Happy New Year and the Pink (Tile) Bathroom is Back!

Posted on January 3, 2011


According to the New York Times, pink bathrooms are back! Oh my. I hadn’t seen the article until my boyfriend pointed it out to me the other night after it made the Times’ “Most Emailed Articles” list. I read “Bathrooms: Pretty in Pink, Again” with a mix of understanding…and horror. Are pink fixtures really making a comeback? People are choosing pink bathrooms? Here’s an except:

“Within the last five years, pink has come back into vogue, with more people…embracing their vintage pink bathrooms rather than taking a sledgehammer to them. Moreover, interior designers now advocate flattering rosy hues for new or renovated bathrooms. And manufacturers of bathroom tiles and fixtures have been introducing more pink options. Noticing the trend, the color authority Pantone this month decreed that hot pink will be the “it” color of 2011.”  – NYT 12/29/10, Kate Murphy

Don’t get me wrong, I like pink. I wear pink (and lavender and red). My grandmother had a beautiful pink and gold bathroom complete with pink walls, pink towels, a pink bathmat and a fuzzy pale pink toilet seat cover. Even the tissue box and the tissues in it were pink. I understand that a soft pink wall can reflect the light in a flattering way. But, dear reader, now is the time that I have to confess that I was one of those people who took a sledgehammer to my 1950’s era pink bathroom. (Technically my boyfriend did the sledgehammering and we inherited the Pept0-Bismol hued room when we bought our home.) I love our new bathroom. The only pink left is the handle of my toothbrush.

The first thing to go was the pale pink wall-to-wall carpeting. Yes, you read that correctly, carpet in the bathroom. Next we took down the magenta window valance. (Who puts a curtain over the window in a bathroom when the window is in the shower?! Apparently the same people who put carpet in the bathroom.) Then we steamed off the pink and silver wallpaper, removed the pink shower curtain rod, installed a neutral tan grey temporary floor and… stopped. We lived with this “look” while I considered either playing up the “fun retro-ness” of the tile with contrasting black and white accessories (Damask shower curtain anyone?) or downplaying the whole thing while we dreamt up our new bathroom. I went with a milky coffee colored shower curtain and tried to ignore the issue. (If you’re looking for more creative do-it-yourself design ideas definitely check out Apartment Therapy. Here’s a smart and fun embrace of a classic pink and blue tile bath and here’s a fantastic pink and black classic.)

Our original pink tile bath with matching (early 1990s?) wallpaper (pink carpet not featured)

The “in-between look” (wallpaper removed, new vanity and shower curtain)

Sledgehammer meets tile. Check out all the layers of tile and wall history

Yes, I feel a little bit guilty about ripping out the old tile. The Times’ article was right when it talked about mid-century tile being installed well. Ours was in good shape for the most part. And it was hard to remove. We salvaged some of the tiles and gave them to a friend who was having trouble matching the original pink tiles in her bathroom. But our tub, floor, toilet and oh – the electrical and plumbing – were not in such good shape. So we gutted and went for a modern white subway tile bath with a new tub, vanity, and water-saving dual-flush toilet. For the floor we decided on a deep blue glass tile. Though I have to admit that as I set and grouted the new floor I wondered if the next owner, or the next generation of owners, might rip up all my hard work and exclaim, “Blue tile, what were they thinking?! That’s so 2005.” Oh well.

In case all this renovation is getting you down and you’re feeling nostalgic for a classic pink tile bathroom, never fear. I can definitively say as a real estate professional that the pink tile bath is alive and well in New England. Below are just a few examples of bathrooms I’ve seen or sold over the years. As for hip new pink baths, I’ve included a couple photos from the New York Times article. I’ve yet to see a new all-pink bath in person but when I do I’ll be sure to let you know!

Happy New Year and long live the pink (tile) bath!

Classic pink tile bath in Arlington, MA. I love the floor and it was in great shape

Another Arlington, MA pink tile bath and pink tub (note how hard it is to match the original pink tiles)

A 1980’s take on the pink tile with another pink (peach?) tub

Super-retro pink bath (no pink tile but the cabinets were great, as was the faux marble countertop)

A couple new pink baths as featured in the New York Times

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