Every Retro-Renovation-card carrying reader knows that pink bathrooms were wildly popular in midcentury America — thanks in part to First Lady Mamie Eisenhower, who popularized the color in the 1950s. When did we first see pink in bathrooms, though? And what were the different shades from the different manufacturers? I dove back into one of our favorite resources, The Building Techology Heritage Library on archive.org, to start tracking the history and see how many different pinks I could find in bathroom fixtures.
American Standard pinks — Rose Du Barry (pinky purple Orchid of Vincennes), Corallin and Venetian Pink
In the 1930s, American Standard offered a Rose Du Barry pink (above) which looks to be a very rosy, bright pink. The company also offered Orchid Of Vincennes (below) that is likely a lavender pink, though it is hard to tell from the vintage catalog whether it leaned more toward purple or pink.
Above: By 1950, American Standard had removed their purpley pink Orchid of Vincennes from their color lineup and tweaked their Rose Du Barry pink to be a softer pastel pink, which they called ‘Corallin’. Above from: 1950 American-Standard catalog from the MBJ collection/archive.org showing Corallin Pink bathroom fixtures.
By 1962, Corallin was out and a very similar pink — called Venetian Pink — had taken over. In fact, Venetian Pink can still be found today at the last known source for a new pink toilet, Peerless.
Kohler Pink — Lavender, Peachblow
A few years ago, Pam wrote about the very first year — 1927 — that Kohler offered its bathroom fixtures in colors besides white. “Lavender” was in the new palette — and golly, we think it looks pink. Above: Lavender fixtures from a 1928 Kohler catalog from the MBJ collection/archive.org.
By 1936, Kohler had created a separation between Lavender and pink by creating a peachier pink named “Peachblow” which — along with Tuscan, Spring Green and Lavender — became one of their most popular colors. Above: We see Kohler’s color lineup and a Peachblow bathroom in this 1936 Kohler catalog from the MBJ collection/archive.org.
Above: In this 1948 Kohler catalog from the MBJ collection/archive.org, we see the whole palette for the year, which included Peachblow, which Kohler says is a “..more restrained, almost beige” pink that is a toned-down version of Lavender.
By 1949, Kohler had reduced its color offerings to just four: Spruce Green, Peachblow, Cerulean Blue and Tuscan. Two images above: from a 1949 Kohler catalog from the MBJ collection/archive.org.
Above images: In this 1950 Kohler catalog from the MBJ collection/archive.org, Peachblow is still going strong.
According to Kohler’s excellent color timeline, Peachblow remained in production until 1973, when it was joined by Pink Champagne, a much bolder pink. In the 1980’s Wild Rose and Innocent Blush took over, though they were much more beiged-out pinks. Antique Rose was added in the mauve crazy mid 1990s and then Vapour Pink, a light pastel pink similar to their vintage pinks, was around for a short while before Kohler completely removed the color pink from their lineup.
Crane — Orchid Pink
In 1940, Crane offered Orchid Pink along with India Ivory, Citrus Yellow, Pale Jade, Lavender and Sun Tan as part of their lineup. Images above from: 1940 Crane catalog from the MBJ collection/archive.org.
Montgomery Ward — Tropical Coral
This 1955 Montgomery Ward catalog from the MBJ collection/archive.org offers fixtures in Tropical Coral.
Briggs — Coral
The two images above show Coral from the 1950s Briggs Beautyware catalog from the MBJ collection/archive.org.
Eljer — Old Rose, Royal Orchid and Coral Blush
Pam spotted some Eljer catalogs from 1939 and 1940 on archive.org that showed several shades of pink — including Old Rose, Royal Orchid and Coral Blush.
Pam found this ad for Alliance Ware porcelain enameled bathroom fixtures that includes a pastel pink in a 1950s Small Homes Guide.