Style Court

Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes 2006-2016


A Coat of Red

I think the charms of red sports cars and red lampshades have been fully explored, but has enough been said about red bathtubs?

Certainly they aren't for everyone or every bathroom. Once in a while though, in the right spot, red tubs add such flair.

The first non-decorator I knew who experimented with red was a friend from my High days, the talented Ellen. She and her husband bought a house in Atlanta's Grant Park, where many of the homes are at least a century old and sometimes still have original claw-foot bathtubs. In one of their bathrooms, Ellen kept things really simple but injected full-tilt flair by painting the exterior of an ancient tub red.

Unfortunately we can't find any old images of that bathroom but the look was similar to the interiors I've included above. Ellen used her own hands to get the job done and decided to hang a pretty chandelier. Otherwise though, the bathroom was quite understated. Now the couple is involved in their second home and another renovation. Going the adventurous route again, one tub was painted black.

She explains, "I painted the tub at our old house with some tub refinishing paint. It seemed to work very well, but it was not a tub that we used on a daily basis. This time around, someone else did it for us, but he used a spray refinishing product that can be purchased at home improvement stores. It left a nice, smooth finish and covered up all of the rust stains and yucky yellowing of the tub. For the outside, he used spray paint designed for metal surfaces in black."

(BTW: I love the hand towels Ellen embroidered for her guest bath. You can catch her now over at The Long Thread.)

Image one is a Harry look-a-like; Harry was Mrs. Blandings' dad's car.

Interior design in image two, Emma Jane Pilkington, as seen in House & Garden, January 2005; photo by Oberto Gili.

Image three is from Kathryn M. Ireland's Classic Country published by Gibbs Smith, 2007.

Image four is a Peter Dunham-designed bathroom. I know. Loads of Dunham lately but this was a perfect example


Pigtown-Design said...

Tell her that if there's a local salvage operation, she can probably find some there. Failing that, have her send me a photo of the foot/feet she does have and I will match them at our salvage yard.

Style Court said...

That's sweet of you Meg!

Mrs. Blandings said...

I don't think we are nearly Dunham-drenched yet, keep 'em coming. Great fun to see Harry's twin here. I'm on the look out for him all the time now. Love the idea of a red tub; as my big city friend is want to say, "why not?"

Pink Wallpaper said...

that is so crazy, i had a claw foot tub that my parents painted red w/ scalamandre wallpaper in my bathroom growing up...

Style Court said...

Pink -- do you have a picture?

Sounds amazing. No wonder you grew up to be a designer :)

Style Court said...

Patricia -- I feel like I know Harry. Have similar memories of a sports car myself.

Karena said...

I love red (I drive a red jeep) and as for the red bathtub, indeed why not?

Style Court said...

Love a red jeep Karena :)

[Tara] said...

Love the red tub -- I used to have an old claw-foot painted bright turquoise!

risters said...


Paul Pincus said...

i still think about that red kitchen you posted a few weeks ago. for some reason it made me question all the choices i had made for our home over the last few years!!! still not sure why?!

i love red...that gorgeous car is so right and the red claw-foot tub in the first image is incredible.

red is happy!

Style Court said...

Tara -- turquoise sounds fun!

Paul -- red is hard to resist!

Emily Amy Gallery said...

In my opinion, there can never be too much Peter Dunham...gorgeous bathroom.

china replacement said...

nice looking house... reminds me of the 60's.

thebubbreport said...

It's so strange; I was admiring one of my contact's clawfoot tubs on flickr today and found myself searching for a clawfoot tub group. There does not seem to be one, but I think it would be a good group! Then I read this post and thought "Courtney would have great images to add if this group existed!"

I'm obsessed with them. Mine came from Paris on Ponce (they often have several in stock) and is now refinished in black on the outside and white on the inside and outer lip.

That Mercedes is my ultimate dream car. It is SO classic and beautiful!

Side Note: I used to only flip through the Atlanta InTown to look at real estate, now the first thing I look for is your column and then I look at real estate!

Style Court said...

Hi Becky, that's so nice to hear! I'm sure yours is stunning. Thanks also for letting us know about Paris on Ponce. Great tip. I'll keep my eye on Flickr :)

katiedid said...

I love a bit of red! Great pictures. HC had a bathroom on a post I saw today with with beautiful mosaic tile and red pretty!

Style Court said...

Katie -- I'll have to check it out. Thanks :)

Erin Sledd said...

I'm betting that Emma Jane Pilkington bedroom is from Ivanka Trump's flat. I remember seeing it in House and Garden and really coveting the dresser, the mother of pearl inlay is just so beautiful. It sent me on a hunt for similar pieces, and I found an ecommerce site, I think it's called Arabian Nights something, that ships inlay Syrian pieces, including some amazing folding chairs, from Canada. Wonderful accent pieces.

On the subject of red, I didn't use to like it in home decor, but these samples are great. ANd I'd take a red classic car like the one pictured any day!

Great post.

Style Court said...

hi Erin,

It is ivanka's :) in the sidebar there are links to past posts --maybe a source for the chest too.

UK Interior Designers said...

Red is so beautiful in interior design if it is not overdone. Just like is shown in these beautiful pictures you displayed above.
The red bath tub is amazing!
I think i will purchase one for the new house we are moving into in California!
I think it adds plenty to a plain bathroom.
Or even a color-monotone bathroom. It would spice it up!
Also i loved the Car. It is stunning!

Thank you for posting!

Style Court said...

Hi Charlotte -- thanks for stopping by. A red tub would be a fun change in a new home :) It would as you said spice up a plain bathroom!