Decorating a yellow bathroom: Color history and ideas from five manufacturers from 1927 to 1962

vintage yellow bathroomsThere’s no doubt about it — yellow is just one of those happy, sunny colors that can instantly brighten a space. It is no surprise then, that midcentury bathrooms, which already featured smile-inducing pastels like pink, green and blue, would also be bathed in sunny yellow. In my research, I found that many manufacturers offered a version of Ivory that could be classified as a pale yellow, especially in the early years of colorful fixture production. By the 1950s and early 1960s, brighter yellows — such as American Standard’s ‘Manchu Yellow’ and Briggs’ ‘Autumn Yellow’ were becoming available. Let’s take a look at yellow bathroom fixtures from 1927-1963.

American Standard Yellows — Ivoire De Medici and Manchu Yellow

vintage yellow bathroom vintage yellow bathroom vintage yellow bathroom

Ivory may not technically be yellow, but in my research, I found many manufacturers offering different shades of Ivory, such as American-Standard’s ‘Ivorie de Medici’ that look to be pale yellow in their catalogs. Above images: 1930 American-Standard Ivoire De Medici bathroom fixtures from the Building Technology Heritage Library.

vintage ivory yellow bathroom

Above from: 1950 American-Standard catalog from the Building Technology Heritage Library showing Ivoire De Medici bathroom fixtures.

vintage yellow bathroomWhen it comes to ‘Manchu Yellow’ there is no question — this 1963 color is a bright, sunny, happy, unmistakable yellow.

vintage yellow bathroom vintage yellow bathroom

Three images above: 1962 American-Standard catalog showing Manchu Yellow fixture/ Building Technology Heritage Library.

Kohler — Old Ivory and Tuscan

vintage ivory bathroom

A few years ago, Pam wrote about the very first year — 1927 — that Kohler offered its bathroom fixtures in colors besides white. Old Ivory — which looks like it could have been a very pale yellow — was part of that first color lineup.
vintage ivory bathroom

Again, Old Ivory looks like a pale yellow, therefore I have classified it as such. Above: Old Ivory fixtures from a 1928 Kohler catalog from the Building Technology Heritage Library.

1936 Kohler bathroom colors

Above: We see Kohler’s color lineup 1936 Kohler catalog from Building Technology Heritage Library. While Old Ivory was offered, it was not one of their four most popular colors as indicated by the larger swatch size above.

1948 Kohler colors bathroom

Above: In this 1948 Kohler catalog / Building Technology Heritage Library, we see the whole palette for the year, which includes Ivory — though it seems they dropped the ‘old’ from the name. By 1949, Ivory was dropped from the Kohler color lineup.

Kohler colors 1950svintage yellowy beige bathroomOddly enough, even though Ivory was not in the 1950 Kohler lineup, it is possible that ‘Tuscan’ made a shift from beige to a yellowy beige. You be the judge. Above images from: 1950 Kohler catalog / Building Technology Heritage Library.

Crane — Citrus Yellow and India Ivory

vintage Crane bathroom colors 1940 vintage yellow bathroom

In 1940, Crane offered both a creamy ‘India Ivory,’ which looks like a pale yellow, and a bright ‘Citrus Yellow,’ along with Orchid Pink, Pale Jade, Lavender and Sun Tan. Images above from: 1940 Crane catalog / Building Technology Heritage Library.

vintage yellow sink

Here’s Crane’s Citrus Yellow again in another 1940 Crane catalog / Building Technology Heritage Library.

Eljer — Jonquil Yellow and Colonial Ivory

vintage bathroom colorsPam spotted some Eljer catalogs from 1939 and 1940 in the Building Technology Heritage Library that showed two shades of yellow — including Jonquil Yellow and Colonial Ivory.

Briggs — Autumn Yellow and Ivory

vintage yellow bathroom vintage Yellow bathroomThe two images above show Autumn Yellow — a cheery bright hue — from the 1950s Briggs Beautyware catalog / Building Technology Heritage Library.

vintage Ivory Bathroom vintage Ivory BathroomThe Briggs catalog shows their Ivory as slightly more beige than pale yellow. Above, two images above of Briggs’ Ivory from: A 1951 Briggs Beautyware catalog / Building Technology Heritage Library.

See our other stories about vintage bathroom colors:

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Comments

  1. Joe Felice says

    Indeed, ivory often does approximate buttercup, the lightest shade of yellow that was hugely popular. GE was big into yellow, especially in the ’60s.

  2. Nancy Herbert says

    http://www.seattlehome.com/property/1026417/#

    Photo 12 is our yellow master bathroom. Striped green and gold wallpaper, sparkle starburst laminate and flooring are all original, along with sink and the toilet (attached to wall). We had to retile the yellow shower, regrouting couldn’t save it, but we put back in some of the yellow tiles and added a shampoo & soap cubby. It’s a lot brighter in there now – the earlier shower felt a bit like bathing in a beaten egg yolk!

    Our other bathroom is all blue and in photo #14. Though the wall looks kind of purple, it’s really a very pale blue. There’s a laundry hamper built in to the cantilevered cabinet.

    We loved this house and tried to reinstall as many good quality lighting fixtures as we could find.

  3. Kathy says

    I have a 1962 Kohler Sunrise Yellow bathroom with matching tilework and an interesting yellow-gray-wite streaky and rough textured 1″ square mosaic tile floor that is unlike anything I have seen on your site.

    According to the Kohler color timeline, the color was offered between 1953 and 1969. It is a nice color, bit on the gold side with a touch of green undertone. My sink vanity has the coveted gold sparkle laminate, not sure which kind.

    My kitchen and half-bath are both Kohler Peachblow (1934-1973), a Mamie Eisenhower type of peachy pink., also with matching tile work. All rooms have tiled toe-kicks.

  4. Pencils says

    Thank you for this! I’m very fond of my 1963? Manchu Yellow American Standard upstairs bathroom. It’s one of the reasons I was so excited to buy this house. I was always jealous of my grandmother’s yellow hall bath growing up–my sister craved her lavender master bath. At home we had one boring white bathroom.

    The yellow wall tile matches the fixtures quite well, unfortunately there’s some damage by the tub that will need to be addressed, and the mosaic floor is very worn and will need to be replaced. I’m thinking eventually we may keep the fixtures but replace the tile, partially because there’s a large and unnecessary linen closet in the bathroom that would be much better used as floor space in the tiny room. But we’ll see, that bath is far down the list of things that need to be done to this house!

  5. Scott says

    I’m not sure if they would have been durable, but the wall-mounted 1963 Manchu Yellow American Standard Potty not only looks sharp but it sure would make cleaning the bathroom floors a snap.

    • Heidi E. says

      I’m guessing that’s the reason for them. Sadly I think the durability really would be an issue. I can’t help remember a story from someone I once knew, who heard what he thought was a burglar and charged in, baseball bat in hand, to find that the “intruder” was actually his older model wall-mount toilet, which had finally given way with dramatic and disastrous results.

  6. Elizabeth says

    I just scored a yellow American Standard sink complete with huddee ring – in perfect condition – at our local Habitat Restore. Just perfect condition. It is stamped in multiple places under the sink that it is American Standard with many original, intact tags.

    I thought of this article when I picked it up for $5.00 (imagine – just five dollars – because the cashier said it was “vintage” and “no one wants those”). It actually matches another (what I think is) original Ming Green sink by American Standard, so it the new sink fits our house perfectly. We may someday complete our basement (a rumpus room) and will do a green and yellow guest bathroom like one of your pictures above.

    So excited! Thanks for putting this resource together.

  7. LeAnn says

    Well this was a timely article for me as I am presently restoring a 1933 Texas farmhouse with a very sweet and tiny hall bath with original pale yellow tile and a claw foot tub. I took out the non original gross vinyl floor today and will put pinwheel tile in it’s place.
    Thank you for everything you do! This site has been a source of inspiration for me.

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