Harvest Gold Bathroom – Pick My Presto

Hey there- and welcome to another installment of Pick My Presto!

I randomly selected another email from my Pick My Presto inbox this weekend, and had some fun photoshoppin’ a picture of a bathroom sent in by a reader named Nicki.

Her email read:

Please help! We are about to list our early ’80s ranch home for sale.  We’ve been able to update many of the other rooms, but we’ve run out of time (and money) to be able to replace the harvest gold bathtub, sink, and toilet.  I’m at a loss as to how to make this room seem even remotely appealing/bearable to a buyer.

As I mentioned, we need to be able to make a change in this room without replacing the harvest gold tub, sink, and toilet.  And since we need to keep the sink, of course means that the sink cabinet will probably have to stay, too.  Removing the mirror and light fixture will most definitely tear up the wall if we remove it, so we would probably have to put something on that wall, like bead board, if it is removed- which is something we would be okay with doing.

To give you a sense of our style, the rest of our home is done in neutral tones, whites, beiges, tans, natural fibers, with black, brown, oil rubbed bronze, and antique brass accents.

Oh, if you could help me with this I would be ever so grateful!!

Thank you,

Like I said, I randomly select my presto change-o’s, and normally I like to surprise the reader that sent it in by posting it here for them to find- but since Nicki’s email came in a while back, I thought I’d better write her and ask if they had already sold their house. Sure enough, they accepted an offer on it shortly after she wrote me! (Congrats, Nicki!!)

BUT, since I bet there are a lot more folks out there with similar harvest gold situations, and because I’m always so inspired by this type of challenge, I decided to put pen to paper mouse to pad again anyway, and used Photoshop CS5 to create an inspiration photo for those who might be on the lookout for similar inspiration. Move your cursor on and off of the picture below to see what I came up with in presto change-o action!

(PS- Google Readers will have to click over to our site to see it switch back and forth)

(Note: My drawing is for inspirational purposes only, and the ideas shown in it are just that. Spontaneous, totally flexible, just-for-fun, ideas. Boom.)

Here are a couple of (smaller) still images in case you weren’t able to view the interactive one above…

Here are my thoughts on the room (or any room with elements you’d like to eventually change, but aren’t in a position to right now): It’s all about drawing your eye away from the things you’d eventually like to replace. It’s about creating a space that says: “Sure. There are a few things that could be switched out in here, but ya know what, I look (and function) pretty darn good right now, too.

I started out by scouring the internet for a fabric that had harvest gold in it. Any fabric you love will do, but I came across this one from Calico Corners, and used it in my inspiration photo drawing:

Next, instead of using a traditional shower curtain, I showed what it would look like to use two panels, that would pull together to create one shower curtain. In the middle, (and on a separate rod) I showed a white shower curtain liner. I think doing something a little different on the largest, least broken-up expanse of space in the room would be a nice visual distraction to walk into. We’re actually doing this in our upcoming master bathroom redo, and we’re going to move our rods all the way up near the ceiling to create the illusion of more height in the room, too. Stay tuned for the big reveal!

Another way to hush the harvest gold would be to paint the walls a golden tan color. The way I figure, if the wall is closer to the color of the toilet, tub and sink, the less contrast there will be- and the less contrast, the less the harvest gold color will “pop” out visually.

Here are some other ideas I incorporated into my photo drawing that might help quiet the harvest gold fixtures:

1. Pull in an accent color from your shower curtain. There’s a nice, grayish blue color in the Calico Corners fabric I used, so I chose to go with that as my accent color.

2. Mix and match your fabric patterns. Use contrasting-yet-coordinating patterns on the horizontal and vertical planes in the room. I chose an indoor/outdoor rug from Pottery Barn in my photo drawing…

Again, the idea is to take your eyes off the toilet and sink, and put them onto a visually pleasing shower curtain/rug/towel combo. In this case, coordinating floral, stripe, and solid fabrics.

3. Bring in some more metal. I replaced Nicki’s mirror with part of the one in the photo below (I took off the circle at the top)…



Whether it’s antique brass, satin nickel, or polished chrome, I think injecting some “sparkly” is always a nice addition to a room full of mostly matte/muted finishes.

4. Create some pretty/functional vignettes. Not that the existing cabinet needed to be changed, but I popped a more clean-lined cabinet (Pottery Barn) on the wall above the toilet. I also used a couple of white-painted, wood corbels (Home Depot) and a white-painted wood dowel for towels, underneath it.


I think using a cabinet that you’re able to accessorize and put baskets into, will further help distract the eye up and off the things you don’t want to highlight. By featuring some of your prettier “bathroom stuff” out on the open (vs. behind closed doors like the existing cabinet has), your eye will be drawn to what’s happening on the vertical parts of the room, not just just horizontal ones- where the harvest gold elements are located.

5. Update your lighting. Updating bathroom lighting is usually a quick, easy, and inexpensive fix. Brittany wrote a great tutorial about switching “Hollywood” style vanity lights out, but if you’re unsure about doing it yourself, it’ll only take a professional electrician about 30 minutes to switch out a fixture like the one in Nicki’s photo. The fixture over the mirror in my photo drawing is from PotteryBarn.com, but I’ve seen similar fixtures at lots of different places for much less. The one below is only $48 at Lowes

It sort of reminds me of Restoration Hardware’s, “Dillon” sconce…

…except that theirs costs $219!

6. Paint your cabinetry. It’s fairly easy to prime and paint a sink cabinet, and sometimes that can be just what a vanity area ordered.


I changed the color of Nicki’s sink cabinet to a blue-gray in my photo drawing, and I also think adding some white porcelain knobs (like the ones in the photo above) would be a nice addition, too!

7. Add crown molding. Have you ever noticed how much of a difference just painting the ceiling and adding crown molding can make in a room? It’s another great way to keep those eyes movin’ up, up and away!

Of course, there are lots of other things you can do to update a bathroom (replace faucets, add tile, replace switches and outlets, replace flooring, add towel bars, etc. etc.) but I thought I’d throw out these (relatively) low-dough ideas in case anyone reading this can use them!

(“A” towel ; vanity accessories ; fabric ; paint color ; mirror photo ; wall cabinet ; rug)

Before I wrap it up though, I did just want to mention that I saw a (new) white sink and toilet for sale for under $100 total at our local builders supply store- so if that’s in the budget, you could always wait on replacing the tub (it’s hidden anyway- ha!) and just swap out the toilet and sink in the meantime, like this…

I also added a dark wood countertop while I was presto change-o-ing that last pic. Meredith (who writes a blog called Welcome To Heardmont) used a $39 piece of butcherblock (from Ikea), (stained English Chestnut by Minwax) in her recently renovated bathroom, and it turned out so pretty…

She said they sealed both the sides of it with several thin coats of polyurethane, and it’s held up great for almost a year now. Sweet!

Anywho, hope there’s an idea’r or two in this post that someone out there can use, and I look forward to working on another presto change-o again, soon!

Would you like to submit a photo for our Pick My Presto series?

Send an email to PickMyPresto [at] aol [dot] com titled, Living Room. (Replace the words Living Room with whatever type of room you’re actually submitting.) In the body of the email, include your name, your blog name (if you have one) your design likes & dislikes, and one photo of the space in question. (No links please.) It should be clear, and measure at least 400 pixels high x 600 pixels wide. (In other words: at least 4″high x 6″ wide) The bigger the better though! Make sure it’s a photo you’re comfortable with me showing and writing about on our blog. Oh, and since I love surprises, I probably won’t email you to let you know I’ve “picked your presto” unless I have a specific question for you about your space.

PS- Don’t forget to swing by this Tuesday for our Spring mantel link party. Thanks to Kev and Josh’s Photography 101 class, I’m proud to report that I photographed our mantel this weekend all by myself for the first time ever- woo hoo! I didn’t have to ask for Kev’s help one time, and if you’ve ever seen me trying to work a DSLR camera in manual mode, you know that’s a huge accomplishment worth mentioning here today- ha!

If you’re looking for help learning how to use your DSLR too, click on the banner below to check out their class…

…and if you want to read what other shootFLYshoot students (that aren’t married to one of the owners-LOL) are saying about the class, CLICK HERE!

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  1. says

    I love that fabric! It adds such a great pop to the room. You gave me a good idea for my bathroom :) I gotta snap some pictures of the outside of our house and send them to be prestoed :) I’ve been trying to tell my dad how shutters would look and he just can’t visualize it….I thought of you :)

  2. says

    LOVE this, Layla – My bathroom is the same boring layout – no harvest gold, we just replaced the toilet/sink but it needs some storage, I love your ideas!

  3. Flute Mom says

    You did such a great job of pulling all the elements together with the harvest gold that a the new white sink and toilet was almost a setback.

  4. JENJESCHKE says

    Your presto makes even the harvest gold look good! I should send in my laundry room for a presto…now that room would be interesting! Cinderblock painted walls, big open room that is open to our family room and bathroom….better get some pics sent in just in case!!

  5. Bonnie says

    Hi Layla! We are adding a bathroom to our remodeled basement. I would love to do the mirror with sconces instead of the over the mirror fixture. My hubby is concerned this may not be enough light. We would also try a recessed light over the shower. The room is about 5 x 8. Any thoughts?

  6. says

    Thanks so much for this presto! In our house we have a bayberry green (a.k.a. avocado) bathroom, and a fawn beige bathroom. Both have matching sink/toilet/tub AND wrap-around-the-room tile. You’ve given me some great ideas about how to de-emphasize the parts we don’t like — and how much of a difference a quick change of the sink & toilet could make. :)

  7. says

    Great pick-my-presto. I absolutely love every one you do since your style is so fabulous! We’re planning to talk my in-laws into buying my husbands childhood home from them, but it’s SO very dated that I struggle with envisioning it. So I love seeing inspiration on changing spaced within a small budget. You did a great job.

  8. Nicole says

    So many great ideas! I love the light blue accent with the gold and all of the tips about distracting away from the eye sores! We have a bath/laundry in need of attention (read:one big eye sore) and those porcelain knobs would be a perfect pick-me-up to our old vanity!

  9. Geri says

    Love it! My in-laws have an all blue bathroom….ALL blue…wrap around tile and all….I am going to send them these pictures and show them that there is hope! Keep up your great work and know that you are an inspiration to all of us that follow your blog!

  10. Megan M says

    Layla! I love this bathroom decor scheme. You never cease to amaze me with all your sweet and cozy ideas for spaces. Keep it up! :)

  11. says

    It looks great! Who would have thought that you could make those fixtures look good? Thanks so much for the mention! That piece is special… I named it after my Grandma!

  12. Heather says

    Great ideas, as always, Layla! In our house the kids’ bathroom is all harvest gold fixtures except the toilet, which, we changed out with a used white one we got for free. The vanity is a really dark wood with a dark textured formica top. The previous owners had painted the walls a dark brown. It was screaming 70s! We have so many other remodels right now that this room isn’t on the list for a while. I finally just painted the walls white to lighten it up and framed really colorful vinyl wall stickers of cute characters from Ikea and hung them above the toilet and stuck some of the stickers around the top of the tub area. I used a colorful kid’s curtain panel from Ikea to go over the white shower liner, and hung a cute enameled bucket above the toilet too with different color polka dot wash cloths and Burt’s Bees products in it. I think it made a big difference, and as you said, helps draw the attention away from the 70s elements and to the cute kidsy stuff instead.
    I absolutely LOVE your prestos! Keep ‘em comin’!!!

  13. Heidi says

    Awesome! You know I love me some presto ;)
    I wish I had a smidge of your talent. It seems to come so naturally for you. Whereas I have to really think about it and analyze what makes a room look good. I especially recognize that your sense of scale seems spot on. I’m a huge fan!

  14. says

    Love it Layla! I have that same harvest gold in my main bath and did the second option you suggested: switch out the sink, cabinet and toilet with white ones until you can get a new tub. I also unfortunately had the harvest gold tiles halfway up all the walls too!!! And yellow tiles on the floor! Ugh! So we put beadboard 3/4 of the way up the wall over top of the tile with a molding cap and it adds such character… and covered the dreadful tile wall! And believe it or not I have a black faux leather shower curtain, black area rug in front of the vanity… and black shelves above the toilet with harvest gold, white, and black hand towels stacked with apothecary jars and soaps and it works! Leather shower curtain, I know! But it works!

  15. says

    I’m kinda shocked how such simple changes really transformed the room. I even liked the after pictures, harvest gold and all. The shower curtain panels are amazing. I would never have thought of that. I’m also not one to hang art in the bathroom. I always think the steam from the shower will destroy them. Maybe I am wrong.

  16. Lisa K. says

    That bathroom is so similar to ours. We have a harvest gold tub, and almond toilet and a yellow, marbly type sink. I usually just try to ignore it but the designs you share give me hope! :)

  17. says

    OMG…can you just come and presto my entire home? I need to take a picture of our old family room/play room turned library….I need some help in there!

  18. says

    Layla – I just wanted to let you know how much I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE when you do Presto-Chango’s…they are one of my FAVORITE parts of your blog. Sometimes when I’m in a hurry I won’t get to read all of the posts I have waiting for me but I ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS make it through the Presto-Chango’s…LOVE the ideas! I’m an amature Photoshop user and wonder HOW in the WORLD do you do those Presto-Changos like that with Photoshop…TOO cool!!!

  19. says

    you are incredibly talented. what a great job you did with leaving the tub, terlet, and sink. i have those in pink (hellllo house built in the 60’s) in my tiny bathroom, but sadly the room is too small for me to photograph for you! [insert me gently weeping over here]

    congrats on another terrific presto!

  20. Connie says

    I would absolutely change the toilet, sink and light fixture. I would also look at facing the front of the gold tub with white beadboard with a top molding coming up to 2″ from the top of the tub. Seal the top of the molding with paintable acrylic caulk so water can’t get behind it.

    The new, more efficient toilet would signal to the prospective buyer that this was a room that would not need immediate renovation. Always a plus!

    All your ideas are great, Layla. As usual your instincts are right on… let the gold color be the supporting cast, not the diva!

  21. says

    Nice job! I’m so glad you selected a little bathroom for this post. So many of us have them. I love the split curtain idea and can’t wait to see what you and Kevin have done in your master bath.

  22. Kim in MD says

    I love Pick My Presto! You have completely changed the look and feel of this bathroom with paint and fabric…love it! The additional changes, if money allows, are stunning! You are so incredibly talented, Layla!

  23. Amy S says

    I love everything you do… I have a question about dark baseboards/doors etc. Our home was built in 1905…lots of charm however all the woodworking is dark. I really do not want to paint it since I think it adds to the character of the home. However, it is so hard to find color schemes to work with dark wood since the look is lighter… hope that makes sense?? Do you have any suggestions of places i can look for inspiration? Thanks so much… Again, love everything you do!!!

    • Layla says

      Hi Amy! I’m a “Googler” when it comes to searching for inspiration, but I know a lot of folks like looking on Pinterest.com, too. I think light walls/dark molding is a lovely combination! :-)

  24. says

    Very, very nice! I’m thinking that it probably won’t be long and Harvest Gold will be all the rage, again. I’ve read that green is the new neutral and that’s a throwback from the 80’s, too!

  25. Melinda says

    Another wonderful job! I love that you were able to take what could be deemed such a negative in that space and turn it positively right side up. With today’s economy as it is I am sure there are many out there who would like to update but just can’t afford an entire renovation. You have given some great inspiration here! Thanks for your great work : )

  26. says

    Looks great!! Finding a toilet and sink on the cheap is a great idea if it’s in the budget. I’ve had sinks resurfaced in a different color so I bet the tub could be done eventually to match too. I think it’s like an epoxy spray treatment. Depends how far they’d want to take it:)

  27. Nicki says

    Layla! This is wonderful! Oh, if only I had this kind of inspiration years ago, I would not have had to live with the “harvest gold thorn in my side” for so long. I have 4 bathrooms to decorate in my new home and this definitely gave me inspiration for them too. Fortunately, I’m only dealing with white tubs, sinks, and toilets this time around!

    Thanks so much for doing this! My husband and I really enjoyed seeing it.

  28. Dana says

    I immediately thought of the fresh new color combo of grey and yellow. but I like what you did and it probably goes with the rest of their house better. And FYI: Potterybarn has some new woven pillow covers in a natural cotton and…. wait for it…. gold. So maybe it is coming back?

  29. says

    Layla- best Harvest Gold bathroom I have EVER seen- way to go girl. You made it look great. Who knew Harvest Gold could eer look good! Now that is true inspiration and designing with what you have got.

  30. says

    Layla, have you ever done a post on choosing “metals” for the home. Such as faucets, light fixtures, door knobs, cabinet knobs/pulls (kitchen and bathroom), closet door knobs… I am working on this in my house right now and am trying to wrap my head around how to make it all look cohesive yet not necessarily (but possibly) matchy-matchy. Would LOVE a post on this if you haven’t done one already!!

  31. sona says

    Just a thought. In years past we had lifted the shower curtain rod up high as you are suggesting. Since it was a shower that got used a lot, we found over time that the mold accumulated quicker in the closed in area. With the curtain at its normal position the humidity has more of an opportunity to escape. We had to return it to its normal position.

    • Layla says

      Good to know, Sona! I take lightning speed showers, but Kevin lingers a little longer, so maybe we won’t put it all the way to the ceiling! :-)

  32. Roxanna says

    Oh my goodness……..who would ever thought harvest gold could look so amazing. Though when selling she may have to donate the pretties with the house but I think that would be a small compromise if it meant a buyer for the home. Great presto Layla!

  33. Joy Schneider says

    This is probably the coolest, most useful and practical makeover suggestion I have ever seen. Great job! It’s beautiful AND attainable. It gives me ideas for how to work around areas in my home that I can’t afford to gut and redo yet. Thank you so much. :)

  34. [email protected] says

    Just wanted you to kow that I was struggling with a limited budget and harvest gold fixtures. Your ideas were terrific, and I think I will now be able to live with my bathroom (I live in Oakville ont.) My first effort on this bathroom was wallpaper with the harvest gold in it. I never liked it. I liked your idea for the shower curtain and open shelf espeically thanks again

  35. says

    My home was built in the 70’s and the “IN” thing to use were colored fixtures for bathrooms. Needless to say, my main bathroom has harvest gold ceramic tile floor, ceramic tile walls around tub, toilet and 2 sinks. At the time it looked great but is a little outdated now. With so much harvest gold, what color should the walls be painted? I like your idea of using light blue as an accent color. I need advice ASAP, because we will be changing the looks of this bathroom soon. Many thanks for your advice.

  36. amanda nighbert says

    I love this remodel! And I love the mirror even more! Where did you get it or who makes it? Finding long mirrors has turned out to be very difficult! Thanks in advance!

  37. Alison says

    My hat is off to you. Look at a LOT of harvest gold bathroom and your idea was the only good one I saw. The wall paint color really toned down the fixtures. Brilliant!

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