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Period in Pink – Preserving America’s Pink Bathrooms

Pink Bathroom
Image Credit: Scott Sidler

The pink bathroom. Depending on who you ask, they are either hideous or treasured. More often than not, I run into people whose first response is to see it as a wretched hold over from a very confused period of American decor.

From its rise during the Art Deco period of the 1930’s to its demise in the 1960’s, the pink bathroom (and its other pastel colored brethren) were the height of design. They were a fun and colorful departure from the sanitary white bathrooms that swept across America during the sanitary craze of the early 20th century.

Just For Girls?

According to SaveThePinkBathrooms.com, at the height of its popularity there were over 50 million pink bathrooms installed between 1946 and 1966. Pink was not always a girl’s color. It wasn’t until the our recent history that blue was for boys and pink was for girls.

The bottom line: Real men can have a pink bathroom. It was the exuberance of it’s day that brought these bold colors into what had historically been a simple and utilitarian room. Chartruese, powder blue, vivid green, these were all an expression of the bright future America saw for itself after the end of WWII.

Bathrooms have always expressed our national mood. Is it any wonder that bathroom colors moved to browns, taupes and more muted colors beginning in the turbulent 1960’s and depressing economic times of the 1970’s. Then in the prosperous 1980’s everything was bright brass and gold to symbolize the influx of money and opportunity again.

Help for the Pink Bathroom Owner

You’re not alone! There are others. In my opinion, the only way to make a pink bathroom work today is to go full retro with your design. Commit to it and make it feel like you are stepping back into the past when you enter the room.

“Embrace your pink bathroom! You’re the only hope it has.” Click to Tweet This

There are lots of resources out there to help you design and decorate your pink bathroom but one of the best is Pam Kueber’s RetroRenovation.com. She has ton’s of ideas for mid-century houses and pink bathrooms. (Savethepinkbathrooms.com is also her site) When it comes to mid-century, Pam’s the lady in charge!

To find some of the really hard to find retro tile colors and patterns in pink bathrooms there is a little store in Springfield, NJ (don’t worry, they ship to you) called World of Tile. They have a huge selection of close-out tile left over from the 50’s and 60’s that never sold. It’s all there just waiting to patch your pink bathroom walls and floors. Update 11/29/15: World of Tile has sadly closed their doors.

I have purchased from them a few times and they are the best at helping you find what you need. Talking to them was like having my own private retro tile guru.

The pink bathroom, just like any part of an old house is a part of our history. It’s part of our story as a country. The story of a time when the only future was a bright one. In times like today, the pink bathroom and what is stands for appeals to me more than ever.

What do you love most about your pink bathroom? Tell me in the comments below!


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6 thoughts on “Period in Pink – Preserving America’s Pink Bathrooms

  1. I live at my childhood home with my boyfriend and we have a pink bathroom! I know my house is close to 100 years old, and I love having the everything pink and blue bathroom. The flooring is a deep blue tile and the sink, walls, and bath tub is a pepto pink. I appreciate this article!

  2. Nice NJ dig there buddy. Some of your best friends (me) are from there…tread gingerly. And…nothing screams “I’m indifferent concerning our country’s future!” quite like the monochromatic grays and browns in bathrooms today. Love your work bro…keep it up. jvr

  3. Great article with a lot of good inspiration and resources! When my husband and I were looking at buying our home, we were drawn to the original subway tiles. I was not excited that the tiles were pink at first. But after we gave it a good cleaning, removed the iridescent pink wallpaper, removed the oversized pink vanity and replaced it with period appropriate fixtures, it was like a brand new bathroom. It is unique and has stood the test of time. It’s kind of like a time capsule. I also love the seafoam green and black tile borders. My pink bathroom is safe as long as I live in my home!

  4. Personally, I hope to find a home with an intact pink bathroom! My husband has never minded pink, &actually has a certain fondness for it!
    I love Pam’s site! I discovered your site & hers around the same time. I adore older homes,& as we plan on purchasing our first home within this next year, between your site and hers, I feel grateful for all the information &resources you both provide. Although your blogs take different approaches, the passion & love you both have for homes is almost palpable.

    Now, I wonder if there’s a Craftsman out there for me with an art deco pink bathroom that wouldn’t clash too horribly in styles? My dream is to find a Craftsman I can restore, or “retrorenovate”. If a Craftsman’s not to be, I will never purchase a new(er) house. There are so many beautiful older houses which need saving.(Nicole Curtis is one of my heroes)
    Oh how I dream of *real* plaster,& unique discoveries such as ship-lap!
    My love(obsession? Lol) with older homes goes all the way back to childhood.

    Thank you for your blog. You’ve taught, & inspired me so very much. I’ve been quietly reading for awhile now, & it’s high time to thank you. My journal is filled with terms, techniques, etc. learned from you.

    Please excuse my wordiness,& going off-topic. I hope you have a lovely day!

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