I can’t complain about plumbers anymore, as I did in my “Ticked Off” book, because I’ve shopped around enough to end up with reliable workmen. So since I don’t have to keep pacing the floor wondering when the plumber is going to show, if at all, I’m happily thumbing through a decorating magazine and drinking my hot tea and munching on a chocolate chip cookie. The plumber is working on a leaking shower right now.

Many years ago, I became interested in the decor in bathrooms. I think it started when my husband and I travelled to Santa Fe, New Mexico, several times a year. The bathrooms in the restaurants and hotels are unique. Most are decorated with either Mexican tile floors or colored concrete. The wall decorations range from those inspired by American Indian art to Mexican art to hippie art. Oh, yes, with a little cowboy thrown in.

I was still living in the Los Angeles area when an article was published in the local newspaper about the best bathrooms in public places. First prize was given to one that I sure would have chosen as spectacular. It is in a fancy hotel in Beverly Hills, of course.

It was during this period of time that I was thinking about writing a bathroom book about the ones in Santa Fe. My family encouraged this crazy idea so I went forward. I ended up photographing bathrooms in hotels, restaurants, and in private homes. Everyone who knew about the project thought it was great, including an editor I was working with at the time. However, once I had the book ready for submission to publish, there was no one willing to make it happen. So it sits here gathering dust.

One fancy New York publisher wrote about the book, “No one wants to see someone else’s bathroom.” I visualized her at a walnut desk on the 60th floor of a fancy high rise, and she was dressed in an Armani suit.

One of the bathrooms had walls covered in letters from interesting, well-known people along with their pictures. Another one had rows of Milagros* placed on the wall and tub the same way you would use tiles. One had several birds’ nests, complete with eggs, sitting on the tops of small tables. Another had walls of collectible beaded American Indian handbags. (The New York publisher probably threw the book across the room.)

Our bathroom was tiled in green to compliment the trees up next to the three large windows. The centerpiece is (or was) a three-foot high folk art Kachina that has a lot of green painted on it. The two huge custom mirrors have Hopi tiles embedded in the frames and other Hopi Indian tiles are scattered among the green tiles around the sinks and tub. (Heaven only knows what the Armani-clad woman thought the Kachina and Hopi tiles were all about.)

There is a book that’s been published about outhouses. (The publisher is in Arizona, not New York.) I was going to include some of the outhouses in my book as well. So many of them are no longer standing and yet they were often cleverly decorated. Do you know that Hollyhocks grew wild next to many of them?

The bathrooms in the magazine I’m looking at right now are lovely but they don’t have the uniqueness of the ones I photographed. (Probably selected by the New York editor.)  Anyway, my suggestion is that you not be worried about making your bathroom as interesting as the rest of your house. After all, most of us spend quite a lot of time in that room. Why be bored?

*A milagro in this case refers to small silver or gold votive Mexican offerings in the shape of body parts or representing other things such as animals.

COMING NEXT: A tiny History of Vintage Advertising




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