“Save the Pink Bathrooms!”: TV makeovers that make us oh so blue :(

Several readers have sent me notes explaining how sad it was to catch a TV makeover show that ripped out a perfectly beautiful vintage bathroom. Surfing around, I found these examples of perfectly excellent 50s or 60s bathrooms that were disparaged and discarded.

vintage 50s pink bathroom

vintage 50s pink bathroom - “after”HGTV editors went so far as to call the bathroom, above, a “pink plague.” How ridiculous. While I agree that the wallpaper may not be just right (the whole square theme is taken too far…although you must admit: it has style!), the core of the bathroom is delightful. And the blue bathroom that replaced it (in thumbnail) is fine but an unnecessary expense. Prediction: River rock walls and floors will be out as quick as they were in. Alas.

vintage 50s pink bathroom - “before”

vintage 50s pink bathroom - “after”Again, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this 60s provincial bathroom. It would be so fun to decorate – and it looks quite high quality. The replacement bathroom is fine…it’s great they kept that floor and awesome mirror… sad sad sad they took out the pink tile…. and overall, again, just…unnecessary.

Update: Another example from HGTV from Brian at Atomic Addiction. Many thanks, B! Super cool blue sink, RIP:

50s pink bathroom

50s pink bathroom “after”Seems like a bunch of the rest of the world — well behind our curve — actually dislikes vintage pink bathrooms. They will regret what they have done.

Finally, with this post, I declare an all-new category: Pink bathrooms! And, I’ve gone back through all my posts to fill the category up. Have fun reveling in pink pink pink!

UPDATE: This post led to the creation of my Save The Pink Bathrooms micro-site. Be sure to see it here – it is pretty amazing, if I say so myself!

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  1. Marie says

    My husband and I faced the same dilemma when shopping for our home. I wanted a mid-century ranch with knotty pine. The more the better! In face, if I could find a home that had been owned by the same couple for decades – and who hadn’t updated anything – that would be perfect!

    Despite telling this to my realtor, she kept showing us house after house that had had the knotty pine painted over, the kitchens shoddily redone.. you know, that horrid after effect of too many people watching those shows like “Sell this house” where they slap crappy paint over everything, including the brick and stone fireplaces. Ugh!

    Please save the knotty pine, people! :)

  2. Amy says

    SO HAPPY to have found this site!!! My RE agent laughs at me, because I LOVE finding a house w/ original (especially pink) tile! My husband and I found an awesome house with original tile in all 3 baths (1 pink, 1 blue, 1 gray) and the kitchen (yellow & maroon.) The pink bathroom was dubbed “the nipple bathroom” because of the lady etched on the shower door. 😉
    Sadly, we didn’t get the house — tried and tried and tried, but it went to someone else w/ more $. I only hope they don’t rip out the wonderful old touches that house has.
    We ended up in a redone 1950’s 2 story (I’d call it a ranch, but for the 2nd story.) Unfortunately, either the grown kids of the former owner or some flippers got ahold of the house and tore out all the wonderful old tile, (elderly next door neighbors described it — I wanted to cry!) replacing it with Home Depot honey oak cabinets and granite counters. ICK!!!
    I’d much rather have been in a kitschy old place, but will have to try to kitsch up our new home (restoring the kitsch, actually.) Do people actually tear out new and put in old? I watch the house re-do shows and SCREAM with I see them ripping out wonderful old tiled bathrooms! STOP!!!
    Glad to find kindred spirits here! :)

  3. Amy says

    Also, found an awesome book at a thrift store yesterday about 50’s decorating by Armstrong (the floor company.) LOTS and LOTS of pictures! Yum!!!

  4. june snyder says

    when I found this website I beleived I was in heaven. oh my gosh!! how beautiful!!
    I have a partial pink bathroom, I am working on restoring the rest of it.
    Thank you, thank you!!!

  5. Leatha says

    OMG – I’m about to buy a 1955 Ranch Style with a PINK Bathroom and honestly just don’t know if I can take the pledge. :-) Interesting concept… take it back to retro.. Hmm…

  6. Suzanne says

    I didn’t grow up with a pink bathroom. My mother in law had one and she gutted it (black and pink!). My childhood bathroom was a delicious aqua color. However, in my first out-of-the-house digs, I rented a room with a smallish PINK refrigerator. It was a Westinghouse, I think, and a delicious pale pastel pink. I loved it. Regrettably I do not have a photo; wish I did.

  7. says

    I have just saved my pink and grey bathroom and will be sending you photos soon! Three cheers for saving pink bathrooms! Hiphip horray! Hip hip horray! Hip hip horray!

  8. Alissa says

    I quit watching home remodeling shows. Too depressing! I’m glad to find a stie where I am not alone in appreciating pink bathrooms!

  9. Angie says

    What a riot! Love this. I have a 70’s pink bathroom. Have been trying to decide what to do with it since I moved in five years ago. It’s not quite as fabulous as the one above and the fixtures need to be replaced and the toilet seat has faded to a strange color, etc. I have put off, perhaps indefinitely, replacing the pink toilet all because of my 4 year old niece. Here’s a direct quote said while sitting on said toilet. “Auntie Angie, this is my favorite bathroom because the toilet is pink.”

  10. Joe Felice says

    The make-over is OK, but totally unnecessary. The original pink bathroom could have been made glamourous with some “corrections:”
    1. The wallpaper was too much.
    2. The shade of the gray tile is wrong. It’s got just a tinge of green, which clashes with the pink fixtures.
    3. The shower curtain is the wrong shade. How about one of those plastic folding shower doors?
    4. What’s with that white trim at the base of the tub?
    Losing the sink, vanity, faucet & mirror were a crime that should be prosecuted!

  11. Dolly says

    Bravo to you for leading the charge to save the pink bathrooms. I have a 1930’s pink and black bathroom that I LOVE. I wouldn’t trade it for a boring beige and travertine bathroom ever. I also have an absolutely charming pale yellow vintage tiled kitchen (tiles are floor to ceiling with wonderful tiled archways to the breakfast nook and fridge nook), the craftsmanship is amazing. I am having to relocate for work and I am in the process of looking for another home with a pink bathroom. It makes me so sad to see all these old homes that have been remodled to the point that all their charm is lost. Hopefully I will be able to find another untouched vintage beauty. Wish me luck.

  12. says

    When I was a teenager (1978) my parents bought a 1950’s ranch with a pink and maroon bathroom. I LOVED IT! Even then, I knew I was a retro girl at heart, and wanted to wallpaper it and make it even more wonderful (outvoted by mother though).

    Now I live in a 1950’s stone cape cod, and I have an original blue tile bathroom that I am keeping as-is!

  13. Libby Wright says

    I saved my pink bathroom from my circa 1967 house. But, the floor tiles could use some sprucing up. They are dull and the grout (not white but sort of black) is not uniform in color. Some grout is lighter. If I wet the floor, looks good. What can I use to really clean the tiles and brighten them up? What can I do to make the grout more uniform in color throughout the floor. The floor is just worn but not falling apart.

  14. Cynthia Mika says

    I have a retro pink bathroom about to be renovated and want to sell the pink 1950-60s sink, toilet, and cast iron tub. Do you know of anyone interested in buying items like these?

  15. Wayne says

    Wow! I was looking for some before and after photo’s to remodel our pink bathroom. Hmmm… Interesting reads :))

  16. EJ Birch says

    After reading about the pink bathrooms (& taking the pledge to save them) here, I flinch every time I see them getting ripped out on HGTV. At least keep them in tact for those who appreciate them! But no, they get smashed to bits.

    I don’t know if you have any interest in such a thing, but would you ever consider pitching a show to Scripps (HGTV, DIY Network) about a Retro Renovation show? At the very least, a singular program on the Save the Pink Bathrooms? You could enlighten, inform and maybe even stem the tide of ignorance and destruction!

    There is a woman who has a show called Rehab Addict and she restores old homes to their appropriate period glory (mostly Victorians, I think).

    In this day and age, it seems you’ll reach the most people w/TV. People who might not otherwise discover wonderful websites like yours.

    Keep up the great work. Would love to see RRTV turn the tide on cookie cutter renos. Appreciate the old! (I always assume older things are better quality. Built to last. “Those were the days…”. (PS: I’m 46 not 96)

    • pam kueber says

      The TV show thing is a whole big story. Short answer: Yes, it has been tried. Went nowhere for a variety of reasons. I am plowing on with the blog.

      • EJ Birch says

        Wow, I’m surprised. And disappointed. I’d suggest an online petition but I can sense a weariness in your reply that I infer as “don’t bother.”
        Perhaps PBS. After all, they show This Old House…

  17. Gus says

    Hi…I’m new to this. I’m a 30 yr old male from FL and I recently purchased a mid-century modern home with a pink master bath (half of all walls tiled in pink, terrazzo floor, pink sunken shower, weird angled vanity, metal ring around pink double sinks…basically classic pink bath). Some of the tiles have flamingos and fish picture tiles (I’m guessing original owners did it since it’s FL).

    My other bathroom is similar but in a brown and beige tile. It also has fish picture tiles.

    To be honest…I hate them. I want to re-tile with a “friendlier” color scheme for re-sell. Am I really ruining good potential? Is there any compromise I can easily do (wall color…take down some portion of the tile, etc)? Update faucets?

    I’m trying to be opened minded (since I want to stay true to the mid-century vibe), so please don’t take my post the wrong way. It’s just difficult to envision me as a retro lover. Anyone have advice on how to incorporate “new” features with the retro?

  18. Dana says

    I absolutely HATE house flippers and remodels that rip out perfect vintage personality because they think there is no resale value in the original product.

    In 2014 I bought a beautiful 1954 home with the original Ming green with cream accents bathroom suite, dove grey and pink kitchen, and a bathroom that was gutted and replaced with ugly white replacements.

    It became a mission to retro fit the ugly bathroom with a pink suite. I found the perfect 1939 lowboy toilet and sink in pink, and had tile created to match. I bought burgundy tile accents, trims, toothbrush holder, soap shell, and toilet paper roll holder.

    An appraiser came through today and said he had just walked into a time capsule. He said he never sees homes like this in our area anymore, and that is a shame. My whole neighborhood was built with the rainbow of colors. We even have the original light fixtures, cabinets, honey oak floors, coved ceilings. I am proud of my home.

    Viva Pink!!!

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