Terrific bathroom tile ideas from 12 reader bathrooms

mid-century-peach-tile-bathThanks to all the readers who uploaded photos of their awesome vintage bathrooms and bathroom tile on our recent story — 171 photos of the vintage and new bathroom tile in reader homes. love the house you're inWhat a treat it was to get a look into your loos! With 171 photos, it took quite a bit of work to narrow it down to the featured 12. I tried to pick bathrooms with interesting color schemes, unusual and detail oriented tile jobs — it was really impossible, there were so many terrific vintage bathrooms — but here are 12 of my favorite original bathrooms.

grey-black-vintage-bathAbove: Jeanne’s vintage grey and black bathroom tile caught my eye because of the classic, high-quality two-tone pinwheel floor tile and the thin black liner tile, set low, that ties in with the black toilet paper holder. Such a great detail!

1960s-blue-tile-bathroomAbove: DJS from Brecksville, Ohio has a lovely original Regency Blue bathroom with American Standard Fixtures in their 1961 ranch. The blue wall tile looks smaller than the more common 4 inch square tile from this era — giving folks who need to do a gut remodel of their mid century bathroom another view of what a smaller-tile alternative would look like. I also  love the hand towel bar in between the sinks, the sliding-door storage cabinets recessed right into the wall mirror (Fantastic idea!), and the mod light fixtures.

1950-pink-retro-bathroomAbove: You know I couldn’t leave out the pink in my list of favorite reader tile bathrooms — Todd A. has a pink and grey tile combo going on in his bathroom. I’m especially in love with the way the bullnose tile wraps around the mirror cabinet and the sink… and it looks like the shower (on the right) comes in at an angle. That is serious tile work!

mid-century-peach-tile-bathAbove: Scott’s peachy keen vintage bath in Florida really got my heart fluttering — I love the speckled floor, the color scheme and wow, have you ever seen vanity quite like this one? Usually I’m not a double-sink type of person, but this configuration is amazing. I wish my master bath had enough room for one of these.

yellow-and-black-tile-vintageAbove: I’m loving Bird and Ernie’s yellow and black 1948 bathroom. So many bathrooms in this style are simply black and white — which is a classic and sophisticated choice — but the pale yellow with the black and white takes it up a notch. Also — is that vintage wallpaper or fabric I spy in the frame above the toilet? The design is just perfect — great touch.

vintage retro yellow-and-mint-green tile bathroomAbove: Rebecca’s 1959 sunny yellow and mint green vintage tile bathroom is a cheery spot, for sure. I have the same minty green tub in my hall bathroom and wish that my white tile was yellow like Rebecca’s instead. I’m loving her choice of fabric for the window shades, too — ties in nicely with the core colors.

mid century mod orange bathroom tileAbove: Kevin B. Wagner has quite the awesome orange tile and coordinating laminate countertops in his Bob Beharka designed house. The wood trim and ceiling details are an interesting choice for a wet area of a bathroom, but by the looks of it, they’ve held up well over the years. Pam says she loves how the wood trim above the shower and holding the overhead light add modern architectural detail — allowing for the addition of a clerestory window above the shower action — nicely done.

avocado-green-tiled-bathroomAbove: Lynne’s very green bathroom caught my eye because of the vast amount of the same shade of green tile — and vanity painted to match. I have to wonder if the original floor and toilet were also green? All the vintage bathroom sinks we’re seeing today are pretty cool, don’t you think?

yellow-and-peach-retro-tileAbove: Margie C. has an awesome Yellow and peachy bathroom. I‘m loving the floor — which she installed to correct someone else’s “update.” This is another color scheme that is so light, sunny and timeless — I could see myself using these tiles in my house — and loving them forever.

peach-and-blue-vintage-tileAbove: I just had to include JD Log’s 1959 blue and peach bath because — have you ever seen a tile bath faucet? That’s got to be a woddity right there, right Pam? [Pam adds: I am thinking this is not a U.S. bathroom. England — maybe Australia — is my guess. Am I right JD Log?]

retro-1950-bath-mint-greenAbove: This reader’s 1958 minty green and brown original bath is another favorite of mine. From the vanity to the mosaic floor to the layout, I love it all. It even looks like they kept the original aluminum window!

vintage-aqua-tile-with pinecone detail


Above: And finally, Lynn’s Aqua tile bathroom has some kitschy and cool pine cone detailed tiles! Lynn mentioned that she is at a loss of how to decorate the bathroom — I say, submit more photos to our retro design dilemma series and we’ll help you out! I’d love to see more of your bathroom Lynn!


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  1. Lisa says

    Ah, these make me long for my grandparents’ home–a beautiful early ’60s ranch set in the hills overlooking San Francisco. What an amazing home. I wish I had taken more detailed photos. After Grandma died, my aunt and uncle went through and ‘updated’ everything to make it ‘sell-able.’ If only I’d known of Retro Renovation then. In the Bay Area, I think it would have been fairly easy to find a buyer who loved it in its original style…which was so exquisite!!

  2. says

    I love that peachy bathroom. That vanity is very unique, and I love the layout, but my favorite is the black and white. It has elements of the bath in my last house (a new ranch), and what I’m striving for in this house (older ranch).

    So much wonderful tile in all of them. :-)

    • says

      Sorry, I guess it’s yellow and white, but comes across black and white on my monitor. Still a wonderful bath.

      I love double sinks (had the configuration in the master bath of my last house), but will never get the chance in this house, the baths are way too small.

  3. says

    Oh, how I wish I knew what the bathrooms in our house looked like in their original condition! We have plans down the road to bring them back and undo the most recent upgrades. I look forward to doing it, but want to be mindful in how we approach them. And these posts really help me get an idea of what our bathrooms might have looked like. Thanks!

  4. Kathy Chismar says

    The minty green and brown bathroom is mine! Yay! We love this bathroom because of the floor. I have put so much work into salvaging the original tile and resetting it so it is secure. After 54 years, they were falling off the wall. The wall tile is actually a speckled/ salt and pepper look to the green.

    We do have all the original aluminum windows in our brick ranch. They’ve been retrofitted for interior storm windows so they are energy efficient. I’m working on how to reglaze them on the outside. I’m very scared to see how much it would cost to replace them with new, so I’m saving them!

  5. Bird says

    What a pleasant surprise to see my own bathroom featured! (Bird & Ernie’s yellow and black, 1948) The print hanging above the toilet is a vintage cockatoo airbrush print by the Turner Manufacturing Company. You are probably more familar with the famous flamingos airbrush print in the mirrored frame, also by Turner. Turner produced a lot of these stylized airbrush paintings: birds, flowers, people, etc. You usually see them referred to as airbrush prints, but they are original paintings that appear to have been mass-produced using stencils and airbrush paint. If anyone has more history on Turner airbrush prints, please share.

  6. Jamie D says

    This article came out just in time for me! I’m meeting with bathroom contractors right now and none of them really understand why I want to do a retro renovation because it’s the complete opposite of what their other clients want. Maybe I need to try harder to preserve more of my original tile anyway, instead of trying to find something new that looks MCM.

  7. Ana says

    Love these bathrooms, particularly some of the sinks. My favorite is the pink and grey bathroom and all of its lovely storage.

  8. says

    Oh man, I can’t pick a favorite. I think the lighter ones. I don’t think I personally could do that bright red, unless that bathroom is really big, but I love the wood details! And it’s gorgeous tile, just too much for a small space.

    • pam kueber says

      Alas, my email inbox is a train wreck. I have it on my list to get all the photo submissions together into a few mega posts soon! Thank you, Greg!

  9. Lynne says

    That’s my very green bathroom. I want to clarify the cut out in the vanity. It was originally a whole cabinet, but the elderly original owner was in a wheelchair and the vanity was cut away so he could wheel up to it.

    I’m betting the toilet and floor were green as well. While we were fixing up in the pink master bath, we found that it originally had pink fixtures, pink walls, pink ceiling, and yes, the wood vanity was pink too. Oddly enough, the floor is white pinwheel mosaic. Maybe the floor was replaced?

    • Larry says

      Hi Lynne – I have the same color green bathtub in my 1945 house. I’m certain my wall tile, sink and toilet are not original. The toilet is obviously new and white, the sink is one of those very long molded in manmade marble 70s vanity tops and the wall tile a speckly white brown thing but not in a good way. My plan is to try to find a matching green vintage sink and toilet but I don’t know what color they call this green. I’m also wondering if the tub color would be original to 1945. Have you found any color names on your sinks? Perhaps on the underside or even a manufacturer’s name? I’ll eventually retile the walls and add a shower stall in place of a double linen closet so i can reclaim a covered window in the bathtub area. I don’t really want to hassle with pulling the tub out to put a white or other color in but I think a green tub with white toilet and sink just wouldn’t do it for me. So If you or anyone else might know of your sink color name that would be just awesome!

      • Lisa says

        I know this is an older post but thought I’d give this a try anyway. We are buying a new-to-us old house and I have the same green potty, bathtub and sink in that shade of green. I have been desperately trying to figure out what color of green field tile to put on the walls and around the tub. It’s not the seafoamy blueish green I’ve seen in other 50’s homes. It’s that darker one shown here. Any help on which currently available tile would go with these green fixtures? Thanks so much.

  10. Matt Baggett says

    I own a mid-century modern house and it had the tile counter top on the vanity in the bathroom. The sink was made out of cast iron and started to rust a hole out near the drain in the bottom of the sink. The tile was lapped over the sink and I wanted to merely pop off the one layer of tile to get the rusted sink out. The mortar bed was so old that it was impossible to pop off one row of tile. Compounding that I don’t think I could find a precisely same size sink. I ended up busting out the entire tile counter top and replacing it with a formica top that still matched the tile on the wall–but I wish I could have figured out a way to save the tile counter top while also installing a new sink. Any ideas of what I could have done differently?

    • Kathy Chismar says

      When I re-tiled the Minty green and brown bathroom above, all the tiles that came off the walls had layers of mortar on the back of the tiles and grout stuck to the sides. It was such a hassle to deal with and I don’t know if I’d do it again. I used a multi-tool to cut around the grout and pried off all the tiles and left any remaining mortar on them. I soaked them in hot water and simple green for 2 days. Then I went back and used a flat woodworking chisel to gently scrape off all the mortar or cement or whatever was stuck to the back. It took about 3 days to get them all done.

      My green sink in the picture has drain issues and is rusting through underneath the drain, so it will eventually have to be replaced. It will stay as long as the drain doesn’t rust completely through, but once it does, we’ll have to probably replace the entire countertop and sink like you did because there is no way that thing is coming out easily.

  11. J D Log says

    Your right I am from Sydney Australia the tile bath faucet is a wave I have seen them in dolphin shape and a Jaguar head these were art deco. The house was a professional owner builder place originally and although built in 1959 has other art deco features such as a feature etched glass window of deers running up a mountain side even though it is a skillion roof “modern” style house. I guess he used what he had lying around. I have another N.O.S porcelain faucet I will be using on the kitchen which will go well with the pink enamel sink I have just got restored I built a cabinet for it and will use some of the boxes of 30-50’s tiles I havefor the splashback. The cast iron enamel kitchen sinks were made here by Naco till 1962 even though stainless steel sinks dominated the market after 1950. I just love the look of cast iron enamel it is worth the extra upkeep.

  12. Sara says

    Oh I am sooo jealous! I just bought a 1950 house and the only cool fixture left is a big blue tub. I would give anything to have some of these awesome tiled bathrooms!!!

  13. Mike S says

    My wife and I joke when we see the results of those “crashers” shows–where a contractor wrangles an unsuspecting shopper at a home-improvement store, raid his or her home, and proceed to rip and tear at it for 3 days, giving them a supposedly better space–saying to each other, “Yeah, and in 10 years or so, we’ll see this place getting crashed by a crew from some OTHER show!”

    And on that theme, gotta say that while I really, really dig the mid-century modern thing (grew up in a ’63 ranch, dolled-up Colonial style), there IS a limit to just how much *PINK* a person can stand! I’m all for saving a pink bathroom, but holy mackerel, lets give our eyes a rest with some white, gray, or black, huh?

    There should be a movement to do up mid-mod in a more, uh, modern way. Or should I say, advanced, or, conservative (mature) approach to colors, textures–and how they relate to one another.

    MUST a counter top be sparkly-sparkly gold, or could it be just accented with sparkles? Do cabinets have to be VERY knotty pine, or just a little–with crystal-clear varnish, and not yellowy polyurethane? And as for reds, pinks, greens (save the AVOCADO appliances!), teals, aquas, blues, oranges, and yellows be accent colors, rather than displayed as an entire sea of tile?

    Seems to me the more modern direction of mid-mod could–and should–be one of temperance. Mid-mod features used as features within a calm, “earthy” approach to design could very well be a way to get more of what we love about it into the mainstream.

    Just a rambling from someone who really, really misses his childhood ’63 ranch…

    • pam kueber says

      Some folks want lots of colors, some folks want calm. There is no right, no wrong. Make it the house YOU love. Oh, and if you are regular reader of this blog, you should well know by now, the key point is: If life hands you a perfectly functional high quality vintage pink bathroom (or… fill in the blank whatever feature of a midcentury house) why not understand it first… give it a chance… before you knee-jerk tear it out. We are NOT any smarter about decorating today than they were in the 50s or 60s or whatever. Just different. Just different FASHION. How much money do you have, really, to tear out perfectly functional HIGHER quality features in original houses, anyway? See the RR Creed: http://retrorenovation.com/2012/07/02/retro-renovators-creed-gut-remodel-without-guilt/ haha *highly caffeinated* as I write this, can ya tell? I appreciate your comments, this is always a great discussion.

  14. Jeanne says

    Woot! My toilet made RR! haha. I love all of the examples shown! That minty green and brown is a beautiful combination – very soothing. I also love the light fixtures in Todd’s bathroom.

    Back in 2002, I had a 2 BR/1BATH dormer addition put on my former 3 BR 1948 ranch. We had a tight budget as well as time frame and when I asked the Contractor about doing tile on the walls of the bathroom – he said “nobody does that anymore.” My mouth fell open. Needless to say, I didn’t have the resources (RR!) at my fingertips, the time to do research or time to do tiling myself – so we went with just drywall and 8″ tiles on the floor. If I still lived in that home, I would be kicking myself for not doing what my heart desired. :-)

  15. jmb says

    I love seeing the variety and colors of 50’s bathrooms! When I bought my 1951 ranch the subfloor in the bathroom had rotted so I had to demo the bathroom. My American Standard fixtures were boring white and worse for wear so they had to be replaced with boring white fixtures. When it came to re-tiling, my budget limited me to black and white tiles. I regret not shelling out a bit more for a color I would love, but I doubt my GF and I would agree on what colors, but I did let her have her pink bathroom via the paint color.

  16. Jeff says

    Wow, all are terrific! The inverted slant to the front of the vanities is what I NEED in my redo….it’s a great space saver, visually giving you the space needed in a crampt bathroom as I have, but also giving a generous counter space. The pink tiled one is amazing…..

  17. Robin M says

    I was so happy to see the yellow and Ming Green bathroom. Mine is very similar but I think my yellow tiles were swapped out at some point with rectangular speckled yellow/white tiles. I’d love to tear all that out and replace them with 4 inch yellow tiles. I’d also like to do an accent trim but what color? I’m thinking pink. My floors were also redone with Home Depot flooring that was a weak attempt at “updating” the bathroom. Some day that will go and be replaced by a nice white and yellow mosaic – maybe a pink tile every now and again for accent?

  18. Margie C. says

    Pam & Kate, thanks for featuring my peach & yellow bathroom with the new 1″ hex floor tile in the blog entry! What started it all was the need to replace the original 1958 toilet (I’m told the peach color probably “Tuscan Tan”) when the tank cracked. As long as I had to replace the toilet, I decided it was my one chance to put down this great tile I’d had waiting for 2 years. I’ve saved the peach toilet, cracked tank, and lid, hoping I can find a solution to the crack that will work, or that one day I’ll find a matching color in a vintage toilet. In the meantime, the new toilet (a Mansfield in “bone”) goes nicely with the pale yellow speckled wall tile, works like a dream with 1.6 gal. flush and my water bill has gone down (which I love), but it sure would be nice to have it match the sink and tub. When is someone going to invent spray paint that will work over ceramic? BTW, the sink is a 1961 Kohler with Jetson-esque handles I found at the Habitat thrift shop, replacing a really tiny white pedestal sink that the seller had installed when the house was a rental. I don’t know what the original sink or vanity was like. Now, if only I can find the money and time to get the cast iron pipe under the toilet repaired in my half bath (pink) so I can have that room fully functioning again. Love the blog!! Love your readers’ suggestions.

  19. Amanda says

    I love Scott’s peach and blue bathroom! I believe his floor is terrazzo. I would love to see a closeup shot of the floor and know what area of Florida he is in, it looks like it might be similar to mine. While I love the floor it can limit some of the color and pattern choices one makes in their house, but I think Scott did a great job. My floor has pink, dark peach, brown and black chips in it, works well with my pink tiled bath, but poses a challenge for my powder blue bath! I am also jealous of all of his outlets, they look so well integrated!

  20. Irene says

    The tile on “Scott’s Peachy” is on sale for $1/s.f. at the Riverside Habitat Re-Store right now–big pallets of it in the parking lot today.

  21. kirsten says

    I have a bathroom that is basically the same design as Lynn’s..it has this green tile like hers and I feel like it doesn’t go with any color. I wanted to make the bathroom look more modern without spending a lot of money or without having to redo the tile. Do have any suggestions for a paint scheme or something to make it pop like stencil? Its a small bathroom and I want to do something that will help the house sell. I like neutral colors like tan and gray. Thanks for your help!

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