Trina un-remodels her 1980s bathroom, restores its 1950s glory and adds some modern glass tile – 15 photos

1950s Retro Renovation bathroomtrina in her 1956 kitchenTrina and her husband recently downsized from a 3,000 s.f. contemporary home to a 1,500 s.f. 1956 coolonial. “Life Simplified!”, she says. Yup! In the process, she gets to have some decorating and remodeling fun, starting with taking her bathroom — which suffered a nondescript 1980s remodel — back to its 1950s roots. And with so many people today loving glass tile, I think that Trina did a great job incorporating glass tile into her floor and wall trim — kind of “best of both worlds”. Read on, and you’ll also learn how she completed the bathroom remodel with materials mostly from Lowe’s and from suppliers located on Retro Renovation. Plus, 13 photos –>

Trina writes:
Eight months ago, my husband and I quit our “careers” and returned to our home town after 30-plus years. We are both about 50 years old, and life was flying past us, and we needed to take control.  So, we sold our 3,000 sq. ft. home (for two people. What were we thinking!) and downsized in many ways.  We relocated from TN to central PA and moved into a family-owned apartment and started looking for a smaller, more manageable home. We both agreed that this would be our final move so our list of needs/wants had to be fulfilled with this house. So here is what we came up with:
  • One story home w/ a basement
  • Room for a “man cave”
  • Smaller yard that offered some privacy
  • Workshop space for my stained glass hobby
  • Low maintenance exterior
We didn’t start out looking for a mid-century home, but it fit all of our requirements. Our home was waiting for us just ½ mile from where our apartment was located and had been on the market for 18 months.
1956 colonial ranch house
Our little house on the hill. Built in 1956, as was most of the neighborhood. 1,500 sq. ft. feels just right.The house had not been care for over the past several years, and some poor decisions on “updates”  needed to be addressed.  At the top of the list was a major renovation on the bathroom,  a minor renovation on the kitchen (major to come next year), paint entire interior, refinish hardwood floors, finish “man cave” in basement and a long list of other repairs.
We have been amazed at all of the details that went into the design of this home. We have great built-ins in the hall way, bathroom, dining room and basement. They really utilized every inch of the space available. We were fortunate to have the original floor plans of this house. It was designed by Richard Pollman. It appears that Pollman designed many homes in the 50’s and 60’s. These plans were sold  by Home Planners, Inc. out of Detroit. The header on the plans state “ Designs for Convenient Living”.
Our plan was to attack the interior this year and then move on to the exterior next year. The floor plans show the original window box design as well as a very cool trellis. Can’t wait to jump on those projects, but first wanted to share with you some of our interior projects.
First Up – Major Bath Renovation


1980s bathroom before retro renovation
Faux, Faux, Faux. What more can I say. Cultured Marble everywhere.
1980s bathroom before retro remodelThe vanity and countertop took up too much space making it feel small. Nothing truly fit the style of the house and needed to go, and so it did.
bathroom remodel in progressIt was stripped down to the studs and sub floor. We found three  layers of everything. The original wall tile had been removed, but we were able to see the height on the walls and where they had run an accent tile. We utilized this for our new tile layout.  The only thing we saved in the bath was the original tub.
Tile selection and design was a tough decision. Your site was truly inspiring and I poured over many, many articles over many weeks. We knew that we wanted to have a bathroom that honored the style of the house. With the original floor plans in hand I designed a bath that honored this 1956 home. For the wall tile we used  Taupe Mist 4″ x 4″, from Lowes along with white subway tile, bull nose and cove.
And here is the result of our labor…
1950s Retro Renovation bathroom
Ahhh… This bathroom makes me feel calm each time I enter..
Tile Redi shower niche
Shower built-in niche by Tile Redi worked great!
stand alone timer for your bathroom exhaust fan
octagon and dot floor tile with glass dots
Glass tile accents came from a 12” X 12” sheet cut into strips, also from Lowes. All tiles were stock items from Lowes. For the floor, we popped out random white tiles from the all white sheets and added the glass tiles to coordinate with the accent strip in the wall tile. Grout for floor is taupe to match walls.
joe the cat in the new 1950s bathroomOur sink was a real find in the back of a pick up truck in a parking lot. For $20 it was mine. New legs and faucet and it was good to go! I choose these legs because they were adjustable. My husband and I are both tall and others seemed too low for what we wanted. These are adjustable from  29 1/4″ to 31 5/8″. Source: MSC Industrial Supply Co. / / MCS Item # 37023892 /$66.84.
I also purchased my sink brackets from DEA Bath and they worked out great. I bought two of them and doubled them up to support the weight of this larger sink.

(Joe the cat approves)

1950s medicine cabinet
We found the original medicine cabinet in the attic. I still need to order new light covers, but it all still works great!
While we did not go with a Pink Bath, we are pleased that this bath fit’s the design of the home.
Minor Kitchen Renovation


Trina's 1956 kitchen "before"

Trina’s 1956 kitchen “before”

The kitchen was functional and the budget just did not allow for a major renovation at this time, so I decided that I would let color do the work for now.
1956 kitchen with cheerful paint

Trina’s kitchen “after”

I repainted the kitchen cabinets, painted the walls and updated the hardware. New curtains pulled it all together. This is just a happy kitchen and I love it! Sherwin Williams Sunbeam Yellow and Tame Teal paints gave new life to this plain kitchen.

hickory hardware kitchen cabinet knobsNew knobs from Hickory Hardware gave some bling. Painting the sides of the drawers with the Tame Teal brought out the unique, curved drawer design.
built in china cabinetThis is our built in china cabinet. I painted the back Tame Teal, exterior white and added the same chrome knobs as the kitchen.  Perfect home for my Franciscan dishes. The soup tureen on the second shelf was a wedding gift for my parents in 1958.
So for under $150, I gave new life to this old kitchen with the original wood cabinets and I could not be happier with the results.
In the future we will install new Formica counter tops. I am leaning towards Beluga Beige. Thoughts? For the floors – VCT. Color? We plan on replacing the appliances as needed.
trina in her 1956 kitchenThis is now my happy place. Love to sit at the counter, drink my coffee and catch up on what is new on Retro Renovation. Thanks for everyone’s postings, pictures, ideas and recourses.  I love the house I am in! Thanks for listening! Make it a great day!
Trina, you rock, girl! I am sure that your bathroom will provide lots of inspiration to other readers, so thank you so much for taking the time to chronicle your effort and all the resources you used. What goes around comes around, so you know we’ll be happy to help with any questions about next year’s kitchen renovation. In that regard, I am due for a big scan of current and new laminate options – so watch for an update soon. Honestly, it looks like you don’t need much help, you seem to have perfect instincts.
One of my bathrooms is the same color as yours, although at the time I bought the tile from Home Depot, the color was called Rose Beige. I find it very soothing and adaptable to accessorizing with blues and greens – as you have.


Get our retrolicious free newsletter.


Get our retrolicious free newsletter.


  1. Linda Lucas says

    Great job! Great historic reference with very well done updated colors and tile. I can totally relate to this bathroom. I grew up in a 1954 South Jersey split level with an identical bathroom which was pink and mint green.

  2. Brenda says

    I love what you did with the tiles in the bathroom, you made “standard” tiles from Lowes look awesome. I’m glad you didn’t go with pink (not that I don’t love it) but the colors you chose fit the style of the mid-century, but fit into the 21st century as well. Wonderfully done.
    I love the Beluga Beige formica, I was going to recommend that to a client until their corporate standards goofed that up! Once again it’s a nod to the 50s, but with a look toward the future. May I recommend when you do the kitchen floor that you consider Forbo Flooring’s Marmoleum over VCT? It’s got a very similar look, but it’s more environmentally friendly, easier to install, better long term maintainence and is supposed to be a very similar price to VCT. Armstrong flooring has a similar product, they just call it something slightly different. Anything that is a “linoleum” type product will be more natural than “vinyl” products and they were used quite a bit in earlier mid-century houses (late 40s/early 50s).
    Good luck…and well done!

  3. CindyD says

    Congratulations, Trina, on such beautiful rooms! I love how bright and cheerful your kitchen is, and your bathroom is so classic and right for your home. I love the floor – what a great idea!

  4. says

    Wonderful work! I nod in agreement with comments above re: the teal in the kitchen ~ brilliant! The only insight I can add is that I had never thought of having an overhead bathroom vanity light paired with sconces on each side of the mirror. Interesting concept that I’ll be pondering for my upcoming bathroom reno!

  5. Vince says

    Wow, that bathroom is increible and its amazing what a difference color can make. I love the kitchen cabinets and built in. Great job.

  6. Trina says

    Thanks to everyone for all of the great comments. Just a note on the flooring. Be aware when that tiles come in different thicknesses. The glass tiles that we added was thinner than the white tiles and we had to “build” up the adhesive under each glass tile to have a smooth surface. So do your homework before you begin!

  7. Lauryn says

    Wow! Bravo to you Trina. The bathroom is gorgeous and I am thoroughly impressed, but almost more impressed with the kitchen. What a difference a little paint makes, so happy for you that they didn’t rip out those original cabinets! Can’t wait to see what you do next. (We chose the same hardware for our cabinets and I get so happy every time I open a cabinet!)

  8. Dave and Kris says

    Trina, Great work! We love the tile with the glass tile accents. What a great way to incorporate new materials without sacrificing the 50’s feel. The updates to the kitchen are an inspiration to those of us with smaller budgets who want to make our homes more beautiful.The thought you put into all your choices really shines through !!

  9. says

    I love the sink – what a find! For those of us considering doing a remodel in a retro renovation style (but without the skills to do ourselves), do people recommend finding a contractor that is retro friendly, or does it really not matter as long as you’ve picked out everything ahead of time?

    • Trina says

      I found that as long as I had every detail figured out and was able to communicate it clearly to the workers, that I had no problem with having someone else do some of the work. I was also able to be here most every day and stay on top of things. I know they thought I was crazy to want to put the old medicine cabinet back in the bathroom or that I was totally over the top with the details I wanted with the tiling, but if you have the right people they will understand that the customer may not always be right, but they are always the customer!

      • says

        Thanks for the tips! luckily I live in a town where there’s lots of old bungalows and crazy people, so hopefully folks will understand the desire to be a bit wacky… 🙂

  10. Jamie says

    Just one more “thumbs up” to the bathroom renovation! Definitely inspiration for our upcoming redo of our bathroom. Did you tile all the way to the ceiling or did you stop short of the ceiling? It’s hard to tell from the pics. My wife wants to go all the way to the ceiling but our original tiles stop about 18 inches or so from the ceiling in the shower surround and go about half way in the rest of the bath. I would like to keep a similar look with our new tiles. (I kinda wish we weren’t tearing out our original tiles but it’s what the wife wants!)
    It looks as though we will be getting our tiles from Lowe’s as well and it’s great to see that we can get something very nice by going that route. Thanks for the inspiration Trina!

    • Trina says

      Hi Jamie,
      Thanks for the thumbs up. We did take the tile in the shower surround up to the ceiling and then a little higher then half way up on the walls. Good luck with your renovation!

  11. ChoirGirlKT says

    Oooh Trina! I am living the teal dream, too! At my house, it’s also on my front doors, in the bath, and in the laundry room add-on!

    Your kitchen and bath look super great! When we bought our 1956 ranch, we had to just rehab the original bathroom: mint green sink, tub, and toilet, with white tile everywhere else. But the toilet was broken so I got a white (inexpensive/readily available) and sink was rusted-out-looking, so it got glazed white. Sadly, the flooring guys broke the original medicine cabinet and ceramic built-in towel bars 🙁 Just not a lot of space to maneuver in there, I guess. Your pics make me want to search for another old-style medicine cabinet! GREAT JOB! I love seeing these old houses get lived in and loved on again.

  12. STL Mom says

    I can’t believe how much difference the paint colors made in your kitchen — it looks wonderful! Your bathroom is also terrific.

  13. BlueJay says

    My wife would like to know more about your kitchen curtains. We did this exact same paint scheme (we used a slightly SW Burma Jade and a slightly different yellow), but we’ve been unable to find curtains to coordinate. When I saw the pictures of your kitchen, I was grinning ear-to-ear; we have almost the exact same layout and have done almost the exact same things to it! 😀

    • Trina says

      Thanks for the inquiry. The curtain valances came from JC Penny’s. They are still a stock item, I saw them just last week. I think I paid under $15. a panel for them. I looked on their web site and didn’t see them there (they were on sale). Good luck finding them.

      Living Life Simplified

  14. Renee says

    Thanks for sharing your story. Let me tell you I am so jealous that you have a Richard Polman home. I have a couple of books of his plans and I want to find a vacation home he designed in the Dallas area. It isn’t easy to find a home who the owner knows who the architect is. I loved your story and pictures and results too!

    • Trina says

      We were blessed to have been handed the original plans for our house. At the time I did not know who Richard Polman was, but after doing some research, I see that he was very involved in the design of homes during the 50’s and 60’s. The plans are just very cool themselves. I want to have them framed and hang them in the house as art work. What could be more appropriate?

      Good luck on your search for a Richard Polman vacation home!

      Living Life Simplified

  15. Jesse says

    Nicely done Trina. It’s amazing how much difference the color makes in the kitchen. Gives me some great ideas for my recently purchased 1951 rancher. It’s all original, but in need of some TLC.


  16. Shari says

    Trina, Both kitchen and bath are beautiful! The use of glass mosaic is beautiful, and I want to incorporate some into my design.

    I need to renovate both bathrooms in my 1954 home, tub and wall tile are original but floor and sink/vanity in terrible condition. I was about to pull out everything to the studs and get rid of it then put in updated style until I came across this website. Now I am so confused!

    I hate the baby-blanket blue tiles of the master bath, plus want to convert the tub to a shower for easier access. Now I notice that the master tub is in perfect condition. How can I just toss it? However, the underlying plumbing needs major repairs. I haven’t showered in there for 6 years because of plumbing and crumbly grout.

    The kids’ bath is a cute lemon chiffon tile but the bathtub (exactly like yours) is badly chipped. It has the wrong drain direction to swap it with the other bath. The grout is terrible and water has gone behind them to the non-waterproof backer and easily gets into the ceilings below. It needs to be torn down and rebuilt.

    I don’t have the time or creativity for an extensive labor of love but want to put some thought into it. Do I somehow try to keep some of the original tiles and the chipped bath, or do I just go ahead and start over? Need help! Does anyone want the blue tiles we remove or should I just leave those that survive demolition in the attic as a “gift” to the next owner?

  17. lynda murray says

    I love the way you painted the sides of the drawers, What a great idea. I also love your paint color choices. Thanks for including the names….I think I’m going to use some of your ideas for my workshop kitchen.

  18. lynda murray says

    I Also LOVE how you put the random glass tiles in the bathroom floor. Your bathroom really updates the typical 1950’s style. It might appeal to people who would normally remodel a 50’s style bath…great idea for resale.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *