Vintage Tile Scrapbook

Vintage Tile Scrapbook

Preserving the Look of Our 1940s House

In remodeling and decorating, we try to respect the original character of our 1944 mid century home, and for our housing track, as well as most California homes from the 1920s to the 1960s, ceramic tile surfaces and counter tops were all the rage when they were first built.  It has been frustrating that there are so few sources on TV and the web for preserving or recreating retro designs or original vintage tile bathrooms.  Most home improvement shows and stores advocate gutting the colorful ceramic tile and contemporary designers consider it “dated or ugly.”  Well, 1940’s dated tile is what I am going for. (See Our finished Bathroom)

Construction Progress

Almost a year has past since we first knocked down the walls in our half bath and laundry room/ mud room to completely redo both areas.  This remodel seems never-ending!  Unfortunately, we only have large blocks of time during vacations to do any serious work on the two-room project.  With kids activities most weekends, it is taking us longer than we planned. We also had to find a new plumber so delayed our progress. Over the course of this past year or so, I have been collecting photos* of nice examples of 1930’s, 1940’s, and 1950s small vintage tile bathrooms for inspiration.

Inspiration from Original Mid Century Bathrooms

On the bright side, we are finally to the point we are ready to start setting tile.  All the hardibacker board is up on the tub walls and counter top.  However, I have yet to buy the tile.  I am still on the fence about the colors.  I already did the floor in black and white porcelain mosaics with black grout, exactly like the kind seen in a few of these pictures.  There are so many pretty vintage combinations choose from; it is hard to decide our own color combination.  Below are many of the photos I have been using for design inspiration for our small vintage tile bathroom.

As you can see scrolling through the vintage tile bathroom photos, there will be no travertine, marble, granite, or even beige or tan in our new retro-style tile bathroom. Stop back by next week, and maybe I will have picked out my tile colors and started setting it.  I think I am leaning toward blue. No, maybe yellow.  But that peachy pick sure is nice. 

1950s Pink Bathrooms

pink and burgundy ceramic porcelain tile in 1950's rancho bathroom
Burgundy and pink tile in the white bathroom. All the houses around here built in the 1940’s and 1950’s had these geometric shaped sinks, including our hall bathroom.
Peach colored tile with burgundy trim and wave detail liner in bath room of a 1950s house
Peach colored tile with burgundy trim and wave detail liner in bath room of a 1950s house
retro tile bathroom intact preserved
Peachy pink tile with black trim and white paint.
pink and black bathroom
The shower curtain and black toilet seat cover really accents this pink tiled bathroom sink and helps it look classic instead of dated
poodle pink pepto pink maime pink peacock pink tile
Pretty in Pink bathroom with black trim tile
vintage designed tile bathroom
Pinkish peach colored ceramic tile bathroom in classic old craftsman house

Grey Bathrooms

grey tiled bathroom design idea
Calming gray with black trim bathroom with awesome mosaic tile floor
grey tile with set in sink 1940s
Built in bathroom cabinet with tile counter geomentric sink in cream and grey. This is the standard look of the original bathrooms for my neighborhood with the bumped out cabinet around the sink

Purple Tile

vintage tile preserved buy repair estate sale
Pink and Purple vintage ceramic tile from the late 1930’s. The tub is full of stuff from the Estate sale that I noticed the tub at.

Green Bathrooms

peach and green jadite tile in giant bathroom
Peach and seafoam green tiled bathroom from the 1930’s. Original fixtures in the bathroom really stand out in the contrasting green color. I like the liner detail on the floor.
light green and darker green tile
Small 1950’s bathroom in two shade of green with vintage 1960s wallpaper
pale seafoam green tile on built in sink cabinet
Light green extra long tiled counter top on bathroom sink in 1960s bathroom
color scheme for green bathroom design ideas
A Jadite green tiled little bathroom with a emerald green trim and beautiful liner detail
green jadite black tile in old bathroom
I like the color of green tile in this old bathroom
jadite green and dark forest green tile
Two toned green tile with curved shelving built around the tub area.
dark green tiled bathroom
1960’s bathroom with an avocado green colored tile. I like the design in the floor on this one.
green 1930's looking bathroom design
Seafoam green pearlescent tile with fancy trim detail at top of wall. This one has very 1930’s art deco look to it. Although I like it, it would not fit the modest design style for what our track originally had.
seafoam green tile bathroom from the 1920's
teal and aqua blue green tile with fancy liner detal in a 1930’s vintage bathroom. It even has a pretty liner detail in the floor
Stunning yellow and green deco bathroom
Yellow and green bathroom with fancy trim details. I love this one.
matching shower stall tile green and yellow deco
This is the same bathroom as the photo before. Check out the ceiling. This is in a Santa Monica vacation rental

Yellow Tile Bathrooms

Yellow and black bathroom
Soft yellow colored tile with black accent trim and liner. The grey paint really makes this one look modern instead of dated
black and yellow ceramic tile vintage design bathroom
This is from the same building as the green tub with coved shelving
yellow bathroom with tile
This one was saved for window tile inspiration.
yellow tile around tub
yellow tiled tub surround with tan trim. We have to do tile work around a window similar to the is one
yellow and blue tiled cabinet with geomentric sink
Here is another original sink like the kind so common in my neighborhood. It looks like everything else in the bathroom had been replaced.

Blue and Black 1950s Tile Bathrooms

black and blue bathroom from the 1950's
I don’t care for the unpainted brown cabinet, but I like the rest of the vintage design in the small bathroom. Ours has about the same dimensions. And this is one bathroom both my hubby and I both like all the tile in. We did the same black and white pinwheel porcelain tile flooring too, in our new bathroom.
black and blue bathroom tile 1950's
This flooring in the bathroom really caught my eye. I like the classic look of it. The 1940’s scrapbook from my friend’s grandma had lots of floors similar to it. This is how our new floor looks.
blue and black tile bathroom with liner detail


We finished our vintage tile bathroom and compromised on blue and black. It was a difficult choice because my hubby wanted something subtle and didn’t want it looking like any sports team’s colors. In the end, we are both very happy with our color choice and are enjoying our new bathroom. Here is a link to our renovated retro tile bathroom. The featured photo at the top of this post is our now finished blue tiled bathroom.

  • Do you have a vintage tiled bathroom? 
  • Or are you planning to redo one? 
  • Leave me a comment or suggestion at the bottom of the post.
  • Send me a photo if you would like it added!

Note about this post

*Unlike the rest of my blog, not all of the photos in the post are my original works but were collected over the course of a year for design inspiration for our little bathroom redo.  Some of the photos came from the MLS or vacation rentals, or other sources and I am no longer able to find online.  If one of these images is yours, please email me or leave a comment below and I’ll correct the attribution, and/or hyperlink to the original, or take it down immediately, whichever you prefer.  Thanks.

33 thoughts on “Vintage Tile Scrapbook

  1. I love this site but we need to repair the some of the burgundy mud cap tile that got damaged when we had to do some repairs . Any idea where to find these tiles? I want to keep the integrity of the bathroom. Thanks.

    1. I got my vintage tile from a local place called B&W Tile. They do have a burgundy color in their catalog and when I did my bathroom, they were doing some custom work. Have you checked their website already? I got a few of my odd shaped black trim pieces from them. Last I checked, they do ship tile through out the country. Maybe request a sample? Best wishes with your repairs and I hope you find the right tile.

  2. I live in Santa Barbara, and since 93′ owned Regrout Ceramic Tile.. I am the only vendor in California who has and can remove and replace old tile grout flawlessly without any dust! My patented grout removal tool is selling in the Home Depot, Lowe’s, Ace, and True Value as well as the European Union. If you have vintage tile and want to return it to original condition give me a call. Visit my website or purchase your own tool at Your tile is not the problem, it’s the grout! What in a house doesn’t need work after 20yrs? Some of these beauties are over 70yrs old and just need help, not a sledgehammer! When you remove these old tiles, your destroying the original character of the home, and depreciating the homes value! The more old features you find in a old home the better, floors, window’s, corbels, built ins, and if your really lucky to find one with the old tile, then you have a true treasure that warrants immediate help and not deferred maintenance! My specialty is 20’s – 60’s artisan craftsman tile. Here in California we have earthquakes and any movement is bad with tile and grout and warrants immediate attention before water intrudes. They only had white grout back in the day, with fireplace, cigarette, and age the white is not so white. I can remove the old and put new Bright White grout back in that is water, stain and mildew proof and able to preserve old tiles for future generations to enjoy!

    Have a grout day!

    Michael Taylor
    (805) 598-3217

  3. I recently just watched an episode of Renovation Realities that featured a couple who mercilessly gutted a bathroom in a 1940s house in Cali very similar to picture #27 Peach and sea foam green original tile bathroom with green fixtures from the 1940s. It has streamlined details that were so popular in the late 30’s to Mid 1940. I don’t own a home like the ones you feature her, mine is 1912, but it just made my gut hurt to watch them take a sledge hammer to that beautiful turquoise tub. Just sickened me to see them destroy that whole beautiful blues vintage bathroom.

    1. Rhonda – I just read your post, and without getting into the painful details, I will just say, as a 1920’s to early 1950’s homes enthusiast, researcher, floor plan and plan book collector, and friend of several other full time researchers and lecturers on Teens and 20’s Bungalows, what you just described is precisely the reason why I never watch any of those shows. Never. I’ve heard too many horrific tales from friends of mine who do, to know that all it would do is make me angry 😲 and sick😭🤢 to see beautifully done tile work, bathroom fixtures, and other period detailing completely destroyed and sent to the land fills, to continue adding to the other beautiful 1st growth woods and old growth building materials that are filling them up now. Woods the likes of which we won’t ever see again.

      They claim frequently to do it in the interest of going “green” when in actuality, the greenest materials are the ones that are already there! Not in the piles and truckloads of old materials sent off to the landfill.

      Windows are the worst offenders. I can show you pictures of 90 and 100 year old homes now still with their original windows in place because they have been well maintained, not replaced with those awful vinyl atrocities. Storms and screens still used, and still “green” in helping maintain the comfort of the house and it’s owners!

      It’s sickening and infuriating. If these people want “new, modern homes” then please go buy them! There are plenty of them out there to be had, without destroying these.

  4. Nice website. My house was built in 1947 and I’ve learned to love the vintage bathroom. It has the original tile on the walls and floors, the org mirror, and an org built in cabinet with drawers. The walls are sea foam green with maroon trim. It’s in excellent condition. When I first moved in the house 15 yrs ago I went thru a phase where I was trying to modernize the decor. I finally realized that the bathroom needs to stay as is. I’ve only replaced the faucet and toilet but I kept w/ styles that fit in w/ the vintage look. The sink is a pedestal sink; not sure when it was replaced or how hold it is. But I’ve grown to love the vintage style so much that I’m now trying to put the kitchen back to a more vintage 50’s look again. I had replaced the old white cabinets with new white cabinets about 10 yrs ago, but I’m in the process of changing the backsplash so it fits more w/ a 1950’s style kitchen. I have an original Chrome Osterizer, and a GE toaster that is a replica of the round toasters from the 1950’s. With white cabinets, it’s easy to give a kitchen a 50’s style, but the backsplash has to be ceramic or glass, nothing too modern and no stone or you end up with a tuscan look. I finally realized it’s easier to just keep the kitchen and bathroom vintage looking vs trying to renovate to a modern style, other wise you change once thing and pretty soon everything in the house needs to be ripped out and modernized. The vintage bathroom and kitchen goes with the style of this house. It’s a post war cottage house. Over time I just couldn’t bring myself to wanting to rip out the bathroom, and as I tried to modernize the kitchen, for some reason I kept reverting back to that 50’s look – I was just drawn to it. I’m removing the dark, stone backsplash and having ceramic and glass square tiles installed. I guess the house just doesn’t want me to modernize it too much! lol

  5. I live ins Queens NY and have a 1921 fully tiled orchid bathroom with black trim. Over the years I have learned to love it. It’s in great shape with orchid commode and bathtub.

  6. I enjoy your blog so much! I had a vintage home in the SF Bay Area with a lovely tile bathroom; I sold the home and miss my tile bathroom most of all! You have a wonderful website.

  7. I live in Altadena Ca, and I go to open houses in my neighborhood often to see what some of these 1930’s to 1950’s homes look like inside. Sadly, many of them still have beautiful tile and original fixtues and windows – only to be gutted out by the new owners. I am glad to find like minded people – I love the old cabinetry, tile etc. It feels so homey and warm. Our house is from 1939, but there are “updates” that were made in the 60’s. There is still a lot of original left in the house – and at least the 60’s updates were minimal and not like the “Homedepot overhauls” that are being done to our heigbhorhood now. Our plan is similar to yours to bring in the beauty and quality of the past… our first item was getting a 1950’s Western Holly stove/oven. I am enjoying your site. Thanks!

  8. The first peachy-pink bathroom is mine ( The house was built in 1949. It had an ugly newer cabinet-based sink when we bought it, but probably started with a wall-mount. It also had an unusual one-piece Case brand toilet. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find parts that fit the toilet and so we replaced it, as well as the 60s/70s sink.

  9. I just purchased a home in Florida that was built in 1957. The bathroom tile in the bathrooms is in very good condition. One is the pink and grey and the other is yellow a sorta brown color. The problem is we are tall and the tile does not go all the way to the ceiling around the tubs. I am concerned that we will get water damage above the tile in the showers. Do have a suggestion on what I could put on the upper areas around the tubs that would look good with the original tile. I do not think I could ever match what we have.

    1. I wish I could offer some great tip for incorporating new material with the vintage tile, but I don’t know of anything.

      Our other bathroom has similar issues of the surround being about 6 inches shorter than my husband. We didn’t want to replace it at that point due to the expense. That bathroom has some kind solid surface, kind of like Corian or manmade quartz, panels around the tub area. Its super easy to keep clean and looks good. About 15 years ago, we repaired the mildewed plaster above the shower walls and sealed with a water proof paint product (sorry i don’t remember brands) and caulked. We then painted with a premium bathroom paint with a mildewicide. And replaced the vent fan. We have had no other water issues in there since then. The two teenagers now use that shower/tub.

  10. Hello,

    We have a 1956 mid-century modern home in the hills of Studio City that is 90% original with all the tile in pristine condition in three bathrooms and the kitchen.

    We’re considering doing an addition and we’d love to emulate the same style. That said, someone told me that there’s a store somewhere in southern California that has vintage tile for sale. Do you know what the name is or where it is?

    Any help you can lend would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance for your help.



    1. I apologize for the long delay in my response; your comment was being held for review and i missed it. The vintage tile store I go to is in Gardena, called B & W. The also have a location in Riverside. They have an extensive selection of shapes and a large number of retro tile glazes. If they don’t have a piece, they often can make it within a few days – a few weeks. I had one really weird piece i needed and it was ready within 4 days.

      There is another tile place in Pasdena, Mission Tile West, that makes custom reproductions and they have a nice website. I haven’t used them since I am much closer to Gardena.

  11. You want a good source of info on these old bathrooms, find old bathroom catalogs from American Standard, Crane, and Kohler. They have a wealth of information and lots of really cool illustrations. They also help establish a timeline about how long a particular color or style was made.

  12. Hi. I am looking for the 4 x 4 monochromatic sage green tiles. My tile has little black or dark brown speckles in it. However, it looks a lot like your picture of the sage green tile. Do you know where I can get it at?

    1. Hi Rod,

      I am sorry I missed this comment from a while back. If it isn’t too late, I think B & W Tile in Gardena might have what you are looking for. Give them a call. I believer they will send out samples if necessary. B & W Tile 14600 S Western Ave, Gardena, CA 90249
      (310) 538-9579. Another place you might check is Mission Tile West in Santa Monica: 1227 5th St Santa Monica (310) 434-9697. They have a lot of older style ceramic tile too.

  13. I’m with you on keeping the retro tiled bathrooms. I have close to the exact bathroom as your 2nd picture with the peachy pink and burgundy trim that I’m currently trying to figure out a good color to paint the walls above the tile. I agree there aren’t enough resources out there regarding preservation rather than destruction so thank you for your refreshing site. As far as a pick for you…. I’m in love with the 1st pic with the turquoise, black, and white.

  14. There is a website that is called and they have replicas of these types of ceramic tiles. Different shades. I found them online. Need to replace seafoam green tiles.

  15. Thanks so much for the fast reply! Great resources, I so very much appreciate it! I am in the process of removing about 3 coats of white gloss paint to reveal the tiles, so once I get a good section bare, I’ll post the pics for you.

  16. We have a 1927 house that has lavender 4×4 square tiles with black bull nose trip, but I was delighted to find that under all the white paint there is a 1 inch trim tile with tiny pink triangles, along with yellow with blue speckle dart shapes. I can’t wait to get the thick white paint off. Any suggestions where I could find a half dozen purple replacement tiles?

    1. Hi Elizabeth,

      Your tile bathroom sounds lovely. I would love to see a pic!

      I wish I could find more good sources for vintage ceramic tile trim because I want to add a decorative element to the tile project I am about to start in my laundry room. I have about a 5 foot long section to do. Unfortunately I have yet to find any that are at prices I can afford. My bathroom project ended up with just plain black liners because I could not afford the hand painted ones at my local tile store, B & W.

      Most of the vintage trim liners are pretty expensive when I have come across them. They sometimes turn up on ebay and etsy, but not in the colors I need. Other than that, you will probably have to special order something. The place I buy tile from, B & W tile, charges about $13 per six inch handpainted liner, last I checked. They do carry a variety of blank unglazed liners, and I think one might have darts with squares, but I don’t think it is exactly like you are describing. Here is a link images of their liners and trim:

      There is another Southern California tile place out in Pasadena that does custom work called Mission Tile West. Maybe check out their stuff to see if any of it matches your pink triangles with yellow and blue darts. Here is a link to their sample boards:

      Is it just the purple field tile you need? If so, try Mission Tile West. They have a few different purples.

      There are probably a few other specialty places around the country, but unfortunately, I am only familiar with the ones near me. If you do find a match, I would love to hear about and see a pic. Thanks and best wishes finding it. – Lianne

      B & W Tile
      14600 South Western Avenue
      Gardena, CA 90249
      Phone: (310) 538-9579

      Mission Tile West.
      853 Mission Street
      South Pasadena, Ca 91030
      Phone: (626) 799-4595

  17. I’m looking for dk brown and white vintage look instead of the more common black and white. Have any suggestions?

    1. Hi Kathleen,

      I am sorry; I don’t have any great advice.

      Most of my research was focused on the 1920s to 1940s. During that time, folks were worried about sanitation and cleanliness. White and light colored tile surfaces were commonly used up until the late 1930s to allow the homemaker see the dirt that needed to be cleaned and easily disinfect it. However, burgundy was popular, as well as gray.

      Most of the brown and white tiled rooms I have come across are from the 1960’s to late 1980’s. I do believe the store I bought my tile at, B & W Tile in Gardena, CA, does carry a couple of shades of brown.

I would love to know what you think about this.

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