Colors — and tile — for your 40s and early 50s bathrooms and kitchens





Immediately coming out of WWII, colors in American decorating were very sweet, cheerful, optimistic. If you have a 40s or early 50s retro bathroom or kitchen – lucky you! — you can choose from a palette including the delightful shades pictured today.

Aren’t the combo’s put together for the bathroom fabulous? In particular I love how they’ve introduced strong contrasting colors in the towels, the shower curtains and accessories – low risk, big payoff.

This design advice came from a promotional booklet from Church Mfg., the company that claims the technology that created the first white toilet seat. You know, why wouldn’t they be excited about such an accomplishment, and about toilets in general? After all it wasn’t until after the war that indoor plumbing finally made it to virtually 100% of American homes, especially those in rural areas. That would make choosing a toilet seat — and decorating your new bathroom — a memorable event indeed.

The thumbnails (click to enlarge and toggle over them to see names) above are from Dal-Tile’s Natural Hues and American Olean (various) collections. I think they’re pretty good matches for some of the Church Mfg. 40s and early 50s hues. I always favor 4×4’s with 2×6 contrasting trim, although for the 40s you can also go with subway tiles. Make sure you also see the marbleized laminate I found (Wilsonart Tearose Illusion, Beige Illusion and Bleu Windrift [a 50s color]), as well. These are not promoted, I think they are awesome choices for bathrooms.

One final note about toilets in general – including for 50s and 60s loo’s. There are several toilets I’ve recommended, but I forget to mention — that you should buy the chrome connecting hardware (the little latches that connect the seat to the toilet, and also the flusher handle), not the white. Yes — it is very important to get the right toilet connecting hardware!


  1. LeighAnn says:

    Does anyone know where I can purchase a peice of the silver sparkly formica to re-do a cabinate? It is the thin kind…Any help is appreciated.

  2. Terry says:

    Hi LeighAnn
    you might try Urban Ore ,or habitat for humanity,
    I am not sure where you ar located or even if your still looking.

  3. molly says:

    Look up Bars&Booths.com. Under the “furniture” heading they have laminates.
    Grey crackle ice 4′ x 10′ sheet $450
    Formica has “boomerang” and others Under $3? s/f

  4. Glamorlux Nancy says:

    Get samples of the cracked ice before you buy… I thought it looked ‘pixelated’ and not very good. You can buy (special order) the boomerang Formica though the Home Depot of Lowe’s for MUCH less.

  5. Glamorlux Nancy says:

    PS Haven’t found any new silver or gold sparkly laminate… That would be amazing if someone would repro that!

  6. Judy Smith says:

    Does anyone know of a source for 1950’s unglazed ceramic floor tile? I need to restore a portion of the floor of our vintage gray bathroom and would really appreciate any guidance.

    Many thanks,


  7. pam kueber says:

    Judy – go to the Fast & Easy Bathrooms, or Flooring Page. All of our known resources are there. Good luck.

  8. richard says:

    Does any body know if there is a company that still makes old style toilet seats that are shaped like the no 142 church deluxe or the no 640 church regal toilet seats pictured above?

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