Kathy’s new/old glam bathroom revival — featuring an Kohler Fresh Green receptor tub and World of Tile tile

1970s bathroom retrokathy-and-ralph-250-cropAll that was left of the original 1976 bathroom in Kathy and Ralph’s house was a Kohler Fresh Green receptor tub. There had once been matching orange sinks! What would daredevil decorator Kathy do to bring this bathroom back to the ’70s? Hint: Her ingenious solutions were found at the Re-StoreWorld of Tile, and a local old time wallpaper store. This bathroom project may shock minimalists’ eyes — but it makes mine very happy indeed.

1970s bathroom retroKathy writes:

We are the third owners of our 1966 cedar contemporary, the second owners staying only 5 years. By coincidence, we became acquainted with a woman who grew up in the house, giving us access to valuable info.

This project was our second bath. It was originally finished a decade or more after the house was built and was done inexpensively – masonite paneling, plywood shelving, white laminate counter, tile board tub surround, vinyl floor — but the kids picked the fixture colors. They chose Kohler Fresh Green for the receptor tub and toilet and orange for the pair of oval sinks.

1970s bathroom retro

Unfortunately, it was all removed by owner #2 – except for the tub, which had been recoated WHITE and accented with colonial-style fixtures. Now there was golden oak everywhere. The floor was bland grey vinyl off the roll from a big box store.

1970s bathroom retro 1970s bathroom retro

At our local ReStore, we were amazed to find a vintage vanity clad all in black marble Formica with muted green and gold veining.

1970s bathroom retro

It came complete with TWO ORANGE OVAL SINKS with crazy gold faucets! We made a deal and took it home, where it lived in storage in our basement for 2 years.

1970s bathroom retro 1970s bathroom retro

In the interim, the white coating on our little Kohler Standish tub began to chip, then peel. With the help of a scraper, I had the whole thing back to green in a few hours. It shows the acid etching from the refinishing, but a couple of coats of canuba wax improved things enough to get by.

1970s bathroom retro

I’ve always loved exuberant wallpapered 1970s bathrooms. I couldn’t spend $600 on vintage foil or mylar, so I hit our local old-time paint and wallpaper store and was pleasantly surprised to find recently discontinued designs with a 70s vibe at dirt cheap prices. For $60, I picked out a great leafy pattern in blues and greens and had fun learning to hang it myself.

1970s bathroom retro

For the floor, we made a road trip to New Jersey and World of Tile just in time before they liquidated. It took less than an hour to pick out our cream tile with green accents for only $2 a square foot.

1970s bathroom retro

A methodical handy man friend installed it all, retrofitting the vanity perfectly, which even required some laminate to be removed and moved around. I repaired and papered the walls and changed out the tub faucet trim.

1970s bathroom retro

I left one of the oak cabinets, refinished in a darker color, along with the white solid surface tub surround.

1970s bathroom retro

Someday, I’ll find a Kohler Fresh Green toilet. For now, a fresh green Bemis toilet seat represents.

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Other finishing touches include vintage Carriage House by Amerock towel bars and accessories, and a 1970s Syroco wall decoration. Mirrors from Lowe’s and a shower curtain from Target round it all out.

1970s bathroom retro

We love our new/old glam bathroom. I look forward to the day someone visiting our house for the first time sees the bathroom and says, “Yikes! I’ll bet you can’t wait to get rid of this!” But everyone so far seems to genuinely love it, too.


Fabulous. Just fabulous. And, you used one of my all-time favorite World of Tile tiles! Thank you, Kathy and Ralph!


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  1. Marie Gamalski says

    Really love brightly colored or ANY colored for that matter commodes, tubs, sinks…. Hate the bland white and AWFUL ” cultured”
    Marble or worse granite everywhere now… Great job!😃

  2. sherry says

    woo hoo thank you for that picture of those sinks i bought two of them for 45.00 have not set them up yet but was wondering how they would look now i have an idea can not wait to put them in my bathroom

  3. Penny says

    Fantastic job on tying together all the different themes in that bathroom!
    I must have lived a sheltered life as I’ve never seen orange bathroom fixtures. However, if I’d seen those matching orange sinks I would have bought them because I know I would HAVE to do something with them. They just cry out for special consideration.

  4. Judy H. says

    Wow! That is some serious Glamazon! Don’t think I could live with it on a daily basis, but it’s fun to look at!

  5. Carol says

    Love the wallpaper – just what I need to add a little zip to my mid century bathroom – I was lucky enough to inherit ‘cinnamon’ tiles – don’t see that color highlighted here (or anywhere) often! Every contractor that has come into my newly purchased house asks when I’m ripping out the bathroom and kitchen – I keep telling them I’m preserving history…

  6. Shiloh says

    I love how in love everyone is with this bathroom (myself included!). This makeover reminds us not to take ourselves too seriously and to appreciate imagination. Very well done.

  7. Jackie says

    Fantastic! I am curious, did you use any kind of chemical stripper to remove the coating that had been used on the tub? And does the carnauba wax make the bottom slippery to stand in? I’m helping my daughter with her 1956 MCM, hoping to save the original turquoise bathtub. Thanks!

    • pam kueber says

      Hi Jackie, be aware that there can be lead in the glaze in old bathtubs. Consider getting with your own properly licensed professionals to assess the situation including the issue of using chemical strippers on this material. I am not an expert on this issue. See our Be Safe/Renovate Safe page which includes a link to a report about the potential for lead in old ceramic tiles that also mentions the issue of bathtubs: http://retrorenovation.com/renovate-safe/

      You are also correct to be cognizant of the slips/falls issue and taking appropriate measures.

    • Kathy says

      I used only a razor scraper to remove the coating, starting in the spot it had already begun to peel. The tub now has a finish resembling matte pottery, which is kind of nice actually, but it is not terribly even. You can see large swathes of acid etching. If this was my main bath, I might not be happy with it. I have not had a problem with slipperiness, but I only use the tub for baths. Good luck!

  8. Lisa Compo says

    While it’s not my particular taste (I’m a 50s and 60s gal), you did a fabulous job capturing the feel of the 70s. I felt like a kid again in one of my parent’s friends fancy homes. Like stepping back in time, which is really what most of us are after when we period decorate. And to please ourselves of course. 🙂
    The white toilet kinda sticks out to me, while the rest of the room is beautiful. Could it be painted green? I forget, but would one of those fuzzy “tank sets” be the correct period? I remember Mom had one in every bathroom. Also, might look cool with a very light mist of gold spray paint highlighting the contours of the mirror frame. Just thought I’d toss out a couple ideas if any are helpful. You did a super job, dramatic change for the better and great reuse of vintage goodies.

    • Kathy says

      I’ll find the matching Kohler toilet someday. I’m patient. The tub surround and room moulding are white, so there is plenty in the room to balance the toilet in the meantime.

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