Deep Clean to Save Big
Old House Journal|January - February 2022
After we got a $50,000 estimate to gut and renovate the bathroom in our 1946 modernist house, I figured I’d tackle the 8' x 8' room myself.
By Barbara Rhines, Photography by Greg Premru and Barbara Rhines

Like the rest of our Bauhaus-influenced, International Style house, the primary bath was spare with clean, elegant lines. But the tiles and tub were deeply stained and dirty. The wall-hung sink had stains and rust, and the original chrome faucets were dull with age. Or so I thought.

The refreshed medicine cabinet, new sink on legs, and Deco-style tube light sconces make for a subtle transformation.

I went to work on the room myself after receiving a $50,000 estimate to gut renovate the space. After deciding on a black-and-white Art Deco theme, I did a little Googling and found a tip for freshening chrome: rub it with aluminum foil. (The tip called for salt water, but it wasn’t necessary.) I wrapped some foil around my finger, wet it a bit, and rubbed a faucet handle gently. The chrome gleamed like new. I was embarrassed that I’d lived with dull, water-spotted fittings for 15 years. Now I was inspired to save what I had.

Before: The tub was stained and peeling after the failure of an earlier attempt at repair — using paint.

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