Buying a 1950’s Home: Bathrooms

When you are buying a 1950’s home, you will likely make some sort of compromise on the bathroom front.  The bathrooms may have been updated by prior owners (in whatever taste they preferred at the time), or it may come with original bathrooms done up in rich shades of cornflower blue or what I call “Clinique Green”.  Maybe you will even be lucky enough to have contrasting colors like we did!  Green and yellow in one, and purple and pink in the other.

The best (worst?) thing about original bathrooms is that they are frequently still in very good condition.  These homes were extremely well built, and the construction materials have withstood decades of use.  Renovated bathrooms will run the gamut of style and materials, but if you like what’s there, that’s awesome.  If you are considering buying a 1950’s home with the original bathrooms, you will have to make some decisions:


One option is to simply live with the original bathroom, provided that the plumbing and fixtures all work.  Just use neutral paint, shower curtain, etc. and just GO WITH IT!  In the larger scheme of things, having to brush your teeth in a pink bathroom is not the end of the world.

Your second option is to gut the bathroom completely and start over with new tiles, fixtures, etc. 


If you decide to go this route, I would recommend using simple, neutral colors, and a more classic choice of tiles.  Like, white.  I also highly recommend installing a new cast iron tub to keep the materials somewhat authentic to the house.


A word of caution:  You can’t just pave over everything with new tile and call it a day.  If you are going to the trouble of demolishing your bathroom(s), try to do them at the same time, and consider changing out ALL of the plumbing lines and fixtures while you have the wall and floor open.  Yes, they may be copper, and that’s good, but if they are already 60 years old, they are eventually going to fail.  Also, older plumbing can also be very noisy, and you will be glad to not have to listen to those pipes knocking around in the wall.

Of course, all of these improvements will not change the fact that your bathroom will be tiny by new construction standards.  Unless you are doing a major remodel; moving walls, etc., this is something you will just have to get used to.  In our 1959 home on Lake Barcroft, we are fortunate to have enough room to put our kids on the upper level, and my husband and I each have a full (5 x 7!) bath of our own.  I love it and now I’m not sure I could do it any other way!

How have you dealt with your 1950’s bathrooms?

One response to “Buying a 1950’s Home: Bathrooms

  1. Love this posting. My husband calls our 1950’s bathrooms the perfect advertisement for why folks should just say no to drugs! Would like your opinion about painting over the tiles, which we have done and think it looks nice as a temporary solution), or I think there are other stripping options to remove the color. Hate to remove the tiles, as they are so sturdy, with concrete behind them, etc.

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