In the 1950s, bathroom design reflected a fresh and contemporary approach that blended classic and modern decor elements. Color, especially in pastels, popped onto the scene and made their way into bathroom decor. Bathrooms became not only functional but fashionable. Ceramic tile and fixtures in one color alone -- pink -- resulted in approximately 5 million pink bathrooms in the United States from 1946 through 1966.
Bathroom color schemes of the 1950s break down into three major categories:
- Pastels -- Pink, turquoise, mint green, pale yellows, chartreuse, lilac and pearl grays
- Modern -- Candy apple red, vibrant yellow, electric blue, orange, black and white, contrasting color palettes
- Scandinavian -- Earth tones, colors found in nature such as browns, creams, buff, gray and green
Fixtures and Appliances
In the '50s, bathroom fixtures were no longer limited to utilitarian white shades. Colored sinks, bathtubs and toilets were manufactured in an array of hues for easy coordination with tiled floors and walls. Plastic and Lucite showed up in many bathroom accessories, including soap and toothbrush holders, sink and tub faucet knobs and light bars above vanities.
Other features typical of 1950s bathrooms include:
- Vitreous china pedestal sinks or mounted sinks with thin chrome legs
- Formica countertops and sparse counter space
- Wood cabinet storage spaces
- Chrome fixtures with rectangular shares and rounded edges
- Rectangular bathtubs with low or no showers
- Big, boxy wood vanities
- Vinyl-topped stools
- Built-in accessory holders such as toothbrush holders, magazine racks and soap racks
Walls and Flooring
Ceramic tile was the mainstay of bathroom flooring in the 1950s, with linoleum floors making an appearance in almost every color. Often, tile color was selected to coordinate with pastel-hued sinks, bathtubs and toilets. Walls were usually covered one-third to two-thirds of the way up with ceramic tile. The upper areas were often covered in wallpaper, in designs with lively floral and geometric patterns as well as atomic, fish, driftwood and seashell motifs. Checkered floor tile in contrasting colors like black and white or red and white added a stylish flair.
Light fixtures of the 1950s consisted of a variety of plain and fashionable horizontal light bars above mirrors, sconces or pin lights on each side of a vanity, and flush globe or bowl ceiling fixtures in the center of the room. Chrome and nickel finishes in atomic, starburst, striped and geometric shapes lent a touch of modernity to vintage bathrooms.