I just finished changing out the theme of our powder room, and I want to welcome you all to The Ladies Room.
Unfortunately, I was so tired of it predecessor–garden-themed accessories I’d used in this house for nearly six years and in the guest bath of our previous home for even longer–that I neglected to take “before” photos when I refreshed it.
“Unfortunately” refers to the lack of before photos, not the change, mind you.
I used those accessories–all bought new–long enough for them to qualify as vintage, and you can purchase in my ebay shop any you might like to adopt by clicking on the photos.
So what inspired ‘The Ladies Room’ theme?
Well, first off, it’s a bathroom (DUH!), and a powder room, to be exact (think fancy restaurant minus the attendants passing out paper towels for tips).
But mostly, it was these two vintage watercolor portraits of young girls I bought on ebay (the one on the left by Helena K. Beacham, the one on the right unsigned). Initially, I intended to re-sell them on Etsy, but I was mesmerized!
Then there were the lady figurines, also bought on ebay with intentions to resell on Etsy…
As well as the funny little antique jug on the end that says, “Do as the lasses do and say no.” How funny is that? Along about the time the Japanese maiden in yellow arrived, I began to see I had a theme in what I’d been buying and could refresh the powder room along those lines with so many fun, bo-HO accessories…
Including the “LADIES ROOM” sign found on ebay.
Still, I didn’t hang anything
I wanted a gallery wall that spanned the corner of the room–which is a bit of a bowling alley–and could be seen from the laundry room and upon entering the powder room. At this point I lacked a portrait that spoke to me as the focal point and organizing “force” of the arrangement. Neither had I accumulated enough elements.
That’s when I found this lovely lady at a local antiques and vintage show for $42! She’s signed M. Tavel and dated 1969, and I HAD to have her!!! And finding her shifted me into high gear.
I originally planned to paint the white-pickled oak cabinet in the powder room bright orange with orange and white ceramic handles. But this lovely lady seemed to call for something a bit more formal, and I settled on black–the same as my master and guest baths (follow the links for the how-to.)
Chris was never too keen on the orange, so the move to black got HIM moving to help me with the transformation.
And here’s where the ‘more’ I needed came from:
- I remembered having silhouettes of my daughter cut at two different ages–4 and 14–that I wanted to reframe and use, so I ordered frames on Etsy.
- And in digging those items out of storage I found four prints of paintings I loved from museums we visited at one time or other. I’d printed them on my inkjet printer from digital files found online, using artist-grade paper to kick the quality up a notch. What a happy coincidence they were ALL of women!
- Also dug out of storage, two museum postcards of art–ditto, women!
- Two more very small watercolors I found on ebay.
- Another small framed print on board found at Goodwill for $1.39!
- A small painting of a lighthouse rather than a lady, but done by my mother, the first lady in my life.
- A vintage Japanese silk scroll I found on Etsy commemorating Hina-Ningyo–or Girls’ Day.
I repurposed five frames I already owned, bought three more, and ordered custom matting online.
NOW I had enough to start pounding nails.
Ready for the tour?
This is the view from the laundry room. So nice to have something this gorgeous to look at while I fold clothes and iron!
I hung the scroll first because, given its length, there really was only one place it would fit.
I then added a carved-wood Asian symbol (don’t know what it means; if you do, please comment) I found at Goodwill and a couple jade pieces I snagged on ebay, all strung on black cord and hung from the same nail, dangling over the scroll. This helped fill its blank areas and direct attention to the beauty of the woman and girl painted below.
The Beacham portrait was the next largest element, so I then positioned it over the towel bar,
and my other early find over the toilet, nestled beneath my shelf full of lady figurines.
And from there, I filled in. This sweet young girl is flanked by my prized Rosanna “Vote Female” trinket dish (a cherished gift from my even-more-cherished main man!), another trinket dish I had, a fun handmade female-face-in-a dish and a tiny vintage saucer found at Goodwill.
In addition to the “lasses” jug on the left, I added a reverse-painted Japanese snuff bottle with Kwan Yin and her attendants on the right. In between, the ladies, left to right are:
- a circa 1950s Japanese figurine, mentioned earlier;
- a Russian bottle missing its top (but with an elegant gold braid down her back!), found on ebay for $2.99;
- a chubby Chinese girl found at a local antiques and vintage show for $12, beckoning with her crooked finger for you to come closer;
- a vintage Danish bottle, also missing its topper, signed and dated 1964, found on ebay for $2.99; and
- an antique Japanese Banko Ware geisha wall pocket, which remains for sale in my Etsy shop, just in case it catches your eye.
Across from the shelf and next to the scroll are the two miniature, unsigned vintage watercolors found on ebay, double-matted green on blue, with the lighthouse painting by my mom sandwiched between and matted blue on green. My husband Chris made these three matching frames back when he had a huge woodworking shop.
Between the scroll and the towel bar went, from top to bottom:
- A museum shop postcard of Viktor Brauner’s “Alphabet of the Head,” which hangs in the Art Institute of Chicago,
- “Smoke of Ambergris” by John Singer Sargent, which hangs in the Clark Institute, Williamstown, MA, and
- “Two Women at a Window” by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, which hangs at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.
The top frame was purchased for this project, while I had the other two frames and chose sueded mats cut with v-channels for accent.
Above the focal painting, left to right, are:
- “Figure at a Window” or “Girl at a Window,” a painting by Salvador Dali of his sister, Ana Maria, owned by the Reina Sofia Museum, in Madrid, Spain;
- Print on board of a woman reading a book, found at Goodwill; and
- “Seated Woman with a Parasol” by George Seurat, a study for “A Sunday on La Grand Jatte,” both of which are in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago.
To the right of the focal painting, top to bottom, are:
- A vintage Japanese enamel on copper trinket tray featuring Kwan Yin, found on ebay for $2.99,
- The two silhouettes of my daughter referenced earlier, and
- A vintage Pemco Baltimore trinket tray with a gunmetal glaze on ceramic, also found on ebay for $2.99.
Beyond the art lesson…
It all looks beautiful in reflection, oui?
That is, except for the water damage at the base of the mirror. But not to worry: Instead of replacing the mirror, we applied the same fix that worked so beautifully in our master bath and guest bath…
…a MirrorMate custom frame, which was uber-easy to assemble and install. It wasn’t initially in the budget, but MirrorMate ran an unheard-of Veteran’s Day sale for 25 percent off, and the savings was just too good to pass up.
Now THAT’S a BIG improvement! This little piggy says, oui, oui, oui, all the way home!
One minor issue easily fixed–thank you very much–was with the light over the mirror. It used to be (and still is in my other two bathrooms) hung with globes pointed down. But in this particular bathroom, the builder installed the wiring too close to the mirror, so the globes have always overlapped the mirror’s top boundary. This did not allow enough clearance for the depth of the new mirror frame.
But again, not to worry: The light was cleverly designed to hang whichever way you prefer (or, as in this case, need). All we had to do was loosen the two top set screws, turn it, and retighten. It casts a little less light downward, but since this bathroom isn’t used for putting on makeup or other fine tasks, a little LESS light improved the ambiance.
A few more bells & whistles
Even though I eschewed a bright orange cabinet finish for matte black, I stuck with my choice of fun white-with-orange ceramic knobs. For a more modern look we removed the back plates and added half-inch white nylon spacers, which make it easier to grip the knob without scratching the paint. AND they blend in white the white porcelain of the knob.
The cute Moroccan tassle was just collecting dust in my sewing basket, and the colors were perfect to move it to this room.
The crowning glory, in my book, is this glorious area rug–“Gray Casbah” by Nourison. This photo also gives you a glimpse of a coordinating charcoal gray toilet lid cover. Not shown are matching hand towels.
And, of course, the “Ladies Room” sign, tucked discreetly over the door, inside the room. Something to ponder perhaps while putting the room to use, so to speak.
When I told the dealer I bought the focal painting from how I planned to use it, she asked if men would be allowed in this room. I replied, “Of course, as long as they behave and clean up after themselves,” which is why the sign is posted as is. ;-> ;->
Finally, there’s this little guy–a Creative Co-op trinket tray with a chirpy bluebird and the sentiment “Hey Chickie.”
Perhaps you saw this in an earlier photo and have been hoping for a closer look. I found this at a Salvation Army store for $1.39.
All the ceramic items in this post, including this one, were hung with Flatirons Adhesive Disc Hangers (note: affiliate link).
If you want more…
Follow Maisie-Cat’s nose on over to the tray of porcelain kitty-cats on my counter. No room in the Lawson house is complete without a few decorative kitties–living or iconic. And while Maisie has been with us about six years, most of the other kitties pictured have been with me since before Chris and I married.
I gathered them here on a salvaged marble tray with Anthropologie kitty-cat handles that I made from a scrap piece of marble found at Goodwill. (PS: follow the link to BUY it in my Etsy shop!!!) The cat-shaped vase stuffed with dried lavender from my garden is vintage West German, a 2017 Christmas gift from Chris, and NOT for sale, but my Etsy shop features a fantastic selection of other midcentury modern pottery, much of it German.
This post is chock full of links as well. So skim back through and click on a few for some more boho-fun show and tell! (Yes, a rhyme. Isn’t is swell?)
Until next time,