The color gray in vintage bathrooms from 1927 to 1962

vintage gray bathroomsLast up in our six-part series reviewing the history and timeline transformations of the most common colors used for vintage bathroom fixtures: Let’s look at the variety of gray tubs, sinks and toilets offered by a variety of manufacturers reaching back as far as 1927. Along the way, we also get great ideas about how to decorate a gray bathroom — an eminently versatile color — without going all … monotone.  

American Standard: 1962 Platinum Gray

vintage gray bathroomAmerican Standard’s Platinum Gray looks fantastic when mixed with a creamy yellow and blue.

vintage gray bathroomAnd here, they’ve mixed gray with beige, yellow and pink creating a cheery space.
vintage gray bathroom

Even this richer color combination of gray with avocado green, blue and cream is anything but boring.

Three images above: 1962 American-Standard catalog from the Building Technology Heritage Library.

Kohler: 1927 West Point Gray and the 1952-1967 Argent

colors for bathroom sinks tubs and toilets introduced by kohler in 1927Although Kohler was the first company to start making fixtures in color back in 1927, the ‘West Point Gray’ in their original color lineup.

kohler-gray-bathroom-1959‘Argent’ was Kohler’s 1950s gray. It appears to have been quite rich in depth. Shown (above) in a 1959 catalog in the Building Technology Heritage Library, the color gets a high-contrast decorator treatment.

kohler-argent-grayIn this 1961 catalog in the Building Technology Heritage Library, they pair it with 60s flower power colors — orange and green. Who’da thunk it!

Over on their extensive color timeline, Kohler says that Argent was in their lineup form 1952-1967.

Briggs: 1950s Pearl Gray

vintage gray bathroom vintage gray bathroomBrigg’s Pearl Gray seems to be a darker gray than the American Standard Platinum Gray, definitely more declaratively gray with less likelihood of reflecting and taking on the hue of adjacent strong colors. When combined with white tile and rosy pink floors and accents, it looks very nice indeed — pink and gray is one of Pam’s favorite color combinations in a vintage bathroom, whenever she sees one. The two images above show Pearl Gray from the 1950s Briggs Beautyware catalog from the Building Technology Heritage Library.

AllianceWare: 1950s Greyalliance ware vintage bathroom fixtures

Pam found this ad for AllianceWare bathroom fixtures that includes ‘Grey’ in a 1950s Small Homes Guide. Alliance Ware kinda makes us smile, because it seems they did not have a marketing person to name their colors!

See all our stories about vintage bathroom colors:

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Comments

  1. Mary Black says

    I absolutely am in love with Retro Renovation. I’m a big fan off all things retro and love retro and mid-century decor. I look forward to the emails and have a separate email folder where I keep all of them for reference and to go back to to enjoy again and again.

  2. Pencils says

    I have a partially original gray bathroom–the wall tile is gray, but the fixtures are white, with a floor of small black tiles. I’m pretty sure the bath is original, but I know the toilet and sink are replacements. I have to say, I hate my gray tiles, but then I hate gray walls, no matter how popular they are these days. I’m a color girl. Maybe I wouldn’t hate the bath so much if it had white or color tiles and gray fixtures. Right now I have the walls painted a strong turquoise blue with a blue, green and white striped shower curtain and matching striped hand towels. Bath towels are blue. It’s not a bad room, but with all the colors out there at the time (1953), I wish the original owners had gone with pretty much anything else!

  3. Lynn says

    This is interesting to know that gray fixtures were used then also. My only experience with gray fixtures was in my former 1988 ranch. It had all gray fixtures that were originally paired with mauve. I guess the whole house was that way. The owners prior to us started beiging everything and some fixtures were replaced with white so it just looked weird. It’s nice to see gray look good in bathrooms!

  4. Mary Jane Chapin says

    Hi,
    We have just moved into a very vintage home and two of the bathrooms still have the gray fixtures as shown in the Kohler ad,toilet,tub and sink with chrome legs! One bath has the blue tiles,the other all gray. The third bath has a 1920’s pedestal sink and newer tub and toilet,white.

  5. Angie Garcia-Johnson says

    Our 1957 custom ranch in Belleville, Michigan has a wonderful original grey and yellow bathroom. Fixtures are yellow and counter top tile is grey and yellow design, the tile floor is greys and yellows. It’s a gorgeous room! All original! I would love to post images to share but don’t see a way to do that. Let me know if you would like to see it!

  6. Carla says

    I actually have 7 vintage baths. A pinky coral and brown 3 ming green. 2blue and gray which i love. I wouldn’t consider chsnging out the baths but am having a hard time finding color combos. Want an outstanding display of these beautiful rooms. Getting help from your site. Any special advice appreciated

    • Rick G says

      Hi Carla, as a custom automotive painter, ( and mid century nut ) …….. I highly suggest you go to an art store & pick up a color wheel. Ask someone in the store to explain how to use it, you’ll will help you greatly. Try and get the most simple one, on one side, there will be the tool used to formulate colors; ( such as Yellow & Blue=Green, and so on ) ….. on the other side ( the one you’ll be wanting, will have the primary colors, secondary & so forth; this tool will show you how to pick the most complimentary colors to go with any & all colors you may want to use. Let me know how this works out & feel free to ask for help if you need any.

    • Rick G says

      Ok Carla – one more ( I missed ! ) For your Ming Green, pastel yellow, blue, pink – used in any combo would work

  7. Rick G says

    Hi again Carla, these are my choices for your colors ……… PINK – Pastel yellow or blue with black accents / trim BROWN – Pastel Yellow or Creme, or …. Red, ( depending on tone ) BLUE Pastel Pink or Pastel Yellow GREY – Pastel Pink with Black trim / border

  8. Sharon says

    Our 1966 bathroom has a gray tub, surround tile, toilet and sink. We recently had the counter laminated with Wilsonart Domino boomerang. Floor is white terazzo with black and gray chips. Accents with Mamie pink towels and bath mat. Looks awesome!

    • Rick G says

      Now that sounds nice !!! It really comes down to the proper balance of color, next time Pam offers the uploader, please share a pic or two; I’d love to see it !!

  9. Carolyn says

    I’m thinking we need an uploader when the days are dark and gloomy in January – March…cuz a picture is worth a thousand words.

  10. Jessie says

    My mother always wanted a “dubonnet and pearl gray” bathroom, that was never to be. Her other bath combo was “fawn and misty lilac”; this combo didn’t occur either. I think of her everytime you post the vintage bath colors.

    • Rick G says

      Either choice would’ve been ultra luxurious !! – perhaps you could still consider incorporating one of these combos into one of your rooms as a tribute Jessie ?

  11. Rick G says

    I’ve always loved the look of the mint green & pastel yellow bathroom from the movie “The Shining” – never mind the film itself, but the design , layout & use of colors for this bathroom is genius . For me, it shows a well thought out plan at it’s best. I think the placement of the tub at the far wall of the room, with the border really adds to the dramatic effect .

  12. Laura says

    My Grandma’s house still has the original gray bathtub, bathroom sink & toilet! I think they are American Standard. I seem to remember finding a replacement seat was a real pain. Also, when I worked @ Home Depot I helped a customer try to find a replacement tank for a color toilet. Sadly, we failed.
    I think it’s sad that our grandparents & great-grandparents were so much bolder with color than our generation. Of course that can be said for so many things…

    • Rick Grant says

      I agree, I find the colors, ( or lack of ) now; reminiscent of pre war colors; very depressing. I’m not sure if everyone has decided to abandon color & good taste; forgot what cool is, or what has happened. In the 50’s, 60’s & even the 70’s, people were being creative with design, and enjoying colors ; now, people get thrilled by having their kitchens & bathrooms look like sterile medical labs.

      • Lynn says

        I agree! A former neighbor of mine built a brand new house. It had 5 bedrooms and several other rooms. She had three kids, and the daughter’s bedroom was the ONLY room in the house painted a color other than white, beige, or gray. The neighbor once described her style as “tasteful”, which I found really depressing. She must have been overwhelmed with all the color in my house!

      • Linda says

        Me too! When I watch the hgtv reno shows and have them ponder over which shade of greige to use on the exterior, not to mention sterile-looking everything else, I want to scream! Even carpet samples now will have 49 shades of cream and beige, maybe a token muted blue or green thrown in. I hope, like most trends, it boomerangs back to including color!

  13. Paul-CT says

    Somebody please hold me! The house next door has two gorgeous pearl grey bathrooms with pearl grey tile and gorgeous one piece pearl grey 1961 commodes all with in bathrooms with beautiful redwood paneling and trim.

    Long story short, the new neighbors just started moving in and I see the two gorgeous pearl grey toilets sitting at the side of the street ready to be trashed.

    I am so upset! If I had a grey bathroom, I’d grab them!

    P.

  14. Markie Crossman says

    Late to the game, but I LOVE one with avocado. We have ming green commode, cinderella tub and sink…. using gray floor tile, painting walls light gray, tub tile is a mix of white and vintage ming tiles…. I have some turquoise and ming accessories. easy peasy to get a quart of avocado for the wall behind the sink and add a few tchotschkes for the wall… DONE. perfect blend of sophistication and warmth!!!

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