Is your bathroom in the pink? If so, consider yourself fortunate indeed! Vintage bathrooms often sported a wide array of colored bathroom fixtures. The adventure into color began in the 1920s. Changes in technology brought opportunities to experiment with glazes on porcelain fixtures. This facilitated a shift away from the white on white approach common during the Sanitary Movement that held sway during the early 1900s. Also, emerging technology brought changes to printing.
The ability to create beautiful color images brought a burst of color into print advertising reflected in the lovely ad posters often seen in the ‘20s.
Standard, Crane, Kohler, and other major manufacturers of porcelain bathroom fixtures started marketing suites of matching bathroom fixtures, each with their own color palette. During the 1920s, Standard offered such striking fixture colors as “Orchid of Vincennes” and “Royal Copenhagen Blue.”
This example of a pink bath is one of two bathrooms in the Gordon House designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Designed in 1956, and built in 1964, the Gordon House is located in Silverton, OR, at the Oregon Gardens. Photo by Jack Bookwalter
As competition among manufacturers played out, new colors were introduced over time. Even with the same manufacturer, colors and shades changed so it is often challenging to find matching salvage replacements. A common example might be toilet lids. Finding a replacement with the same shade of pink can be like finding the Holy Grail, so be gentle with those toilet lids.
During the 1950s, Mamie Eisenhower really brought pink into the nation’s fashion lexicon. Pink was her favorite color, and much of her wardrobe reflected her love of pink.
She also redecorated the White House in pink, which was not lost on marketers. Soon pink was everywhere, including bathrooms and kitchens.
In 1954, Kohler offered bathroom fixtures in such colors as “Spruce Green,” “Peach Blow,” “Sunrise,” “Argent,” and “Cerulean Blue.” Rooms were then painted in colors that would contrast with these fixtures, such as a deep blue tile to set off the “Peach Blow” or a deep green tile to set off the bright hue of the yellow “Sunrise” fixtures.
Those who either preferred white or could not afford the higher priced colored fixtures had options as well. They could still have a fashionable pink bathroom! The walls could be painted or tiled with beautiful colors. It is not uncommon to find pink tiles with black accents in Mid-Century Modern homes that still have intact historic bathrooms.
Fortunately, there are a large number of people who advocate for period bathrooms. One such group has a website that is totally devoted to pink bathrooms. As a matter of fact, it is called Save the Pink Bathrooms and is quite an interesting site to visit, www.savethepinkbathrooms.com. Another group, the Mid-Century Modern League, also celebrates the exuberant colors brought into the period bathroom, as can be seen on their website, www.mcmleague.org.
It is easy to think of bathrooms as boring rooms with white fixtures, white tile, and white towels. But for those of you lucky enough to still have your rocking vintage pink bathrooms, know that you have something very special, and celebrate starting your day “in the pink!”