The pink bathroom at the Wilson House, Temple, Texas

pam kueber pink bathroomLast week I was on location at the Wilson House in Temple, Texas — and one of the first rooms I wanted to see was the pink bathroom.  The 1959 Wilson House is famous in the world of midcentury modern design because it is “the house that laminate built.” Most of the interior is finished with laminate — the design brainchild of Ralph Wilson, founder of Wilsonart, which today is the largest marketer of decorative high pressure laminates in the U.S. Yes: That’s laminate covering not only the bathroom’s cabinets and the counter tops, but the walls and the bathtub/shower surround, too.  Let’s ogle all the details –>

Just to ground everyone, I’ve done several stories on the Wilsonart House already:

wilson house pink bathroomYes, the Wilson House has a pink bathroom. But it’s not an “ordinary” pink bathroom full of Mamie Eisenhower pink ceramic tile. There’s a bit of that… But mostly, there is laminate.

sunken cinderella tubThere is laminate used as a surround in the shower, which also features a “shower receptor bath tub” – sunken (This looks kinda dangerous to me; consult with a properly licensed professional if you have any inklings of trying a similar design.) Regarding the laminate on the walls, I am told that yes, this is workable even today — BUT, the adhesive and backing you use will be critical, AND a manufacturer likely will not warrant the laminate used in this super wet application.

pink vanitypink bathroom wilson houseThe walls are tongue-in-groove pieces of pink laminate, pieced together to look like paneling. The vanity is a two-sided contraption covered in laminate.

pink bathroom vanityNote: This is NOT the master bathroom. It is a second bathroom.

vintage bathroom sinkCan anyone identify the manufacturer of the faucet? I am going to guess Eljer.

vinyl floorVinyl tile has streaks and slubs of black and pink….

bathroom floorThe 9″ vinyl (likely vinyl-asbestos) tiles are pieced together with an additional inlay of black. (The kitchen floor uses this design device as well, with a different color of 9″ floor tile.)

laminate tub surroundAbove: the marbleized pink laminate on the tub/shower surround. I auto-corrected this photo, then dialed up the black. Not sure this photo shows the pink correctly…

marble pink laminateSo above, here is my photo, un-retouched.

bathroom stoolAbove: An adorable little vanity stool. History: Glitter laminate was wildly popular beginning in the early 1950s. Initially, it was just pieces of real glitter laid onto white or colored papers, then laminated. Initially, it seems you get two Glitter designs — one had less glitter, the other, more. After a few years,  laminate manufacturers then introduced additional glitter-based designs with additional squigglies or other marks in or on them.

As seen in the Wilsonart pink bathroom,  marbleized designs also were available.

Alas, today, the number of abstract/patterned laminates like this suitable for a vintage style pink bathrooms are — ZERO, as far as I know.You can get solids, or off-white marbles, but no 1950s style pinks that I know of.

pink sparkle laminateAbove: Detail. Photo is retouched; color is not right.

vintage bathroom lightAbove: Nice light, I adore this shade. This shade was also used in the master bathroom.

Thanks to Wilsonart for letting me tour the Wilsonart House, hosted by Grace Jeffers. Note: I paid my own way, this was NOT a sponsored junket. As I’ve evolved as a blogger, I have decided I will not take any free trips (I took two, early on). I want to stay as neutral third-party journalist as possible. I did accept Wilsonart’s dinner invitation, though, and had a fabulous time with the Luminous Ladies of Laminate. I am now a full-fledged Laminate Geek and darn proud of it! More to come soon on the rest of my visit.

keith talley

Hi, Keith! I am going to assume you did not retouch that photo of me. I will assume it was your awesome skillz — and the pink pink pink bouncing off my skin — that made me look 10 years younger!

Thanks also to Wilsonart for inviting their staff photographer Keith Talley of Talley Photography to take a few shots of me and Grace and Tammy Weadock of Wilsonart while we were at the Wilsonart House. The photo at the very top — Pam in the Pink — is by Keith. And oh my goodness, all the pink bouncing off my skin — I like it! Which is why I made Reason #6 for Saving a Pink Bathroom:

6. Retro botox — Pink is actually a great color for bathrooms because the reflected glow makes you look younger…healthier. Photographers seem to like pink bathrooms for the same reason.

Surely Mrs. Wilson loved it, too!

View each image larger in this gallery:

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Comments

  1. says

    I just scheduled my appointment to tour the house today! I’ll be visiting after the Day of the Drags in Temple on Monday October 7th. Can’t wait!

  2. JKM says

    I used to know someone who used only pink lightbulbs in their bathroom fixtures – I kid you not. And for exactly the reason you describe – it’s flattering!

  3. Carole says

    Look at the size of that bathroom will ya?! It’s huge (especially compared to mine). lol

    Sunken shower/tubs were the ‘thing’ in the Rummer homes that we toured last summer, although those were seriously ‘sunken’, featuring a step or two down into a shower which sat below floor level. The outside wall was either clear class (with shrubs or a brick enclosure for privacy), or glass block, bringing a tremendous amount of light into the room.

    Loved them, but we were told by nearly every home owner that in Oregon they are no longer allowed due to code. Too bad, because they really are spectacular and look very modern, yet at the same time retro.

    I had never heard of this house until your posting last week. Now I want to visit!

    • Lisa Compo says

      Did they say why it was no longer allowed due to the code…is it unsafe because of the glass? Or was it the sunken tubs that were no longer allowed? Looks like an accident waiting to happen, but would be very neat to take a hot bath all sunken down there.
      I saw a picture of a bathtub that had a glass block window that was on the corner of the house and it was very nice looking. I did wonder about sometimes getting too much light in the room at certain times of day, but you could always pull a curtain or shade.

  4. Lisa Compo says

    It’s too bad that you can’t use some of your great influence and ever growing popularity to convince Wilsonart of the need to bring back a few of the good old designs. The facebook following is almost to 32,000 today alone, plus all the people who read this blog. We are an ever growing “tribe” of people wanting these things. Not to mention all the other sites and pages devoted to the love of retro.

    It almost seems to me that in this computer age you should be able to sit at a computer with a design consultant and make your own design. “I want a light pink background, now add some silver glitter..a little more, now I want the 2″ boomerangs over that in a darker pink, tan and black, please”–poof send it over to the factory and they print it out and it’s ready in a few weeks. How cool would that be? (I always think you can make anything). 😉

  5. Scott says

    All in favor of making glitter and colored marble with glitter additions to the three primary colors raise your hand.

    What an idea-laden room. With all I need to do this year with the exterior there won’t be much left over the bathroom but I’m hoping a mini-makeover with paint and accessories will help. Pink is definitely on the list.

    Seeing the faux paneling made of laminate makes me think my wainscoting might look a lot more appropriate if pink as well. Can’t hurt to try!

    • Lisa Compo says

      I think pink wainscoting would be wonderful. You could do the chair rail piece at the top in a glossy black or whatever goes with your room. I might steal that idea from you.

      • Scott says

        I did it. This story was definitely the catalyst for my ultra low budget bathroom redo and it came out great! 🙂

        The upper walls are (very) pink with the bottom two-thirds (the wainscot section) in mint green with a big white molding separating the two. About the only thing I did right before getting in touch with my inner MCM was the Armstrong “Urban Settings” linoleum in Diffusion Jade. It’s mostly taupe and brown but has spots and speckles of pink, green and white which really reads vintage now even though it’s from around 2006.

        The final touches are a vintage metal medicine chest and bathroom fish just like the ones I grew up with which are on the way as we speak.

  6. Cathy says

    My husband and I live in at 1950 brick ranch, and we still have the original “Eisenhower Pink” bathroom, compete with pink tile, garden tub, sink and toilet. The floor is gray tile, but everything else is pink 🙂 I love it, but worry that age will take its toll. We try to be true to 1950!

  7. Mrs.logan says

    I want to go to temple to see that Wilson home.im not so far away.i will be so excited about it.need the address please.thanks

  8. Kristina says

    Is there anywhere here in the US where you can order the laminated shower wall panels? We’re restoring a 1969 Shasta Travel Trailer and the shower has these same walls but done in blue. Unfortunately they aren’t salvageable and I just can’t bring myself to replace them with that fiberglass dimply “ugly” stuff!

  9. wildelina says

    love this retro renovation page.and love everything.this house i will visit hopefully soon.im not so far .

  10. Joe Felice says

    A double-sided sink & vanity! I love it. What a great idea, especially with the floating mirror above. I also like the sunken tub, but there would have to be grab bars if there were anyone over 60 in the home.

  11. Devna says

    Regarding your comment about the glow from pink bathrooms making you look healthier, did you know that in the theater “surprise pink” lighting is used for just this purpose.

  12. PennyinColorado says

    Thank you for showcasing this extraordinary bathroom, and thank you to all those who’ve commented so far.
    I think you’ve helped a design problem for me! I’m working on redoing a small 1950s era ugly ugly basement bathroom. It was just painted green concrete with floor of grey & green lino tile prob. asbestos. White toilet & wall-hung sink. And some pale lemon plastic tile on the wall of the shower. Very low ceiling. Would NOT have won any design awards.
    From an earlier remodeling job I have about 56 sq ft of real marble tiles (12″ x 4″ and a few 12″ x 12″) in a beautiful tones of grey with – pink marbled swirls. Absolutely gorgeous.
    There’s not enough material to tile all the walls, so I was going to highlight key areas and trim out with grey and silver metallic tile, but now my mind is racing with ideas to highlight the pinkness of it all.
    Pink tiled top on the (double) vanity?? What color fixtures – would pink be too much? Floor color (non-slip tile of course)?
    (We put in a 4′ x 4′ glass block window to bring in more light.)

    • pam kueber says

      Hard to say without seeing the whole room and all the elements you are talking about, Penny. 60/30/10 is a good base to start with, which decorating. That is: 60% one color/30/10 the others.

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