe with my shelves, but it's not soft and it's not adding anything in the way of color. Even so, for now it stays.

So I went from this:

To this:

So there you have it. This is what is seen from the throne of the pink palace now. The gaping hole is healed and the wayback machine has not been compromised...for now. Plus the only thing I purchased was the WOOF sign on sale!

Now that's what I'm talking about!

Find me at:

Funky Junk's Saturday Nite Special

One Creative Weekend @ One Creative Mommy
Home Sweet Home @ The Charm of Home
Feathered Nest Friday @ French Country Cottage
Be Inspired Friday @ Common Ground
Transformation Thursday @ The Shabby Creek Cottage
Time Travel Thursday @ The Brambleberry Cottage
Treasure Hunt Thursday @ FMFPTY
Winter Blues Wednesday @ DIY By Design

Wow Us Wednesday @ Savvy Southern Style
Nifty Thrifty Tuesday @ Coastal Charm
Cowgirl Up @ Cedar Hill Ranch
Metamorphosis Monday @ BNOTP


  1. Great job Liz! I love the rustic shelves. So cute!


  3. Wow what a story! I love what you did with it. The rustic look is so great!

  4. Well it looks good but I liked version one too. Can you make that as well? At least within the next year?


  5. I LOVE this ! Our house is the same with the lonnnnnggggg drawn out projects. i love the rustic touches...and I am a big bird fan!

  6. Great job! And my sister could sympathize with you on the pink - her old house had that color pink along with a pink toilet, pink tub and pink sink. She did very well at bringing in cheery colors to take the eye from the pink! She lived with it for almost 15 years and now has a newer, bigger, much nice house!!

  7. Great solution to your gaping space. Love the rustic shelves and how you have them styled!
    Mary Alice

  8. Wow, it's perfect! Yes, these things take time:-) If you had replaced that tile immediately, you'd never have these one of a kind shelves to make you smile. You're alone in your "some day" projects; I have quite a few of them waiting in line myself. Love the coat rack too:-)

  9. Love your creative solution Liz... and your vintage bathroom! How nice to slip in there now and not be haunted by the broken tile. Enjoy!! :)

  10. what a journey! it looks wonderful, liz! no one will ever know:)

  11. Your shelf is oh-so-much cuter than the original towel rack would've been...
    I think you might consider purchasing a plain shower curtain and doing an applique treatment to it...your towels turned out so well. Then you could get the look you want, and the colors could make your pink look like you planned it that way!

  12. Great job, Liz! and very creative solution!
    I really like that shelf a lot, and the little bird is so cute...
    Besos and Happy 2013! Feliz 2013!

  13. Oh how I can relate. We have the aqua blue bathroom. Even though that color is in right now, don't think it is so in as a bathroom. SOmething fell from the wall and crashed into our toilet paper holder that was made of porcelean. It is broken and has been a couple years. Knowing if I remove it there will be a hole there. So now, maybe I will attack it and see what I can come up with. Can I call you, hah.

  14. Congratulations on a job well done. I feel great knowing you found a solution. Way to go, using what you already had to make some great accessories for your bathroom and to get a functioning solution to hang your towels as well. I am truly inspired by your talent.

  15. Liz, I can SO relate to putting things off and next thing you know, years have gone by! Your shelves look so cute-great job!!

  16. Liz I do so love, love what you ended up with. Regarding that accident and the passing of so much makes me wanna laugh..We have all been there ..Well, I certainly have. :^)


  17. I have a pink and gray 1950's bath which I love. When we had a plumbing disaster a few years ago, I found out there is a tile company that reproduces this tile once a year. I am envying the pink soap dish I spied by the tub. If it happens to fall off, let me know! Love the wooden shelves and the birds.

  18. Well aren't you handy! I do have to laugh that you just put up with the mess for years! I like that. You are like me then! I love how this turned out though! Very impressive! Thanks for sharing at One Creative Weekend!

  19. That little shelf turned out fabulous! What ingenious thinking!

    hugs x
    p.s. LOVE the pink tile!!!


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