Last night on a book club Zoom I was joking that responses to my swoons can be pretty random…an entry about Post-its might get more comments than a gut-wrenching topic. I was kidding of course, there is no Post-it Swoon — yet. The point is, you just never know what will grab people. We shall see how “Bathrooms” goes…
I have joined a mid-century interiors FB page, a friend is the queen of reposting swoon-worthy older homes and I took the bait on this site. I now live for this FB page. No more trolls or politics for me…give me groovy bathrooms and kitchens. Pink, black, teal, yellow, bright and uplifting with a touch of ridiculous. Joy.
My Grandma Muench lived in a two family home in Glendale, Queens, a German neighborhood where you could eat off the front stoop of any home. Spotless. Her apartment was bright, beiges, pinks, mint greens, meticulous. Snack time meant Sara Lee pound cake and tea served on the blue and white china. We sat at the table under the gaze of the big black iron bull holding the “for show” pans. There was a lot of “for show” in her home. The elegantly shaped couch (the settee), the tall back chairs and drum tables…little sitting areas for polite conversation. Hummel dolls (“pre-war” which was noted every time Hummel dolls came up in conversation, which oddly was quite often, considering I was 6), porcelain dancing figures, and tiny tea cups, Depression era glass filled with tiny pastel colored stones. A little girly girl’s dream. It smelled of JOY Perfume and Clorox. Her bathroom was everything. Pink and black tile, bright window at the end, glistening, extra toilet paper protected by a plastic pink cover, towels you would never dare to touch. The closet just outside the hallway leading to it was filled with powders, perfumes, towels folded so tight and square. Structure, beauty, and not an inch of give.
By the time I was old enough to remember, my Grandma Bohjalian lived in an apartment in Washington Heights. Visiting her meant circling the block for parking, sometimes double parking leaving a note on the window that said “honk if you want us to move”, there was a lot of honking. Walking into the building, high ceilings, intricate tiled lobby, racing to push the black shiny elevator button. The smells…dinners being prepared by people from all over the world. The sounds…elevator clinking at each floor, nothing smooth about it, conversations and tvs from various apartments. Elevator door stalling, then opening, phew, turn left, turn right…Grandma. The long hallway, past the “back bedroom”, the bathroom, the kitchen, into the light filled living room. Dusty rose couches against each wall, intricate fringed rugs covering every inch of the floor, the old wooden radio with the backgammon set and Grandpa’s spittoon underneath…open, airy, perfect for a dance party. I was a bit late for the dance party days, when Grandpa played the oud and my mom belly danced. I would have loved it so.
Grandma Bohjalian’s apartment was all about warmth, the colors, the ability to do cartwheels across the living room, to bounce from bed to bed. The lack of a need to be “proper” meant my favorite painting of a cow was hung on the wall…off center and an inch from the ceiling. Bizarre and wonderful. Dinner around the tiny kitchen table…no room to fit us all until we actually sat, then the magic of a gracious host made it work. Before each meal was the best part of a visit to Grandma’s…the wash up. Her bathroom was black and white. Hexagon tiles, huge square-top pedestal sink, black tiles around the base of the room and 4 feet up to perfectly define the space, deep clawfoot tub, perfection. The only place in the apartment sans warm colors, but to me the warmest place in the world. It was where I had my special Grandma time. Hoisting me up, her belly leaning against my back, my belly against the sink, feet dangling…she turned on the water, once the perfect temperature she rolled the Ivory soap in her hands…then washed my hands in hers…around and around, bliss. Then she dried our hands together in the towel on the sink, and with a little tap, we went back to our lives.
I recently designed the bathroom of my dreams. Deep soaking tub, lots of storage for lovely smelling perfumes and creams, black and white with a bit of adorable in the floral tile pattern. Influenced by my two grandmas…memories…swoon.