In 2018, we purchased a flip house and I was determined to restore the 1950s vintage blue tile bathroom to its original glory.
This image of the bathroom looks much better than it did in person. I had a photographer take before photos and they look too good!
I suppose it is a great example of why you should always hire a photographer when selling your home, though. HA!
This cute mid-century home needed a major overhaul and the bathroom was one of the only original features remaining in the interior of the home.
If there is an opportunity to preserve the original character of a home, I always take it! It paid off because all of the buyers who walked through the property loved the original blue tile bathroom.
Brief History of Colorful Bathrooms
Colorful bathroom fixtures became popular in the late 1920s when homeowners grew bored of the white porcelain fixtures.
Blue tile bathrooms were all the rage in the 1940s, which makes sense for our flip house that was built in the early 1950s.
Coincidentally, colorful bathroom fixtures are increasing in popularity again in 2023! This year, Kohler released its Heritage Collection in honor of its 150th anniversary.
I personally love the colorful bathroom fixtures trend.
Bathrooms are a great place to experiment and add a fun element of surprise for visitors. As long as the bathroom includes modern upgrades like exhaust fans and functions properly, I say go for it!
Blue Tile Bathroom Makeover
Here is what the bathroom looked like the day we go the keys to the house (taken on my phone).
This bathroom was dingy and dirty, but I knew a few key improvements would really make this space shine.
Paint the Walls
First I painted the walls a clean, crisp white. I love the look of a fun wallpaper paired with colorful bathroom tiles, but I wanted to appeal to the masses and opted for a neutral wall color.
Clean the Tiles
Next, I cleaned the tiles. The tiles were in pretty good shape, but they were covered in tar and smoke from the previous owner smoking indoors for years.
Using a DIY grout and tile cleaner solution, I hand scrubbed every inch of tile in this bathroom.
It was so satisfying to clean away the yellow tar and dirt to reveal clean, white grout and sparkling blue tiles.
While I liked the original vanity in the blue bathroom, the rusted knobs could not be repaired.
We replaced it with an era-appropriate pedestal sink that functioned properly and did not take away from the original features of the retro bathroom.
Replace Shower Fixtures
I hired a plumber to replace the rusted and leaking shower knobs. He also replaced the old showerhead with a newer, energy-efficient showerhead.
Finally, I had the plumber snake the drain so that the tub/shower was in perfect working order.
The caulk around the tub was old and mildewed, so I scraped it out and replaced it with a new bead of white caulk.
Electrical Bathroom Upgrades
The pastel blue bathroom got a new light switch and GFCI outlet.
I hired an electrician to install an exhaust fan to keep out moisture in the bathroom.
The medicine cabinet/light fixture in this bathroom was one of my favorite features and one that I definitely kept.
Accessories in the Blue Tile Bathroom
I staged the blue tile bathroom with simple accessories that created a spa-like feel.
Fluffy white towels, a white shower curtain, and a tiny, purple orchid plant bring some life into the space.
Blue Tile Bathroom After
So much better!
We updated this blue tile bathroom for less than $600. A full gut and renovation would have cost us at least $5,000. The second-floor bathroom was about $6,000 when it was all said and done.
Budgets are always tight when flipping a house and we put the $4,000+ we saved to good use throughout the rest of the home.
This 50-year-old bathroom looks brand new! The history of a home is what makes it unique and I am so happy I was able to preserve this beautiful blue mid-century bathroom.
How do you update an old, blue bathroom?
There are lots of ways to modernize your retro blue bathrooms including wallpaper, paint or even swapping out light fixtures. Check out more ways to update your retro tile bathroom with these easy ideas.
Unique artwork is another easy way to modernize your retro, blue bathroom.
What color should I paint the walls in a blue tile bathroom?
This is really a personal preference of the homeowner. A neutral, white wall color instantly creates a calming and spa-like retreat when paired with blue tile walls.
Using complementary colors on the walls is a great way to pull retro tiles into a more modern design.
What type of bathroom tile was used in the 1950s?
The colorful tiles in a mid-century bathroom are almost always made of porcelain.
How do I find old bathroom tiles?
Oftentimes colorful bathrooms will need a tile or two replaced and there are various places to find a match.
My current home has two mid-century bathrooms with colorful tile and we found leftover tile under the sink.
Check out places online like Etsy, Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, or eBay which often sell remnant vintage tiles.
You can find vintage bathroom tiles at your local ReStore and architectural home stores as well.
Are retro bathrooms back in style?
Trends tend to be cyclical, whether we like it or not!
Colorful bathrooms are definitely having a resurgence and Kohler’s Heritage Collection is the perfect example.
People are tired of the perfect, all-white interiors trend that has been so popular in the last 10 years. Interior designers seem to be embracing colorful bathrooms this year and I hope this trend is here to stay.
Color can be scary but it is so much more fun when it’s used in your home!