Easy and Elegant Life

The Search for Everyday Elegance and the Art of Living Well.

Train of Thought

How is it that the smallest room on the ground floor is the one that is giving me the most fits these days?

I can’t stand the half-bath, or powder room or whatever you call it. At the moment it is pale green (sort of celadon) with chrome fixtures and a towel rack/shelf that is based on a train thing. There are two Erté prints on the wall and a pair of frosted glass sconces at the sides of the silver painted oval mirror. There is also a towel ring that is a duller finished metal that doesn’t match much of anything, but it was so neat looking and on sale that I bought it. The floor is improperly stained hardwood.


What I really want to do is this.


Subtly uplit behind mahogany door panels to mimic the windows in the hallway or the cabins.


Perhaps with a pulldown shade to really go all out.

(Image: TheInspiredRoom)



But I doubt it will actually ever happen. So I’ve put it up here. Just to get it off my chest. Thanks for your indulgence. I’ll just keep this on continual loop instead.

10 thoughts on “Train of Thought

  1. When I was in college, I was faced with the same problem. My student room in a big Victorian house still had its original mahogany woodwork, a fireplace with blue-& white Aesthetic Period tiles & a stained glass window, but the main bathroom was upstairs, so the landlord had squeezed a tiny half-bath into part of an old butler’s panrtry. Unfortunately, although he kept the room’s high ceilings, he lined the room with sheetrock painted shiny Jetson’s Blue and & installed a flimsy Masonite vanity faced with sparkly gold laminate. I couldn’t afford much much of anything but but paint, but I had just seen Murder on the Orient Express, so I covered the cheesy vanity and the toilet’s tank with mahogany-pattern Contac paper & I grain-painted the walls to match, with the addition of some Art Deco marquetry designs.

    I had also just seen photos of the interior of Adolph Loos’ American Bar, where a tiny space was made to look as though it went on forever by Loos’ clever placement of mirrors on the walls just below the ceiling, so I bought some cheap door mirrors at K-Mart and did the same thing, after I had etched the glass with the same Art Deco designs I had stenciled on the walls below. I replaced the junky chrome towel bars with some vintage nickel-plated ones from the Salvation Army–this was in the early 70s, when such things were routinely scrapped rather than sold for big bucks at architectural antique stores–and managed to turn the place into a pretty good imitation of the real thing. And here’s the key to successful low-budget fakery: until you can afford to furnish the whole place with the good stuff the good stuff, spend the money on those things people actually touch, and fake the rest: in this case, that meant the towel bars & some solid bronze doorknobs. But once those things are in place, people naturally assume the other, out-of-reach stuff is real, too, which gives you time to either A) save up for the real thing at a pricey shop, or, better yet, B) find it for next to nothing at a yard sale where someone who thinks he’s ‘upgrading’ his home is actually trading old-but-good for new-but-cheap.

  2. Oh I love those images of deluxe vintage trains…and those spectacular Lalique panels. I am reminded of the the film, “Murder on the Orient Express,” and those chic characters ensconced in their luxurious little cabinets of rooms, sipping drinks presented on silver trays, as the train chugs through the snowy Balkans. What a way to go! Wonderful inspiration and proof that one doesn’t need McMansion size rooms to be luxurious and stylish!
    Square with Flair

  3. Years ago I travelled to Florida on an overnight train. When I boarded in Washington, D.C., the porter looked at me with a very funny expression. When I asked for the second seating at dinner, he burst out laughing. Things, apparently, had changed since the golden days of travel. I was the only person aboard (aside from crew) in a coat, tie and hat. And the dining car was more cafeteria than dining room. It was a good thing that I packed a flask of brandy as the wine list wasn’t up to snuff either.

  4. I don’t take the train frequently, but it is a nice way to travel. In Europe they still have wonderful dining cars, and it is so much fun to enjoy a meal in this way. Here in North America, I bring a wonderful book, classical music on iPod, chilled mini bottle of wine, and chicken or smoked salmon sandwiches. Then I can easily recall the golden age of travel….
    Square with Flair

  5. My husband and I took Canada Rail across Canada, from New Brunswick through the Rockies (with windows open and our heads hanging out), ending up somewhere near Emerald Lake and then Victoria Island (the Empress Hotel). Prior to boarding the train we traveled the Maritime Provinces, PEI being our favorite, and also toured Quebec. It was a lovely train, still very civilized (this was 1981), very nice sleeping compartment, although bunk beds on your honeymoon is not really ideal. It was a real adventure (the train trip, I mean). I don’t know if it is still running or if it is still as nice–but it is a wonderful memory.

    As children, my mother took the four of us to Pennsylvania every summer on the train to visit her parents. It was lovely, my father always reserved a sleeping car for us, and we were never allowed in the Pullman car, as it was for men, smoking, and the bar. I remember walking from car to car, seeing the light between the cars, and it was scary. I worried they would become separated. We peeked in the Pullman car, because it was forbidden. The porters were excellent, we sat at tables with linen and hotel silver, and to this day I love the click-click . . . click click sound of a train rolling on the tracks. I went to sleep to that sound every summer for a long time. Everything seemed so much simpler then. It wasn’t all about glamour, but it was dignified, civilized, an affordable way to travel, and people behaved so well. No on imposed anything on everyone else in the train car (i.e., music, foul language, vulgar magazines, or sloppy dress). People dressed properly and modestly, knew manners, and paid their own way–the most elegant trait of all.

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