Pam here. Since Jan. 1, I’ve been tenaciously focused on doing a lot of technical clean up of the blog. This has included going through stories in draft form. And ack! How did I not publish this one? It wasn’t a draft — it was finished and waiting for me! Kate completed it more than two years ago as part of our series about the history of various colors used in bathroom sinks, toilets and tubs. Hence, Kate gets the byline all these many months later! So let’s see her take us through the color lavender in bathroom sinks, bath tubs and toilets in the 20th Century. – Pam >>
The color purple in 20th Century bathroom fixtures
Purple is one of those hues that is either loved or loathed when it comes to home decor — a color even more polarizing than pink. So it should be no surprise that it’s not easy to find a lot of examples of pastel lavender bathroom fixtures in the historical resources we tap. Diving in, I found evidence of lilac / lavender / light purple sinks, tubs and toilets in catalogs spanning 1927 to 1949. But then, we also have some reader and other examples of 1960s bathrooms with lilac bathroom fixtures — so they must have endured to some degree beyond.
Let’s take a look at what we find in the catalogs:
Kohler — 1927 Lavender
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 — but is it pink or purple? You be the judge.
Above: Lavender fixtures from a 1928 Kohler catalog from the MBJ collection/archive.org.
Above: We see Kohler’s color lineup 1936 Kohler catalog from the MBJ collection/archive.org which offered a both a distinct pink and Lavender. Lavender appears to have been a focus color as indicated by the larger swatch size above.
Above: In this 1948 Kohler catalog from the MBJ collection/archive.org, we see the whole palette for the year, which includes Lavender. However, by 1949 Peachblow’s popularity overtook that of Lavender and I no longer saw it in Kohler’s color lineup.
You can see by this extensive color timeline on Kohler’s website, that once Lavender was dropped from the color lineup in the 1940’s it was out for good, even while other colors such as pink, blue and green ducked in and out of their color history.
American Standard Lavender — Orchid of Vincennes spotted in 1930
Above images: 1930 American-Standard Orchid of Vincennes bathroom fixtures from the MBJ collection/archive.org.
Eljer — Royal Orchid spotted in 1939
Pam spotted this 1939 Eljer catalog in the MBJ Collection on archive.org that lists ‘Royal Orchid’ as one of their offerings.
Crane — Lavender spotted in 1940
In 1940, Crane offered a Lavender along with Orchid Pink, India Ivory, Citrus Yellow, Pale Jade, and Sun Tan as part of their lineup. Images above from: 1940 Crane catalog from the MBJ collection/archive.org.
But… I spy a 1970s Kohler purple tub:
But wait! We DID see a lavender or purple or lilac by any other name would be so sweet among the new old stock featured in this story! But but but it’s not on their timeline! Unless… is that really the Pink Champagne” as also seen in the back of the photo but with the color doing funny things on camera?
Lavender bathrooms in readers’ houses
Above: Sarah has a lavendar bathroom in her Gilbert Spindel ‘Round House’.
Okay, it’s tile not fixtures, but it’s lavendar in Alexa’s father’s 1951 apartment.
And here’s another vintage Lavender bathroom sighting was featured on the blog: This 1960s bathroom that was discovered because the owner was doing some remodeling in their kitchen and bathrooms and was willing to sell these vintage parts on Craigslist.
For those hoping to recreate their own purple potty palace, remember: Because Lavender is such a rare midcentury bathroom color, if you do happen to spot a grouping of fixtures and accessories out in the wild at your local ReStore or salvage yard, it is best not to think about it too long, because who knows when another lavender fixture — let alone a set — will show up.
See our other stories about vintage bathroom colors:
- The color green in kitchens and bathrooms sinks, tubs and toilets from 1928-1962
- The color pink in bathroom sinks, tubs and toilets – from 1927-1962
- The color blue in bathroom sinks, tubs, and toilets from from 1927-1962
- The color beige in bathroom fixtures 1927-1962
- The color red in bathroom fixtures through 1950