Ideas to decorate a pink bathroom — using classic kitsch designs

vintage pink bathroom ideasFor our last story counting up to 99 ideas to decorate a pink bathroom, we looked for classic kitschy wall decor to use as our design inspiration. How’s about a bathroom designed around: Miller Studios chalkware fish, mermaids, poodles and swans… Sexton black cats… Turner flamingos… Cleminson wall pockets… Turner prints… and album art. Plus, we give you five easy tips to decorate your bathroom with these kitschy collectibles. Let the fun begin! 

Tips for using kitschy vintage collectibles to create a theme bathroom:

  • Keep the collection small — Vintage bathrooms, especially those with wall tile that covers most of the bottom half of the room, likely don’t have tons of wall space to begin with. Keeping the collection small with space around it allows the objects to stand out and feel special without feeling cluttered. Less collection also means less cleaning and dusting in these humid, sticky spaces.
  • Choose pieces that coordinate with your tile color — Try to pick pieces that have the same color as some of your bathroom wall tile — trim, wall or both. Alternately, you can choose colors that are complementary — like pink (red) and green — or analogous colors, meaning they are neighbors on the color wheel: think green, blue green, blue. Keeping the color wheel in mind will help your choices make sense with the decor.
  • Pick a theme — You might love every kitschy piece of wall art from poodles to flamingos, but that doesn’t mean they all need to coexist in one small bathroom. Choosing just one theme for your space may help it feel more like an intentionally decorated space and less like a flea market.
  • Choose pieces that are the right scale — You may have an amazing set of large wall plaques that coordinate well with your bathroom. But if, the only wall space to display them is only slightly larger than the plaques themselves, the room could feel claustrophobic. (The “white space” around art matters importantly, too.) The same thing is true if you have a large wall with only one or two small chalkware pieces hung on it (which could make them them look dinky… forlorn.) Hmmmm… How about, try to be like Goldilocks — and aim for the middle ground.
  • Group collections in odd numbers — You’ve heard this one before, and it is true: Collections grouped in odd numbers are more visually appealing. Pam read something that explained it this way: Our brain naturally seeks to group things in pairs; if there is a “third” (e.g. wheel) (or fifth, etc.), our brain notices the oddness — and sees it as ‘interest’ as ‘dynamism.’ Aim for hanging a school of three-to-five whatnots, and it may look much more pleasing than two or four would.

Of course, now that you know our “rules,” bend them to your (he)art’s content — throw ’em right out, if ya want!

vintage chalkwareMiller Studios chalkware wall art

There are so many different varieties of vintage chalkware and ceramic kitschy wall decor available that everyone should be able to find a few pieces that appeal to them. To narrow down the pool for my pink bathroom mood boards, I gathered a dozen different sets that I found on Etsy — all of which would easily fit into a vintage bathroom. Note: Miller Studios is the most well-known brand — but there were others. The sellers of the vintage pretties shown above:

  1. Miller Studios chalkware fish and bubble from Etsy seller BroadStVintage
  2. White, black and mint green Miller Studios fish and seashells from Etsy seller AttysVintage
  3. Seahorse and starfish chalkware from Etsy seller HotTrampVintage
  4. Pink Miller Studios fish and bubbles from Etsy seller  VidaVintage9
  5. Pair of midcentury chalkware fish from Etsy seller 33rdStreetRevisited
  6. White chalkware French poodles from Etsy seller OurLeftovers
  7. Blue plaster chalkware wall fish from Etsy seller UrbanAlpaca
  8. Chalkware poodles in pink and blue from Etsy seller CleaninHouse
  9. Lefton mermaid on starfish from Etsy seller MoreThanIDeserve
  10. Vintage Lefton mermaids from Etsy seller ColorMeNew
  11. Black chalkware French poodles by Etsy seller WhimsicalRevival
  12. Miller black white and blue swan chalkware plaques from Etsy seller HeartRetro

From that selection, I chose a few of my favorites and paired them with shower curtains, wallpaper, paint and towels to create three mood boards.

Note, these bathroom design boards all start with pink field tile from B&W… bullnose tile from B&W or a mainstream source like Daltile… and a Bahama Pink toilet from Gerber or a white Kohler Classic Wellworth toilet. For the towels, unless otherwise mentioned, I shopped the large variety of colors available at The Company Store.

green fish mermaid bathroom

Let’s go for a swim: It’s easy to add some kitsch to this pink and green vintage bathroom with some color coordinating vintage chalkware like this shells and fish set from Etsy seller AttysVintage and this pair of Vintage Lefton mermaids from Etsy seller ColorMeNew. The addition of a fun nautical print shower curtain from ModCloth plus mint green and pink towels all set against a pale mint green wall color makes this bathroom feel like an undersea adventure.

vintage pink and blue bathroomSwimming with swans: A dramatic Art Deco swan shower curtain from Cafe Press sets the stage for this swan-themed bathroom. The addition of high contrast, black oval swan chalkware plaques from Etsy seller HeartRetro repeats the theme while a coordinating light green wall color and black and blue towels finish off the look.

vintage pink poodles bathroom

Pretty Parisian poodles: Take a trip to Paris without the long plane ride with this C’est Magnifique Wallpaper from Anthropology, which sets an interesting but not too overpowering backdrop to display your favorite kitschy poodles — this pair of White chalkware French poodles from Etsy seller OurLeftovers and a coordinating pink poodle plaque from Etsy seller CleaninHouseThis Paris themed shower curtain from Macys and pink and white towels top off the look.

Vintage wall plaques like Sexton cats

pink and black vintage bathroomThe cat’s meow: If you’re more of a cat person than a dog person, why not use some vintage Sexton black cat wall plaques like this set from Etsy seller Philmart to decorate your bathroom? Paired with this purrrfectly coordinating sleeping cat bath mat and a black and white cat shower curtain from Society 6 along with a pale pink wall color and black towels, this kitty cat bathroom is sure to have nine lives.

Flamingos — including Turner Flamingo mirrors

vintage pink bathroom
Lilly Pulitzer flamingo: This design was inspired by Diane’s pink bathroom — starting with a super bright Lilly Pulitzer Sister Florals shower curtain from Garnet Hill matched with some vintage flamingo themed goodies: a Turner Flamingo mirror from Etsy seller MilkMarket plus a double flamingo vase from Etsy seller VintageBakelite4U and a vintage porcelain flamingo from Etsy seller WeSeaTree perched atop a vintage rattan and bamboo wall shelf from Etsy seller GlitteringDragonfly. Finish off the room with a limey green wall color and hot pink and turquoise towels and you have a bright and beautiful kitschy flamingo filled vintage bathroom — how fun!


Album art

vintage pink and grey bathroomThe Beatles: For this themed bathroom, I was inspired by Jill’s 1962 Beatles bathroom. Hers is grey, but why couldn’t we do the same thing with a pink and grey bathroom? All you need is love a small collection of vintage Beatles album covers (Something New, Magical Mystery Tour, and Yesterday and Today from Etsy seller TheVinylFrontier and Revolver from Etsy seller WellPlayedVinyl) displayed in record frames — see our story 23 ways to frame your record album covers — a Beatles shower curtain, a coordinating shade of dusty blue for the wall color and some black towels.

Get creative with retro finds

vintage pink and black bathroomGet creative with retro finds: Your favorite vintage finds might be the perfect decor for your bathroom. This particular design centers around three framed vintage Turner paintings of women for sale from Etsy seller ScottyinCT. I found black lace wallpaper from Burke Decor and matching black towels. Finally, to ensure the room didn’t feel too heavy with all that black, a bright white and black grosgrain shower curtain creates a crisp finish for the space.

vintage pink and blue bathroom

Cutesy country Cleminson: Pam loves the idea of using adorable vintage Cleminson of California wall pockets or wall decor in a vintage bathroom. Here, I’ve put together three adorably illustrated Cleminson pieces — a “God Bless Our Happy Home” wall plate from Etsy seller HipKittyVintage and a set of two portraits from Etsy seller AletaFordBakerDesign. With a light beige wall color, white and blue towels and this Laurel check shower curtain from Country Curtains, this bathroom has a delightfully whimsical retro-country vibe.

Want to help us create kitschy design board ideas for a pink tile bathroom? Here’s how:

  • Use the image for the pink bathroom color combo of your choice from our previous stories for your design board.
  • It’s okay if your board is kinda messy: I will take what you send us and reformat it. We’ll then add the reader design boards to this story, and likely, in a big followup story.
  • Find your kitschy theme decor and add it — be sure to include the hotlink info to your source material
  • Find your wall treatment and add it — be sure to include the hotlink info to your source material
  • Find your shower curtain and add it — be sure to include the hotlink info
  • Find your bath towels and any other decor items and add them — be sure to include the hotlink info
  • Give your design a title (include your own name if you like)
  • Save as a PDF and email to us at retrodesigndilemma@gmail.com. Please put all info in one email.
  • All terms of use apply, be sure to read them

To see our complete series of 99 ideas to decorate a pink bathroom, click here


CategoriesPink Bathrooms
  1. Paula Treadwell says:

    I’m about to close on a home in rural Waco, Texas that I’m pretty sure is the last intact retro bathrooms in the entire area, lol. ( I love Jolana Gaines but I wish she’d do a bit more restoring rather than remodel, still, she keeps some of these buildings from being bulldozed.) I digress. I bought myself 2 medium blue bathrooms, 1 turquoise bathroom and a BRIGHT pink tile master piece! I’m so not playing when I say it’s PINK, PINK, PINK. I plan to go somewhat kitchy Oriental Art Deco, which was common back in the day in Los Angeles, and my personal favorite style of all time. These ideas are so fun!

  2. I sure wish I had known about your website earlier. It took me over a year to sell my parent’s 1950’s ranch in a small town in NC. The realtor kept telling me the very pink master bathroom was the deal killer. I would have thought the bright aqua hall bathroom would have been the issue, but the pink did not appeal to men. We finally sold to a middle aged couple, but I am sure they plan to rip the bathrooms out and start over. Too bad there are not enough folks who appreciate this period of color and design.

  3. LISA says:

    HI – any idea how the eiffel tower (Anthropology) wallpaper would work with the pink and burgundy bathroom? I’m not sure if the darker shades in the wallpaper are closer to red or burgandy. Anyone have any input on that? Thanks, Lisa

    1. pam kueber says:

      I have not seen it in person, but looked at it online and also on a few images on google. Looks to me light the deepest red is more a pure red than a burgundy. I don’t think this paper would be a great match if you have pink and burgundy tile. Ideally, your pattern should include your pink and your burgundy as close to the original colors as you can get….

        1. pam kueber says:

          And I will add, Lisa, if you cannot get an exact match in your paper for your pink or burgundy, at least aim for a “shade” or a “tint.” Shade: Imagine adding drops of black. Tint: Image adding drops of white.

          Burgundy will not “tint” down (up?) to pure red – my sense is that burgundy has blue in it. Although, it would be interesting to see what kind of pink/lavendar it ultimately tint down to.

          Pure red *might* tint down to your pink, though, which is why red can be paired with some pinks effectively.

          We have another story in the works on these issues. Note: I am not the big expert on this – especially explaining it in words, Kate understands it even better, but I generally know it when I see it.

  4. Robin, NV says:

    You beat me to the pink poodles. I was going to mock up a comic book, pulp fiction, or vintage sci fi mood board but it was too hard to find stuff with the right injection of pink.

    In answer to ineffablespace – I think, if anything, this series has shown how versatile a pink bathroom can be, including modern and/or sophisticated.

  5. Retroski says:

    Yes, Kate! So cool to see one with the black kitty curtain. I almost mocked up one with a Kit Kat clock and that curtain.

    The kitsch look fits so great. My favorite is one with the 3 almost big eye art ladies.

  6. Steve H says:

    I think if you look back over the past few weeks Kate did a number of designs that were quite sophisticated with not one note of kitsch. Even in this current batch I really wouldn’t consider the Beatles one, for example, to be kitschy. I could see that one translating over into a number of different design sensibilities.

    1. pam kueber says:

      Yes, I agree that when you look over the entire portfolio of Kate’s (and readers’), there is a great variety. I would also agree with the word “sophisticated” here to mean that she has an excellent design sensibility. The designs are sophisticated in that they combine color, pattern, scale very well.

      Something for everyone, we hope!

  7. ineffablespace says:

    I think there is at least one more “pink bathroom” decorating story that could be done.

    One of the messages that I get when I read in other blogs that the poster is planning to, or already has gutted a pink (or other colored-tile-fixture) bathroom, is that the owner thinks it’s dated and does not want to decorate their bathroom or house in what they call a “retro” style.

    These people, I think, are assigning a negative connotation to the word retro, whereas in your context I think it means “period appropriate” or “historically accurate /sympathetic”.

    I think part of the reaction is that they don’t want what they call retro, because they associate it only with kitsch. So they are associating all pink bathrooms with Jane Mansfield’s bathroom, but there were also pink bathrooms in Frank Lloyd Wright houses of the period and in Architectural Digest spreads of the period and other decorating books of the period, most of which I wouldn’t call kitschy, and some of which were really sophisticated.

    So I think if there were examples of how someone could do period, yet sophisticated, versions of pink (or other colored) bathrooms that stayed completely away from kitsch, there could be even more converts to the cause.

    (I have nothing personal against kitsch, I have dozens of Keane prints)

  8. tammyCA says:

    The picture of the pink dressed girl was the same one I had in my childhood bedroom! We had another girl picture with it but I don’t think it was the other two shown.
    I love all the vintage chalk ware & wish it was reproduced & affordable..I’ve been making my own plaster mermaids from the plastic molds but even ‘tho they look like the vintage they definitely don’t have the same perfection of the real deal.

  9. Mary Elizabeth says:

    Such fun! Since the tile in my pink bathroom wraps up all four walls and over the ceiling, there is no wall space. We did hang a cabinet with a little shelf over the toilet, which involved pre-drilling the tile so it didn’t crack, and that’s where I have my flamingo/swan planter and an advertisement for your web site. 🙂 I think if I redecorate, I’ll go with the French poodle or the flamingo themed shower curtain and valance.

  10. Stephanie says:

    Love these kitschy design ideas and all the 99 bathroom ideas everyone has come up with over the last few weeks.
    Torn between the fish/mermaids, french poodles, flamingos, and kitties. Guess I have to find a house with four pink bathrooms…
    When my friend bought her house a few years ago, the first thing they did was tear out the pink bathroom – I wish I had something like this website series to show her options of what she could do with it.
    But now I am determined to find a pink (or blue or yellow or gray, etc.) bathroom to save when we buy our house in the next year or two, to show people of my generation (early millennial) that color is fun and can save you money.

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