1956: A Good Year for Pink Bathrooms

by hookedonhouses on August 25, 2008

This is the title page from my 1956 edition of the Better Homes and Gardens Decorating Book I’ve shown photos from before (we looked at some ’50s kitchens and living rooms). I love the retro stuff. Today we’re taking a gander at the bathrooms, which will explain a lot of things–such as why many of us have lived in houses with pink tile at one point or another.

One thing I found interesting was that bathrooms were categorized in a catch-all chapter called “Other Rooms.” This would never happen today, when entire books about bathrooms fill the shelves of the local Barnes & Noble.

Bathroom Color Scheme Stems from Summertime Garden Colors” reads the copy for the picture below. Check out the freestanding towel rack and the built-in planter that runs the length of the window. Fancy!

“The Tiniest Bathroom Can Have Convenience, Style,” according to the following page in the book. “You can plan for efficiency and comfort here just as in a larger room. Your bathroom should be easy to keep clean, arranged conveniently for the whole family, well lighted–and it can be pretty, too!”

Interesting how they seem to assume your family will be sharing the one bathroom. At the time, they probably did!

This bathroom features a pink ceiling and a “practical window treatment,” but–despite the shower curtain– no showerhead that I can see.

According to the copy: “The wall covering sets the decorating theme. White in the pattern and the curtains teams with the white fixtures. There is good mirror lighting.”

Where do you suppose that “good mirror lighting” is, exactly? Underneath that little ruffle of fabric?

Venetian blinds in pale pink give light and privacy control, blend with the wallcovering pattern, and are simple to care for,” the book says about the next bathroom.

“Colored fixtures and tile set the theme here, with the bright red accent of the wallcovering design repeated in towels and the bath mat.” In the 1950s, pink went with anything! It was treated like a neutral.

“How Does Your Bathroom Rate for Beauty and Convenience?” Is it as beautiful and convenient as the one below?

“Mirrored wall seems to triple the size of this small bath. Twin bowls are spaced apart so that two people can use them and not get in each other’s way.”

This was a pretty progressive bathroom to feature two sinks back in ’56. The cabinets look pretty modern, too.

I had a pink-tiled bathroom in the house I grew up in so I’d probably feel right at home in any of these. I even stood on my share of furry, fuzzy bathmats like the one above. How about you? Raise your hand if you had fur-covered toilets, too!

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maya August 25, 2008 at 7:16 am

we totally had fur-covered toilets. ugh.

i love when you show us these retro rooms!

the bath curtain, in my opinion, is so that the bather can have some privacy – as can the person entering to use the restroom. when there’s only one bathroom in the house, you gotta do what you gotta do.

erm.

Melanie August 25, 2008 at 7:28 am

Yikes…sometimes 2 1/2 baths are not enough in our current house! With kids I can’t imagine only having one. (although we did only have one) and it totally had the furry toliet seat covers which my grandpa HATED!!

marie August 25, 2008 at 7:30 am

I don’t remember my mother ever having a fur covered toilet. WHEW.

She DOES have a very seafoamy Florida shade of green tiles in her 1950′s bathroom. Of which she has matched to her pink painted walls at one time. Yes. Pink and seafoam green. hee hee The walls are now a crisp white, but not too far below the surface lies a pink paint dying to come out.

Marie August 25, 2008 at 7:57 am

My grandmother lived in a brick ranch house that was built in the 1950′s. Brick houses always look so well-manicured! The house had a very sweet pink bathroom, with pink sink, tub, toilet, and pink tiles around the tub. My grandmother kept her bathroom immaculate, so I always have pleasant thoughts about pink bathrooms from the 1950′s. In fact, I almost bought a 1950′s brick ranch house 10 years ago. It had been owned by an older couple, and it was straight out of a 1950′s Better Homes magazine, with all the neat built-ins that were so popular back then. It really brought to mind my grandmother’s house. Of course, the lure was the beautiful pink bathroom in pristine condition!

Bella August 25, 2008 at 8:16 am
Sherry August 25, 2008 at 8:19 am

I did link to you…I hope that was okay?? I’m very new to this blogging thing but am getting addicted quickly! I love your site and so does everyone else that has seen it from my blog. I laughed out loud (hard) when I went through your “check list”. Good Job!

rue August 25, 2008 at 8:20 am

Good morning Julia :)

My grandparnts had a bathroom with pink tile and yellow accents. I still love that bathroom! We never had the toilet seat cover or just one bathroom, but Rich only had one in his childhood home. I always ask what happened if everyone got stomach flu at the same time. He never knows what to say to that LOL

rue

Angela August 25, 2008 at 8:24 am

Juliet just walked in and saw these photos and said, “OOOOH! That is so preeeety!”

I was so disappointed when the first 1956 house we bought had a beige-tiled bathroom. I had hoped for pink. The currently ’56 house we own has a sage-tiled bathroom. Pink, again, would have been nice!

As always, fun post!

Rhoda August 25, 2008 at 8:45 am

Since I was born in 1956, this one really caught my eye, LOL! Those were fun to look at. We had pink tile in our 1964 house and that was my mine & my sister’s bathroom growing up. They loved those wild colors back then. Yes, on the fur covered toilets….had that too.

Rhoda

sandra/tx August 25, 2008 at 8:55 am

Thanks for the fun post, Julia. I’ve never had a pink bathroom, but I enjoyed seeing these.

REAGAN August 25, 2008 at 9:08 am

I know someone who’s bathroom looks EXACTLY like that second photo. Instead of removing all the wall tile and tearing out the sink, she painted the walls a dark gray and put some fun pink, black and gray decorations in there. It’s really cute. It’s also the main bathroom that guests use :)

Jen R August 25, 2008 at 9:29 am

My grandmother had a bathroom just like that fur germ catcher and all!! We had mirrored walls, but they were mixed with ORANGE SHAG carpet tiles instead….. :)

Nikki~ The Scarlett Rose Garden August 25, 2008 at 9:30 am

Ah, I was just at our friend’s home yesterday and they have a lovely pink and black tiled vintage bath. I don’t think they appreciate it tho and I dread the day they might rip it out.

Ew, I loath pink with RED. Take down that towel, lol! The commentary on this pics from the book are halarious!

livinglocurto August 25, 2008 at 9:37 am

My grandma’s bathroom is still like this, but blue! I have a few friends with old houses that have pink tile. They hate it, but I love it. Retro is so fun.

Ms.Tee August 25, 2008 at 9:52 am

The house I grew up in had pink tile bathrooms. The wallpaper in these little bathrooms was very interesting, to say the least. :)

mom in high heels August 25, 2008 at 10:18 am

The house my dad grew up in apparently had pink tile at one time. At some point in the early 70′s they decided to put avacado linolium over the pink tile on the floor. Yikes! My dad bought the house after my grandparents passed away in the mid-90′s and we ripped up the avacado (!) linolium and found the pink tile. My dad had forgotten it was there. I tried to convince him to keep it, but sadly he would not.
The original house, when my dad was a kid, was a whopping 900 sqft and the only bath was about 6×7. There were 7 kids plus my grandparents. That’s 9 people in 900 sqft and one bathroom. Can you imagine?

Lynn August 25, 2008 at 11:18 am

Forget the color. Give me a bath that has all those mirrors and space. I Love the one with the place to sit and do your makeup. My dream house has a big master bath.

Beth August 25, 2008 at 11:20 am

My husband and I bought a ’57 ranch a few years ago with two bathrooms – one floor to ceiling pink and the other green (including toilet, tub, and sink, with the countertop and cabinets made from the same Formica). I would have tried to preserve the tile on the floors or walls, but the inspector recommended that we rip everything down to the studs due to a lot of rust and mold. I’ll have to send you pictures sometime, as it was quite a transformation!

When we bought the house, I was so curious as to WHY anyone would want THAT much of one color (I like green, but seriously!). I did a little Googl-ing, and read that so many bathrooms in the ’50s were pink because everyone was inspired by Mamie Eisenhower’s pink dress at her husband’s inauguration. I can’t imagine a First Lady’s wardrobe inspiring my decorating, but they didn’t have HGTV in the 50s!

Shane August 25, 2008 at 12:19 pm

My grandmother STILL has her pink bathtub, toilet, sink and tile vanity! She wouldn’t have it any other way.

Amy August 25, 2008 at 12:42 pm

I once rented an old rancher with yellow tiles which can actually be kind of nice. It’s not my first choice but I think it’s *way* better than pink. Pink is very far down my list as far as color choices go. Maybe if I didn’t have three girls and an abundance of pink paint (in their room) and lots of pink clothing everywhere I’d change my mind. :)

Aubrey August 25, 2008 at 2:32 pm

How manly. Men then must have been very secure in their manhood.
This explains my Grandma’s pink kitchen, complete with pink appliances and pink sink.
Her bathroom is aqua.

Aubrey August 25, 2008 at 2:32 pm

Or rather, sea foam, I meant.

drcorner August 25, 2008 at 3:27 pm

Retro is retro, it’s either hit or miss. Sometime the styles of yesteryear mesh well with modern greatness, other times it makes want to run for the…well, you get the idea.

This is the latter. I mean, WOW! is that horrible…but you know what the funny and best part is? 64 years from now, our styles will be looked as puke-worthy.

Ahh…retro…. :lol:

Laura @ the shorehouse. August 25, 2008 at 6:45 pm

Oh. Yeah.

Where, oh where, do I get me some of that teal horse drawn carriage wallpaper?!

These pics are SO fun!

Melissa Lewis - Off The Wall August 25, 2008 at 8:59 pm

Wow, that is definitely pink alright I would so love to havea that book:)

maleesha August 25, 2008 at 10:14 pm

Awesome post! Saw you on the front page of WP. I appreciated it because my mom’s bathroom still has a lot of these pink highlights. When she moved in, it had a pink tub, sink and toilet. Where in the world can you find a pink toilet?!?! Her house was built in 1954.

Linda B August 26, 2008 at 7:04 am

Yep…certainly was some fur, plus the little rug that fit so neatly around the toilet. Ack! And I had brothers!!

Pink power!! Right from the source. Next you could do a lively segment on Harvest gold bath fixtures of the 70′s…YeeeHaw!!

janet August 26, 2008 at 7:59 am

Julia,

Aanyone who reads my blog knows about my spinach vomit/avocado bath now fresh and crisp in white wainscot (which will no doubt be just as dated at some point). Going thru my FIL’s stuff and I came across notes for the building of their 900S.F. ranch, built in 1957. They paid $60. extra for the mint green and black fixtures and tile in the bath!! They also paid $3. extra for the black “iron” hinges on the kitchen cabinets.

Most of us “mature” women who grew up in the 50s and particularly in frugal New England never knew anyone who had more than one bathroom. A Powder Room put you right up there with the Rockefellers ( another 50s reference you don’t hear today)!

Janet

Brandee August 26, 2008 at 10:32 am

I love that pink and orange together. Looks like a lollipop.

Billy August 26, 2008 at 4:11 pm

My Grandmother’s house had the mid pink and dark pink tiles with mid gray fixtures, and pink angle fish wallpaper. The tile and fixture color combo came from her sisters Packard Caribbean. The master bath was turquoise and gray. The third was yellow with ivy green fixtures for my redheaded mother. It shows that her second husband owned a plumbing supply biz. Sadly the housed was raised for a cross-county freeway in the late 80s.

courtney @ nesting instincts August 26, 2008 at 4:24 pm

Okay, my parents STILL have a pink-tiled bathroom…and it’s their master bathroom, no less. Let me tell you, I’ve had a few opinions on that bathroom over the years. :-) There’s just nothing you can do with pink tile!

Btw I’m Baa-aack and have so missed reading your blog. Must go catch up now!!

Kathy August 27, 2008 at 8:55 am

I can tell you why pink bathrooms were so popular in the ’50s! Mamie Eisenhower wore a pink gown to the Inaugural Ball in 1952, setting off an obsession with pink in fabrics, clothing, and, you guessed it, bathroom tile.

I love the blog!

Tori August 27, 2008 at 2:49 pm

The first two are CRAZY! The third one is too, but I think
that the last two are cute in a retro way.

Denise Fontaine September 2, 2008 at 6:19 am

I live in a small Massachustts coastal cottage community and found an apt with pink and black tile..owner apologized for not ripping it out! Are you kidding?

Fifi Flowers September 7, 2008 at 1:10 am

WOW… please don’t let all that STYLE come back! LOL… WOW… I’m almost speechless!

TWB November 16, 2008 at 12:55 pm

The pink bathroom mania started in the 50′s with Mamie Eisenhower she re-decorated the private quarters in the White House in pink. The color became known as Mamie Pink or First Lady Pink.

Maureen November 19, 2008 at 10:25 pm

Hi! I popped over from Rhubarb’s blog! I had to come visit this post on pink bathrooms as I am just venturing into this arena myself: I am creating a 1940s influenced basement bathroom. Sadly (or perhaps not), it isn’t as influenced as I had hoped as I boycotted the console sink in favor of a vanity ( ~ storage is essential for children!). I am curious as to how it will turn out! The walls are now vintage pink! I’ll start showing photos of the reno soon! (I have also done research on 1940s decor. I found the above comment from TWB interesting. Perhaps I might persuade my dh that “if Eisenhower could live in pink, so can you!”

Janice December 25, 2008 at 9:25 pm

Whomever thought peptobismol pink bathrooms were the “bomb” was on crack. I swear, if I knew who the designer was of my decorating nightmare, I would put a flaming poo bag on his front porch tonight! What were they thinking!!!!

riley February 8, 2009 at 8:47 pm

No shower head, but yet a shower curtain. Common in the 50s. The house likely had only one bathroom. The shower curtain provided privacy if someone needed to use the toilet while you were bathing.

Shiner June 26, 2009 at 3:01 pm

My folks bought a new ranch-style house in 1957 and chose to have a pink bathroom. It blew me away, even back then! What’s more, my mother did the kitchen in pink and beige, so my Dad spray-painted our little Gibson refrigerator pink to match. It actually was quite adorable and was still running when my father gave it away in 1990. I’ve got an old ’50′s house trailer on my property with all turquoise fixtures, except for the toilet which was replaced with a dark beige model. I’m redecorating it to use as a guest house and would love to find a turquoise toilet to match the rest of the original plumbing fixtures.

Cale Herry September 7, 2009 at 7:44 am

Is anyone interested in purchasing a 1950′s tub, toilet and sink. I have two sets : One with a cast iron tub and one with just the sink and toilet. One set is pink and the other is yellow. I live in central New York state. Please contact me at cherry6150@juno.com
Thanks. Cale

ginny poladian February 19, 2010 at 11:56 pm

I am in Phoenix and own a 1952 ranchstyle home with the original light pink and cranberry tile in the hall bath. i ADORE IT! We are getting ready to re-do the sink toilet and tub etc. I am thinking of putting in pink toilet/tub/and sink into the antique buffet instead of white again. If anyone in Az is getting rid of pink or knows of anyone that is PLEASE let me know. I’ve found plenty.ALL ACROSS THE COUNTRY! Thanks

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