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A mid century bathroom featuring vintage decorative tiles from American Olean

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Mid Century Modern Megan has inherited a sweet New Jersey ranch house that includes a beautiful 50s bathroom with gray tile … a retro blue sink, toilet and tub … and how about this – a vintage American Olean decorative tile set featuring little fishes on five different tiles. (Identified courtesy Bungalow Bill.) Oh, and Megan still owes us photos of her knotty pine kitchen! 9 photos in all…

Megan writes

Hi Pam! This is the blue and grey bath in the mid-mod rancher I grew up in and recently inherited, in southern New Jersey. Thank you for renewing my appreciation for all things mcm (my intitials by the way!) The bath is all original except for the faucet on the sink. If anybody has any ideas for decorating, I’m all ears! One of my decorating issues is that the blue is very hard to match, so buying towels is a challenge. I’ve tried pink towels, but am not crazy about it. [Pam: how about medium blue towels to match the blue in the fish tile?] And yes, I’m planning on picking out some wallpaper. We moved in about 6 months ago and haven’t done much yet beside paint.

I’ll send pics of our knotty pine kitchen next!

When I asked Bungalow Bill about the tile, he quickly reported:

That’s an easy one. They were made American Olean, c. 1930-50’s. Many of the designs and inspirations of series such as those were originally from the Franklin Tile Company of Landsdale, PA and were incorporated into AO’s line when they merged with the American Encaustic Tile Company in the 30’s after the Depression. They made 8 inch tiles as features and 4.25 inch tiles to use as go-with’s / accents.

You can see tiles from other series on my site here and here. The middle and later period designs were made on a thin, dust pressed clay body. The earlier designs from Franklin were on a hand pressed thick faince tile body, giving them a hand made, Arts and Crafts period feel. You can see the earlier Franklin tiles by typing “Franklin” into the search box

I remember getting excited when I discovered an 8 inch pink flamingo tile from their series installed outside the bathrooms in the Mohawk Diner, one of those ORIGINAL big old shiny aluminum ones, on the way to the Berkshires in Mass.

Hope that helps!

Bill

Bill – thanks as always! Megan – beautiful bathroom, you don’t have much work to do. Those little fish tiles are a gift from the retro decorating gods – and give you a great starting point to choose additional decorative elements for the bathroom.

  1. Colleen says:

    Charlie, depending on what kind of tile you have I may be able to save you some time with B&W…although I haven’t found a source for the yellow replacement tiles yet. Go to this page: https://retrorenovation.com/2008/02/23/lets-help-sebastian-save-his-yellow-bathroom/ you’ll see my comments on my tile and the B&W yellows not matching my yellow (I sent them shards and they sent me samples of their two yellows). If you have the same Romany, United States Quary Tile Company tile I have I doubt they will have a match for your tile. If you don’t know what tile you have or know it is a different tile give it a shot. They were really great about sending sample tiles and I do plan on using some of thier tile, so I’m not trying to ward you off…just save you some time. Good luck in your search!!

  2. AmyS says:

    Where, oh, where can I get the tile-in towel bars? We have the matching chrome towel bars and hooks (would love to find more of those, too!). Thanks! It’s beautiful!

    1. pam kueber says:

      hmmm, i’ll have to look into this. the first place i’d check is B&W, but i’d also check the same company that makes tile-in soap dishes. Check out my tile posts… and go thru them. Finally: Salvage places including those online. Depends on what color you are looking for – ?

      1. pam kueber says:

        AmyS, I checked a few of the places in my Tile section. Yes, they have recessed towel bars. Go thru the list….

  3. Brenda Richardson says:

    Hey anybody out there have extra old tile availbable 3 tile got cracked looking for banana yellow V Cap OR Bullnose, Ameican Onlean, high gloss Model # we think is A8262 Might be porcelian. 6 ” length top laying flat 2′ 1/2″ curve around sink countertop 1′ 3/8″ I would appreciate any help out there need to repair before Christmas. Brenda
    530 200 1536, see pictures on my face book. perfectionhc@gmail.com

  4. Bettie says:

    Notice these posts are old but hoping someone picks this up. We are looking for the exact same faucets for shower/tub that you have pictured here. Anyone have any leads of where we can find them? I have been all over the web. Trying to repair the faucets without tearing down the tile and can’t get to the back side of the wall to repair fromthe back. Any help or suggestions would be appreciated.

  5. Steve Walker says:

    I have that exact flooring in my mid-century bathroom. It’s in great shape, physically, although it looks dull and dingy. My wife wants to cover it with marmoleum but i’m curious if cleaning/regrouting/sealing would freshen it up enough to pass muster. Cleanability is a big concern.

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