6 colorful 1950 vintage bathrooms — The Comer House in Gallatin, Tenn.

vintage pastel bathroomsTucked into an historic farmhouse in Tennessee —  now home to the Sumner County Convention & Visitors Bureau — are a rainbow of seven vintage pastel bathrooms. The building is known today as ‘The Comer House’ after the Comer family, which demolished the original 1850 farmhouse down to the foundation and rebuilt it between 1949 and 1951. The house itself is impressive, but its most amazing feature is the variety of color and tile patterns found in the home’s seven bathrooms. I visited recently and during my visit, I was graciously allowed to photograph six of the seven vintage pastel bathrooms, each of which is sure to inspire.

crane plumbing fixturesAre these Crane fixtures? Could be. See our 24 page Crane Plumbinb catalog from 1949 here — material from Pam’s personal collection. If not Crane, they are surely American-Standard. Who’s an expert? What do you think?

burgundy-wall-sink#1 Persian Red and Gray — The first bathroom on the tour was a half bath in maroon and off white. The coordinating pinwheel style floor tiles really add that extra something to the space. I should note that all the bathrooms have newer toilets — most likely because of water use requirements.


mint-green-retro-bathroom#2 Ming and Yellow — The next bathroom was a lovely ming green, dark green, white and yellow full bathroom with a standard tub (not pictured). It looks to me like when the house was remodeled, the Comer family must have picked one style of fixtures — same footed wall sink, tubs and faucets — and ordered them in every color. We love this matchy-matchy trick:  Even though each bathroom uses different tiles and colors — there is a continuity to the bathrooms as a whole because of the repetition in style of the fixtures, hardware and even the mirrored vanities — giving the house good design sense. It is the tile colors that really distinguish each bathroom’s personality.

decorative-vintage-liner-tileThe liner tile reminded me of the stash of NOS decorative “sizzle strips” for sale on Ebay that we featured here on the blog a few months back. It is nice to see some of these amazing decorative tiles in use out in the wild – they are gorgeous! And note in the photo above, how the decorative sizzle strip provides a terrific transition from the light blue field tile to the darker blue bullnose. Brilliant detail design work!

mint-green-retro-sinkAll of the full bathrooms had dual tiled-in ceramic soap dishes and a toothbrush holder set in right over the sink.

mint-green-and-ivory-tile-floorThis vintage green and pale yellow octagon and dot floor had me wishing these color combinations were readily available. Wait. Does Chippy have some alternatives like this at World of Tile? Maybe.  Ask! This floor would be perfect in my vintage mint green bathroom.

pink-and-grey-vintage-bathroom#3 Pink and Gray — Then there was the pink and grey full bathroom — so pretty. What a phenomenal color combination. Pam says it’s her favorite of all time, for a pink bathroom.

pink-cinderella-tub-retroIt even had a Cinderella tub. I mentioned my own pink bathroom at home to the woman who worked in the office with the pink bathroom. She was delighted to hear about my efforts and exclaimed that she absolutely loved her adorable pink office bathroom — though I’m sure she has never had the opportunity to use the Cinderella tub.

grey-and-white-vintage-tile-floorThe bluish grey and white octagon and dot floor tile was another happy detail in the beautiful 1950 pink bathroom.

vintage-blue-wall-sink#4 Beautiful Blue — The next full bathroom was a blue and white combination with a standard tub.

blue-and-white-liner-tileIt also had decorative liner tiles in a charming blue and white tulip pattern.

vintage-white-floorThe floor in the blue bathroom was very understated — a simple white — but tile pattern made it look anything but mundane. This is a great floor — multidirectional — would be great to replicate in a bathroom today.

mint-green-cinderella-tub#5 Ming and Black — Another ming green bathroom was next — this time with a green and black tile combination and another Cinderella tub.

vintage-shower-faucet-handlesAll of the bathrooms had the same style of fixtures for the faucets and other hardware. The shape of it is so interesting — and I was thrilled to see the original faucets still in use.

vintage-showerhead Do you suppose that the handle on the shower head adjusts the flow of water or turns on the shower head?

vintage-green-floorThe green floor wasn’t an exact match for the tub, sink and wall tile — but was interesting nonetheless. The pattern reminds me of the flooring for my master bathroom remodel — University Pink from Merola tile.

yellow-vintage-wall-sink#6 — Butterscotch and Butter — The last bathroom I toured was a full bath with buttery yellow and brick red tile.

yellow-and-rust-vintage-bathIt had a standard size buttery yellow tub and the same faucets as the other baths.

vintage-plaid-tile-floorThe real show stopper was the charming tile floor, which reminded me of some of the plaid tile patterns from the vintage 1929 Freidrichsen Floor & Wall Tile catalog. This was my favorite floor pattern of the bunch — it brought all the colors of the bathroom together so nicely and really gave a customized feel to the space.

Mega thanks goes out to Kelley Dickey, Administrative Assistant at the Sumner County Convention & Visitors Bureau for agreeing to give me a special access tour of all the wonderful vintage bathrooms at the Comer House — as well as the inhabitants of the offices who didn’t think it strange that I wanted to photograph their bathrooms. Thanks also to my Mom for alerting me to such an awesome collection of vintage bathrooms.

Readers — which bathroom is your favorite?

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  1. rachel says

    I have these exact sinks in my house, and that Cinderella tub! I love it! Ours even has the same two sets of knobs, one for the bath and one for the shower head. Because my toilet is an American standard, and it’s the exact same color as the sink (a beautiful blue), I’m pretty sure the sink is also American standard. So cool to finally see what we have out there in the “wild”. :)

    • pam kueber says

      Thanks, rachel! Yes, I think they are American-Standard. I am pretty sure I have some catalogs. I will have to dive into the hoard and scan ’em!

  2. Mary Elizabeth says

    Well, since you asked us, Kate:

    1) My favorites are the Ming green ones. This is only because I just scored a NOS Alpine green sink (very ’70s, and not at all Ming) and am thinking about how to integrate it into my second bath.

    2) Yes, I had two homes with those shower heads with the little lever on the side, and they adjusted the flow from a kind of needle-like, invigorating spray to a more “rainforest” type spray. The men in the house used the needle-like spray, and I was always having to adjust it back to “normal” (as were they, now that I think about it).

  3. Ed says

    We are lucky enough to own a MCM home with (5) original bathrooms with American Standard fixtures in Maroon/Yellow, Blue/White, Pink/White, Turquoise, and White/Green.

    Our home came with the original contractor’s receipts, and it is interesting how much more the colored fixtures cost than the white ones.

    One of the difficulties with all of the old fixtures is finding and replacing the parts as they wear out. It is not an expensive endeavor, as it is usually a .39 washer, but it seems like we are always tinkering with one of them.

    The shower in our Servant’s Quarters still had the original shower head made by the Sloan Valve Co. in Chicago. That baby works like a fire hose, much unlike today’s more efficient models.

    • pam kueber says

      Wow! And on parts — our first go-to place for help is deabath.com.

      They are the experts on Crane — but they might also be able to help with American-Standard, it’s worth a try!

      Your house! WOWWOWOWOOW

  4. Ed says

    By the way, I am hardly an expert, but these the exact same American Standard fixtures that we have in our house.

    This home looks to be missing some of the original American Standard toilets, which by the way, cost $157.00 each for a colored model, and $78 for a white one back in 1950.

  5. lara jane says

    These gorgeous bathrooms are almost identical (down to the Cinderella tubs) to a home’s here in Carthage, Missouri, also built in 1950. The place is huge and full of that sort of “granny chic” appeal in its mantel and chandeliers and amazing built-ins. I couldn’t believe it sat on the market so long. The price was fair, the lot/street are so lovely, it was in pristine condition!

    Yes, “was.” :( Unfortunately, the home didn’t find its ideal buyer (alas, it could not be me) and the stunning, immaculate bathrooms — and matching pink kitchen with everything original — were torn out by a flipper. I felt truly ill when I saw the relist. :( The only redemption was that the house sat on the market for a long, long time, the asking price whittled down so that the seller didn’t make a massive profit off of his desecration!

  6. Ellen says

    That is the blue sink I’m looking for! We still have the crane blue toilet and Sterling blue bathtub. Our bathroom has the same type of tile. Only the 4 x 4s are white and the rounded top caps, if that’s what they’re called, are blue. Our floor has octagonal blue tiles with little square white tile. Thanks for the photos, very inspiring.

  7. diane says

    My 1950’s TN ranch has 5 bathrooms and everyone of them is a different color! Must have been the in thing back then.

  8. LeAnn Ramage says

    Love the buttery yellow one. I just recently bought a home built in 1955 that also has 6 bathrooms. 2 still are original and the others are a mix of new and old. Thinking about remodeling them also. Love your website.

  9. Danita says

    We loved the bathrooms, especially the ceramic tile mud jobs. My husband worked on a lot of these bathrooms and commented that the 4′ diagonal tubs are cast iron and very-very heavy. He installed a few of them when he first started plumbing in the early 1960s.

    We must mention: the electrical plugs and switches were never ever placed as shown in the photos. Usually the plugs were located at the bottom of the lights that were on the sides of the mirror. Also, with the double light switch in the tub/shower – that was an absolute no-no and would not pass code, even then. So I would have to ask if these switches were added later.

  10. Melissa says

    I have a white tub like the ones featured here. I had no idea it was called a “Cinderella Tub”! It’s great for bathing children, but as for adults–it’s just too small!

  11. Elaine says

    Wow, great bathrooms! I think those sinks are American Standard “Roxbury” and I too love the original faucets! It appears that instead of a diverter on the tub spout, there is a separate set of valves for the shower head.

  12. Liz says

    I have the same pattern as bathroom #6 in my 1940’s house. I had to do a remodel due to 1940’s plumbing issues and it and the tub were the only things that didn’t get thrown out. In my defense, the rest of the bathroom was a bad 70’s/80’s remodel. Apparently, someone really, really liked brass… ugh “shivers”. We started out to do a retro renovation, but it got sidetracked to something a bit more eccentric by the time I finished. But the floor did stay. Mine is a green/white/peachy-colored mix w/ either dark gray or black grout. You can imagine it was a bit difficult trying to color coordinate with that. The tub is original also, but unlike all the colored ones shown here, they used a bone/biscuit colored one.

  13. Shirley says

    My bathroom has a pink bathtub, white sink and toilet and light grey tile. I would like to repaint the walls, but am undecided what color I should pain it. Any ideas?

    • pam kueber says

      Hi Shirley, check out our Bathrooms / Pink Bathrooms category – we have numerous examples showing what folks have done.

  14. Brooke says

    Is there any one who knows where these style shower/tub fixtures can be found? I have been searching to replace the ones that are not salvageable from my 1950’s bathroom, which sadly had to be a complete gut and although we tried we could not remove them to where they could be reused. I’ve tried Locke Plumbing who has amazing products, but the ones in these photos are exactly what I’m looking for!

  15. Cece says

    Wow! I have this bathroom set of tub and sink and original light fixtures but only in white…..and I love them….but love all these colors!! A friend had bought an old house but not as old as my 1918 home. We traded bathrooms …she wanted a claw foot tube and I wanted something newer, so I traded for her 1950s stuff. I love the tub for soaking and is more roomy than my old clawfoot tub.

  16. Dee B says

    The bathroom I loved best was the #5…Ming and Black. I love those colors. Growing up I didn’t have a bathroom I could call my own, and with five others in the house, I had to take a number. I would love to get in that Cinderella tub and soak until the water got cold.

  17. Katherine says

    I have the butter yellow sink, toilet and shower stall. I want to retile the bathroom as someone had a pink phase and added oversized pink tiles to the bathroom which look awful. I’d love some ideas of what to do with a yellow bathroom.

    • pam kueber says

      See our Bathroom Help / Bathroom Tile Help and Ideas subcategory for our stories on where to find tile.

      If you can find a yellow tile that matches your fixtures (try B&W, for a start), you could trim that in a minty green — that would be nice.

      Or: Green tile trimmed in yellow.

      More sedate: Yellow tile trimmed in white, or white tile trimmed in yellow.

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