Last week I was on location at the Wilson House in Temple, Texas — and one of the first rooms I wanted to see was the pink bathroom. The 1959 Wilson House is famous in the world of midcentury modern design because it is “the house that laminate built.” Most of the interior is finished with laminate — the design brainchild of Ralph Wilson, founder of Wilsonart, which today is the largest marketer of decorative high pressure laminates in the U.S. Yes: That’s laminate covering not only the bathroom’s cabinets and the counter tops, but the walls and the bathtub/shower surround, too. Let’s ogle all the details –>
Just to ground everyone, I’ve done several stories on the Wilsonart House already:
- This overview about the Wilson House, published in 2008. I *think* I was one of the the first, if not the first, in the design blogging world to recast attention on this house.
- Watch the video about the Wilson House with Grace Jeffers, who led the restoration of this historic house.
- Read about how laminate is made, by Grace Jeffers. If you have a kitchen build any time after about 1948 and through to about 1990, laminate will be your single most authentic historic material choice for a kitchen counter top.
- Also, see this story we did recently spotlighing 70 luscious vintage Wilsonart Glitter laminate designs. Nom nom nom nom nom.
There is laminate used as a surround in the shower, which also features a “shower receptor bath tub” – sunken (This looks kinda dangerous to me; consult with a properly licensed professional if you have any inklings of trying a similar design.) Regarding the laminate on the walls, I am told that yes, this is workable even today — BUT, the adhesive and backing you use will be critical, AND a manufacturer likely will not warrant the laminate used in this super wet application.
Above: An adorable little vanity stool. History: Glitter laminate was wildly popular beginning in the early 1950s. Initially, it was just pieces of real glitter laid onto white or colored papers, then laminated. Initially, it seems you get two Glitter designs — one had less glitter, the other, more. After a few years, laminate manufacturers then introduced additional glitter-based designs with additional squigglies or other marks in or on them.
As seen in the Wilsonart pink bathroom, marbleized designs also were available.
Alas, today, the number of abstract/patterned laminates like this suitable for a vintage style pink bathrooms are — ZERO, as far as I know.You can get solids, or off-white marbles, but no 1950s style pinks that I know of.
Above: Nice light, I adore this shade. This shade was also used in the master bathroom.
Thanks to Wilsonart for letting me tour the Wilsonart House, hosted by Grace Jeffers. Note: I paid my own way, this was NOT a sponsored junket. As I’ve evolved as a blogger, I have decided I will not take any free trips (I took two, early on). I want to stay as neutral third-party journalist as possible. I did accept Wilsonart’s dinner invitation, though, and had a fabulous time with the Luminous Ladies of Laminate. I am now a full-fledged Laminate Geek and darn proud of it! More to come soon on the rest of my visit.
Thanks also to Wilsonart for inviting their staff photographer Keith Talley of Talley Photography to take a few shots of me and Grace and Tammy Weadock of Wilsonart while we were at the Wilsonart House. The photo at the very top — Pam in the Pink — is by Keith. And oh my goodness, all the pink bouncing off my skin — I like it! Which is why I made Reason #6 for Saving a Pink Bathroom:
6. Retro botox — Pink is actually a great color for bathrooms because the reflected glow makes you look younger…healthier. Photographers seem to like pink bathrooms for the same reason.
Surely Mrs. Wilson loved it, too!
View each image larger in this gallery: