10 facts about vintage pink bathrooms

pink-pomona-tilePink bathrooms are very interesting. Here are 10 facts about them:

  1. 5 million pink bathrooms — I believe that pink was the single-most popular color for bathrooms in the 1950s, and estimate that some 5 million pink bathrooms went into the 20 million+ homes built in the United States from 1946-1966. I can’t imagine this is easy to prove one way or another. My estimate is based on watching time capsule homes closely for two years. I’m declaring: 1 in 4 — at minimum — mid-century homes had a pink bathroom. 
  2. “Mamie Pink” – First Lady Mamie Eisenhower was pivotal in popularizing the color, which is often referred to at “Mamie Pink” or “First Lady Pink.” Her husband President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent her pink flowers every morning. She re-decorated the private quarters in the White House in pink — so much so that reporters called it the “Pink Palace.” And, the bathroom in her Gettysburg retirement home was pink down to the cotton balls.
  3. Postwar exuberance — The popularity of pink, along with classic 50s colors like turquoise, chartreuse and candy apple red, reflects the exuberance of the postwar era.
  4. “…Industry men say pink is tops”: — In 1958 Electrical Merchandising magazine summed up the demand for pink appliances, “If forced to pick one color as leading this year, most industry men say pink is tops.”
  5. Hardwired into our DNA — Evolutionary biologists hypothesized and have followed up with studies showing that a preference for pink may be hard-wired into women’s brains. Yup, it’s scientific.
  6. Retro botox — Pink is actually a great color for bathrooms because the reflected glow makes you look younger…healthier. Photographers seem to like pink bathrooms for the same reason. Have you seen our Flickr Save the Pink Bathrooms Group? Close to 1,000 images of pink bathrooms now there.
  7. Kitchens, too — Pink kitchens also popular, influenced by the same factors. RetroRenovation.com recently featured 61 pink kitchens from the era.
  8. 60s design shift — Pink bathrooms faded from popularity beginning in the late 50s and early 60s due to changes in design taste and as exuberance faded in the face of the cold war and other sobering national events.
  9. Pink resurgent – Today, interest in midcentury design is resurgent, and for many buyers a pristine pink bathroom is a valuable selling point. Several trends are driving this back-to-the-future trend, including a new generation of young buyers who love retro style, nostalgic older buyers, and more recently renewed interest in the “original” suburbs closer to the city, which are holding their value better in the wake of record gas prices.
  10. The most at risk? Of course,  pink bathrooms are emblematic — we love vintage yellow, blue, green, beige, peach, salmon, lavendar, grey and even white bathrooms, too. But while there may be resurgent interest driven by sites like RetroRenovation.com and Save the Pink Bathrooms, pink bathrooms seem to be those most highly at risk of gutting, especially on TV home decorating shows where in the words of Rodney Dangerfield, they don’t get no respect.

  1. Suzy says:

    I had white fixtures & pink tile in my 1959 house which I STUPIDLY removed & replaced with ALL TAN TILE & FIXTURES … Yesterday I scored abe beautiful Salmon pink 3 piece 1956 Eljer set (tub, toilet & sink) off Craigslist for $100 … These were over 100 miles away, the man delivered to me for $25 gas money (I gave him $50) Does anyone know the official name?

Comments are closed.