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April 7, 2021

A Collection of Mid-Century Bathrooms From the 1940s for Design Inspiration

Color is the key word for bathrooms built or remodeled between the World Wars. Ivory and pastel toilets and sinks came first, joined during the 1930s by fixtures in orchid and mauve, Ming green and peach. The colors kept coming: baby blue, candy pink, butter yellow, lavender, and black. In the 1940s, red, burgundy, and navy blue were introduced.

Although plenty of black and white or grey and white baths were built in the first decades of the 20th century, originals from the period tend to be more fanciful than “revival” baths are today.

By the mid-1940s, wartime shortages and the ascendance of International Style dictated a return to the spare white bath. But most 1940s homeowners were not ready to forgo all color. They enjoyed a cheerful pop of green or blue first thing in the morning. Also, they had absorbed a decorating tip broadcast by design magazines during the early 20th century: You can give a tiny room the illusion of more space by running a horizontal band around the middle of it.

1940 Armstrong Bathroom – Few images are as iconic of the midcentury as swans and the color pink. This bathroom offers peachy pink walls and pink fixtures. Black painted wainscot with scallops and an black linoleum floor grounds the space.

1941 American Standard Bathroom – Eggplant and gray walls along with an incised pattern in the linoleum floor form the basis of this color scheme. Fixtures are a creamy yellow complement to the rich burgundy hue. This ad appeared in American Home magazine.

1942 Orange & Green Bathroom – This image was from an article in American Home magazine. The dark brown floor complements the related orange of the towels and shower curtain and contrasts with the green tile wainscot. Light wallpaper with a starburst pattern adds extra visual interest. The existing white fixtures look updated without a large cash outlay.

1942 Blue Armstrong Bathroom – This Armstrong ad was published in American Home magazine among others. The blue monochromatic scheme is relieved only by the baby pink accessories. The floor is designed with an incised floral motif that is repeated in the bathmat and shower curtain. To add extra storage, a shallow shelf system is attached to the door.

1945 Briggs Bathroom – This peachy yellow, rust, and steel blue scheme with gray fixtures is very modern. It would be very handsome in any retro renovation today. The sliding glass door on the tub, folding according track door on the toilet compartment, dual sinks, lots of mirrors, and canister lighting are a few of the features that would be fun to reproduce.

1946 Armstrong Bathroom – Not designed to appeal to the conservative homeowner, this bathroom embodies the glamour, excitement, and excess associated with Hollywood in the 1940s. The upholstered chair, abundant use of gold tile and metalwork, and back linoleum was Armstrong's contribution just after the War ended.

1946 Crane Bathroom – This is an attractive mid century bathroom that might particularly appeal to someone with a small post War home. The color scheme is a pleasant creamy yellow and gray figured wallpaper with yellow tile, and an interesting charcoal painted cabinet framing the bath. White fixtures and gray striated linoleum tile finish the look.

1947 Briggs Bathroom – A teal blue linoleum floor provides the foil for this coral pink bathroom. Crisp white fixtures made this a contemporary look in 1946, but it could easily be replicated today.

1947 Crane Bathroom – After World War II, Crane offered its Criterion line of fixtures. This bathroom with its marbelized tile and flooring grounds the peach and blue color scheme. This bathroom would have been a worthy update for many a contemporary or traditional style home.

1948 Armstrong Bathroom – Green and pink were a common enough combination during the midcentury years, but only Armstrong seemed to come off with some wild designs like these oversized cabbage roses, pink cabinetry, and fuschia patio chairs in the bathroom. The roses even appear on the ceiling ... keep an eye on the ceiling in coming years!

1948 American Standard Bathroom – American Standard offered this great square corner bathtub through the 1950s. Used in a variety of interesting layouts, it’s one of our all time favorite mid-century bathroom features. If you’re lucky enough to have pink fixtures, here’s a scheme to wow any lover of retro design.

1948 American Standard Bathroom – If a pink corner tub isn’t your style, maybe you’ll appreciate this color scheme of ivory, storm blue, and tan. The glass partition and patterned linoleum floor are pretty attractive, but the showstopper has to be the fluffy pink rug.

1949 Crane Bathroom – Creamy tan tile, rust walls, striped wallpaper, and a a black floor with contrasting liner makes for a sophisticated but casual color scheme. Crisp white fixtures make this an attractive possibility for an update to midcentury home or one that's brand new.

1949 American Standard Bathroom – This ad for American Standard is interesting for its color scheme of burgundy, pink, light green, and two shades of blue. The sink cabinet is strikingly modern.

1949 Armstrong Bathroom – What collection of 1940s bathrooms would be complete without the design frivolity of some Pennsylvania Dutch painting, knotty pine cabinetry, and a flourish of ruffles? The color scheme is essentially a classic primary triad of golden pine, red brick linoleum flooring, and blue Linotile walls.

1 comment:

  1. Note the same impracticality in all of them!
    Occasionally some shelves but that hardly cuts it!




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