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bathroom tile

Posted by cosmikcat (My Page) on
Wed, Jan 30, 08 at 10:31

I've posted already about the floor in my "new" mid-1920s Chicago bungalow. Our first job though, is to do some updates to the bathroom. For starters, there's no shower head, only a bathtub. That's not going to work. In order to fix that, the plumber is cutting the wall. Since the bath has ugly 1950s plastic tiles that fall off when you breathe on them, we're just going to retile the whole thing.

Originally, we were thinking of subway tiles but I'm actually getting kinda tired of them. They're everywhere! Since our house is from the 20s and less Arts and Craftsy than your "normal" bungalow, I figured we might have some other period appropriate solutions. I bought some 1920s home magazines on ebay to see what exactly was popular then. Boy, was I in for a surprise. Not a subway tile or white bathroom in sight. Take a look at a few of the ads (the only color pictures in the magazines) that I snapped this morning. These are all from 1926 "House and Garden" magazines.

I'm not so sure about the pink but I really LOVE the way the tile is laid out in this first bathroom:

Here's a close up. I'd REALLY be into doing this tile pattern:

Here's another pretty intense bathroom. Check out that wallpaper!

Look at all the color in this bathroom. Two different colored tiles on the wall and a third on the floor.

So my question after all this is, how do I find such bright colored tiles? Everywhere I look its marble and stone and beige and more beige. I'm really like the funky colors in these ads and would like to try something a little bolder in the bath but can't seem to find what I'm looking for. I figured if anyone knew where to find retro looking stuff, it would be the people on the old house forum.

Any advice?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: bathroom tile

Are you only going to the big box stores or something? Tile specialty stores have huge ranges of colorful tiles in dozens of different brands. Even American Olean and Daltile, about the most generic company there is (they're really one company with different names and different product lines), make boldly colored tiles. Was there a particular color you have in mind?

For that first bathroom with the cool tile layout, you only need 3x6 and 6x6 tiles to pull the field off, with a pencil trim (1/2x6) for the upper wall. That's not too difficult. The patterned lower border might be tricky unless you or your installer wants to spend some quality time building from scratch, or you want to pay through the nose to have it replicated by somewhere like Restoration Tile. Ditto for the floor. The wide tile at the bottom of the wall, like a baseboard, is called a "cove base" and is also widely available.

Have you bought a copy of Jane Powell's "Bungalow Bathrooms" yet? There are some stunningly bright bathrooms in there. IMO "Bungalow Bathrooms" and its companion "Bungalow Kitchens" are pretty much mandatory for folks who own houses in just about any style built between 1890 and 1930, because such a wide range of options are shown. I also suggest spending some quality time at the Bathrooms forum here at Gardenweb - I haven't been hanging out there for a few months but in the past there have always been people interested in restoring or replicating old bathrooms beyond the all-white "sanitary bath" that was a Victorian leftover, popular closer to the turn of the century. They were pretty well "out" by the 1920s, which they didn't call the Roaring Twenties for nothing!

RE: bathroom tile

Now I know where all the pink and green came from in the bathrooms in my house--they were seeing it in the mags! I've seen new tiles in pink and peachy colors around here, but they were colored glaze on thicker, sharp square-edged terra cotta clay, and looked to be hand-made, more Mexican than the typical tiles you see.
I agree that white subway tiles and bead boarding are getting to be ubiquitous to the point of a cliche in old house bathroom rehabs, and I've wondered how consistent they actually were to what was done in the past. We're going to try to give our main bathroom rehab a somewhat vintage flavor in the local southwestern vernacular, but I have no models from which to draw upon for that so it will be perhaps a bit of an invention.
The multiple colors in the last picture you posted looks a lot like my in-law's 1950's bathroom--I guess that palette had legs!

RE: bathroom tile

I second everything johnmari said. Jane Powell's books are great resources.

The post victorian bathroom went in much brighter directions than the traditional white. Jane's book shows many brightly colored bathrooms. Stay out of Home Depot, Lowe's and the like and look for "real" tile stores. You'll find tons of alternatives. For fun high-end viewing, check out prattandlarson dot com. Also, check out restorationtile dot com - there's loads of other companies once you start digging.

Neat idea to buy the old magazines!

RE: bathroom tile

Here's a brochure I bookmarked with lots of tile "eye candy" for ideas. A lot of the pics are public spaces and formal spaces but there are bathrooms too. Fun to look at.

Here is a link that might be useful: tile source brochure

RE: bathroom tile more ideas

Oh, here's another tile company's site with lots of beautiful colored glazes and decos. I'm dreaming too, and not sure what to do with my 1913 bungalow upstairs 1/2 story 3/4 bath. Anyhow, here's some more ideas. I'm sure these are spendy!

Here is a link that might be useful: meredith art tile

RE: bathroom tile

Thanks for all the advice everyone! I've already started looking at some of the websites everyone has mention. It's making me feel a little more confident that we can find something that we really like. We (the hubby and I) had gone to a tile place already but it leaned VERY heavily toward marble and granite, that was why I wasn't sure I was going to find what I wanted. Its good to know there's a lot more out there. We're off to some other tile places this weekend.

I've been hearing about the"Bungalow Bathrooms" book and tried to find it at the library. Our branch didn't have it.I think I'll have to order it.

johnmari - I don't think we're up for the fancy base tile but the field tile, that looks like something we could do. That first floor tile is something else! Right now we have the original hex tile on the floor. It's kinda bland but if we can keep it we will as I like to keep as much original as possible. Sadly, we had to get rid of our 1920s toilet. It was just too far gone but we're keeping the sink and tub.

kec01 - I used to collect (and later sell) vintage clothing. I bought a lot of old fashion magazines as they were some of the best sources for dating old clothes. So it made sense to buy old house magazines when we went and bought a house.

Thanks again to everyone for the ideas! If anyone else has any practical advice, please chip in. This is my first old house and I have a lot of learning to do.

RE: bathroom tile

Here's another link...The Twin Cities Bungalow Club has Clay Squared's ad in their most recent newsletter. I don't have first hand knowledge of Subway Ceramics but the other companies are all well respected.

Here is a link that might be useful: links to vintage style tiles

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