After the big move to the country, as I was unpacking my towels, I experienced a bit of a life-flashing-before-my-eyes moment, as each towel colour seemed to hold an association to a specific period in my life.
I guess the fact that I bought my bathroom towels in batches to coordinate with my decor each time I moved might have had something to do with it.
When I first moved out on my own, my bathroom (actually, my whole apartment) was decorated around basic black and white neutrals with red accents. It was easy, it was inexpensive (luckily, budget-friendly flat-pack furniture often came in either black or white), and it looked deliberate and pretty well put-together.
My linen closet was stocked with a first purchase of black towels. I enjoyed them because they were very low maintenance in the sense that they rarely needed special treatment. To me, they never showed stains the way a lighter colour might.
The only issue I had was the dust and the lint that they produced when they were brand new, despite several washings.
I found myself cleaning the pale bathroom floor more often than I would have liked simply because of the little black fibers and spots of lint that littered the floor. It only took a couple of days for the bathroom floor to look like it hadn’t been cleaned in weeks. This was more than the Type-A part of me could tolerate.
In an effort to prevent the embarrassment that could ensue should unexpected guests drop by, “spot-cleaning the bathroom” became the newest entry in my housekeeping lexicon and soon became a fixture in my cleaning routine.
Over time, the towels did eventually stop shedding like a cat in spring, which meant I could resume a more normal cleaning routine.
When the towels started to show their age, I replaced them with more of the same, as they were easy care and, dare I say, brought a cool factor to my decor… at least in my mind they did. Just the same it surprised me that I endured the new towel shedding situation as long as I did.
It was only when I moved into my first house a decade later that I decided to look at new accessories that were less likely to leave tumbleweeds of dark lint.
With three bathrooms to decorate, each of which needed towels, I wasn’t interested in spot cleaning all of them every two days.
Inspired by the TV series “Trading Spaces”, I felt a new sense of creativity and freedom to try different looks. I could try different colour combinations for the different bathrooms and see which ones appealed the most.
My ensuite bathroom was decorated in the cheerful colours of the Swedish flag, blue and gold, which was a striking and uplifting colour combination especially in the dark winter months. Unfortunately, I found out that royal blue towels could shed much like the black towels did. Fortunately, that was also a temporary condition that eventually sorted itself out.
Because the toilet, sink and tub in the main bathroom were a neutral beige, I decided to continue with that palette and decorated with towels and a shower curtain in tones of beige, sage and cream to maintain the calming look and feel. To my great delight, there was no excess lint to pick up… or if there was, it wasn’t nearly as visible.
Because my powder room was small, I thought that painting it a stark white would make it look bigger. I also went with mirrored accessories to keep with the idea of making the room feel bigger. White towels seemed like the logical complement which also offered me the opportunity to test my theory about light coloured towels showing dirt more easily.
In the years that followed, I found an increasing gravitational pull to the linen sections of department stores, especially at sale time, checking out the new releases in bathroom accessories. As towels started wearing out, I wasn’t replacing them with the same colours, I found myself swapping them out for trending colour combinations. When did I become such a fashion victim to home decor trends?
Around the same time, when I travelled, I couldn’t escape my fascination with fluffy white hotel towels and bath robes that always felt plushy and new. The faint aroma of bleach that seemed ever-present was both intoxicating and pleasing to my Type-A side. Plus given that most of my travels were for pleasure and for decompressing from work, I started to associate bleach-scented fluffy white towels with relaxation.
This heralded a new era for my bathroom decor, trying to capture the serenity of hotels and spas. Since I never really found truth to my theory that white towels got dirtier faster than other towels, I jumped on a great end-of-season sale on fluffy white towels for all three bathrooms, along with accessories in smooth shapes, synonymous with hotels, spas and relaxation… Hey, it was cheaper than therapy.
However that all changed when we moved to the country. Over time, the minerals from hard water can build up and leave yellow deposits on lighter coloured towels. We have found products that lessen or slow down the impact of the mineral deposits, but from everything I have read online, hard water stains seems inevitable. Plus I am always cautious when it comes to using chemical products that could upset the balance of our rural water.
When reconsidering our towel options, it struck me that in retirement, which is a fairly permanent escape from the stressful moments of the office, my towels didn’t need to be my security blanket of relaxation. Maybe it was time to return to the towel auditions and pick out some colours through which hard water deposits won’t show.
My partner went shopping for towels and returned with a beautiful set of navy blue towels which were on sale. They were quickly incorporated into our collection and put into use immediately, to great anticipation.
The next day, my joy over the new towels turned to laughter as I went to clean the main bathroom to find fresh navy blue tumbleweeds of lint blowing across floor.
It was just like old times!
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