1955 paint colors sherwin williamsI was poking around my files this weekend and found this palette of 1954 paint colors for Kem-Glo paints for kitchens, bathrooms and wood moldings. Kem-Glo was a brand of Sherwin-Williams. I’ve inserted the scan below as a very large file, so that you can click on it and see the colors enlarged. 

Click on this following file to see the palette rendered large:

paint colors for retro kitchen bath
Click on this image an it will enlarge a lot.

This Kem-Glo palette proudly promotes its latex ease. You can replicate a number of these colors today using Sherwin-Williams Suburban Modern paint palette — our favorite, go-to mid century paint collection. Note, however, you no longer can get these brochures in the Sherwin-Williams store — but, I’ve captured the brochure in my hotlinked story.

1955 paint colorsAlong with the palette for kitchens, baths, and moldings, I had a booklet from 1955 that showed paint colors for other fooms. Above: A two-tone blue look for this room, which featured very traditional decor.

1955-paint-colors033-2Above: Yes, Mrs. America had mad sewing skills and made her own draperies and slip covers.

yellow bathroomAbove: Yellow bathrooms are so… sunny. The photo is from Universal-Rundle, another of the relatively big-name manufacturers that made plumbing fixtures for bathrooms in the 1950s.

mid century living roomAbove: Sherwin Williams is promoting a paint technique called Applikay. It appears this involves using a special brush to create a second decorative layer, in paint.

decorative paint treatmentsAbove: Another Applikay finish.

decorative paint treatments

Above: Applikay, explained.

Want to consider additional historic paint collections? See my story: 20 Historic paint color collections available today.

Readers, as you complete your projects,
How have you been choosing your paint colors?
What advice do you have for others?

  1. MaryM says:

    Love all the comments – my first reaction to these fab ads was “aannd she is hand-sewing…in heels…and he is painting with a tiny stepladder in nice trousers!” Wow. Did ANYONE ever do those things? MY mom refinished furniture all the time in the early 60’s wearing shorts that melted in spots when her cigarette ash dropped on them – no organic cotton back then, I guess. Or anti-smoking ads:)

  2. MarilynH says:

    I learned to sew on a Singer 401 Slant needle model and I bought a vintage 306 from 1954 when I moved out on my own. Still sew with it and have never used a foot pedal. My mother is willing me her 401!

  3. KBF says:

    My parents’ living room was sandalwood with turquoise accents, including a turquoise Kroehler sofa, from 1959 up until the 80s when it was updated with a then-current terra cotta and teal color scheme. I understand the kitchen had a short-lived sandalwood and yellow 1959 paint job, replaced by “celery” for most of the 60s and 70s.

  4. Eileen says:

    I tried using the pleater tape but my drapes weren’t quite the right measurements to use the tape. I measured several times and then sewed them. They weren’t that hard to make. Just be sure your math is correct. Good Luck!!!

  5. Liz in Oregon says:

    Pinch Pleat draperies are the most difficult of all to make. I worked in a professional drapery workroom where we did it all by hand. It helps to have a drapery sewing table 8-10 feet long, an industrial sewing machine and blind hammer, really good steam iron and strong hands. You use a drapery interface that you glue to the top edge, fold down twice, stitch and then pleat. This gives the pleats a really crisp look.

    You use a heavier thread and bigger needle to pinch with. Three pinches (French pleats) are harder than two, but I think they look much nicer.

  6. Gabriella says:

    Same thing happened to us. When we moved into our 1956 home, it was all “landlord white”. We repainted the living room in a pale yellow and the hallway in a light peach. When we pulled up the carpet to put down hardwood floors, we found old paint splotches on the subfloor. It was evident that living room and hallway were originally pale yellow and light peach.

  7. Kelly says:

    Yes! I bought a house built in 1925. I have left most of the house alone because I love it the way it is – but I just did not like the 1980s wallpaper in the dining room, so I planned to have it removed and painted a boring off-white. I am not one to be adventurous in wall colors. My contractor offered to bring me some paint samples. I kept saying no, I don’t need to look at samples, just buy some basic off-white paint. He encouraged me to look at samples anyway, so I glanced at them a bit. I saw a very, very pale pink that appealed to me somehow, so I abandoned my off-white walls rule and went for it. When the contractor stripped the walls down to the original paint, guess what? Pale pink, nearly identical to the new color I chose. So I like to think I brought the room back to what it was. I am so glad I got out of my comfort zone, because the pale pink looks perfect.

  8. Birgitte says:

    Ha! Most of the rooms in our house are aqua or mint (original), which just happen to be my favorite colors.

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