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1950's Pink Bathroom Challenge

October 21, 2013
last modified: October 21, 2013
Calling all you design experts - here is a challenge that you cannot resist.

So we recently bought a 1950's cape style house with a pink bathroom.The general contractor recommends to keeps the bathtub as it is good quality cast Iron.Frankly speaking we cannot afford the bathroom renovation with all the other remodeling that we would need to do.So all we could potentially do is paint, perhaps remove the first line of pink tiles and update the shower.Also, we could potentially change the faucets in the basin but dont know if it is possible.We were told that painting on the bathtub would ruin it in couple of years
Is this a lost cause or do I still have a ray of hope.Help please!
Comments (64)
  • PRO
    Mitchell Channon Design
    I agree with the suggestions to keep the tile and tub and sink as they are. Rather than see them as dated take it as a challenge to change the walls and ceiling to "reframe" the pink and gray in a way that feels fresh and new. I disagree with painting the walls or trim white. That will only make the pink feel like a sore thumb. Instead try one of the following two strategies: 1. Paint window trim gray to match the gray tile. Paint the walls and ceiling in a slightly deeper shade of pink! (The more pink that you have the more it will be neutralized.) 2. Introduce two new bright colors other than pink and gray, one for the walls and another for the ceiling. I would suggest perhaps a lime green on the walls and a darker turquoise on the ceiling. 3. Pick a new very bold geometric wall covering that has pink plus the above colors. Summary: Don't try to make this bathroom like the clean crisp new bathroom that you'd probably like. Instead, go for fun, funky and charming. Good luck
    vasishome thanked Mitchell Channon Design
  • studio10001
    I think your bathroom is fab.
    Standard plumbing widths may have changed since your fixtures were installed, ( you look to have a 6" spread in the tub) so I would not try to fix anything that isn't broke. Likewise w renewing a piece or two of the matching porcelain, which suggests plumbing issues more than an update, to my mind.
    I agree w fresh paint, ( grey inner windows would look nice here) re-grouting everywhere, perhaps a new mirror, shower curtain, light fixtures and hex tiles ( a carpet design in hex would refocus attention off the porcelain).
    Whatever you decide, hope to see the results. Charming space- Good luck!
    vasishome thanked studio10001
  • PRO
    I like your classic 50s bathroom! I would paint the walls a light gray...perhaps try to match the tile on a color card and then go one or two shades up on the card. I wouldn't bother to change out fixtures as long as the existing ones are working OK.

    If the tile gets a bit much, put up a white shower curtain and leave it closed
    vasishome thanked Linda
  • setauketli
    I agree with studio10001. Regrouting can work wonders. The only tile I might consider changing is the floor tile. You could then use grey tile, which would decrease the pink influence on the bathroom. Change the shower head and hose. You might look into replacing the window sash with a frosted pane.

    My sister in law lived in a house with many 50's bathrooms in crazy color combinations like black and yellow. She completely changed the vibe of these BRs with paint/wallpaper and fabric only. She had fabric shower curtains made and fabric sink skirts and accessorized with complementary towels etc. This approach can work wonders.
    vasishome thanked setauketli
  • smdrovetto
    I like this room, too! I think it has possibilities!!
    I know it is a 50's bathroom, but I like Denita's example of the use of black, and Studio 10001's use of glass block, maybe giving it a bit of a deco feel.

    Looking at the room, you are lucky, if you inherited the pink, etc, it looks like it is all in excellent shape. It's bad when one fixture is a mess, then you have an expensive problem, mainly because, changing the tub would be costly.

    I think if there is a male involved, pink is not usually their favorite color, and black accents would go a long way in masculinizing, and just generally making the pink more palatable.

    I would paint the window trim black, or a brighter white, and instead of removing the wallpaper and painting, get some advice on MORE tile in black, and grey or white, and create a cool pattern (repeat or coordinate in a new floor) and put a large black trimmed medicine cabinet. I would be VERY careful about trying to remove old tile trim. If you crack the grey tile, then you could get into a mess trying to match it, etc.

    A black cabinet for the sink would look nice, but it looks like an odd size, which could get expensive if it required custom

    You may also be able to use half round trim around the tub etc, in black or black and white, right over the existing tile.

    I can't tell if the baseboard is part vinyl or tile, but that would look better in black.

    The toilet bothers me. It just feels if you could break up the pink there, between the sink and tub, it would look better. If you put in a sink cabinet it might be enough, but maybe you could find some funky black lucite lid and seat with some suspended fifties fish, or some fun pattern. If the tank and commode are two pieces, you could maybe replace the tank AND seat , but it is so stylized, I don't know.............probably not.

    Add a black and white shower curtain and I think it would look really pretty nice, and stylish with even a couple of the suggestions offered by contributors!

    If you have never been to a building salvage yard, I would highly recommend it. You can find brand new cabinets, vintage fixtures, etc, at a fraction of the cost of big stores.

    Good Luck! This could turn out to be a bit of a showpiece!!
    vasishome thanked smdrovetto
  • solincia
    Same as everyone else, your bathroom is a gem! Just change the wallpaper to paint an you're good to go!
    vasishome thanked solincia
  • Dar Eckert
    I had a similar bathroom and the tiles were set in a concrete base as were the wall tiles. Very big job to remove. So you may need to live with it all until you are ready to spend a lot of effort and time to remove. How about pairing it with charcoal gray? I see white walls & charcoal gray rugs & towels.

    We replaced the sink with a pedestal sink and have come to hate pedestal sinks ever since because there is no place to put the hairdryer or beauty products. Your sink looks like it has a little space for that stuff. I'd leave it all for now.
    vasishome thanked Dar Eckert
  • yoboseiyo
    get a heavy duty cleaner and clean the grout both walls and floor.
    it's already white, it's just grimy! water, baking soda, and some hpox or bleach.
    wear gloves and a mask if you're sensitive. scrub with a nylon brush. you may be suprized at how much better it looks with just a good scrub.

    what really bothers me is the wallpaper and the toilet seat being a different shade than the toilet.

    i'd put a black, grey, and pink skirt on the sink, so that you can store things under.
    and i'd paint that window sash out with either white or gloss black.
    vasishome thanked yoboseiyo
  • smdrovetto
    Hi Vasishome!

    I was enjoying myself playing with your great bathroom. I used black and white, grey, light, dark, etc. I used black trim, thick, thin, etc. Until I added MORE pink, like Mitchell Channon suggested, did the pink seem to calm down. I don't know what to do with the floor, and I changed the color of the toilet seat, but my funky little photoshop program doesn't to curves, so it looks a little odd. You would also have storage in a cabinet, since you dont really have any room for make-up etc when getting ready to to out.

    If you are painting a cabinet, you could adapt a pretty cheap one, and maybe find one with drawers, which are even handier.
    vasishome thanked smdrovetto
  • PRO
    Sustainable Dwellings
    OMG! I just flashed back to my childhood home! I love that pink! I wouldn't change it, just work around it and paint. Its so unique and absolutely charming! I would think about putting a skirt on the sink. Get a nice mirror, and "bling out" with some crazy lights..
  • smdrovetto
    Here it is"
    vasishome thanked smdrovetto
  • intoit
    I had that same bathroom with aqua fixtures and maroon tile. I went with the colors and since I did not have any cabinet I made a skirt for the sink and stashed baskets underneath for my toiletries. Amazing how many people told me they loved the bathroom...
    vasishome thanked intoit
  • Sandy Tom
    use matching or contrast or may be multicolor ruffle shower curtains
    vasishome thanked Sandy Tom
  • Dar Eckert
    After looking through the pink bathrooms on Houzz. I saw a few things that could work f or you like adding lilac to the walls to offset the pink or some darker grays such as in the wallpapers. The wallpapers are quite bold especially the stripe that they may draw your eyes away from the salmon color. Adding a third color through shower curtains, towels and rugs will tone down the salmon.

    Good luck.

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    vasishome thanked Dar Eckert
  • vasishome
    Thank you for all your suggestions and the encouragement.Love them all.Here is what I plan to do based on all your suggestion;

    1. Scrub the tiles and the bathtub to get a good shine on it

    2. Paint the walls:
    Thinking of Grey,Silver Grey, lilac - I dont know what will go the best with the tiles but I will work with the general contractor or that.I am not a big fan of white and I am a bit concerned that my husband's manliness might be get hurt if I make it all pink:).So some 'masculine' color is definitely needed.

    3. Window Frame:
    Paint the window frame with the same color as the wall and get a frosted glass pane

    5. Get a nice lighting along with a vent

    Anything else that you can think of ?
  • vasishome
    Also, what do you suggest ?

    Replace the Sink with a white pedestal one and have a mirror with a bigger cabinet on top
    Replace the toilet and surround the pink sink with painted cabinets(grey?)
  • vasishome
    Special thanks to Dan Eckert,smdrovetto,studio10001,Mitchell Channon Design,ASVInteriors ,Oure home - Loved loved loved the pics and the suggestions for save the pink bathroom blog

    Sandy - Not a big fan of ruffles but I appreciate the suggestion
  • tessaway
    Love it . Keep it all and make a feature of the colour. Only change taps if not functional. Towels and floor mats in white or a multi colour with the same pink in.
  • Dar Eckert
    Personally, I wouldn't replace the fixtures until I could replace all of them. At least you have a matched set now. If you decide to build an enclosure under the sink match it to the color of the wall or window trim. I don't think you need to enclose that space unless you need the storage space.
  • tessaway
    Could build in cabinet under sink to cover. Pipes etc. but not necessary.
  • motownmom
    You can find frosted window film that looks like frosted glass for the window. It's cheaper and easier than getting frosted glass. It just sticks to the window. I used it on my side door into my kitchen, you just need scissors.

    They sell it at Lowe's or Home Depot. I've also seen it at Joann's & Michael's craft stores.
  • yoboseiyo
    "Replace the Sink with a white pedestal one and have a mirror with a bigger cabinet on top
    Replace the toilet and surround the pink sink with painted cabinets(grey?)"

    leave the toilet unless it's leaking.
    build in a cabinet under the sink. and i love the paint idea from the photoshopping that smdrovetto did. so cute!

    those are my pie-in-the-sky dream ideas.
  • Nancy Travisinteriors
    Replace sink and toilet. Tub can stay there is a way to paint tile. Or remove pink from top replace with black. Buy white sink with vanity or a free standing. And new toilet . Not that expensive. Add a dark gray shower curtain to hid tub. I would not paint tub. Remove wall paper and paint walls a dove great. What's on floor. If you can't change add a room size peel and stick rug squares. In a gray and black pattern.
  • PRO
    Studio NOO Design
    Change only the tiles and add 1950's accent accessories, it will look fun !
  • Nancy Travisinteriors
    Fixtures like faucets and lights in brush nickel. Check Lowes for deals. Ck Craig's list. Toilets less than 150$. I'm sure yours is on its last legs.
  • PRO
    Cheryl Khan
    There's definitely a ray of hope! I can see sunshine! You have something very rare that is becoming hard to find. Instead of thinking of it as our "old" bathroom, think "Vintage!" Since a tub isn't in the budget, I'd leave it and add a modern update to the room. Keep the toilet but change out the sink for a modern vanity.

    As for the tiles, I would replace them something a little more non-imposing. This is so great. I was just talking w/ a friend about how rare the old-school pink toilets are becoming!

    There's even a movement to "Save the Pink Toilets." Here it may be something to look into. I think there's already over 1 Million people who have signed up. You could be next! ;) Here's the link:

  • hazeldazel
    what a cute bathroom! I would remove the flowery wallpaper and paint in a dark graphite color that has a slight tint of purple in it, for a modern and more masculine feel.
  • Christina
    We had the exact same sink, toilet and tub, only ours was a hideous peach, very different from your cute pink. Before re-grouting, as was suggested, try bleach. It won't hurt the tiles or the grout and it could save you a lot of money and hassle. That's what we did and it's perfect.

    Look around for vanity options, don't just get the typical cabinets because "that's what goes in a bathroom." Look into using a desk or slim, leggy chest of drawers as a vanity. Something that will compliment the 50s style.

    Either way, you don't want to hang onto that toilet, it's a water hog...our bill dropped by $10 a month when we replaced ours, and our water is cheap here.
  • Zohreh Alaghemand
    I lived in a huge bathroom with pink high quality items for 15 years. I just remodeled and so happy not to have pink around no matter what the current trend might be. You can totally refinish everything in a neutral color.
  • PRO
    I grew up with these style homes and love them! Keep the tub and wall tile it looks to be in wonderful shape and I personally like it. If you can swing it replace just the sink and toilet with white ones. Take down the wallpaper and paint a neutral. Maybe a gray like in the tile? I love the picture Denita posted. Go with the era and don't fight it. :)
  • rouxb
    Take the toilet tank top to a paint department to get a matched paint for a new toilet lid. Lots of how tos on line.
  • Miriam Weits
    remove tiles till the lowest pink line,the window level. Remove the wall paper as well. paint walls and window frame with dark grey. Cover the floot with venil ,wall to wall ,same coler as the wall.Put a new big size mirror, A bath-curtain,light & dark grey ,with lines wave whatever,pateren.Buy a fake cristal small chandelier.Now u can enjoy your pink bathroom.
  • Sally Wood

    Here in australia there are contractors that spray paint the tiles and bath etc. This is done with professional stuff, not sure what it is called. We did it with our old bath and it was very good. We had kids and never had any issue with it. Not sure if this is available outside aus but it is very budget friendly. You cant do the floor though, so this would nee another solution.
  • bellesum
    I can't tell from the small picture how well maintained the bathroom is and how the floral wallpaper fits in. But if it is in good shape, I would do minimal changes and allow the retro vibes to stay authentic. Perhaps just re-grouting to remove signs of decades of use and a fresh coat of paint following retro color scheme. I would also look into upgrading the parts if they consume too much water. More importantly, do check if such an old bathroom is water tight and is otherwise sound.
  • tinkerbot
    Having recently lost my pink bathroom due to a water leak I definitely suggest having a plumber come in and check all the pipes, joints, faucets, drains, and every part of the toilet! (The toilet killed us and the leak was completely undetectable until a water bubble appeared a wall on the floor BELOW the toilet....a solid plumbing inspection may have discovered it) See before and after picture.

    But keep what you can :) I think it's great! Replacing those tubs is difficult because of their size - anything "standard" now would be longer or shorter and not as deep. I fought to keep ours and am glad I did. Keep in mind that Habitat for Humanity Restore's often have an abundance of tiles and fixtures from all the unsaved tile bathrooms.

    These old tile bathrooms can so easily and so inexpensively be treated to a facelift, fresh paint, new shower curtain and trendy accents and they suddenly look like they belong in this decade.

    If you ever decide to take it down make sure you understand the difficulty of demolition. These old tiles are typically mud set - meaning from the inside to out the layers are something along the lines of 1" or 2" of mud, wire mesh, another 1" or so of mud and then tile. Our smaller bath took a full day of two guys doing demo. Just be ready for that.

    Good luck with whatever you decide and your new home!
  • savingtheoldhouse
    I also have a 1950's house with 2 bathrooms. One is pink ceramic tile and the other is pastel green ceramic tile. A house appraiser told me these bathrooms should be saved, as the material was usually top quality and installed better than modern bathrooms. They were meant to last for generations and so far, mine has survived nicely since 1954.
    I have had work done to update the plumbing, but still have the original fixtures, faucets, etc. There are Meyercord swan decals on the sliding shower doors!

    I also recommend a look at RetroRenovation and Save The Pink Bathrooms websites. There is a small group of people who do what is called "Time Capsule Homes" where everything possible is restored to the original date of the house. Some are them are actually registered as museums of renovated homes that are of historical value.

    If you do decide to tear out the pink bathroom, save whatever you can. There are people who are looking for, and hoping to find, these tiles and fixtures.

    My daughter recently drove from Pennsylvania to Atlanta, Ga. to buy an American Standard pink toilet and sink with the chrome fixtures. She said it was worth the trip to get them.

    Save your pink bathroom and make it beautiful with new wallpaper and other decor that will look great and cost less than tearing out what you already have...You will be glad you did.

    Best Wishes!
  • vasishome
    Thank you for all your wonderful comments and advice.It made a huge difference to our mindset and we were more positive and handling this make over.I feel like I owe you all the pictures of the outcome based on all your suggestions.Now I wanted to keep it minimalist so you wont find a lot of stuff in the bathroom but it is also cause it is not a huge room to begin with.Let me know what you think.Sorry for the delay but you must already know that these things take time.
    hought Id list the things we updated
    - Removed the wallpaper and paint the color Jute
    -Changed the faucets in the bathtub and shower
    -changed the sink faucet because I didnt like the ting ones from before and the ones we attached are the only ones in the market that will work but I like it
    -The mirror is a medicine cabinet so there is space
    -Change the toilet
    - Add curtain rods
    -Add glass shelf in the bathtub area
    -New light and exhaust fan with light
    -Added frosted screen to the window
    -And scrubbed the tiles clean:)

    Each and everyone of these is a suggestion from you all so thanks a lot:)
    PS -I have another design question but I will be create a separate thread for it.
  • Denita
    Very nice! Clean, open and well done :)
  • rouxb
    Nice and fresh!
  • PRO
    RWA Construction Services
    Thanks for the update.............I usually rip these out and start again
  • adivra
    So cute. You did a great job.
  • studio10001
    That somehow manages to be disconcertingly cold call pyramid scheme creepy, Evolve - and for absolutely free, you can look up and see what vasishome already did!
  • smdrovetto
    Thank you for sharing your "after" photos! We don't get them that often. Good job!
  • lwallaceinvegas

    I just had a similar challenge with regard to readying my parents midcentury home for resale. This is the "after" and the response was excellent. The house sold in one day.

  • sandiocd
    Vasishome that look great! Nice job.
  • baubry1

    I have a 1950 ranch with a bath that has blue tile with pink trim and pink mosaic tile floor. My sink is original American Standard but its white. We've replaced the toilet in white and replaced the sink handles. I found a company in California that sells the American Standard replicas of the vintage sink parts. I was thinking of a gut and reno but I really like the wall tiles, They are in excellent condition - so many great ideas here! Thanks for helping me appreciate the beauty in what I already have. Does anyone have experience with tile refinishing? Thinking of having the blue made white and keeping the pink trim and painting the walls charcoal or silver?

  • Fernanda Durand

    You can also change the toilet cover so that it matches the bottom color. There is a company that sends you matching tiles. Ours worked out great!

  • Jessica D
    That bathroom is beautiful! All I would do is strip the wallpaper, paint it white and add crisp white linens. I wouldn't change the tiles one bit unless they're damaged.

    I went from a modern home with the hard plastic tub and shower surround to a real cast iron tub and tile bathroom. I'd never go back- cleaning that plastic required scrubbing every week but my cast iron tub needs cleaned half as much and takes half as long.
  • marilyn_bonewitz

    What is the best green paint to use on the walls with the pink bathtub?

  • nikola2008

    I have a 1950s pink sink and toilet for sale in Montreal.

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