Why I love the bathroom…

1933 the May Co. from the LAPL

Face it, women have a peculiar affinity for a certain room in the house. And, I’m here to tell you why: sanctuary. Imagine, if you will, a bustling household on a typical morning. People teeming with questions and definitive statements, such as, “Is there any granola left? Where are my library books? Who took my phone charger? I don’t have time to eat. I can’t find my wallet!” Then contemplate for a moment a quiet place where you can lock the door, turn on the taps, and in all good conscience, as the conversation continues you can yell out (not unkindly) – “Can’t hear you! The water’s running!” You know, I should learn how to say that in multiple languages.

Before I started this blog and in the midst of completing a first novel I remodeled a bath room. It was in a studio, unattached to the house, but I was obsessive in my hunt for period looking tile and fixtures. I wanted a bath to immerse and soak in and lovely silk wrapped light bulbs glowing in lamps from the nineteen-twenties. Say it with me, my friends: that’s a bit much.

In some misty future I envisioned, not a room of my own, not a place where I would write, not an office, not a guest room, not a creative space – but a place I could tweeze my eyebrows undisturbed. Hey. I never claimed to be deep.

bathroom photo by Art StreibWhere’s your sanctuary?

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  1. George Kaplan
    July 10, 2013

    I don’t know, that all sounds familiar to me! George isn’t a lady – he’s no gentleman either (he says while waggling his eyebrows Groucho Marxishly!) – but the bathroom as sanctuary, as haven, makes perfect sense. Admittedly it’s often the bath itself that is the lure for me, I can spend entirely too long in the bathroom soaking away from the worries of the world, often accompanied by a book… ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Love this post, Vickie! It’s both hilarious and true; I imagine you saying “Can’t hear you, the water’s running!” in cantonese, gaelic, latin, and tagalog just to be on the safe side. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Your dream bathroom sounds divine!
    Say, have you any spare tweezers?!

    • July 10, 2013

      Don’t get me talking about man-scaping! I am swatting your hand away from the tweezers and handing you a delicate little brush and a very small pair of scissors – and if you must – you can trim your eyebrows. (Brush straight up and trim anything above the brow line. And, be careful. They’ll also do this where you have your haircut.) But, for men that’s about as far as you should go.
      Now, book and bath? I HEARTILY approve. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. beautycalyptique
    July 10, 2013

    oooh, sanctuary, my thoughts exactly!
    actually, I love being locked there to think by the window, but I endure water procedures more than I enjoy them (I’m just not a water person… but I’m not a dirty person, either!) – despite gorgeous candles and healthy salts, my boyfriend has to force me to take a bath when I’m stressed ๐Ÿ™‚
    my all-time-fave sanctuary is actually our rooftop terrace. it’s absolutely empty because neither of us can deal with greenery and because things get black dust all over them within a day over here. but I enjoy putting out a yoga mat or just lay there and watch the clouds fly by…

    oh, oh, and as I come to think of it, I’ve put together a few ideas for the how-to to a bathroom deluxe in maybe June? here (http://beautycalypse.wordpress.com/2013/06/08/5-easy-steps-to-revamp-your-bathroom/) because most bathrooms of urban nomads look awful and I love me some modern luxury.

    • July 10, 2013

      Yes! That’s what I’m talking about – creating an environment of calm within ๐Ÿ™‚

      • beautycalyptique
        July 10, 2013


        a place to unwind and to feel safe.

  3. beautycalyptique
    July 10, 2013

    damn those typos *grumpily*

  4. July 10, 2013

    My dressing room is my (non-creative) sanctuary. It has a dressing table and mirror AND 2 windows with lovely views. I feel like a little girl about to play dress-up whenever I enter that place. I love it!

    • July 10, 2013

      You have a vanity! How lovely – is there a favorite bottle of perfume sitting there?

  5. Heather in Arles
    July 10, 2013

    Nath beat me to the punch–heehee, odd wording when speaking of a yoga mat but it is the only place where even the dogs know to leave me alone. Wow, now maedez has me dreaming of a dressing room…I do have a vanity table but no chair to go with it! It is currently strewn with lots of silver jewelry…

    • July 10, 2013

      That’s such a beautiful image… I wonder if you’ll capture it for your weblog… “strewn”…
      When I was younger sanctuary was a perch and a book.

      • Heather in Arles
        July 11, 2013

        Me too! From ages 7-10, I lived in a big ‘ol Victorian mansion and my favorite spot of all was inside my cedar-lined closet, curled up on my dirty clothes pile with a book in hand… ๐Ÿ™‚

      • July 11, 2013

        I love the smell of a cedar closet! I was visiting the dry cleaner a couple of months ago with a pile of sweaters and was waxing nostalgic about the the cedar lined room in the attic of a house I grew up in — and he told me the walls have to be planed every year to effectively combat the moths. I don’t remember anybody ever shaving the walls and it smelled like a cedar grove!

  6. July 10, 2013

    I love your passion for the bathroom sanctuary. But I dream of a sanctuary in the laundry room; yep, laundry room. It’s not likely to happen, my dream laundry, so I live without sanctuary or sanity!

    • July 11, 2013

      I used to visit my aunt and uncle in Palm Springs and they had all the latest conveniences (including a newfangled microwave oven that I arced out by zapping a can of tomato juice) but beyond the laundry room there was a stand of grapefruit trees and a very old fashioned laundry line. It was my retreat ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • July 11, 2013

        Lovely! Nothing beats an old fashioned laundry line. Can’t help smiling at that zapped can of tomato juice!

      • July 12, 2013

        I can’t remember if my aunt and uncle smiled, or not…

      • July 12, 2013

        Most likely were speechless……

  7. July 10, 2013

    Dearest V
    Being a central Londoner I have barely room to ablute chez Dandy (though I do adore my salle de bain), so my places of sanctuary and, perhaps peculiarly, public.
    The garden of St John’s Lodge, the Rare Manuscripts reading room at The British Library, the unexplored walkways of the Barbican Centre and the pocket parks of Boomsbury.
    All these places give me pleasure and provide solace in equal measure.
    Yours ever
    The Perufmed Dandy

    • July 11, 2013

      Gardens and the Rare…Manuscripts…Reading…Room… Heaven.

  8. July 10, 2013

    Mine is my tiny but cozy perfume, soap, sugar scrub, mud mask, cucumber peal, fluffy over sized white towel, bath salt stocked bathroom. Did I say it was tiny? Well I have to step out of it to turn around. But I love it.

    • July 11, 2013

      It sounds like a spa, Mr. Sugar Scrub!

  9. Maryann Rizer-Andrade
    July 11, 2013

    This is an odd picture…It took me a couple of minutes to figure it out…bath fixture shopping….i love shopping for bath fixtures…

    • July 11, 2013

      It’s a picture from 1933 showing the bath department at a store called the May Co. Now to find similar stuff I dig around architectural salvage yards ๐Ÿ˜‰

  10. July 11, 2013

    I am not sure I really understand the bathroom in the top photo, but I am in love with it.

    • July 12, 2013

      It’s a show room in a department store, circa 1933 ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • July 12, 2013

        Ohhh! Ha ha – thanks. I could not, for the life of me, figure out how this worked.

  11. July 31, 2014

    This cracked me up, because it is so true! The bathroom really is the last place a person, particularly the lady of the house, can get any privacy and solace.

    You know, I wonder if that’s one of the reasons I dislike our present home so much? None of the bathrooms are any goodโ€”for one thing, only one has a window, and it’s not the bathroom with the tub. Complete failure! We’re looking at moving within the next year, so there’s no real sense in my knocking out an eighth of a wall to add a window (it is ridiculously expensive to add even a small windowโ€”I’d no idea), so we’re stuck. Having had a perfect mid-century bath in our last home (soft jadeite green tile trimmed in black, a big frosted window I decked out with a valance made just for that room…) makes these seem even worse!

    Hmmmm. Serious food for thought, Vicki!

    • August 1, 2014

      A house I’d lived in a long time ago came up for sale recently, it had the most wonderful mid-century tile in the baths, one was your soft jadeite green, one was robin’s egg blue, one was pale pink. It had been “modernized” and the baths were all tricked out with huge slabs of polished stone, it was striking, but it kind of reminded me of an airport. Not the kind of sanctuary bathroom I had in mind ๐Ÿ˜‰ .

      • August 1, 2014

        Certainly not! When we see houses like that, we just turn around and walk away (there’s a term for this removal of historically accurate and, let’s face it, more cheerful original fixtures like bathroomsโ€””re-muddling”). They do look like airport or hotel bathrooms, and no, they’re not welcoming at all, never providing any sort of sanctuary. Despite the often warm-toned stone used, they’re cold and sterile, and not in the “just scrubbed clean” way, either.

        I call THOSE “Travertine travesties”.

  12. August 1, 2014

    Well, I would love an eclectic vintage bathroom complete with enormous soaking tub… but since I live in a cottage the size of a bread box and I can stand in my bathroom and touch the tub, toilet, and sink simultaneously and without moving, that is not to be. Also, renovating my tiny bathroom has been estimated by several contractors at approximately $10K. It’s just not happening.

    I’ve settled for a retro kitchen, because I can do it myself and it didn’t involve ripping out walls or plumbing. Also, I spend loads of time in there and now I enjoy it so much more. You can see it here: http://www.roomzaar.com/rate-my-space/Kitchens/My-retro-licious-kitchen/detail.esi?oid=17900339

    The item I’m dreaming about now is a Big Chill refrigerator.

    • August 1, 2014

      B-b-baby! I’ve priced those Big Chill refrigerators–a lot of money but great design. I bet there is someone in your New York neck of the woods that refurbishes old refrigerators, a fifties fridge would be the right scale for your cottage kitchen, less expensive than the Big Chill, but you’d also have to defrost the vestigial little icebox… Hm. Maybe it’s not such a great idea.

      • August 2, 2014

        I’ve thought of that too… but once you fall in love, nothing else will do. I love the vintage look of the Big Chill and also its modern sensibilities. It’s energy efficient, hopefully won’t set my house on fire, and the interior is created to house the kinds of containers we buy in the stores now. The old fridges probably wouldn’t hold one week’s shopping. When you watch the old movies and anyone opens a fridge, there’s a wedge of cheese and a bottle of milk in there, with maybe room for a leftover leg of chicken. The mechanism for the freezer takes up most of the interior of the refrigerator… unless you get one of those really, REALLY old ones where the freezer engine is sitting on the top.

        The way I see it, I’ve lived for nearly fourteen years using a “rental unit” low-budget refrigerator with wonky rubber gaskets (we were renters before we bought the house, and just kept it since it worked). I feel that I sort of “deserve” a nice refrigerator. Even if I’m 65 before I can afford it – HA!

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