The first colors for bathroom fixtures — Kohler introduces sink, tub and toilet sets in six colors, 1927

“…We had color in the bathroom; now we have the bathroom in color — a complete color ensemble, a new color charm…. six lovely permanent shades…”

the first green color for sinks tubs and toilets introduced by kohler in 19271927 was a momentous year in bathroom history — that’s when Kohler became the first company to introduce complete suites of sinks, tubs and toilets, in six glorious colors. I found this old catalog from 1928 that features beautiful, glowy photos of the bathrooms in the six colors —  Horizon Blue, Old Ivory, Spring Green, Lavender, Autumn Brown and West Point Gray. Gorgeous! Golly, though, the Lavender fixtures in these illustrations sure looks like Pink to me. I asked Kohler archivist Angela Miller, and she confirmed, “Lavender does look pinkish in the literature, a little more lavender in person. Although, still more on the pink side.” So there: Our first pink bathroom fixtures, I declare it so. And blue and green and yellowish and yes, even beige and gray. Continue clickin’ to see the rest of the historic bathroom colors, along with bathroom illustrations that suggest just how beautiful high-end bathrooms could be in the roaring ’20s, before the party shut down –>

The catalog says:

This is an age of color. Recent years have seen a remarkable increase in its use in interior decoration — and not alone for its mere decorative value, but for its effect upon happiness and well-being. Color in the world out-of-doors affects our moods, our outlook upon life. And properly employed within the house, it has a like effect.

The bathroom has, of course, shared in this growing use of color. Bright touches have appeared in towels and rugs and window hangings, and latterly, in shower curtains. It has crept into walls and floor, and sometimes to the very rim of the bath tub.

But there, in most instances, the color stopped. The most important things in the bathroom — the plumbing fixtures — were white. We perhaps got to thinking that they had to be white.

And the like was true of the kitchen and laundry.

Kohler Fixtures in Color: So the announcement of Kohler Plumbing Fixtures in color was really a major innovation. We had color in the bathroom; now we have the bathroom in color — a complete color ensemble, a new color charm…. six lovely permanent shades, of blue, green, gray, brown, lavender and ivory.

colors for bathroom sinks tubs and toilets introduced by kohler in 1927


It’s so interesting to see the color combinations in 1927. Lavender and yellow and green — why not! Also, I love tile run this high all around a room… and a tub/shower that’s arched or built in: Yum.

 

Kohler’s website now features a timeline showing the years for all their colors. These color chips, as rendered, seem quite “off” to me…I’d trust the printed documents first…

Here’s another image that Kohler sent to me, read the color and decorating combinations that the company recommended back in the day.

A closeup of Kohler’s recommended color combinations to achieve different design styles:  Italian, English, Colonial, Modern, French, Spanish, Provincial. This is SO COOL. 1927-ish

Link love:

Readers, which of these first colors is your favorite?

 

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Comments

  1. Lynne says

    My first choice would probably Horizon Blue, but I didn’t see a large picture featuring that color. Second choice would be the Old Ivory.

  2. Valencia Bathe says

    OMG! This must have been like magic bathrooms back then! Plus the way they display the floors shining like the Emerald City! How marvelous. Thanks for sharing! Really made me smile.

  3. Carolyne says

    Wow, are those beautiful bathrooms! I can report very accurate uses of those colors, as I briefly owned a 1930 Tudor in New Jersey that had the EXACT color scheme of the third picture, with lavender and green tiles, and the ivory/yellow fixtures. I remember thinking it was a bizarre mix at the time but the lavender was indeed lavender, but certainly veering more towards the pink side of the spectrum than the blue. The color in that picture (not the swatches) seems very accurate. The other bathroom also had beautiful original tile, in black and what looks like the “autumn brown” listed above. Had white fixtures though. Sigh. Didn’t own the house long though -turned out to be too big!

  4. says

    I always have wondered at what point in design history that home owners became afraid of COLOR. The illustrations are fantastic! I totally love the colors of the fixtures as well as the contrasting tile and decor. I think part of the “problem” now is that owners are afraid that they won’t be able to sell their home if they decorate as they wish. Too bad. My home is colorful and frankly, I don’t care what any potential buyers think. I love it so much, I don’t intend to sell anyway.

  5. Jordanna says

    That Spring Green! Oh. My. Gosh.

    I love it.

    Old Ivory is beautiful too but that jade green just… ooh. Such a cool colour. The reproduced green doesn’t look the same at all? Like, not even a little?

    How amazing is that tesselated floor in that one “delicately bright” bathroom with the lavender fixtures and green and yellow floor? I’m not game, but its astonishing. The checkerboard floor in the pic below it, with the freestanding tub? Just wonderful. I would have that. I can’t figure out how they did the wall columns though, is that all tile? So Nero Wolfe.

    • Sarah says

      Yes! Agreed! I have a 1964 lavender bathroom and I just love it! Lavender bathtub and toilet, wall tiles white, walls lavender and floor tiles white and lavender. Never seen another one like it! As long as I own the house it will be saved!

    • Jean Gough says

      Yes, I have one! WIth lavender wall tiles in the tub accented with a lovely white with lavender vein trim near the top of the wall. I love it!

  6. says

    Oh my, oh my, oh my. These are GORGEOUS bathrooms. I adore the ones where the bathtub is in its own little alcove, especially that stunning arched one. And color!! Let’s hear it for more color. They seem quite decadent in many ways (so fitting for the ’20s), with most of them being the size of our bedroom! Love this post, thanks for sharing.

  7. Annie B. says

    I would’ve had the Spring Green bathtub in ’27 and kept it filled with gin.

    How I would adore a bathroom today in any of those colors, but especially that green.

  8. Kate H says

    “… with a combination shower, overrim supply with Nidecken mixer, and secret drain.”

    “Combination shower” = bathtub with shower overhead
    “overrim supply” = water spigots that are not attached to the tub
    “with Nidecken mixer” = you can turn on the hot, turn on the cold, and the water comes out mixed from one faucet, rather than having cold water come out of a cold faucet and hot out of a hot faucet — maybe Nidecken is a brand?

    but … “secret drain”?? What could that be?

    Kate

    • pam kueber says

      I think that secret drains are not visible – they are tucked in a notch in the bowl under the where the faucet it?????

  9. Laurie V says

    Man these bathrooms are CRAZY cool. I wish they would get away from all this natural stone stuff and go back to these magnificent colored bathrooms. I just adore how they mix and match the colors.

  10. Martha says

    We were at an estate sale a few years ago in a house that had a beautiful lavender colored bathroom. If I can find the photo I took of it, I’ll post it. Please let me know where to post. Thanks!

  11. Michael says

    Beautiful illustrations– what knockout showpieces these bathrooms would be!

    I like “Spring Green” the best– it looks like just a slightly paler version of our own “Ming Green” fixtures by American Standard. It’s a timeless colour that’s fresh and easy to live with.

  12. TappanTrailerTami says

    Now we are talking! The 50’s bathrooms were great, but there is nothing in my book that will ever be as awesome as the original 20’s/30’s color palettes and tile work from the late deco/depression era bathrooms. Thank you for posting these Pam, oh so much!

    Having seen both an original deco late 20’s lavender/green/black color combo bathroom with all of its original fixtures and tile, and also original lavender fixtures at Ohmega Salvage, I really think the proper term for the color should have been:

    Orchid.

    Definitely not Mamie pink, but not true lavender in the lighter shade of purple sense. Somewhere in between, and I think Orchid is the better descriptor of that in between lavenderish-pinkish tone.

    Again – thanks for posting these Pam….I love 20’s-40’s stuff, and this is “just right”!

  13. says

    “Select whatever color you may…You will never get tired of its cheerful presence.” I like the copy a lot… and the color combinations are really outstanding.

  14. Judith says

    Too funny – for years we joked about the color of my 1960’s Toyota Sedan as being a translation problem…”Horizon Blue” – now I see the exact same color name in bathroom fixtures. I might have been wrong for the past 45 years.

  15. Jackie says

    Take a look at the book “Bungalow Bathrooms” by Jane Powell. The bathrooms are not strictly “bungalow,” but rather bathrooms appropriate to the period when bungalows were built–so roughly 1890s to the 1930s. They’re great examples of bathrooms that would be in any house of those years. Lots of Ming Green and Orchid!

    Ming Green and Spring Green are really close to the color of Jadeite glassware.

  16. Jeff says

    Pam, love this posting!

    I attend estate sales each weekend that have ALL of these colorways present and still being used today.

    Detroit and it’s older suburbs have these priceless bathrooms, many with Pewabic pottery tile floors, recessed radiator covers, original mirrors, and original Lightolier lighting fixtures still intact.

    Detroit’s Palmer Woods, University District, Indian Village, Grosse Pointes, etc, all have superb examples.

    The stand alone sinks Kohler made had wide enough edges to actually set something on, and heavy nickel over brass faucets. Love this….

    • pam kueber says

      Yes, when I lived in Detroit, I saw homes like this, too. Pewabic-tiled bathrooms: Oh my wonder!

  17. Jay says

    The Spring Green fixtures with green walls and black trim screams Deco. I have seen the 50s version and wished I had it. Thanks for sharing the archival material.

  18. Dot says

    The bathroom with the tub in the alcove reminds me of my grandparents’ bathroom in Illinois, it was green with black and yellow/cream trim. Thanks for taking me back. Love all the colors.

  19. Susie Q. says

    Those illustrations are GORGEOUS. The wall and floor tiles look iridescent! The color palette seems very Poiret.

  20. bux1234567 says

    I think that all of these bathrooms, fixtures and colors are great and fun. What a shame that these elements are what that the HGTV shows look down on and say that they simply must go, all in favor of just one more been-there-done-that, “spa”-inspired bathroom—zzzzzz.

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