Julie’s bathroom using 4″ pink tile from Classic Tile

vintage pink bathroom julie-living-roomKate and several other readers have used B&W’s pink tile to recreate Mamie pink bathrooms from scratch — and now, here’s our first reader who’s used the second identified supplier o’ the retro pink tile, Classic Tile, to create a delicious pink bathroom. This new pink tile installed in Julie’s bathroom is a softer, more delicate shade than the B&W — and equally delightful! To the right: That’s Julie and friend Swagger Lee.

vintage pink bathroom
Bathroom before retiling.

Julie writes:

Hi, Pam and Kate! I’m a longtime reader of your dreamy site, and I lusted after your houses and your readers’ houses long before I was in a position to buy my own. I finally purchased my first home about a year and a half ago–a sweet one-owner 1959 granny ranch–and it’s my mid-modest dream house!

It was impeccably cared for by the previous owners (an absolutely adorable couple who stole my heart at the closing–it’s so wonderful to live in a house that’s been loved and loved in from day one). I found the house so charming that I was actually under contract before I’d seen it in person. (I was spending the summer with family in another state when it listed, fell in love with it via photos, and I trusted my realtor when she said it wouldn’t wait for me.) In the kitchen it has a gorgeous original 1959 Westinghouse wall oven, original cabinets and hardware (though I believe the cabinets were probably darkened at some point), and what I think is some version of the Armstrong embossed linoleum mentioned a few times on the site in shades of brown, tan, and cream. There was cool streaky tile under the carpet in the office, gorgeous red oak hardwoods under the carpet nearly everywhere else, metal eagles and matching mailbox decorating the exterior, and vintage mini door knockers on every bedroom and bathroom door off the hallway. (Bonus: it’s also a block and a half from my work.) I made very few changes beyond pulling up carpet.

vintage pink bathroom
Bathroom before retiling, notice the wall tile in the shower does not go all the way up to the ceiling.

The bathroom was virtually untouched, except for a 90s wallpaper border I quickly removed. It has the original vanity, double medicine cabinets, wall tile, and glitter sheet flooring. Unfortunately there was only a handheld shower and the tile surrounding the tub only went halfway up, as is so common in these homes. My handyman warned that I would likely have to replace the pinkish-tan wall tile eventually, but I made due with the handheld shower for about a year before it became clear that the regrouting attempts were not going to be enough. (One tile would work loose, get reattached, and we’d regrout. Then a couple months later, another would be loose and the cycle would repeat.) I was heartbroken and most definitely did not want to do any remodeling. But I was fortunate to have a colleague who recommended a wonderful tile guy — Aaron Hubbard of The Tile Guys in Mankato, Minnesota, (who by the way never once tried to talk me into anything modern), and I was doubly fortunate for your blog!

vintage pink bathroom

After a lot of sample-ordering and hand-wringing, I decided on the Interceramic Metro Light Pink from Classic Tile in NY. It’s the softest, sweetest pale peachy pink, and it’s so warm and glowy in the afternoon sun.

vintage pink bathroom

There were no bullnose tiles available, and I couldn’t find a trim color that really did it for me, so my tile guy suggested Schluter’s metal edge to match the silver trim on my medicine cabinet. I worried it would look too modern, but it’s perfect.

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The new tile is pretty close to the original, but more pink, less tan, and in the words of my wonderful tile guy “Just a little brighter and happier.”  Not to mention, it actually goes to the ceiling and doesn’t leak water into the walls — a definite improvement.

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I kept the same bath and shower fixtures. I’m assuming they are not actually original to the house, but the shower head has a West Germany sticker still on it, so it’s definitely not new.  I thought about putting in a “permanent” shower head, but unfortunately there is duct work hidden behind that wall in the linen closet, so the access panel goes to the tub fixtures and no higher. Rather than risk having to rip out the tile again for a plumbing leak down the line, I decided to just remount the handheld. It’s easier for cleaning anyway, and any future shower problems will be external to the wall.

vintage pink bathroom vintage pink bathroom

When I bought the house, I thought about replacing the floor. And one point, it was covered in carpet (removed just before the listing I believe), so I spent some time on my hands and knees scraping carpet glue and pulling up staples.  I adore the general design (it’s glitter!), but do wish it were a bit lighter, and I wish the seam in the middle weren’t there. I’m not sure if this is the original color, or if it darkened some with age. Over time though, I’ve decided that I’d rather have my darker-than-ideal but tough as nails original glitter flooring than any of the current alternatives, and the floor really is in good shape for its age. So for now and maybe forever, the floor stays.  I removed the bath rugs for the pics because I’m still searching for the right color.  (Pink emphasizes the not-whiteness of the floor, and it’s been tough to get the right shade of teal.  If you have other ideas for bath rug colors or sources, I’m all ears!)

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The wooden divider between the vanity and the toilet area is my favorite part by far (followed by the medicine cabinets and shutters).  Everything displayed on the divider was given to me by people I love.

vintage pink bathroom

The glass candle holder was my grandmother’s and given to me by my mom, the mini vases were all found at estate sales by my aunt, and the amazing, mint condition, perfectly coordinated head vase was a Valentine’s gift from my boyfriend just this year.  The pink hand mirror belonged to my grandmother and was used daily to fix her always-perfect big 60s hair (even for decades after the 60s). My mom gave me the swan towel holder and the little pink and white towel it holds, and most everything else is either an ebay, thrift store, or estate sale find.  (Except the larger vase on the shelf above the toilet, which belonged to the very special elderly neighbor I adopted as my “grandma” for Girl Scouts as a child.

vintage pink bathroom vintage pink bathroom door knokker retro

I threw in close-up pictures of the insides of the medicine cabinets (there are two of them with a plain mirror in between) as well as the door knocker (present on the door of each room off the hallway).

vintage pink bathroom Nutone vintage

I also included a photo of the doorbell speaker which is located just above the bathroom door in the hallway.  Technically it’s not part of the bathroom but it’s so cute, and it glitters like the floors.

vintage bathroom door

Finally, a random bathroom-related item I found in the unfinished basement just recently (a year and a half after buying the house): a door that’s always kept propped open down there was closed for the first time, revealing it actually came off a men’s room somewhere.  Good old mid-century resourcefulness!

Please accept my happiest, most ecstatic thank you for saving my bathroom! There’s no way I would’ve found the right tile without you. I adore the blog, and your pieces on tile sources are the sole reason I have the pretty pale pink tile of my dreams (and a large stash of emergency replacement tiles in the basement so I never have to hunt again)! Thank you for your hard work!

julieJulie, thanks so much for sharing your gorgeous bathroom with us — we agree that this shade of pink tile is simply delectable. And we know that everyone is going to be lusting after your wooden divider and all the other heartwarming details in your beloved pink bathroom. Nicely done!

  1. Stephanie Wiecz says:

    That is a cool bath. I think your floor is the original beige, pink and beige was not an uncommon color combo of the late 50’s, early 60’s. If you look at the before photo where the floor meets the wall, it is a pretty good transition. It may have darkened somewhat if there is a coating on it that yellows, but it looks right in that photo. My parents bath has pinks, beige and white glass tile combo on the floor.
    Those counters and cabinets are to die for, particularly with the accent shelf.

    You could have used an off white 2×6 bull nose or some other style for trim. That might have looked good. Nevertheless a fab room.

  2. Hannah says:

    I just cringe when I see renovations on TV where they take a sledge hammer to beautiful vintage tile bathrooms. Have you noticed how hard it is to take that tile down? That’s because the people who put it up were craftsmen who were proud of their work and knew what they were doing.

    Julie your bathroom is a treasure. Thank you for sharing it.

    1. Peter says:

      Amen Hannah. I’ve even seen cool ’50’s steel kitchen cabinets ripped out and in dumpsters on TV. Anyone heard of Habitat
      or Resource Centers? Doubt if the cabinets even made it to a scrap metal yard.
      Most of these shows are produced by age prejudiced charlatans. Tried to get a Korean War Vet neighbor to have some TV help on his bathroom etc. Nah – probably too old for their demographics. 95% of couples featured HGTV etc. are under 40. Sad.

      Am looking for a front door knocker (MCM of course) for our 1955/6
      house. Any suggestions? Preferably in nickel – but I can plate a brass piece.
      This is a super site!

      1. pam kueber says:

        Peter: start stalking ebay — vintage door knockers, even new old stock, are pretty easy to come by!

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