“Vanity … Powder Bar … Lavatory — All in One!”

lavanette This morning we took a look at the 1959 Formica Vanitory. Continuing with our bathroom scholarship, let’s examine another rare bathroom vanity, from mid century America: The Beauty Queen Lavanette line.

Here at Retro Renovation, we already know Beauty Queen as a not-uncommon brand of vintage steel kitchen cabinets. The Beauty Queen brand seems to have been the market name for some of the products produced by Toledo Desk & Fixture Corp., Maumee, Ohio. I have been to Maumee, Ohio. Ford had a stamping plant there, now closed. Meanwhile, here’s a story from the Toledo Blade with some history on Toledo Desk & Fixture — looks like its corporate offices were on the same street as the Ford plant. The newspaper article says the company like they had some automotive business, too.

Like their Beauty Queen kitchen cabinet counterparts, the Lavanettes and Vanettes were made of steel cabinet bases and drawers. The ads say: Formica tops.

I saw one of these vintage Lavanettes — New Old Stock! — a few years back, for sale for $250 in Rochester, New York. Or maybe it was Syracuse. I thought for a heartbeat about going and getting it. However, I recall that I was already on thin ice with DH over too many “projects” in storage in the garage… which put the brakes on the idea. Do I have regrets? Heck to the yeah!. But surely: Some other super appreciative buyer snapped it up. Because who else would?

How did they hold up to all the humidity in bathrooms, I wonder.

Here are some terrific archival illustrations of several Lavanette and Vanette designs, all from my personal collecting of mid century marketing material:


Above: From this advertisement, we can see that a Lavanettes is 36″ wide…. The Deluxe Vanette (in green) is 48″ wide…. It’s unclear which moniker the double sink unit gets. I’m guessing it’s 60″ wide. From the text, it seems to be a Lavanette. But this is not crystal clear. Nor is it clear how and why Beauty Queen made the distinction between what was called a Lavanette vs. a Vanette. And, I need to go find the year for this ad, too. My bathroom scholarship is lacking, alas.

beauty queen lavanetteAbove: A photo in an ad — which indicates a later year…. And, no mention of Vanettes here. Yes, I need to continue to keep my eyes peeled for more information tracing the history of  these nifty bathroom vanities.

I also want to point out the fact that this historical nomenclature — like that of the Formica “Vanitory” — continues to underscore the likely pervasive use of the word “Lavatory” in mid century America. Lavatory = wash. Vanity = Sit and primp. Restroom, Washroom, Bathroom — not mentioned in these marketing names.

Do any readers have a Lavanette or Vanette in their bathroom?
I would LOVE to get photos and archive them here! 

  1. Beverly C Barnett says:

    I found a rectangle metal basket with decorative metal sides. It is light yellow/cream perhaps due to fading and looks if it hung from the narrow ends. 12″ high x 16′ wide x 4″ wide opening. Looks like it might have hung inside a bathroom vanity. Anyone have an idea?

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