Built in bathroom scale that folds down — among the three most collectible vintage Hall-Mack & Nutone bathroom accessories

built in fold down bathroom scale

Every week I seem to be getting a new message from a reader — someone who has just made an offer on, or bought a 1950s 0f 1960s house — all excited that there is one of these in the bathroom: A Hall-Mack Concealed Scale. I’ve spotted these fold down bathroom scales and written about them several times, but to help these readers, I thought I’d do this stand-alone story so they can get right to it.

The above image was taken from a 1962 Hall-Mack bathroom accessories catalog in my private collection. As you can see, the metal box to hold the scale is recessed into the wall between the studs. It needs to be installed at exactly the correct point on the wall, so that the rubber-covered handle rests on the floor. I tend to believe that this unit came with a bathroom scale — but I am absolutely sure about this.

built in fold down bathroom scaleAbove: I spotted this fold downscale at a 1964 time capsule house nearby. It’s combined in a nook that includes a laundry chute — very thoughtful design.

recessed fold down bathroom scale hall-mackAbove: Cindy has a fold down bathroom scale in her 1960s bathroom, too. I think that when I went to visit Cindy, this was the very first time I ever saw one. Ooooooooh, Ahhhhhhhhhh. Love.

built in rotating chrome water glass and soap holderThe fold-down bathroom scale is not the only highly desirable vintage Hall-Mack or Nutone bathroom accessory. These “Concealed Lavatories” (above) — revolving toothbrush holders — are now going for more than $200 on ebay for New Old Stock. Golly — I have one in my attic somewhere that I paid $5 for, 10 years ago. I better go find it!

1962 hall mack relaxation unitAnd I tend to believe that, most rare of all is the Hall-Mack Relaxation Unit: You get your toilet paper, your magazines and — hey — even your cigs right there where you need ‘em:

“Luxurious and practical and designed with a man in mind…”

I think that Hall-Mack was ultimately purchased by Nu-Tone, so these vintage chrome bathroom accessories may be in later Nu-Tone catalogs, as well. I will have to put this on my list to research. Why did these fantastic ideas not perpetuate? The only real reason I can guess is: Simplification and cost-cutting, probably during some severe recession. Alas, it happens.

Above: Vintage Hall-Mack on ebay currently. But search around once you’re in. You never know how sellers are gonna list this stuff. Tip to using the ebay carousel: To go to a particular item, click on its photo (NOT on the ebay logo) — then, click on the lime green “View and Bid” box, which will take you to ebay. Disclosure: When you buy anything from these ebay carousels or after you click into ebay here, it nets me a teensy commission

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Comments

  1. BlueJay says

    I’m obsessed with built-in stuff! To me, it’s the coolest thing ever! These products really have that futuristic feel! I think you definitely hit on why these went out; cost-cutting. I imagine these were fairly pricey to produce. But the value of being able to walk into the bathroom and belt out in a 50s announce voice “Behold! The bathroom of tomorrow, today!” is just priceless! :D

    • Marc says

      Builders found that buyers wanted bigger spaces… more square footage vs. intricate design details like built-in cabinetry and appliance-like conveniences.

      So lots of pressboard cabinets, pine trim and sheetrock.

      • BlueJay says

        I’ll take smaller square footage if it means I can get built ins! :) My ultimate favorite: the Modern Maid wall toaster. Lord help us if I find one reasonably priced. I think my wife realizes its a battle she cannot win…

    • Ann B says

      They were also expensive to install. Think about it… slapping a toilet paper holder on a finished wall probably takes 10 minutes. Planning and installing built-ins took much more time.

    • Janet says

      We installed the three bar chrome towel holder when we built our house in 1992. I also put in a great in-the-wall Kleenex tissue holder. They were from Nutone and were very expensive so I would bet that is alot of the reason they weren’t used much. The Kleenex holder must have been an old design because I couldn’t find a Kleenex box that fit in it so I had to crush and cut one down to fit every time I replaced it. They still had the scale holder then and I wanted to put it in but didn’t have a spot where it would fit. Also, the wall had to be blocked to screw any of them in properly to the 2 x 4′s, so it would have been difficult to install them as an afterthought; they really needed to be installed before the sheetrock and/or tile was put up.

  2. Russell says

    There was another company called Marchand Inc. out of NYC that made some really cool similar products. There tag line was “conceal all accessories for bath and kitchen”. I have a recessed paper towel holder (found at the Springfield Restore), Kleenex holder, and a toothbrush and soap holder from them stashed away in the garage. Pam- you once featured a beautiful blue steel kitchen from someone famous, I want to say it was a musician that had a recessed paper towel/wax/foil unit from them.

  3. Chris says

    I’m dying laughing imagining some hairy ol’ guy, sitting on the john, reading a magazine with a cigarette stuck between his lips!

    Geez, what a picture to have stuck in my head!

    :)

  4. Sarah g says

    Ive got the relaxation unit in my lavender jack and Jill bathroom! The daughter of the man who built my house in 1964 said that it was all the rage and that her dad thought he was so modern and high tech for putting it in. My tenant currently uses that bathroom and uses the ashtray nook to store her tampons! : )

  5. wendy says

    I have two of these! Found them both on ebay. Here is the first, it is in mint condition – although it’s very hard to photograph chrome, and my fingerprints show in the photo:

    http://www.pbase.com/weed30/image/144225714

    100% chrome exterior, including the four screws that hold the scale.

    Here is the interior, which shows the only age issue – a very minor amount of surface rust on the part that recesses:

    http://www.pbase.com/weed30/image/144225715

    It is not a Nutone – the tag says Ketchum Manufacturing. The scale inside is a Borg :) I have actually been afraid to get it installed, since it will mean chopping into a vintage tile covered wall. Yikes.

    Here is the other – it is larger than your typical wall scale, (16″ x 24″), and it is a Nutone:

    http://www.pbase.com/weed30/image/144226131

    http://www.pbase.com/weed30/image/144226134

    http://www.pbase.com/weed30/image/144226136

    This one obviously needs repainting, but it works just fine. I love the gold speckled scale!

    What I REALLY REALLY want is a built in paper towel holder, like the one in Nora’s time capsule kitchen: http://retrorenovation.com/2010/10/24/noras-time-capsule-house/

    If anyone has an extra, I’ll trade you the white scale!

    • pam kueber says

      WOAH! Thank you, Wendy, may I add your online photos to the post – so’s we have them as part of the historical archive?

      • wendy says

        Sure! I can try to get better photos tonight. I think taking them outside might work better.

        The all chrome scale’s tag says, in full:

        G.M. Ketcham Mfg.
        70-70 Eightieth St.
        Glendale 17, NY

  6. TappanTrailerTami says

    Ahh, the good ole days, when relaxing in the john was a priority! I should tell everyone who already has a relaxation unit, that I think it is a near *must* to also find a vintage phone to put on the back of the toilet….I think that was common back in the day too.

    Not sure I would have a built in scale, since I really have an aversion to people scales in general, LOL. I never really thought about it until now, it’s kind of weird because I collect antique scales that don’t weigh people and love them.

    Once in awhile you can still find the occasional built in goody, new. I spotted a recessed cabinet on Overstock.com that installs into the wall near the toilet and it stores the toilet bowl cleaner and toilet bowl brush out of sight. I was pretty jazzed about finding it and bought two, one for each bathroom….but it is white plastic and not nearly as eye catching as vintage Hall-Mack chrome!

  7. 52 PostnBeam says

    My built-in collection includes several concealed lavatory units, a chrome french door shaving unit, a couple “cosmetic boxes” with sliding glass doors, a relaxation unit, a recessed kleenex box with chrome cover, a recessed thermador heater, and a caloric fold down-scale is on its way now via UPS. A hall mack scale is ending in 25 min on the bay (the one using your catalog pic) … but it’s not on the carousel because it’s listed as “retro” not “vintage” … currently it’s at $205, which is the most I’ve ever seen one go for…

    The only built-in I’m missing is the chrome TP holder that has a little box with a lift up door to hold a spare roll. Saw one of those once but it got away. I plan to install everything in a tiny 5 x 8 bath when it gets a gut reno! Who needs walls?

    Oh, and I also have the built in stainless steel kitchen paper towel holder, both single, and the one with three rolls (paper, wax, tin). You can still buy smaller rolls that fit. It has taken years of searching but this stuff is all still out there, and can be found for reasonable prices.

  8. Susan C says

    I don’t know if you noticed that my Hall-Mack scale holder (minus the scale, unfortunately) – my comment about which on another post inspired this post – is pink to match the tile.
    There’s a picture of it in this album, along with a few other shots of interesting stuff in my soon-to-be house. It’s no time capsule, but has some neat stuff. I’d be very interested in any info about the toilet, especially, Wall-mounted, pink, looks to me like it was very expensive. Have a white one just like it in a yellow bathroom.
    http://on.fb.me/LpYPUq

  9. VonTiki says

    My house came with the revolving toothbrush holder. It’s still installed and being used. Now I am thinking about having it re-chromed since it is a rare piece.

  10. Dino says

    I have the fold down Nu Tone scale in my 1960 pink and blue bathroom. It still works, much to my chagrin…

  11. JamieD says

    Our house has almost ALL of these built-ins, and we have two full bathrooms. We have the scale, two relaxation units (that cracks me up, I love the name. We use the little shelf for the extra roll of toilet paper, I had no idea it was for cigarettes and an ashtray), a toothbrush holder, multiple little extension rods for towels – two are in the shower and several are near the closets.

    We have a few of the tissue box holders and I love them because I have allergies and need tissues in every freaking room. But they’re not meant for modern large boxes of tissues and tracking down the right size is sometimes tough.

    We have a couple of the towel ladders and we have the folding towel rack and the mirrored toiletry shelf in the larger shower. We’re planning on having that shower renovated because the tile appears to just be stuck directly to plaster, which seems to be crumbling and moldy. Our plumber said that we shouldn’t have racks and shelves and stuff installed in the shower because moisture probably got behind them and caused all that mold. But we’ll definitely reuse those fixtures elsewhere in the room.

    We also have some neat kitchen built-ins – a combination paper towel/saran wrap/aluminum foil holder. Again, it’s a bit too shallow for modern paper rolls, but it’s so cool. We have lots of other Nu-Tone stuff, too. The doorbell, a whole house intercom system, some light switches, and the bathroom fan/light/heat fixtures we sadly just had to remove because they didn’t work and couldn’t be repaired. It’s like someone just went through the Nu-Tone catalog and said “Give me all of it.”

    These were all major selling points for us with this house. The previous owners used every square inch of space for storage. We definitely have the most closet space I’ve ever seen in an early 1950s house, complete with shoe racks in each closet.

  12. Susan C says

    That’s cool, Jamie. I said the same thing about my almost-house, but I think yours has it beat with the relaxation units. I have a few others besides the scale, toilet paper holders and medicine cabinet – including some in the shower and tub that my contractor likewise says probably caused the $15k worth of rot I’m about to have fixed. I have built-in speakers in the dining room and entryway to the living room but no intercom or other sound attached, and a doorbell clock that has sadly been stripped of the clock. But the doorbell still sounds great! It’s fun figuring out what else is there.

    • JamieD says

      We haven’t totally figured out if the intercom system works or if we’re just too dumb to figure it all out. The intercom between the kitchen and front door works, which is really neat, but we haven’t gotten them to connect to the other intercoms in the rec room, hallway, or master bedroom. I hope we can figure them out or fix them, because the kitchen unit seems to be the “master” and there’s a stereo and auxiliary input there. I’d love to be able to pipe music throughout the entire house!

      Unfortunately, we haven’t found the circuit that’s connected to all the intercoms and we had some weird power surging after a storm this morning. The kitchen unit kept turning itself on and off randomly and since it’s hard wired, we couldn’t just unplug it. Grrrrr.

  13. karen beck says

    My home was built in 1959 by a student of Frank Lloyd Wright in the master bath is a Hall Mack and Nutone Bathroom Scale that folds down (also in a pink tile bathroom) and another fold down scale in a jack and jill bath they are truly classic and beautiful

  14. karen beck says

    Same home build in 1959 built by a student of Frank L. Wright. I have the “Concealed Lavatories ” for tooth brush holders have 4 installed in each bath Have 4 of the relaxation Units in each bath also. Master shower has a plastic bamboo shower screen door with butterflys in it. 3 other baths have plastic screens that disguise toilets with designs in them.

  15. karen beck says

    All 4 of bathrooms have the towel ladders also. Since I just found out these are rare I may need to get mine re chromed also

  16. karen beck says

    3 of my bathrooms have the built in tissue box also. I also am blown away that all these fixtures are so rare and wonderful. I have the 3 foot long built in chrome cabinet also. The doors glide sideways to open. They are plastic with bamboo screen in the master and in another bathroom they are white with butterflys in the doors They are beaufiful

  17. eelyram7 says

    Hi, my dad has one of those rare Hall-Mack relaxation units that he took out of his 1964 house, and he wants to sell it. Do you think ebay is the best place for this or is there a better way for him to reach the right audience? Thanks!

    • pam kueber says

      Yes, I think you will get the most money on ebay. There are lots of folks who want one of these. Good luck.

  18. says

    We purchased our 1962 “Gold Medallion” home a few months ago. It is truly a time capsule home, and we love everything about it. The pink bathroom has all of the items featured here, in amazing condition!

  19. Sam R says

    My funky 1954 ranch has the rotating cup/toothbrush holder in the mostly original blue and pink hall bath. I would not be surprised if there was one in the master bath, but was lost when a much larger mirror installed when that bathroom was renovated sometime in the past. At least they left the original vanity!

    I picked up a white painted NuTone fold-down scale for $5 at the local Habitat Restore after it sat around for well over a month. It’s in pretty grotty condition, so I’ll refinish it in Venetian Pink to match the sink and tub before it’s installed. At the same Restore I bought a pile of apparently NOS Hall-Mack towel bar brackets, but the bars and mounting plates were nowhere to be found! Unfortunately, one of the missing bars had the famous telescopic towel bar insert, as one bracket has the hole for it.

  20. Lois says

    I am looking for 3 revolving door tooth brush holders and 3 hidden toilet paper holders. Any ideas where to find?

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