Reversing a bland big box remuddle, Dana builds a vintage pink bathroom

restore-pink-bathroomReversing a blah big box bathroom remodel in her 1954 house, Dana sent the dreck to the dumpster and heck to the Mamie yeah, restored a pink bathroom in its place. It was a thrifty project, too: Dana found salvaged vintage fixtures and trim tiles, filled in the gaps with new B&W pink tiles, and then pulled everything together with DIY sweat equity. Now, her bathroom again suits her house — and, it is a good match for the other, original Ming green bathroom that, fortunately, escaped the dreaded previous-owner evil glee sledgehammer.  

midcentury bathroomDana writes:

In 2014, I bought a beautiful 1954 home with an original Ming green with cream accents bathroom suite, dove grey and pink kitchen, and a bathroom that was gutted and replaced with generic white replacements. I absolutely HATE house flippers and remodels that rip out perfect vintage personality because they think there is no resale value in the original product.

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It became a mission to retro fit the boring white bathroom with a pink suite.

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I found the perfect 1939 lowboy toilet and sink in pink on Craigslist, and had tile created to match.

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I bought burgundy tile accents, trims, toothbrush holder, soap shell, and toilet paper roll holder at B&W Tile in Riverside, California. The only thing that is untouched in this bathroom is the shower.

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We got the the mirror cabinet, mauve tile, and edge tiles from Habitat for Humanity.

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The cork flooring and lighting was installed by my boyfriend, and I collected the gold shelf cabinet and accessories.

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I put wallpaper and picture frame trim on the front of plain wood cabinets.

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The green bathroom’s cork flooring and lighting also was done by my boyfriend, the fresh coat of ceiling and cabinet paint, by my daughter and me. Otherwise, it is the same as the day I bought the house.

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My Ming green bathroom is one of the things that made me happiest about the house, and the reason I wanted to recreate a colorful pink bathroom!  I absolutely love my house!

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An appraiser came through today and said he had just walked into a time capsule. He said he never sees homes like this in our area anymore, and that is a shame. My whole neighborhood was built with the rainbow of colors.

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We even have the original light fixtures, cabinets, honey oak floors, coved ceilings. I am proud of my home.

Viva Pink!!!

Wow, Dana — both of your bathrooms are fantastic — and it is seems impossible to tell that your newly created pink and maroon bathroom isn’t original to your home. You’ve done a great job —  thanks so much for sharing your story with us! Viva la Pink — and the Ming green, too!!!

See more of reader’s vintage bathrooms


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  1. Mag says

    Thank you for sharing your reclamation from the horrors of Big Box. I have a cousin in Los Angeles that resells houses, but she leaves their period features intact. This is something she and I are in total agreement: most house flippers ruin a space when they remuddle. Here in the Denver metro area, it is nearly impossible to get a older house that hasn’t been remuddled.

    • Dana says

      I live not to far from Los Angeles, and the appraiser said that the only place he sees homes still in original condition is in Los Angeles, the Hollywood areas particularly.

      My city is getting taken over by the house flippers terribly.

      Kudos to you and yours

    • Joe Felice says

      Somebody needs to tell this to those youngsters on “Flip or Flop!” They gag every time they encounter a pink (or any mid-century) bathroom, and I just tell myself “They don’t know what they’re missing.” That’s my biggest complaint with HGTV–it seems to push for ultra-modern finishes, including stainless steel and granite, which I find devoid of personality. At least you can’t say that about either of these bathrooms!

      • Anita Johnston says

        So true, Joe Felice. I could not agree more!!!!!! I ADORE vintage tiled bathrooms!!!!!! Love them! One of ours is in lilac tile and the other is aqua. Just lovely.

        • Angela says

          Yes, that is exactly right. The big box stores love Flip or Flop, because people will spend a fortune to makeover their homes from what they see on that show. All the houses look the same, boring!

      • jivesnake says

        The Property Brothers are really bad about that too. Constantly tearing out actual mid century and then replacing it with reproduction mid century. Huh? I wish they would at least donate the cabinetry, etc to a resale place. There have been a couple episodes that I’ve actually had to turn off because they made me sick.

        • Dana says

          Give me good old fashion Rehab Addict! I adore her even though she doesn’t do mid century, she does it right. I just don’t agree with using old doors as counter tops…

        • Bobbie says

          I watch HGTV but can’t stand that they do everything new. Instead of working around what they have, EVERYTHING is new. The worst is when they take a sledge hammer to perfectly good cabinets to replace them. The least they could do is take them out and donate!

          • pam kueber says

            I suspect: Tons of product placement, too — they need to rip out the old to show the marketeers’ new — and are likely also paid by the marketeers to do so. I am just speculating on this, though.

            • Dana says

              No Pam, no speculating here. There is a lot of that in some of those shows, specifically the home rescue shows where there are donations of products and services, BUT, all those shows are probably backed heavily by product supporters. It’s business and a television production. So much of it is scripted even.

            • says

              I suspect that there are a small # of producers that have a huge say in any design shown across the channel. They always seem to hit on a couple themes and/or keywords and repeat it across all of their shows. Open Concept. Spa Like Master. Must have double sinks. Marble or quartz counters. White shaker cabinets. Putting old beat up wood on your walls and installing barn doors has been all the rage as of late, rare is a show that doesn’t include at least one of them.

              I suspect that every show must hit on a few of the keywords, at times when they say it it is very forced.

              You never see very similar type things that are relevant elsewhere; putting nice wood on your walls/ceilings, flush walnut cabinets, butcher block counters, pocket doors, etc…

  2. Brandy says

    I have the same shower but the door is plain! I loooooove that shower door! Unfortunately most of my house is a flipper victim too, and i am slowly trying to turn it from a beige palace back to its 1951 glory. I would love to know the paint color also.

    • Dana says

      In high school our art teacher showed us how to acid etch glass with an art supply made specifically for glass. We used cabinet liner paper with the sticky back, drew the picture we wanted on the paper side and cut it out with a razor knife. Took the paper off and stuck it to the glass applying the gel to the cut out portion directly on the glass. After the directed time you clean off the gel and it is frosted!

      Just read Pam’s shower door disclaimer about the random broken glass possibilities.

      I love the fancy, and there are so many fantastic rooms to see on this site, so many projects come to mind. Enjoy your vintage home.

  3. Diana says

    Both bathrooms are beautiful. I love the etched shower door and some day when we add a second bath to our 1940 home, an etched door is right up there on my must have list!

    • Dana says

      Thank you so much, and I could never live with only one bath, how most families in the mid century did it is a mystery…and great time management.

  4. Barb S. says

    Wow, I am drooling over those green fixtures. And am I the only one who LOVES that gold shelf in the pink bathroom? I have been looking for months for something like that. Does anyone recognize it? Like a name I can put in my saved eBay search? EEEE!!!

    Thanks for the photos and inspiration, Dana! I am really digging the floral décor on the cabinets as well, the frames are genius!

      • Barb S. says

        OOh, metal! Thanks. I’ve found tons of Syroco, but nothing as open as Dana’s – and with the doors. Thanks for the hint 😉

        • Dana says

          I saw that cabinet and shelf set (yes, they come apart into two pieces) snatched it and ran for the counter! Hm…name of manufacturer no, doesn’t have anything on it.

          And wallpaper! I looked at Home Depot online, nobody has good old wallpaper in stock anymore. It’s all online unless you know of a little pop store.

  5. sarah j says

    I did a web search for ming green, thinking it must be some amazing retro bathroom decor that I have never heard of and came up empty. You mean mint green, right?

  6. LuAnn says

    Both bathrooms are just lovely, Dana! I love the argyle pattern. That was such a clever use of a different shade of pink tile.

    My mom had a very similar metal shelf when I was young. And I bought the same exact metal Kleenex holder on Etsy, only it’s pink. Same painted flower motif and everything. My cheater way of stocking it with tissues is to buy a soft pack and remove half of them so it will fit. Then later when it starts to get low, I put that half back in the package. It works great!

    Congratulations on a beautiful job. Enjoy! 🙂

    • Dana says

      I’m looking to get a similarly adorned metal trash can! The Kleenex dispenser has a slide off back? Mine does, I know it could possibly be a pain if it were hung on the wall, but easy enough if just left sitting on the shelf. Actually, I haven’t tried an actual box, I hope one fits >.>

      My grandmother had black shelves with the lattice work metal

  7. kathy burgess says

    I purchased a 1940s duplex last Dec. and am blessed with a pink tub and tile. There are gold scroll like insert pieces within the tub surround. What Joy! I was thinking today I would change all the fixtures to shiny gold and add some gold shelves. I love the ones in Dana’s redo and will definitely be looking for something similar. It has a white toilet but I bought a perfectly(almost) matched toilet seat from Bemis and now it looks much better. Continuing the search for a pink sink and Flamingo wallpaper…Too much? I really hope so. lol

  8. says

    I hate to say this but feel that I must. Given the water shortages facing so much of the country, vintage toilets are not always a good thing. The newest water-saving technology (which comes in chair-height toilets, a boon to those of us actually born in mid-century) works well, unlike the retrofits that some of us tried to install in older fixtures. Now–will manufacturers listen and use vintage colors in modern toilets?

    • pam kueber says

      I hear you, Rebecca, but I will say this: A vintage toilet in a small house is way more sustainable and less of a water hog than low-flow toilets in large houses. I need to verify my memory but I believe I read once: Electricity usage is the biggest water-hog for residences. That is, it takes so much water to create electricity.

      For pastel toilets, low-flow, see this story, just one place left that we know of:

      • Dana says

        Wow, I never thought about that electricity fact!

        I have original guts, but I put bottles filled with water in the tanks to cut back on the water waste.

      • says

        Where we live (Dekalb, Ga) it is a local law that you may not sell a house (old or new) that includes any toilets that aren’t low flow toilets.

        We had to replace one in our old place as a contingency to sell it. Unfortunately too, it was in our original intact pink bathroom; though the toilet was white, it was miniature, which was needed for the (lack of) space. Even buying the smallest one we could find, it was still a big bulky monster in comparison.

      • la573 says

        Has anyone installed the Peerless pink (or other color) toilet – apparently the only new pink one available – and can they report whether the thing works well? I’m also a bit confused because their website shows only the usual white and bone being available. Which model is available in pink? I liked the recently-discontinued Gerber pink loo because it was a more comfortable 16″-1/2″ height (2″ taller than most old commodes), has a larger elongated bowl, yet the tank is slim enough front to back that the bowl doesn’t intrude into the room any more than those on older, small round-bowl toilets.

        • pam kueber says

          See our category Bathroom Help / Toilets — right at the top is the story about Peerless models and colors available as of last contact.

  9. ChrisM says

    LOVE the green bathroom! Thnx for sharing.
    My problem with the rehab shows is the trashing of re-usable cabinets etc. Most appear to be useful to someone and are probabably solid wood.

    • Dana says

      They are solid wood! and survive water damage far better than anything they want to sell you now a days.

      The wallpaper really grows on you too in that green room.

  10. Kathy says

    Wow, such a beautiful job done with the tile countertop and backsplash. A very innovative way to use not quite matching tile, and that bullnose was a lucky find, and even luckier to find soap dishes to match.

    Perhaps you can get back with us in a few years on how well the cork sheet flooring stands up in a bathroom. I love the look of cork, but everything I’ve read about it says it isn’t suitable for wet areas like bathrooms. At least the sheet version doesn’t have all the little cracks that tiles or planks would have.

    • Dana says

      Oddly, I heard and read the opposite about the cork, that is loves the humidity of the bathroom, but, it is definitely not good for furniture with peg legs and the such. I’ve seen in show rooms that bar stools left circular dents in it.

      The directions for care say damp mop, not a wet swabbing of the deck.

      It feels really good on bare feet.

  11. Carolyn says

    Outstanding work. Your taste for decor is terrific as evidenced by the framed wallpaper on your cabinets. You and others give me hope and pride. You should feel proud of your home! I’d love to see more pictures.
    Best wishes,

    • Dana says

      Thank you so much. When I was in high school, you know that thing you always wanted to do but then grew up and got a job? I wanted to go to school to be an interior decorator/designer.

      Patience is a virtue too, in collecting, I’ve been watching a vintage water color of a Siamese on Ebay…$149.99+45.00 shipping. I found it at a kitchy thrift store for $19.99! On original parchment, with the artists seal and signature.

      When I walk into my house, I walk into my happy place.

      Thank you for your kind words.

  12. Angela says

    Your bathrooms are lovely. Great work! I love time capsule houses and hope that more people get on board with saving these beautiful homes.

  13. S.A.C. says

    I live in Carmichael, CA, and things arent the same as they used to be. In 1988 when i was 3 years old, darn near everything that was built in the 60s/70s was still there. Starting around 1998-2000, Remuddels, demolitions, and renovations started to spread like wildfire. If someone, right now, visited Carmichael for the first time in 25 years, they wouldnt recognize it at all. It really irks me when someone demolishes/remuddels any house, motel hotel, duplex, apartment complex, or commercial or industrial… Basically anything that was built between 1959 and 1980. If someone wants something new and/or bigger, they should go to north natomas, west sacramento or roseville!!

  14. la573 says

    One other thing I love in the ming green bathroom I never see anymore are those shower rooms (not just stalls) with a tiled ledge and just a door showing from the outside. Has anyone here installed a new shower that way, or seen a new or newly-remodeled house with one?

    • Dana says

      The only thing lacking is a vent fan would be nice in the shower room/stall! And no, new bathrooms always have airspace over the shower walls or glass walls.

  15. mark says

    you can by retrofit double fulsh water savers at big box store and we have a bottle of water to conserve more. with the retrofit you lift handle up for little and down for large.

  16. Cindy rahn says

    Hi Dana,
    Your tilework is exceptional. Terrific job. You mentioned that you had tile made to match. Would you please share your source? I saw the B&W tiles in bisque, but where did you find a company to match the color you needed?

    I am trying to find American Standard Corallin colored tiles.

    And loved your ming bath. Shower door is priceless!!

    • pam kueber says

      Cindy, it’s my understanding that all of Dana’s tiles came from B&W. See this story on our research about where to find 4X4 tiles; it also includes a link to where you can see B&W colors. Note “bisque” is just a type of ceramic, I think – not a color.

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