My #1 choice for a bathroom sink for a midcentury bathroom

kohler tahoe bathroom sinkI completed gutted and renovated three bathrooms and in the process did tons of research. To replicate the 50s look, I think there are three ways to go:

  • Vintage — I found a vintage sink with chrome legs and built-in towel bars by running a $12 ad in my local paper. I got a couple of calls, and followed up on one that was instant paydirt. I paid $60 for a sink that was in great shape. I’ve also seen quite a few of these kinds of sinks at tag sales, but obviously you’ve got to be very patient to go this route. A couple of notes, though, on vintage sinks — back then, height was only 30″ or maybe 32″. Today, a lot of pedestal sinks are 34″ high, reflecting the fact that we are taller. Waterworks makes a beautiful pedestal sink with chrome legs — but it cost more than $1,600. I’ve found that the 30″ height really is not a big deal, and I’m 5’8″. A second issue: Have your plumber measure the sink and where it connects to the wall carefully. He plumbed to the “standard” without checking mine, and we ran into problems. Again, it’s an issue of 1950s specs differing from today’s. Finally, note that 50s’ “white” porcelain is a different color than today’s. Today’s is brighter, bluer. Initially, I was really worried about the match — but ultimately it doesn’t bother me a bit. Your eye just mixes the whites all together.
  • Kohler cast iron drop-in sinks with metal rim or as a countertop self-rimming — Two of my bathrooms have built-in vanities. Originally, they had square drop-in sinks with metal rim pieces. You can still get this sink — KOHLER Tahoe Metal Frame Lavatory, White (*affiliate link) on Amazon for (currently 1/2015) $240. Shop around — I also see it online at Home Depot. My husband is a neat freak, though, and didn’t want those metal pieces, insisting the dirt collects there. Instead, in one bathroom we used a “Tahoe” self-rimming model, same shape and same overall effect as the square sinks that we replaced but no metal. In the other, we used Thoreau, also a self-rimming model. The Thoreau is a big oval sink, the size is really great if you have the counter space to handle it. A note on cast iron: I find these to have a gorgeous, quality sheen.
  • Kohler porcelain self-rimming — There are a number of self-rimming porcelain (rather than enamel-on-cast iron) models that also have a 50s look.

And finally — when choosing a sink, you need to know what kind of faucet set you are using before you make a final decision. See my faucet research.

Kohler has a pretty good site, you can search by installation type and material. You can also click colors and they show up on the sinks.


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  1. Joy says

    Thanks for this post Pam! I have been trying to figure out the name of my sink for over a year! It is a pinkish/brown Lady’s Vanity by Kohler. Mine looks very similiar to the one you posted only my sprayer looks more like a walkie-talkie. I only have one bathroom in my home so people are always commenting on it. Its very hit or miss… I love it! I should have known you’d help me figure out its name!! : )

  2. Kelly says

    Hello Pam, just wanted to give this post some love. I own a 1966 rancher in a funky tiki neighborhood (Sands West, Phoenix, AZ….google it if you are bored, and you will find the original brochure for the subdivision). Anyway, while my bathrooms are 90% original, the hall bathroom sink is rusted around the drain and needs replaced. This sink will do nicely if I don’t find something at the Restore or Stardust (same concept as Restore). I wanted to let you know that I appreciate the research here, an appropriate vintage sink is not so easy to find.

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