You know how momma birds are rumored to totally reject their chicks if they’ve been touched by humans? That’s how I’ve felt about 1990s interiors, especially the use of hunter green, wallpaper borders and gold-plated fixtures. Even the smallest hint of that dubious era—the one just after 1989 and just before Y2K—has rendered me completely dismissive.
As it turns out, the momma bird thing is 100 percent false. Birds actually don’t have a very good sense of smell and therefore they’re not really able to detect a human’s scent on their offspring’s feathers. Furthermore, the late 1990s hysteria surrounding the Y2K bug which suggested that most computerized machinery would cease to function as of 12:00am on 1/1/2000, yeah, that also turned out to be a sham. So, it only seemed fair for me to cut the 1990s a little slack in regard to design. After all, the 1990s gave us Brad Pitt and Sheryl Crow, and they’re always in style, right?
While conceptualizing the first floor bathroom remodel of my weekend house in the north Georgia mountains, I kept inching towards the use of hunter green in a non-1990s way: by pairing it with ultra-white surfaces rather than burgundy and muddy tones, going modern with fixtures and adding farmhouse touches to honor the rustic style of the house. First, I tested out paints on the V-groove pine walls, settling on Glidden’s “Deepest Woodland Green.” After painting just one wall, I decided it was remarkably unflattering on skin tones. And since this is the main bathroom, one that overnight guests will use to primp, the hunter green would only work in small doses.
The Look I opted to go white-on-white and install a four-foot by six-foot frosted glass picture window to keep the bathroom super light, bright and universally flattering. When I say white-on-white, I’m talking walls, ceiling, floor, shower tile, modern commode, vanity, the whole shebang. And as for the Deepest Woodland Green paint, I decided to use it in my master bedroom instead, then match its exact hue for the bathroom’s shower curtain, closet door upholstery, and sconces.
My 1990s touches didn’t end with the use of hunter green. As I started sourcing bathroom fixtures, I found myself drawn to brass, but not polished brass or even brassy gold-plated metals, but rather a new finish referred to as ‘champagne bronze’. The best way to describe this fresh finish is a cross between satin brass and white gold, and I stuck with it for my shower fixtures and vessel sink faucet. For a layered effect, I also brought brass in with antique nail heads on the burlap-upholstered closet doors as well as the shower curtain hardware and door handles.
The cost I relied heavily on a mix of high and low price points. The grasscloth-looking 12- by 36-inch shower wall tile is from Porcelanosa and the hive-shaped mosaic shower floor tile is from Ann Sacks, both listed at less than $15 per square foot. As far as textiles are concerned, the burlap on the closet door and the cotton duck used for the shower curtain were both cost-savers from Lewis & Sheron Textiles, at $6 and $18 per yard, respectively.
In order to keep the vanity costs low, I hit up IKEA and used a 36-inch wide kitchen base cabinet and one of their engineered butcher block countertops to house an oversized white vessel fink found online. The splurges in the space include the powder-coated industrial sconces, the leather equestrian mirror, the modern commode, the full-length mirror made of reclaimed wood, and the champagne bronze fixtures.
Bottom line With the project complete, I can’t necessarily say that I’ve learned to appreciate the 1990s, but I am 100 percent on board with this brass trend the design industry seems to be going through, and I love my new bathroom. I’m also looking forward to adding more hunter green to my portfolio; however, you’ll never see me use it in a dining room with burgundy walls, cherry furniture and Southwestern-themed wallpaper borders.
Now, excuse me while I go watch reruns of “Friends,” download Alanis Morissette and put on my Birkenstocks.