24 pages of vintage bathroom design ideas from Crane — 1949 catalog

Crane-bath-fixtures-catalog-cover-1949Who were the leaders in mid century bathroom fixtures? We tend to think: American Standard and Crane. Seems like we see these the most. We also tend to think of Crane as the creme de la creme. These sinks — vintage — are still around in great quantities. If you need replacement parts including instructions to DIY, see our longtime advertiser deabath.com — they are experts in Crane. So with all this background — it’s great to look at a big catalog of vintage Crane bathroom sinks, faucets, tubs and toilets from 1949. Just coming out of the war — there is a building boom on that will last for years to come. This catalog also is fabulous in terms of viewing aspirational (interior designer and illustrator conceived) color, tile, wallpaper and other 1940s and 1950 bathroom design ideas. Continue on for highlights of vintage bathroom design — and the complete catalog, enlarged in a slide show:

retro-Crane-bath-fixturesOne almost feels voyeuristic looking at this scene — but instead of spying on this woman as she washes her hands we are all wishing we were the ones standing in this new, minty vintage bathroom — right?

retro-crane-bathroom-blue-and-yellowHere’s an interesting color scheme for the bathroom — purple and yellow. Also check out that counter design — the Marcia counter top sink with a laminate vanity surrounding it. This sink could also be installed with a tile counter. And, take note — we presume that’s supposed to be plate glass tile in the tub surround. Glass tiles were more common in prewar days, before the huge baby boom housing boom. We tend to think this is a streamline moderne look. In postwar houses, 4″ tiles were much more common.

retro-crane-bathroom-peachInteresting to see how this peachy keen bathroom above mixes what looks to be six inch square wall tiles with red and peach striped wallpaper, a checkerboard shower curtain and a black floor with an interesting inla. Back i the day, folks were so excited to get these new bathroom — they had fun using color and pattern.

vintage-crane-bath-fixtures-pink-and-green-bathroomHere’s an interesting way to use the corner sink — looks like they’ve made a custom sink cabinet — bumped out from the actual corner of the room to allow space for a dressing table. Very inventive.

Vintage-bathroom-Crane-fixturesThe bathroom above includes the wonderful, rare and elusive “dental sink” — read more here.

retro-vintage-blue-and-plaid-crane-bathroomLook at this color scheme — rust and gold plaid wallpaper and flooring, light blue tiles and purple accents — wow.

vintage-white-and-blue-bathroom-crane-fixturesThis bathroom looks very formal to me. Interesting to see 1″ tiles used on the counter top and floor, paired with 4″ tiles on the wall.

vintage-orange-and-yellow-bathroom-Crane-fixturesHands down, my favorite of the bunch would have to be this dark orange and yellow number — not only do I like the colors they chose  — which really makes the crisp white Crane fixtures pop — but the layout is neat, too. I could see myself lounging in the tub, admiring the plants on the tile ledge — or taking my time getting ready at that cute little dressing table.

vintage-green-and-white-crane-bathroomHere’s a classic grassy green — again with interesting tile variations in the tub. Speaking of the tub, this must be the compact model — a “mini Cindy” — look how short it is — yet there seems to be a seat on one end. These were called “receptor baths” by Crane and marketed for foot-, sponge-, or shower-baths.  I’ve never seen one of these in real life before — Pam says one of her neighbors has one, in blue. Perhaps we can get her to invite herself over to take a photo?

Crane-vintage-faucetsThe catalog also has a “trim” section — which seems to mean faucets.

retro-crane-wall-sink-with-legs-whiteThen there are tons of charming illustrations of the Crane fixtures — like this wall sink with legs and a built in porcelain faucet. Crane sinks were famous for this integral faucet.

vintage-crane-wall-sink-whiteDoes anyone else see faces in these sinks? They have such personality.

vintage-crane-wall-sinks-on-legsAll 24 pages of this fantastic catalog are loaded up in the gallery for all to enjoy. If you’re still hungry for more vintage Crane catalogs — revisit this 1953 Crane kitchen cabinet catalog from Pam’s collection.

Thanks to archive.org for featuring this catalog.

SeeAllOurVintageCatalogsSMALLTips to view slide show: Click on first image… it will enlarge and you can also read my captions… move forward or back via arrows below the photo… you can start or stop at any image:

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  1. Robin, NV says

    Another timely post from you guys! I just did some work on my minty green bathroom this weekend (removed the glass doors from the tub) and am getting ready to put on a fresh coat of paint next weekend. I’m going with a pale goldy-orange to match the speckles on my tiles. Then on to the floors and I’m all done!

    My favorite bathroom of the ones shown would have to be the yellow and black room with the teal accents.

  2. Diane in CO says

    When I was in 4th grade (1956 – yes I am old) we moved to a wonderful tudor home in Michigan where my family lived until I was well into college. It was on CRANE Avenue, next to Crane Park — and I still remember my little brother running around the new house exclaiming in amazement “All the toilets and sinks say “Crane” too!!!!!!” LOL

    ….wish I had photos of those bathrooms. My parents called the huge green-tiled master bath The Green Hornet.

  3. RangerSmith says

    This is a great resource! My 1948 bathroom still has the peach & blue tile. This article provides great ideas for the walls other than just painting them white. Thanks for posting this!

  4. says

    Reminds me so much of the original baths I had in my early 70’s ultra modern home, but have since renovated the two bathrooms. Although I did want to stay true to the homes midcentury architecture I do not miss the soffits over the shower/tub nor the florescent cove lighting.

    • Robin, NV says

      I was thinking how charming the soffits were but now that you mention it, I bet they were a pain. It was probably impossible to keep paint on them and they probably attracted all kinds of mold. Maybe that’s why you don’t see them anymore.

  5. says

    You said, “I could see myself lounging in the tub, admiring the plants on the tile ledge,” but the plants are at the wrong end…” (see, I tried to imagine it, too)!

    So, I notice what appear to be grab bars in most of these baths, though not detailed in the trim page. Were these true grab bars?

    Also, I wonder how much of 50’s color schemes were limited by the printing processes available for the catalogues. (I’m old enough to remember mimeograph and still appreciative of today’s printing tools.)

  6. Dulcie says

    I love everything about that pink an mint bathroom, the corner sink, that cute little table, the glass block walls, the towel rack/divider, even that awesome black floor. I WANT IT!

  7. Patty says

    I can’t imagine putting a curtain on a sink that close to the toilet in a bathroom that will be used by men, (brown curtain, blue tiled wall and sink)

  8. says

    Wow….were bathrooms really that large back then? Seriously, how times change. My two baths would fit into any of those with room to spare. lol

    I love that alcove tub (the one w/ the dental sink), w/ recessed shelving. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

  9. Jenn V says

    I have a vintage Crane pedestal sink in my bathroom–much older than these, 1919. I did tons of work with the folks at DEA, and they are AMAZING! I wouldn’t have a working antique in my bathroom without them.

  10. Alice says

    What I love most about these designs is that in most of them you will not be staring at the toilet while soaking in the tub…have you noticed that newer homes seem to have given no thought to that?

  11. Kelly Wittenauer says

    Really enjoying these old catalogs.

    A 1950s ranch we once owned had a “lavatory unit #338” above the sink in each bathroom. So cool to hide the soap & toothbrushes, while having them handy – right there behind the gleaming chrome square! The guest bath had pink fixtures. And the master bath, which also had a door from an alcove off the kitchen beside the back door, had mint green.

    Interesting that while there are colored fixtures listed and shown on the cover, all the baths illustrated use white fixtures.

  12. says

    I find it interesting that all of the baths shown have shower heads, yet in the numerous pre- and slightly post war houses I visited while looking to buy rarely had a shower head in the tub. And because of this also lacked a tile surround. Those that did, including the one that I bought had one installed retroactively, sometimes preserving the original, sometimes not.

  13. philq says

    All our bathrooms are equipped with Crane fixtures…in white, shell pink and citrus yellow. We even have a 46″ square receptor bath in one of the bathrooms. All function and are cosmetically near perfect. One of these days I mean to contact deabath.com for some replacement parts for the
    dial-ese faucets.

    • Louisa says

      Our 1954 also has all original Crane–Diana sinks with the atomic-looking “trim,” and we too have one of the receptor tubs. Everything functioning and looking swell, but good to know where to go when we’ll be needing parts.

  14. Michele DeGroat says

    God I LOVE those Crane sinks. the handles are fabulous! Wish one could buy these styles now. Tried everywhere to find real chrom sink legs. found some but they were not the heavyweight real deal I’ve been looking for. have two bathrooms with them but they have pitted due to moisture over the years and replating is expensive. so bought the replicas for now. mine have the towel bars on the sides but could not find anything like them. Kohler make an exquisite set of octagonal sink legs that go with their Kathrine sink but list price for two is about $1600. The are spectacular pieces of jewelry but can’t handle the price.

  15. Samantha says

    Ive had the hardest time finding ideas of color schemes using Sun Tan fixtures. Ive been all over the internet and your site. It seems its become hard to find pictures of bathrooms that aren’t pink or bule. Can anyone help me? We are looking to redo our 1955 bath with the original suntan crane fixtures. Currently my husband is considering spending the 100 dollars to get a toilet seat that matches. We need to paint something other than white and its a pretty small bathroom. the floor also needs redoing. Its currently the original (more than likely asbestos) tiles. we were considering one of the mosaic types that someone found on ebay (this post http://retrorenovation.com/2012/03/04/1000s-of-square-feet-of-vintage-mosaic-tile-great-prices/) last year.
    Thanks for the help!

    • Tricia says

      Hi Samantha,

      Our 1930’s bathroom also had 4×4 Suntan tiles and fixtures. A leaking tub drain under the floor and also a problem in the wall necessitated breaking both the floor and the wall.About ten years ago we also had to open up the wall.We reset about 5 sq feet of those thick set tiles . I couldn’t stomach it again. I saw no reason to replace perfectly good fixtures as other environmentally wasteful friends suggested. This time we used 16 x 16 Golden Travertine tiles cut in half and a golden travertine with black inset windmill floor mosaic . It was Benjamin Moore ‘s Haberno Pepper paint a warm orangey red that complements the sickly sun tub , sink and toilet that tied it all together. It took three coats. The first one Made me cry it looked so wrong but extra coats made the difference. A soft, golden-hued shower curtain and dark wood accents and it feels a little like Radio City. Music Hall. Good luck !

  16. Terri says

    A little Crane tale. I was telling one of my co-workers about discovering a perfect pre WWII Drexel sink in an abandoned bathroom in my old building (has the X handles and everything).

    He said he worked for Crane back in the 1970s (he is retiring this month). They had sent a truckload of bathroom fixtures to Wisconsin in winter. The truck driver didn’t realize the delivery warehouse was on the bank of a lake so he swept out onto what he thought was a snow-covered lot to back into the loading dock.


    The driver escaped, but the whole truck went straight to the bottom. So, there is a stash of NOS Crane fixtures in the bottom of a lake somewhere in Wisconsin.

  17. Joe Felice says

    Some notes of interest:
    The toilets (called “closets”) have “whirlpool jets,” “self-draining jets,” or “siphon jets.” Siphon jets are what modern toilet makers recently came up with to solve the problems of low-flush toilets. And here, I thought this was something new! I’m still not exactly sure what it means, but, as near as I can tell, the valve and trapway somehow create a synergistic suction action which pulls the waste down efficiently, without lots of water.
    The P-traps under the sinks all have a clean-out plug at the bottom that can be removed for clearing the drain line. This is a great idea, not often seen today.
    Concealed plumbing was known as “hidden piping.” Apparently, some bathrooms had exposed pipes.
    There is a single-lever faucet (“fixture”) in the line. I didn’t think those came along until later.

  18. Britt says

    I don’t suppose they have cleaning instructional manuals for this stuff? My crane faucet in the green bathroom (more avacado than jade, sink, toilet, mirror) is almost impossible to clean between the spout and the handles even with a toothbrush. It’s also leaking, but I found the page for that, I think. The blue bathroom is a whole nother story.

  19. Britt says

    Thanks for the tip about deabath. Unfortunately they don’t have any images of crane faucets anywhere like mine. Your site doesn’t either, btw, is it because I’m in Canada? Did they have separate lines? I’ll stop bugging you now.

  20. Maureen Topa says

    Hello all,

    Moving into a 1948 cape house in Maine this coming week. The bathroom is sadly not original, but I would like to – in the coming years – get it as close to original as possible. Here’s my question…

    Is the style of rooms – such as bathrooms – basically the same regarding the year it was built – regardless of the style of house? I’m just not sure if a 1948 bathroom in a ‘cape’ would be the same as a 1948 bathroom in a ‘ranch’ or a ‘colonial’…do they differ?

    Thank you so much for any help!

    • pam kueber says

      They would likely be the same. Start diving into our Bathrooms category — tons of resources and ideas there.

  21. Kim says

    Could you please tell me if there is touch up paint available for my yellow american standard sink.
    My house was built in 1964. I can send you a picture if that would help.

  22. Steve says

    I brought home what looks to be a mini Cindy . Its in excellent condition. I,m looking for a good home for her. It requires me to move my toilet and that’s to expexpensive. I’ll accept a reasonable offer.

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