Potty Training

Do you see these paint swatches? The rainbow of pinks – not one of them the rich beige with a faint hint of pink that I desperately want?

Here we go again. Following our monstrous kitchen renovation we’re tackling the bathroom, which is currently a bare shell that stinks of drywall and primer and is stripped to its rotted walls and cracked cement floors.

Those pinks are our attempt to choose a paint color for the walls. Here’s the problem: I don’t want to paint the walls. I want to put up a nice wallpaper, maybe a floral, perhaps a subtle textured one.

But I can’t. Like kitchen cabinets, which have been replaced universally by drawers, wallpaper is taboo. Stores still sell it. I can buy it, and hang some beautifully designed panels on the walls in the master suite. Yet they are forbidden. You know that elusive rulebook – the one that says owners of upper middle class homes must have countertops made of anything but Formica, have their eyebrows waxed (if female), never wear pantyhose with open-toe shoes (even if snow covers your car), and buy only stainless steel kitchen appliances? That rulebook also bans wallpaper. Until a few month ago, in fact, my kitchen was covered in a beautiful contemporary floral — and visitors who didn’t snicker behind my back made comments like, “That’s what I love about you, Rona. You’re not afraid to be different.” I did not know I was being different.

So now we’re in bathroom mode, struggling to pair a paint color with travertine tiles

and wooden cabinets so heavy that we can’t move them out of our dining room to see how they look with selections from the color wheel. Michael and I will spend Saturday darting from bathroom to dining room to the Benjamin Moore store, trying to assess various hues in ever-changing light in a trio of spaces, and then take a plunge.

Once the walls are painted, we will be on our way to getting the bathroom back in order. We like antiqued copper cabinet handles and such, but have ordered brushed nickel, because apparently that’s the way it works in August 2011. We could have stayed with the elegant deep yellow brass fittings we already had, since we’re keeping the tub that was adorned with them 19 years ago, but our very insistent contractors made sure we knew that was the wrong decision. So far, I have chosen not to replace the mirrored doors to the walk-in closet; they’re framed in brass, though, so I may be forced to throw away yet more money and ditch those too.

I’ll need the mirrors, because we won’t have medicine cabinets. The contractors did begrudgingly relent to install medicine cabinets for us but only after warning us that “people like a more streamlined look now.” They don’t fit easily because our walls are shallow and filled with plumbing pipes, so I gave in. I’ll have to stroll elsewhere to pop a pill.

Did I mention the toilet? Ours worked perfectly well. I liked it fine. Only nowadays owners of upscale homes who redo bathrooms install “comfort height” units. They’re higher off the ground so we don’t have to struggle to squat so low. (I never struggled; did you?) I assume I’ll love it like I do the kitchen drawers, but my goodness. Does it also have to come with a soft-close lid so there’s no loud bang when the top slams down? It’s a toilet, people!

Heaven help us all. The minute this reno is done, I’ll discover that brushed nickel is from the devil, medicine cabinets are the hottest trend, and toilets have been replaced by holes in the ground. Since I won’t have a medicine cabinet, I’ll need a new place to find that Valium, and I will need it fast.