Trying to save our 50's bathroom tile

ellenjJuly 10, 2006

The previous owners were kind enough to leave me alot to do in this house. I'm sure its not as old as most of your homes, but I'm trying to save it. If it were strictly fifties, that would have been great. But...they redid the place in 1972 (ouch!) and its been tough.

They laid industrial brown carpeting over the ceramic tile. After pulling up the stinky stuff, I discovered a really nice floor. I purchased a product I found online, Soy Gel. The product doesn't smell at all. Don't even need to use gloves. I've been working with a section a day. I put the gel on a section, spread it out with a brush and leave it for about 3 hours. Then scrape it off. Wipe whats left behind with a rag. Scrub the area with a brillo.

Does it look worth it?

http://i39.photobucket.com/albums/e192/thejudges/100_2526.jpg

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magnaverde

Hi Ellenj.

I think your floor is beautiful, and i'm glad you're able to clean it up without killing yourself with stripper fumes. I've always thought I'd have an I.Q. 2O points higher if I hadn't breathed methylene chloride for half my childhood.

The 5Os are one of my favorite periods of design, even though these days, we're a lot more likely to see a cartoonish pastiche of it--Lucy cookie jars, poodle lamps, & framed Coke ads--than we are to see a respectful recreation of its very real charms. 5Os baths are seldom as giddy--or, depending on how you view them, as garish--as, say, 193Os baths, but they have an honesty & simplicity of their own, which character will come to be more & more appreciated as more of them are ripped out in favor of generic 'spa' baths.

Here's the problem with going with a contemporary decor in an older bath: it almost alsways looks terrible because 5Os baths--festive colors aside--were pretty no-nonsense affairs, or in other words small. And the same sandblasted glass vessel sink on a slab of polished concrete that looks oh-so-great in a big bathroom mockup in a great big showroom where you have plenty of room to focus on the overall lines & plenty of spotlights to showcase the juxtaposition of polished nickel & honed marble quickly loses its air of glamour when it's all jammed into the dimensions of your typical 5O-year old bathroom.

On the other hand, going with (and enhancing, rather than obliterating) the original esthetic can reap visual rewards, besides usually being a heck of a lot cheaper than taking the shock-&-awe approach to decorating, and filling up our landfills with perfectly servicable vintage fixtures.
The three-color scheme--I'm reading pink on the toilet seat & yellow on the walls, but that may just be flash skew distorting the actual colors--is perfect for baths of the period, and which three colors you choose hardly even matters. At any rate, congratulations on seeing beyond the 7Os makeover, and not trashing the original decor along with its successor. Be sure to post pictures of your progress.

Regards,
MAGNAVERDE.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2006 at 11:09PM
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cocooner

I certainly think that it is worth it. I like the older baths. The floor looks great. Think of it this way - once details like this are gone from a house, for the most part they're gone. But you can keep this floor and bath for as long as it suits you. Good luck with the remodel.

cocooner

    Bookmark   July 17, 2006 at 7:39AM
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jannie

I like my 1950's bath. It has pink tile with black accents, pink tub sink and toilet, pink black and gray tile floor. But the best part is the vanity-it's black and pink marble-look finish. The previous owner loved pink-she even had a pink kitchen with a pink stove, pink and red formica and a pink wall phone. When the phone broke, I found a red replacement. When that broke, I could no longer find red, I got a white wall phone.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2006 at 9:08PM
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stanlie_gw

This is kinda off the wall. But have you considered painting your phone. You could have a pink and white phone if you remove the plastic shell and paint it pink. Krylons spray paint for plastic is great. Ive painted all kinds of plastic stuff inside and out. It looks good and it hold up well.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2006 at 12:25AM
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brickeyee

Watch out using brillo or any other steel scrubber on tile. You can leave behind steel smeared in the grout and even the face of unglazed tile that later starts forming rust stains.
Non-woven abrasives (Scotch Brite) are better when you steel residue can be e paroblem.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2006 at 1:19PM
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pompeii

I definitely would save it. It's a great floor. We kept the tile in both our 1950's baths and just updated around it. Well, we did have to lose the pink floor tile in the gray bath. The replacement tile is somewhat less beige in person.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2006 at 5:30PM
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shannanigan

Yeah its totally worth it!! Especially since you seem to have matching Tub and Toilet. Thats so awesome!!

I recently bought a 1957 Ranch home. The bathroom has all the original Salmon colored wall tiles. Well there was a lot of damage in the walls around the tub/shower so they had to be removed in order to repair the water damage. I spent 2 weeks (after work and weekends) before I moved into the house carefully removing all the tiles, cleaning the mortar and grout off of them with a dremel tool so I could put the original tiles back up. Unfortunetly I couldn't save them all, but came up with a solution that I was happy with.

http://ranch.shannanigan.com/gallery/main.php?g2_itemId=100

Trust me, in about 10 more years the 50's homes are going to be like the Arts & Crafts are right now. Very popular... and hard to come by with original things like tile, cabinets, built-ins, etc. Things people have been ripping out of them for years under the assumption they are "improving" the house. After so many years of being concidered the Red-headed stepchild of Real Estate, the Ranch home will be making a come back.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2006 at 10:30AM
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gunderson1909

pompeii -How were you able to post photos inside your post? I tried and was not successful. I was able to post one photo following the directions on the test site, but nothing on the real site. Any suggestions?

ellenj

Definitely save the original floor tiles. You would not believe the effort, time and money I am putting in to try to recreate an appropriate period floor in my 1906 home. To actually have the appropriate tiles already in place in your home is awesome. They look great.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2006 at 2:41PM
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maddiemom6

I can post photos in my posts by hosting at photobucket and then posting the tag in my post ...like this

BTW... that is my laundryroom :)... more interesting than the other photos I have over on PB right now.

Maddie

    Bookmark   August 21, 2006 at 8:56PM
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sarahjaneb

Trust me, in about 10 more years the 50's homes are going to be like the Arts & Crafts are right now. Very popular... and hard to come by with original things like tile, cabinets, built-ins, etc. Things people have been ripping out of them for years under the assumption they are "improving" the house. After so many years of being concidered the Red-headed stepchild of Real Estate, the Ranch home will be making a come back.

This is already starting to happen! Have you seen Atomic Ranch magazine?

Here is a link that might be useful: Atomic Ranch

    Bookmark   August 29, 2006 at 11:24AM
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eaglesgal

Great floor! I would try and save it. I just bought a older home with 2 50's baths and I would have loved to find that floor under the carpet the previous owner put in the main bath.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2006 at 1:12PM
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ellenj

See I was right! And my husband wanted to put ceramic tile from home depot over it..

here's some other changes in case you're interested


House Before and Afters...

    Bookmark   September 1, 2006 at 7:29PM
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vjrnts

OMG, ellenj! I remember the "before" pictures from about ... a year(?) ago. That paisley!

You've done a great job with it. It looks wonderful.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2006 at 10:47PM
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ruthinfl

I am trying to find Salmon bathroom wall tile. Any ideas?

    Bookmark   January 20, 2007 at 1:09PM
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bud_wi

Janni, You're looking for a cool retro red wall phone?

How about:

http://shop.vendio.com/batterygallery/item/834145275/index.html

They have both pink and red retro payphones too:

http://www.art-and-home.net/servlet/the-118/Crosley-Replica-payphone-classic/Detail

I wouldn't want one of those payphone styles though.

I used to see pink 'Hello Kitty' and pink 'Barbie" phones every so often, at Target and stores like them. I wanted a pink phone for my 1950's style home too, and thought about getting one of those, and covering the logo with something else. I never did though. I'm sure they still sell them.

I found a nifty vintage wall phone, in sea foam green at Goodwill for $3.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2007 at 11:30PM
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swimmer35_mac_com

I too am trying to restore my bathroom. No one has touched this 1922 4 square in many many years. I have the lt green plastic wall tiles and am looking for about 30 tiles. If anyone can help - please let me know -

I am willing to pay for them

Julie.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2007 at 5:00PM
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brighthalf

My 1956 ranch home still has the original ornate bathrooms. This was the neighborhood builder's house and he added some unusual touches, such as the etching of a representation of Marilyn Monroe candidly posing on a rock on the shower sliding door. Does anyone know if this would be worth anything? I have no intention of ever altering these bathrooms, since they are in surprisingly great shape.
My blog has some photos I took tonight.

Here is a link that might be useful: 1956 Ranch Home Original Bathrooms

    Bookmark   March 10, 2008 at 9:09PM
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sarschlos_remodeler

I have a 1962 side split ranch with two sinks just like Pompeii's. Unfortunately, the sinks in the master and guest bath were replaced in the 1980s, along with all of the original tile. I'm hoping to save those sinks when we redo that bathroom.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2008 at 8:26PM
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chinacat_sunflower

Shan - I LOVE the fish tiles - and you're right, that's a great way to update the bath :)

ironically, I've got formica that matches your tile - only it's in my kitchen, juxtaposed against 80's industrial cabinets, and a vinyl floor that's patterned in 'guldens spicy brown' and 'french's classic yellow' shades of mustard...we had to go with terra cotta walls to make the color scheme work,, while we're saving up for a kitchen restoration ;)

and ellen - WELL worth the work.

but gods bless all of you who didn't do, or are un-doing what my previous owners did (the awful 70's remuddles...ugh! what a horrid time to be a designer!)

    Bookmark   March 12, 2008 at 2:07PM
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breenthumb

Ellenj, I'm so glad I came across this post again. Your video was so good I actually watched it on dialup last time. Download, watch, dl a little more, watch. Took a long, long time. This time (broadband) I could really enjoy it. You're very talented, AND energetic. You've done wonders. Sandy

    Bookmark   March 14, 2008 at 5:10PM
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bayareafrancy

Your floor is BEAUTIFUL! Oh, WOW! And you have a matching blue tub and toilet? Fantastic!

Tip: since you'll probably never find a matching blue toilet seat, get rid of that white one and replace it with black (which I actually think looks sharper than a blue one anyway).

Just great work you are doing! Thank you for saving another old bathroom! (Can you tell I am passionate about old bathrooms).

:-)

Francy

    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 1:25AM
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relic

You can get a matching blue toilet seat from Bemis, they have every color ever made.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2008 at 6:14PM
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ericstiles

Most of the tile that is being talked about above was made in the mid 1920's to about the early 40's I help my husband hand salvage these old tiles for over 15 years from homes and Historical sites that are being torn down daily. Most of the tiles are either Gladding Mc Bean or American Euncaustic Tile co. Sometimes we will even find some Pomona Tile co by Hermosa .These tiles were mostly done with a baked glass like glaze making them almost impossible to salvage. Often the same type of tile was used in the kitchen and or back splash area .I personally love the salmon color as well and there is an awesome lavender that looks like hard candy. There were also early American tiles that were used on the face of fire places and in fountains in the yard. All of these companyÂs can be found in the American Art Tile Encyclopedia it is a great source of education on early California Tile Company's. These tiles are worth keeping and make you a member of the Tile club.
Wanda
Saving History one piece at a time......

    Bookmark   August 14, 2008 at 6:04PM
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lilalynn_ix_netcom_com

Have pink plastic artistic tiles in my bathroom and I need to replace a few - any clue?

    Bookmark   February 15, 2011 at 12:10PM
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oniwashere_gmail_com

I am so jealous of your bathroom. Ours is mamie eisenhower pink. my grandma picked it out in 1953. I've been bugging the building's super for about five years (ever since I took the apartment) to fix the bathroom... But he wouldn't do anything until water started dripping into the neighbors bathroom and two tiles fell off into the tub. We took the tile off today and guess what, there is no wall back there. just black crumbly mush. Disgusting! He is off to home depot to get wood and hopefully greenboard to rebuild that part of the wall. If he gets regular dry wall I will complain (I used to work in a hardware store so I have some idea of what I'm talking about!)

Anyway I'm rambling. I love your blue bathroom so much if I could time machine back to the fifties I would try to convince my bube to go blue instead of the pepto pink yuck I'm stuck with (even though it IS fashionable right now)

Here is a link that might be useful: oneandoni

    Bookmark   August 17, 2011 at 11:29AM
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