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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. Laurie V says:

    Man these bathrooms are CRAZY cool. I wish they would get away from all this natural stone stuff and go back to these magnificent colored bathrooms. I just adore how they mix and match the colors.

  2. Martha says:

    We were at an estate sale a few years ago in a house that had a beautiful lavender colored bathroom. If I can find the photo I took of it, I’ll post it. Please let me know where to post. Thanks!

  3. Michael says:

    Beautiful illustrations– what knockout showpieces these bathrooms would be!

    I like “Spring Green” the best– it looks like just a slightly paler version of our own “Ming Green” fixtures by American Standard. It’s a timeless colour that’s fresh and easy to live with.

  4. TappanTrailerTami says:

    Now we are talking! The 50’s bathrooms were great, but there is nothing in my book that will ever be as awesome as the original 20’s/30’s color palettes and tile work from the late deco/depression era bathrooms. Thank you for posting these Pam, oh so much!

    Having seen both an original deco late 20’s lavender/green/black color combo bathroom with all of its original fixtures and tile, and also original lavender fixtures at Ohmega Salvage, I really think the proper term for the color should have been:

    Orchid.

    Definitely not Mamie pink, but not true lavender in the lighter shade of purple sense. Somewhere in between, and I think Orchid is the better descriptor of that in between lavenderish-pinkish tone.

    Again – thanks for posting these Pam….I love 20’s-40’s stuff, and this is “just right”!

      1. Chris says:

        I second the sentiment from T.T.T.!

        I enjoy all the MCM articles, but the 20s through the 40s really float my boat!

        These bathrooms are glorious!

        THANK YOU!

  5. Rebecca says:

    “Select whatever color you may…You will never get tired of its cheerful presence.” I like the copy a lot… and the color combinations are really outstanding.

  6. Judith says:

    Too funny – for years we joked about the color of my 1960’s Toyota Sedan as being a translation problem…”Horizon Blue” – now I see the exact same color name in bathroom fixtures. I might have been wrong for the past 45 years.

  7. Jackie says:

    Take a look at the book “Bungalow Bathrooms” by Jane Powell. The bathrooms are not strictly “bungalow,” but rather bathrooms appropriate to the period when bungalows were built–so roughly 1890s to the 1930s. They’re great examples of bathrooms that would be in any house of those years. Lots of Ming Green and Orchid!

    Ming Green and Spring Green are really close to the color of Jadeite glassware.

  8. Jeff says:

    Pam, love this posting!

    I attend estate sales each weekend that have ALL of these colorways present and still being used today.

    Detroit and it’s older suburbs have these priceless bathrooms, many with Pewabic pottery tile floors, recessed radiator covers, original mirrors, and original Lightolier lighting fixtures still intact.

    Detroit’s Palmer Woods, University District, Indian Village, Grosse Pointes, etc, all have superb examples.

    The stand alone sinks Kohler made had wide enough edges to actually set something on, and heavy nickel over brass faucets. Love this….

  9. Jay says:

    The Spring Green fixtures with green walls and black trim screams Deco. I have seen the 50s version and wished I had it. Thanks for sharing the archival material.

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