Skeletons From the (Water) Closet

Our new, bare-bones bathroom design
There are few things worse in interior design than a dim, outdated bathroom. Of the three we have at Better Farm, the older bathroom upstairs fit that description perfectly; with a toilet that only occasionally flushed, a dark design, and peeling flooring.

Let's take a closer look at where we started from.
In 2010, the walls were a hodge-podge of repairs, hippie cob, and outdated appliances: the cumulative efforts of 40 years' worth of people needing different things from the space.

The door to the bathroom,  along with all the other doors on the second floor, wasn't properly hung, didn't fit the door frame, and didn't exactly work with the existing hardware.

The linoleum on the floor was cracked and peeling from all sides, especially the doorway:

Something had to be done! I've learned in the last year to love white-on-white, and wanted to experiment with that upstairs. Check out some of these beautiful images I found:

Then Kristie Hayes-Beaulieu, one of our betterArts residents this summer, gave us one of her beautiful x-ray images from her gallery show in July. I decided to make the whole bathroom design work around this image, which lent itself nicely to the white decor. Luckily we also have amassed a large collection of skulls and bones from various adventures, feathers, and a few other oddities that when showcased together made the room a stark, skeletal exploration of the body (and a few branches and trees thrown in for good measure). Green initiatives employed:
  • Keeping our low-flow shower head that we installed last year
  • No-VOCs, eco-friendly Olympia paint (white eggshell)
  • Upcycling our interior design—saves us money, keeps items out of landfills (the only purchased items came from Craigslist, including the sink)
We were also able to secure free tongue-and-groove flooring that was someone else's excess, and caught a break on a bunch of perfectly good doors. With all these components in place, here's what we came up with:
Reclaimed shelving from Craiglist, cigar boxes, muskrat skeleton, and an unidentified animal skull adorn one section of the bathroom.
A sink and vanity off Craigslist, donated curtains, and upcycled mirror create a compelling white-on-white decor.
Found branches in a tall vase, old chair from inside the house, and donated hooks create a nice contrast to all the white.
A horse skull, found by Han Solo.
A row of x-ray images captures the eye.
From left to right: human torso, deer head, human ankle, dog head, human head, goldfish, human hand, chicken skull. All images were found online and printed at the farm.
Antique bottles add an apothecary vibe to the room.
Many thanks to the following volunteers for their help: Greg Basralian, Adam McBath, Elyna Grapstein, and Kevin Carr. Thanks to Kristen Caldwell for the shower and window curtains.

Got a great DIY design idea you'd like to share? E-mail us at

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.