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Old 05-08-2013, 03:51 PM   #1
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Restoring 1948 bathroom, broken tiles


*(sorry, that title is supposed to say "broken tile accessories," but this forum software won't accept an edited thread title)

I'm doing some minor updates to a 1916 bathroom which was retiled in 1948 (I found newspaper lining the wall behind the cement they used as a kind of backerboard. It said 1948.) The tile is very retro cool and in good shape, mostly. In the 70's, someone had the great idea to remove the medicine cabinet and go with the huge mirror, as was the style back then.





In trying to "restore" the bathroom a bit, I removed the mirror and found this:



You can see that the medicine cabinet is gone, which should be easy to replace. No worries there. There was a towel bar with two bar ends that were removed to accomodate the mirror, but those are easy to find in black. Also, the radius/bullnose corner which is missing in the upper left of the picture was conveniently left by the previous DIYer inside the medicine cabinet cutout. There is also a broken 2x6 radius bullnose up there too, but I've already sourced that one, no problem.

Here's my problem though. There used to be a couple recessed cupholders or something at the cabinet's 5 and 7 o'clock.



The same guy with the bright idea to hang that ugly huge mirror also decided to flush the semi-recessed niches with a hammer. Obviously I need to fill those spots. I'm not going to even think about trying to match the original aqua 4x4s, but I figure I should be able to find a recessed cupholder or something in a 4x6 size, in black. Unfortunately, my search is coming up pretty slim. I can find 4x6 horizontal soapdishes all day, but no luck so far on the 4x6 vertical cupholder or whatever they were. This is a rental unit, and the more time I spend on this items, the later it will be until I get it rented. That doesn't mean I want some ghetto solution either, so I'm scratching my head here. Any ideas? A source for old vintage parts like this would be great, or something else creative would be helpful too. Thanks!


Last edited by Andiy; 05-08-2013 at 10:27 PM. Reason: title
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Old 05-08-2013, 04:08 PM   #2
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Restoring 1948 bathroom, broken tiles


FWIW, my bathroom in a mid-60's building has a recessed toothbrush/cup holder to the left and had a recessed soap holder to the right. They're both small by today's standards. Only the cheapest, most basic toothbrushes will fit in the toothbrush holder. The soap holder was removed before I moved in but the super gave me an original one two days ago. It's much smaller and harder to clean than a new one that sits on the sink so I'm not installing it and I'm going to take out the toothbrush holder too. They don't make all-ceramic, wall-mountable toothbrush holders any more as far as I could tell.

World of Tile in NJ is a good source for retro items like this if you really want it, but they don't show their products on their website. They could be found elsewhere. You can check http://retrorenovation.com for posts on bathrooms.


Last edited by Dorado; 05-08-2013 at 04:15 PM.
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Old 05-08-2013, 04:19 PM   #3
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Restoring 1948 bathroom, broken tiles


I suggest removing tile from the wall to cover the missing tiles and installing a medicine cabinet or mirror to cover where you removed tiles and getting a modern sized (styled however you want) soap dish and toothbrush holder.
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Old 05-08-2013, 10:45 PM   #4
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Restoring 1948 bathroom, broken tiles


As Dorado said, one was a soapdish, the other a toothbrush & tumbler holder. You should be able to find them in black, but you have to go to a real tile store. They normally took the place of one tile, I don't recall ever seeing a vertical rectangular one though. Maybe they removed a half-piece of tile too.

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Old 05-09-2013, 04:48 PM   #5
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Restoring 1948 bathroom, broken tiles


Quote:
Originally Posted by Dorado View Post
FWIW, my bathroom in a mid-60's building has a recessed toothbrush/cup holder to the left and had a recessed soap holder to the right. They're both small by today's standards. Only the cheapest, most basic toothbrushes will fit in the toothbrush holder. The soap holder was removed before I moved in but the super gave me an original one two days ago. It's much smaller and harder to clean than a new one that sits on the sink so I'm not installing it and I'm going to take out the toothbrush holder too. They don't make all-ceramic, wall-mountable toothbrush holders any more as far as I could tell.
Oooh! I don't suppose you want to sell them...

And FWIW, these look like something other than ceramic. More of a "crystalline"-looking structure. Not that it really matters.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Dorado View Post
World of Tile in NJ is a good source for retro items like this if you really want it, but they don't show their products on their website. They could be found elsewhere. You can check http://retrorenovation.com for posts on bathrooms.
Thanks for the leads. I will check them as well.

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Originally Posted by Dorado View Post
I suggest removing tile from the wall to cover the missing tiles and installing a medicine cabinet or mirror to cover where you removed tiles and getting a modern sized (styled however you want) soap dish and toothbrush holder.
Well, I may go this route: It turns out there is a very poorly constructed water closet in the basement. And although it contains only a toilet, the mysterious (and half-assed) rehabber of my home from the 70's decided to put a medicine cabinet in there. And guess where it came from? Yep! The 2nd floor apartment! So I have the original (or at least the one that was installed in 1948 - there was newspaper lining the plaster wall sticking out of the medicine cabinet cutout, dated March of '48) medicine cabinet, it measures up, and the mounting holes are even in the same spots, so I know it's the one. Unfortunately, there is some silver deterioration to it. But that just gives it charm, right?

Last edited by Andiy; 05-09-2013 at 04:56 PM.
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Old 05-09-2013, 05:19 PM   #6
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Restoring 1948 bathroom, broken tiles


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Originally Posted by JazMan View Post
As Dorado said, one was a soapdish, the other a toothbrush & tumbler holder. You should be able to find them in black, but you have to go to a real tile store. They normally took the place of one tile, I don't recall ever seeing a vertical rectangular one though. Maybe they removed a half-piece of tile too.

Jaz
Since these pieces were used in a bathroom, near the sink, there are probably very few options for what they might have been, but that isn't really important now. I just want something that fits. If all I could find was a 4" wide x6" high candle holder and razor blade dispenser in black ceramic, I'd put them in there. I can find 4x4 cupholders, etc, all day, even at the big box stores. I'd much prefer to find something in 4x6 though. I've got emails out to numerous antique and specialty tiles shops. No luck yet. And I contacted the old Italian "real" tile shop whose owners we've known since the 70's, and even they came up empty.

I'd rather not do this, but I may end up removing the partial green tile and replace it with a black 4x4 and a black 4x4 accessory piece.
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Old 05-09-2013, 05:20 PM   #7
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Restoring 1948 bathroom, broken tiles


Mine are white with black specks so they wouldn't work for you. Now that I think of it, I think they do make all ceramic inset toothbrush holders but the problem was none of them had modern sized holes. As soon as I find a sturdy looking wall mounted one made of whatever, that looks easy enough to clean, for a decent price, I'm buying it.
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Old 05-09-2013, 05:24 PM   #8
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Restoring 1948 bathroom, broken tiles


Speaking of razor blades, old medicine cabinets has slots for throwing used razor blades into the wall so don't reach into that wall without knowing exactly what you're touching. I've heard stories of people opening up bathroom walls and hundreds of razor blades falling out.
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Old 05-09-2013, 06:34 PM   #9
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Restoring 1948 bathroom, broken tiles


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Speaking of razor blades, old medicine cabinets has slots for throwing used razor blades into the wall so don't reach into that wall without knowing exactly what you're touching. I've heard stories of people opening up bathroom walls and hundreds of razor blades falling out.
Maybe like... this?



Yeah, when I tore the walls out on the first floor, I found what seemed like hundreds of these. According to what I've found online, this particular example appears to have been manufactured between 1949 and 1951. Worthless trivia, I know, but I like to find out about all the "time capsule" minutia I find while rehabbing this house. And I've found some pretty neat stuff. Hey, that's a good topic for another thread...


Last edited by Andiy; 05-09-2013 at 08:31 PM.
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