turquoise bathroomReader 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.

turquoise bathroomAngela writes:

Hi Pam,

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.

cinderella bath tubAbout 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?
  • shower-ceiling-for-retro-corner-tubWe 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!

Most Sincerely,


Mood board #1 for a turquoise bathroom — “turquoise-tastic”:

vintage retro turquoise tile bathroomAngela 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:

  1. Choosing a wall color that is a lighter shade of the tile will repeat the turquoise throughout the room and make it feel complete.
  2. 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.
  3. Continue to repeat the turquoise with turquoise towels (White or grey towels would also look great).
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Complete the room with a bright and cheery turquoise bath mat.

Mood board #2 — a blue and yellow “sun and surf” bathroom design:

blue yellow bathroomIf 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!

salt and pepper tile

  1. Lighter shade of the aqua wall tile for the wall color.
  2. 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).
  3. 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.
  4. Same starburst bathroom accessories from Rejuvenation.
  5. Turquoise towels (white or grey towels would also look great).
  6. Angela’s great find: Her vintage white princess bath tub.
  7. Add a bright and cheery turquoise bath mat.
  8. 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/showerrods/showerrods.html

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.


  1. Elaine says:

    I think shower curtains are the best answer for the Cinderella tub. When we bought our time capsule house, there was a plastic shower enclosure on the Cinderella tub. It looked really terrible. It was a grey pebble texture. Maybe it would work with clear glass, but it is hard to put a door where you can easily step into the tub.

    We got rid of the shower enclosure ASAP. I found a shower curtain rod on eBay. Search “Neo Angle Shower Rod” on eBay. There are different finishes and different sizes. They can be cut to fit.

    I have two shower curtains, but you could probably get by with one that is cut in half. Measure from the wall to the center of the angled part to see.

  2. Kelley says:

    Love the turquoise-tastic and the sun and surf schemes. Depends what the rest of your house looks like. If it’s color, color everywhere go for sun and surf. If it’s more subdued, the turquoise-tastic scheme would likely work better for you. If you do go with the sun and surf scheme, check out Benjamin Moore’s new color of the year for 2013 – Lemon Sorbet (2019-60).

    Also, have to agree with the votes in favor of shower curtains – screens would hide your nice new (to you) tub that you’ve already chosen to accentuate with the drop ceiling.

  3. Pat Gaylor says:

    Love the first version…genious !! Pam nailed it. The princess tub
    is a work of art ! And thanks for promoting salvaged materials, and
    saving pieces that don’t need to be demo’d…I LOVE RETRO RENOVATION – it’s the real definition of ‘going green’. Use what
    you have and replace wisely.

  4. LoquaciousLaura says:

    Definitely #3 with the floor of #1. Bring the pepper tile into the floor!

    I’d say try a ceiling-mounted track system just outside of the “bump” for your shower curtain. This way you can have a very unobtrusive metal track at the ceiling and leave pretty curtains on each side of your tub like drapes when not in use! IKEA makes a system, KVARTAL, but I am not sure it has angles out of the box that would match the shape of your “bump.” The system has an option of attaching clips hanging from the track so you could clip a shower curtain to them. Maybe there is another ceiling-mounted track system available, like something for around hospital beds or similar, that would have the right angles?

    Gorgeous bathroom!

    1. Angela says:

      Thank you, Laura. The track system is an interesting idea. I’ll have to research the neo-angle rod to see how far it drops down. I had thought of mounting it to the ‘bump’.

  5. lisa says:

    re: Kvartal Maybe our installation was the problem, but our curtains on the Kvartal track are VERY difficult to draw. It would drive me nuts if my shower curtain was like that! Luckily they are in my teen son’s room and he rarely wants daylight, lol.

    I think the track idea is an excellent solution, but based on my experience I’d buy from a different supplier. Or maybe someone here can tell me why ours don’t work? We have a fairly heavy blackout-type curtain (also from Ikea and recommended for Kvartal).

  6. vintigchil says:

    B&W has a great turquoise and white “sponged” look tile. I have pink and white “sponged” looking tile in my bathroom and love it. It will tie in the turquoise and white.

  7. Marta says:

    I just realized you won’t have a separate stall shower. In that case, I wouldn’t go with a shower enclosure. We put a dropped ceiling over our large shower with a glass enclosure, and I hate it. Cleaning is miserable. You’re trapped in there with the cleaning products. Not healthy. I would go with two shower curtains that when pulled back would look like drapes on either side of a window.

    1. Marta says:

      Oh, and I meant to say there’s a plastic track system for curtains that you heat with a hair dryer to bend to fit angles. We got one for our bay window years ago. Sorry, I don’t remember the brand. It’s installed to the ceiling, or in your case, the underside of the dropped ceiling.

  8. tammyCA says:

    Gosh, I love the shade of the vintage aqua on the vanity. I only wish I had known about the Daltile aqua when we did our shower earlier this year…even ‘tho I chose B&W aqua it’s not the same as Angela’s.
    Hmmm, maybe I could do my other bathroom in that – I’m still deciding on colors. I love the ideas given…aqua and gray sounds great…and, I am drooling over that starburst towel bar. An atomic/starburst wallpaper or painted with stencils in aquas and grays would be so cool…hmm, I’m getting ideas! I also ADORE aqua and yellow together…those colors just dance for me.
    I envy all the perfect condition vintage baths/kitchens people luck into…’tho I was lucky to find at least “some” of the ’50s vintage left when we found this house.

  9. Angela says:

    Wow… Thank you Kate and Pam! These are great ideas and you’ve given me a treasure trove of resources for material. And thank you to the readers who have commented thus far. I’ve been reading all of your comments and value your opinions.

    I love #1 (turquoise-tastic), but #3 (salt ‘n pepper) is beautiful too. I really like that light ‘butter’ yellow, but for some reason I’m not as drawn to it here as the others. I’ll be ordering a sample of the Pepper White for sure. And I’ll also order a full size tile of the Aqua Glow to get a really good look. I have some sample boards from Daltile, and have been steering away from it. Although it’s very similar in tone, it’s definitely grayer by about 20%. I really like both floor ideas. I was considering mosaic and love the style and blend you chose in the first mood board. The hex and dot is also really nice: simple and clean. What is the general opinion on glazed vs matte for the floor? Knowing that we can get a shower rod that will work and won’t have to ‘make’ something, is a bit more attractive to me. And I like that there would be two curtains framing our tub ‘masterpiece’ :). I love the starburst accessories. I started to consider a hardwired chrome towel warmer (Kensington Warmrails from Vintage Tub and Bath, which has a vintage feel) on the wall to the left of the tub. This bathroom has always felt cold and damp and I thought this may help with that. Would that be criminal? Does anyone have opinions on towel warmers in general?

    A little more background (sprinkles!) about our house: We were moderately happy in the home we lived in prior to this one. One weekend in December a few years back on our way home from getting our Christmas tree, my husband made a sharp left turn up a wooded street, following ‘open house’ signs. He’d done this before… just looking. The house was vacant. A man was cleaning up the yard and a woman sitting in for the realtor was huddled in a lawn chair in the kitchen. The furnace was original and non-working and it was freezing. The first things I saw were the awful carpet and dark wood as we entered the living room. Then the Pergo on the kitchen and laundry room floor. Ugh! We made our way down a long hallway with a bathroom, two bedrooms and to the master. Up to that point all I saw was ‘work’. Then I saw the turquoise tile and swooned. My husband showed more interest in the property than I expected. He was over the moon about everything, able to see a diamond in the rough. But for me it was all about the tile in the master bath. I came back the next afternoon alone and peeked in all the windows, then sat in the back yard for a few minutes. The property backs to our city park and it felt really serene. I started arranging furniture in my head. It would be several more months before we could move, there was so much work to do to just get it livable. We discovered original 9″ cork tile under the carpet down the hallway and in the bedrooms, but unfortunately we weren’t able to salvage it. After removing all of the carpet, we installed top nail red oak throughout, adding a beautiful herringbone pattern down the long hallway. I now love the dark wood valances dropping down from the ceiling on all of the huge windows (we added pinch pleats!), short drop downs framing the dining room and on the built-in recessed wood hutch. I would love to know what it is. It looks like walnut with a hint of grey that picks up colors from the rocks on the fireplace and half wall between the dining room and kitchen. The Pergo met its demise about a year ago, replaced with Azrock VCT. Our lives got much busier last December and I’m now trying to keep up with a busy 10 month old! More work is needed, mostly in the kitchen and landscaping. And the pool!

    Thank you all again!

    1. pam kueber says:

      I was just in a bathroom in which the “stripe” of 4″ x 4″ complement tiles (as in mood board #3) was every other tile along the horizontal (rather than a solid stripe). I like that idea even better.

  10. Brian T says:

    I like board #2 for the floor and for the touch of yellow. Bathrooms can be uncomfortable if they seem too cold and hard, which is why I think it needs the yellow more than an infusion of gray.

    My biggest renovation was a complete gut of the main bathroom in the 1906 Queen Anne I sold last year. I had a Cinderella tub too, but enclosed on three sides. It’s a wonderful tub — you can use the “shelves” for candles or magazines, or you can turn sideways and rest your feet on one shelf and your head on the other (way more comfortable than it sounds).

    In mine, I used white beadboard wainscoting, with 1-inch variegated aqua glass tile above on two walls; the remaining walls and ceiling were painted in three matching shades of aqua. I had a glass sliding shower door. My floor was like that in board 3, but all white. My biggest mistake was going too light with the grout. I was so excited by the bathroom that I swore I’d keep the grout clean, but it was impossible to prevent traffic patterns on the floor. I did get radiant heat in the floor, and I loved it. We had it installed in the new house’s basement, and we’re going to add it to the master bath. There’s nothing like waking up on a cold morning and saying “Ah — I can’t wait to go luxuriate for a moment by lying on the hard tile floor in the bathroom …”

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