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The first colors for bathroom fixtures — Kohler introduces sink, tub and toilet sets in six colors, 1927

“…We had color in the bathroom; now we have the bathroom in color — a complete color ensemble, a new color charm…. six lovely permanent shades…”

the first green color for sinks tubs and toilets introduced by kohler in 19271927 was a momentous year in bathroom history — that’s when Kohler became the first company to introduce complete suites of sinks, tubs and toilets, in six glorious colors. I found this old catalog from 1928 that features beautiful, glowy photos of the bathrooms in the six colors —  Horizon Blue, Old Ivory, Spring Green, Lavender, Autumn Brown and West Point Gray. Gorgeous! Golly, though, the Lavender fixtures in these illustrations sure looks like Pink to me. I asked Kohler archivist Angela Miller, and she confirmed, “Lavender does look pinkish in the literature, a little more lavender in person. Although, still more on the pink side.” So there: Our first pink bathroom fixtures, I declare it so. And blue and green and yellowish and yes, even beige and gray. Continue clickin’ to see the rest of the historic bathroom colors, along with bathroom illustrations that suggest just how beautiful high-end bathrooms could be in the roaring ’20s, before the party shut down –>

The catalog says:

This is an age of color. Recent years have seen a remarkable increase in its use in interior decoration — and not alone for its mere decorative value, but for its effect upon happiness and well-being. Color in the world out-of-doors affects our moods, our outlook upon life. And properly employed within the house, it has a like effect.

The bathroom has, of course, shared in this growing use of color. Bright touches have appeared in towels and rugs and window hangings, and latterly, in shower curtains. It has crept into walls and floor, and sometimes to the very rim of the bath tub.

But there, in most instances, the color stopped. The most important things in the bathroom — the plumbing fixtures — were white. We perhaps got to thinking that they had to be white.

And the like was true of the kitchen and laundry.

Kohler Fixtures in Color: So the announcement of Kohler Plumbing Fixtures in color was really a major innovation. We had color in the bathroom; now we have the bathroom in color — a complete color ensemble, a new color charm…. six lovely permanent shades, of blue, green, gray, brown, lavender and ivory.

colors for bathroom sinks tubs and toilets introduced by kohler in 1927


It’s so interesting to see the color combinations in 1927. Lavender and yellow and green — why not! Also, I love tile run this high all around a room… and a tub/shower that’s arched or built in: Yum.

 

Kohler’s website now features a timeline showing the years for all their colors. These color chips, as rendered, seem quite “off” to me…I’d trust the printed documents first…
Here’s another image that Kohler sent to me, read the color and decorating combinations that the company recommended back in the day.
A closeup of Kohler’s recommended color combinations to achieve different design styles:  Italian, English, Colonial, Modern, French, Spanish, Provincial. This is SO COOL. 1927-ish

Link love:

Readers, which of these first colors is your favorite?

 

  1. pam kueber says:

    Hi Debbi. I am not an expert on any of these questions. Please note, old porcelain enamel tubs and sinks, and old plumbing fixtures; can contain hazards such lead; get with your own properly licensed professional to assess what you are dealing with so you can make informed decisions. For more info and links including my 2016 story on the potential for lead in porcelain tubs and sinks, and in tile, too, see my Be Safe/Renovate Safe page https://retrorenovation.com/renovate-safe/

    Oh and — Kohler does have recommendations on products to use to clean their porcelain on cast iron projects. See my story here and also consult with Kohler for any updates: https://retrorenovation.com/2012/11/19/kohler-says-no-to-magic-eraser-comet-bar-keepers-friend-zud-vinegar-for-cleaning-its-porcelain-enamel-cast-iron/

  2. Michael says:

    Thank you SO much for writing this article! We have 4 of the 6 Kohler colors introduced in the 20’s in tact and in beautiful working condition.

  3. Nancy says:

    My first floor bathroom has grey Kohler fixtures. I want to modernize the bathroom, as it has lovely but dated wallpaper and tile. Still, I hate to lose the grey fixtures. Is grey still “in”?

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