Mamie Eisenhower: Unwitting creator of THE iconic color of the 50s, “Mamie Pink”

mamie_eisenhower_library_of_congress_photo“Mamie Pink.” The iconic decorating color of the 50s, arguably. Ubiquitous in fashion as well as 50s bathrooms and kitchens, of course!

The mid-century trend to pink seems to have come directly and irrefutably from Mamie Eisenhower, first lady from 1953 to 1961. Pink was Mamie’s favorite color. She wore a pink gown with 2,000 pink rhinestones to Ike’s inauguration. Ike sent her pink flowers every morning. Her bathroom in Gettysburg was pink down to the cotton balls. She re-decorated the private quarters in the White House in pink. So much so that reporters called it the “Pink Palace.” The color also seems to have been known as “First Lady Pink.” As a result of all this pink-think, there was probably no question that American women (and marketers) would pick up on it. It also was a color trend right in line with the exuberance of the time — and even supportive of the return of women to the home after WWII and their complete remaking of the American domestic landscape.

In fact, my own informal research from scouring marketing materials from the period indicates that pink kitchens and baths arrived solidly in ’53, reached a total frenzy in 1957, then pretty rapidly started to fade after that, as other trends took hold. A typical adoption curve for a trend like this.

I have an aquamarine kitchen – the decorating gods sided with my husband on this decision. But I really truly wanted pink. I have to admit, a total fixation.

So much so, that: Tomorrow I am starting a very special series: More than 60 pink kitchens, rolled out over the week. A festival of pink pink pink to start the month. So be sure to check back in, to check it out.

Meanwhile: Here’s a nice story about Mamie…Photo of her above is from the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division LC-USZ62-25814:

All About Mamie

By Jan Biles
The Capital-Journal (Topeka, Kansas)
Published Sunday, November 18, 2007

Not much is known about Mamie Doud Eisenhower.

She was a dutiful wife and mother who stood in the background as her husband, Dwight, excelled in his military career during World War II and then led the country from the Oval Office as the 34th president from 1953 to 1961.  Read the rest here from the Topeka, KS, Capitol-Journal online.


  1. Jennifer says:

    Pam, I wanted an aquamarine kitchen (inspired by yours, and by one I remember seeing years ago!), but the retro renovating gods sent me a pink kitchen–a St. Charles blush pink kitchen to be exact (picking the cabinets up today). I’m reading through the archives trying to figure out how to decorate and incorporate the pink with my beautiful 1940s, vaguely streamline moderne Wedgewood stove!

    Your site is a great resource. Thank you.

  2. Rick S says:

    i re-read this on Mamie Pink to see the date range. My wife and I this last February bought a Mamie Pink patio table and chairs. I was researching the set and found out it under Woodard Chantilly Rose and found it. It was in a 1957 ad and have found the ad on Pinterest. It seems to be an oddity because the style of chair is very uncommon and the color pink I have not seen before.
    We have added a tea cart to the set and repainted it to match, “Patchwork Pink”.
    I would love to send you pictures.

    1. pam kueber says:

      Congratulations, Diane! Your house must be happy it found appreciative new owners! Send me pics when you are in!!!!

  3. Kat says:

    Does anyone have any recommendations for a shade of pink for a Mamie bathroom? I really like Martha Stewart’s paint at Home Depot, but the pinks are either too bright or too dull.

    1. pam kueber says:

      Kate – see my section on paint colors — up in the Remodeling Basics section. Sherwin-Williams has a pink in their Suburban Modern section you might want to start with… Otherwise, see all my stories on pink bathrooms, they have their own subcategory in Bathrooms.

  4. Mick says:

    I have a 1953 Limited edition Norge fridge, the out side is white and this inside, is Mamie Pink, and Pink chrome! It still runs Great! Who thought that a single dress could dominate the color scene for a decade!

  5. olive22 says:

    Our home has alot of what I call ‘Ethel pink’. She was the dear woman that loved this house as much as I do but her two color passions were pink and avocado…with the avocado being the ‘update’.
    Since everything was in such good shape and high end when it was purchased, I could not see ripping it out. Anything that I have changed has always included a bit of Ethel pink or green in her honor.
    It is funny, the neighbors still say…”She lives in Ethel’s house’.

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  7. Lori says:

    Love the pink dress! Boy did I learn alot today! Thank you bunches for stoppin by and telling me about the great pink kitchens! I would love pink appliances!!

  8. Pingback:Retro Renovation » 61 Mamie Pink Kitchens: Let’s start with 10 from the big name brands - St. Charles, GE, American-Standard, Crane, Formica and more

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