This tile has been in production since at least the 1970s,
in same Indonesia factory
The quest for pink tile for my retro modern master bathroom remodel hasn’t been easy — but recently I stumbled upon the University tile line from Merola Tile Company. The line has six color variations in all. The four shown above are my favorites — and yes — one of them is pink.
Merola University tile called “KOM Random” in the 1970s and 1980s
John Merola from Merola Tile Somerset/SomerTile — who happens to be a fan of Retro Renovation — was kind enough to send me samples of the University tile series and provide some additional information on the line:
I’ve been in the tile business for around 25 years. I started as a stock boy at a tile store in Brooklyn, New York, and I am very familiar with many of the tiles that your team blogs about, which is one of the main reasons we are offering so many older style designs. The University Tile was called the “KOM Random” in the 70’s and 80’s.. And our product is from the same factory in Indonesia that was making the product back then.
Knowing that little tidbit of information makes it clear — this isn’t just “retro” tile — it’s the real deal if you want to remodel your bathroom in authentic vintage style.
Update March 2021, from Pam: I heard from a reader recently that they couldn’t find one of these tiles. So, I checked in with Merola Tile to get the story — and not to worry, these tiles STILL ARE being imported. If you happen to NOT see what you’re looking for, it’s likely a temporary supply chain issue. The company told me that lead times for the tiles, which come from Indonesia, can be long and can vary depending on a variety of factors. If a particular design or color disappears online, it may just be because the links have come down while stocks are replenished. As I write this, I’m seeing these tiles all over the place online.
Kate’s story continues:
I want pink tile for my bathroom floor and walls, and I wanted to see the University random mosaic pink to consider for the floor. Now that it’s in my hands, I can see: The 1″x2″ pieces a light pastel pink… the darker, 1″ x 1″ pieces are pinky beige, and white… the splotches on the largest pieces, the 2″ x 2″s, are rosy Mamie pink. I think this is going to work! Not only are these tiles a nice shade of pink — they are just the right shade of pink. That’s a 4×4 pink tile from B&W Tile Company next to my sample of the floor tile. The splotches on the larger tiles are nearly the same exact shade of pink as the B&W tile — these two tiles would look fabulous in a bathroom together. In fact — when it comes to tile for my retro modern master bathroom remodel — we may have found a winning combination.
Another good to know detail — the glaze spatters make the tiles slightly bumpy — which helps with traction in wet areas like bathroom floors. [Precautionary Pam interjects: Always check with the manufacturer to ensure a tile is specified for floor use; consult with a pro.] Another bonus — these tiles — and more information about their ratings and uses — are relatively affordable — $9.26/sq. ft. through Home Depot — and easily accessible through Home Depot and a variety of other retailers.
Other colors of University Tile available
University Pink — my favorite of the available colors and a great choice to coordinate with B&W tile’s pink 4×4 wall tile.
University blue — which coordinates with B&W Tile’s 20W blue color — another great choice for a retro bathroom remodel. We think there are a number of blue 4″ x 4″ wall tiles available, inexpensively — from Daltile, American Olean, and Home Depot’s special order brands — to coordinate with this tile.
The University Blue is currently only available on Overstock.com. (model number FKOUV418 on Overstock) It is the newest edition to the University collection and will be up on Home Depot and Somertile in the near future.
University Bone — this is a great floor tile option to pair with beige wall tile — like Pam’s beige tile bathroom.
University white — while not as jazzy as the other color options, this white tile still has a lot of textural charm and as an added bonus — coordinates well with nearly any color scheme.
University Beige — this color scheme, with its darker brown tiles — is appropriate for late 1960s to 1970s bathroom design. Note: The 2x2s look like the same rose beige as the beige set two photos up.
University light grey — another neutral color that would mix well with 1950s and 1960s pastel bathroom fixtures. Lots and lots of gray 4″ x 4″ tiles today in American Olean, Daltile and big box lineups, at very low prices.
Merola Tile’s University collection might be just what the doctor ordered for a retro bathroom remodel — the authentic vintage design and color ways, easy availability through Home Depot’s website and the reasonable price per square foot makes this a terrific choice to add to our list of tile choices.
UPDATE: We found a number of other Merola designs at another retailer. See this story for info. Photo of their styles: