Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Monthly Mid-Century Makeover

Now that the weather is getting cooler you may find the idea of a nice hot bath very appealing, so I decided to focus on bathrooms this month. Bathrooms have always been pretty basic, and the design of them haven't changed too much, compared to other rooms, but we can still have fun with them!

Luxury vs Function

The first thing to decide is what you want to get out of your bathroom, aside from the obvious. Do you want something very basic that functions well and allows you to quickly get ready for your day? Or would you rather have a luxurious bathroom, a place to pamper yourself for hours? This decision will allow you to allocate your money appropriately to ensure you get what want. If you have your eye on that extra deep, jetted bathtub, you may want to skip the designer paint colors and save some money.

       Pink luxury bathroom by American Standard 1956       

Basic functional bathroom showcasing Briggs' new color "Coral" 1954


When doing a full house 1950s makeover, the bathroom is one place where the color does not have to tie in with the rest of the house. Pink, or some variation of it, was by far the most popular bathroom color in the 1950s, but it wasn't the only one. Yellow, green, light blue, and white were all popular colors. If you're lucky enough to already have a vintage fixture in your bathroom, such as a sink or tub, that you plan on keeping you may want to base your color scheme around it. Mixing and matching an array of colors was also quite popular. There are no rules when it comes to the bathroom, so have fun with it!

Yellow and black bathroom with green and pink accents 1955

Tiles and Flooring

Like most other rooms in the common Mid Century home, bathroom flooring was often made of plastic or vinyl. It was also quite popular to carpet the bathroom, however I don't recommend it for obvious reasons. To make bathrooms easier to clean, the walls were often tiled or covered in plastic sheeting, not unlike our showers are today. The only difference is they would put up plastic walls or tiles on the entire bathroom. This would make it easy for housewives to spray and wipe clean all bathroom surfaces, including the walls. I personally prefer tiling bathroom walls, but it can be quite pricey depending on the tiles you choose.

I bet you didn't know that before Good Year was making tires for your car, they were making flooring like this in 1952

Pink luxury bathroom by Dow Plastics 1956

Marlite red plastic walls 1952

Easy clean functionality by Crane Plumbing 1958

Plumbing and Fixtures

Like I said earlier, if you're lucky enough to already have some vintage fixtures in your home, keep them! If not, do not fret, options are available to you. If you're planning on having white bathroom fixtures you should have no problems finding new items with a vintage look, such as pedestal sinks. However, if you want colored fixtures, your options will be slightly more limited, and quite a bit more expensive. If you want true vintage check out Ebay, you can usually find what you're looking for there. A word of caution about online shopping, bathroom fixtures listed on Ebay as "pink" are often more of a taupe/light brown color. Before shelling out thousands of dollars for shipping, send a paint sample to the seller to ensure the pink fixture is ACTUALLY pink. This can be true of all colors, but it seems to happen with pink the most. If you want to buy new products there are two companies I know about that sell fixtures in vintage colors, Gerber and Peerless. Unfortunately neither company sells tubs or showers, but if you do a little searching you can probably find a company that will refinish tubs in the color you want, such as the Fine Finish Shop in Lynn, MA.

Briggs' "Sandstone" colored fixtures 1952

Pink Kohler fixtures 1952

White Universal Rundle fixtures 1955

Current available colors from Gerber

Current available colors from Peerless

Faucets and Decor

Since the retro look has been gaining popularity over the past few years, some really fantastic products have become available for your renovation needs. New Retro Bath has an absolutely AMAZING selection of faucets, shower heads, lighting, and more, in an array of vintage styles. If you're renovating your kid's bathroom, or you want to go with something really fun for your own bathroom consider these shower control valves.

Bel Air water flow control valve

Bel Air water flow control valve

Bring the look together with one of these super cute matching sink faucets!

Bel Air water flow control valve

Bel Air water flow control valve

If you're looking for something a little more classic, and perhaps a little less expensive, you can find some pretty nice vintage looking faucets at your local hardware store, and of course Ebay is a good resource for this as well. If you have chosen a more luxurious look for your bathroom, you may want to skip the pedestal sink and go for a nice vintage vanity. That may not seem so luxurious, but in the 50s it was not too common to have a large vanity in your bathroom, it was much more common for a lady to have a small vanity on her side of the bedroom to do her hair and make up. Mid Century homes were almost always built with only one bathroom, even if they had 4 bedrooms, and everyone had to learn to share, so mom could not be occupying the bathroom just to put on her face. Now all that's left to do is hang some colorful towels!

Cannon towels 1956

Cannon towels 1955

Lavanette Beauty Queen vanity 1952

Eljer plumbing fixtures 1956

Well there you have it! All you have to do now is close the door and you're ready to pamper yourself, 50s style!


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