Decorating a yellow bathroom: Color history and ideas from five manufacturers from 1927 to 1962

vintage yellow bathroomsThere’s no doubt about it — yellow is just one of those happy, sunny colors that can instantly brighten a space. It is no surprise then, that midcentury bathrooms, which already featured smile-inducing pastels like pink, green and blue, would also be bathed in sunny yellow. In my research, I found that many manufacturers offered a version of Ivory that could be classified as a pale yellow, especially in the early years of colorful fixture production. By the 1950s and early 1960s, brighter yellows — such as American Standard’s ‘Manchu Yellow’ and Briggs’ ‘Autumn Yellow’ were becoming available. Let’s take a look at yellow bathroom fixtures from 1927-1963.

American Standard Yellows — Ivoire De Medici and Manchu Yellow

vintage yellow bathroom vintage yellow bathroom vintage yellow bathroom

Ivory may not technically be yellow, but in my research, I found many manufacturers offering different shades of Ivory, such as American-Standard’s ‘Ivorie de Medici’ that look to be pale yellow in their catalogs. Above images: 1930 American-Standard Ivoire De Medici bathroom fixtures from the Building Technology Heritage Library.

vintage ivory yellow bathroom

Above from: 1950 American-Standard catalog from the Building Technology Heritage Library showing Ivoire De Medici bathroom fixtures.

vintage yellow bathroomWhen it comes to ‘Manchu Yellow’ there is no question — this 1963 color is a bright, sunny, happy, unmistakable yellow.

vintage yellow bathroom vintage yellow bathroom

Three images above: 1962 American-Standard catalog showing Manchu Yellow fixture/ Building Technology Heritage Library.

Kohler — Old Ivory and Tuscan

vintage ivory bathroom

A few years ago, Pam wrote about the very first year — 1927 — that Kohler offered its bathroom fixtures in colors besides white. Old Ivory — which looks like it could have been a very pale yellow — was part of that first color lineup.
vintage ivory bathroom

Again, Old Ivory looks like a pale yellow, therefore I have classified it as such. Above: Old Ivory fixtures from a 1928 Kohler catalog from the Building Technology Heritage Library.

1936 Kohler bathroom colors

Above: We see Kohler’s color lineup 1936 Kohler catalog from Building Technology Heritage Library. While Old Ivory was offered, it was not one of their four most popular colors as indicated by the larger swatch size above.

1948 Kohler colors bathroom

Above: In this 1948 Kohler catalog / Building Technology Heritage Library, we see the whole palette for the year, which includes Ivory — though it seems they dropped the ‘old’ from the name. By 1949, Ivory was dropped from the Kohler color lineup.

Kohler colors 1950svintage yellowy beige bathroomOddly enough, even though Ivory was not in the 1950 Kohler lineup, it is possible that ‘Tuscan’ made a shift from beige to a yellowy beige. You be the judge. Above images from: 1950 Kohler catalog / Building Technology Heritage Library.

Crane — Citrus Yellow and India Ivory

vintage Crane bathroom colors 1940 vintage yellow bathroom

In 1940, Crane offered both a creamy ‘India Ivory,’ which looks like a pale yellow, and a bright ‘Citrus Yellow,’ along with Orchid Pink, Pale Jade, Lavender and Sun Tan. Images above from: 1940 Crane catalog / Building Technology Heritage Library.

vintage yellow sink

Here’s Crane’s Citrus Yellow again in another 1940 Crane catalog / Building Technology Heritage Library.

Eljer — Jonquil Yellow and Colonial Ivory

vintage bathroom colorsPam spotted some Eljer catalogs from 1939 and 1940 in the Building Technology Heritage Library that showed two shades of yellow — including Jonquil Yellow and Colonial Ivory.

Briggs — Autumn Yellow and Ivory

vintage yellow bathroom vintage Yellow bathroomThe two images above show Autumn Yellow — a cheery bright hue — from the 1950s Briggs Beautyware catalog / Building Technology Heritage Library.

vintage Ivory Bathroom vintage Ivory BathroomThe Briggs catalog shows their Ivory as slightly more beige than pale yellow. Above, two images above of Briggs’ Ivory from: A 1951 Briggs Beautyware catalog / Building Technology Heritage Library.


See our other stories about vintage bathroom colors:

  1. LeAnn says:

    Well this was a timely article for me as I am presently restoring a 1933 Texas farmhouse with a very sweet and tiny hall bath with original pale yellow tile and a claw foot tub. I took out the non original gross vinyl floor today and will put pinwheel tile in it’s place.
    Thank you for everything you do! This site has been a source of inspiration for me.

  2. Annie Marges says:

    Our house was built in 1971 and we have an American Standard Ivoire de Medici (I think) bathroom with green carpet (ugh) and tangerine formica counter. I love the fixtures but want to update it all, or make it a bit more mid-century modern and less 70s feeling. Does anyone know if it is easy to remove the sink and chrome ring and replace in a new counter?

  3. pam kueber says:

    Annie, consult with a professional on such issues. Note, the hudee ringed sinks are still made. Idea: You could likely see instructions online on Kohler’s Tahoe model still for sale, although I am not an expert and cannot assure the method of install would be the same.

  4. pam kueber says:

    We don’t sell anything here. See our research in the Bathroom Help/Toilets and Bathroom Help/Sinks categories.

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