Reader Angela and her husband were forced to renovate their vintage master bathroom because of a leaky shower. As much as they tried, it was nearly impossible to save and reuse the original pool blue Pomona tiles from their shower because they were cemented in place. We often see this is the case with the old-school “mud set” tiles — they are cemented into the walls or floors or countertops like nobody’s business. Angela has tried to locate matching blue tiles for her master bath for quite a while now — with only a smidgeon of luck. With her bathroom project stalled, she asked for our help to pull her retro bathroom design together together combining what was left of the old with what we could find to coordinate, new. Fortunately, this color of blue is pretty popular right now — so I think we came up with some good ideas.
My husband and I have been fans of Retro Renovation for some time. We have a master bathroom remodel in progress, but it has stalled for various reasons. We must get going again, and would like some advice from you and your readers.
We have a large vanity and originally had a stall shower. When we bought our house, we knew the shower pan was leaking and that we’d soon have to tackle that project. When it came time to demo, we discovered that the shower tile was cemented on and were literally only able to save a few of the original 4 1/4’s and some trim/curb pieces.
They are Pomona tile in a what we believe is the color “Pool Blue”, or color number B474, or maybe S553. My husband found a handful of matching ones at our local ReStore, just enough to tease me and add fervor to my search. We have 17 total tiles now (plus 2 cut pieces, 4 baseboard type tiles and 3 with a rounded edge) and about 20 matching matte/mottled ones that could possibly be used as accents on the floor.
About the time we took out the shower, we found a Cinderella tub at a salvage yard in Berkeley and had to have it. We took out a small closet to expand the bathroom and it fits perfectly in the corner!
Some time ago, I contracted a tile place in Southern California who stated they could match our light turquoise tiles. Their first run came very close, but subsequent runs veered further away, becoming too blue or too green. They couldn’t recreate that first attempt.
We finally gave up on that and I contacted Chippy at World of Tile. Unfortunately, they don’t have any Pomona tile or a color that is even close.
I then started looking at colors that could accent the turquoise and contacted B&W Tile. They sent me a really nice grey sample (64W) that I’m considering.
We’re overwhelmed by it all, and have so many questions:
- Should we use grey tile for the tub surround? What other colors would complement the turquoise?
- Should we expand the tub surround and tile most or all of the wall opposite the vanity?
- We decided to drop the ceiling above the tub, matching its outline. We added a curb to accentuate this. The wood you see in the photo will be covered in the appropriate wall board. How far up should the tile go on the tub surround? Just above the shower head, as was common during the 50’s, or farther up, possibly including the drop ceiling and curb?
- We want to carry the color from the vanity to the tub surround. How can we make use the handful of NOS turquoise tile we have?
- What should we do on the floor? Color? Shape? Size? I would love to tile this as well, maybe adding radiant heat in a few places. We considered using Azrock VCT, but then we wouldn’t be able to add radiant heat. Pam, we used Azrock’s Cortina VCT in Autumn Haze in our kitchen too, adding a detailed black border.
- What color should we paint the walls?
- I’ve never been a big fan of shower curtains. Do we have other options? If not, where can we find a fitting curtain rod.
- And lastly…Could it be at all possible that one of your readers has or knows of a cache of NOS or salvaged Pomona tile in the exact color we need? I’m in LOVE with the turquoise tile, which sealed the deal when buying our house. It kills me to think of those that we “lost”.
Our home is a 1953 ranch. We’re trying to keep it as period as possible. Our style is mid century modern… uncluttered with clean lines.
Thank you, Pam!
Mood board #1 for a turquoise bathroom — “turquoise-tastic”:
Angela has a lot of decisions to make regarding her bathroom. Pam and I chatted about Angela’s tile matching problem and Pam instantly thought that Daltile’s Aqua Glow field tile might be just what Angela has been searching for. Even if it is not quite a perfect match, but close — having it across the room from the original tile vanity might be just enough separation for it to look like it matches. The only way to find out will be for Angela to order some samples. Here are a few ideas for Angela to consider:
- Choosing a wall color that is a lighter shade of the tile will repeat the turquoise throughout the room and make it feel complete.
- I love these starburst bathroom accessories from Rejuvenation, because they really add that retro flair to a bathroom. In fact — I hope to use the towel bar in my own master bath remodel, too.
- Continue to repeat the turquoise with turquoise towels (White or grey towels would also look great).
- They might not be an exact match, but these Aqua Glow 4×4 field tiles from Daltile might just be close enough to work with Angela’s original bathroom tile. I would use them to tile the entire shower surround (including ceiling curb), but leave the rest of the walls untiled to avoid turquoise overload.
- Angela’s great find: Her vintage white princess bath tub.Daltile also has a fabulous custom tile tool on their website — which Pam has written about before and has been used by our readers like Lauren — to create a specially made retro tile bathroom floor. For this variation, I used the same Aqua Glow color from the wall tile, Pepper White (a white tile with a light speckle) and Desert Grey Speckle to create the perfect custom mix for Angela’s floor.
- Complete the room with a bright and cheery turquoise bath mat.
Mood board #2 — a blue and yellow “sun and surf” bathroom design:
If Angela is yearning for more color in her bathroom, yellow looks great with aqua. Using the same basic plan from above and just swapping out the aqua walls for a pale yellow and remixing the custom floor tile mix to include a bit of pale yellow (crisp linen) Angela’s bath gets a whole different look.
However, if Angela determines that the Daltile Aqua Glow is not a close enough match to her original tiles — fear not. I have a backup plan.
Mood board #3 — “salt ‘n pepper” tile viva la retro!
- Lighter shade of the aqua wall tile for the wall color.
- Instead of making the shower surround aqua, the Pepper white 4×4 wall tiles from Daltile are an authentic retro choice. (I have the original version of these tiles in my minty green hall bathroom).
- Depending on the area that needs to be tiled, Angela could make a stripe with her leftover and salvaged original tiles, or create a random pattern similar to how my mint green bathroom is tiled. If Angela used the Pepper white tiles, she could surely tile the whole bathroom wall without getting aqua overload.
- Same starburst bathroom accessories from Rejuvenation.
- Turquoise towels (white or grey towels would also look great).
- Angela’s great find: Her vintage white princess bath tub.
- Add a bright and cheery turquoise bath mat.
- For a different twist on a retro floor, Angela could make a custom mix of hex and dot tile using American Universal Corp.’s Brittany Octagon Series. The grey “dots” pick up the “pepper” in the wall tile and the white octagon tile makes for a crisp clean feeling throughout the bathroom.
A shower rod for a neo angle tub:
These idea boards leave us with only two remaining questions: What other options does Angela have besides a shower curtain? I’ll defer to Pam and the readers on this one, as I am not well versed in shower doors. Pam suggests:
She needs to look for a “neo angle” shower rod. Since her tub is so old, and the size is not made anymore, she needs to measure carefully and ensure she gets a neo angle rod that fits properly. Typically, these also had a rod coming down from the ceiling to hold the center. you would then need two curtains, one right, one left
We checked with John at deabath.com (an advertiser) who always seems to know to answer to questions about vintage products like this. Sure enough, he quickly answered:
Hi Pam,Ah yes, the Neo-angle version. We just sold one in Ming Green. Our 79-P0533 rod will fit just fine. You actually cut the extra long center bar down to fit, the 36″ sides are perfect. It can be found on this webpage — http://deabath.com/SHWR/
Pam found neo angle shower rods on other websites, as well.
Unfortunately, I’m not sure that shower doors would be an option for your tub. What do you think readers?
The last question Angela has for us is, do any readers out there have the specific tile that Angela is trying to match?
Angela, I hope that these idea boards help you figure out what is right for your bathroom.
Readers — as usual — please feel free to chime in
with helpful advice to answer Angela’s questions, listed above.