pink-tile bathrooms are acquiring some champions
of the style popular in the 50's and 60's.
Stacey Lopisí friends see the bathroom in her
1960-vintage Hawthorne ranch, they all say the same
thing: "You have to get rid of the pink tile."
were built by the millions in 1950s and 1960s ranches,
Capes and split-levels, but they get no love from todayís
home buyers ó even the young buyers who are drawn to
other midcentury styles in architecture and design.
much as the midcentury modern look is back, itís still
something that people are not going to find
appealing," said Gary Silberstein, a real estate
agent with Keller Williams in Woodcliff Lake, N.J.
"Barbieís not back."
one lover of 1950s design says pink bathrooms deserve
bathrooms are emblematic of the design of the
period," said Pam Kueber, who started the websites
Save the Pink Bathrooms (savethepinkbathroom.com) and
Retro Renovation (retrorenovation.com) after buying a
1950s ranch in Lenox, Mass. "If people could get
their heads around pink bathrooms, theyíd understand
why something that looks so shocking today is actually a
very appealing and wonderful thing."
said developers of suburban tract homes started
installing pink bathrooms after Mamie Eisenhower
popularized the color when she wore a rhinestone-studded
blush ball gown to her husbandís presidential
inauguration in 1953.
started Save the Pink Bathrooms after watching people
rip them out with "sledgehammer glee" on TV
throw the toilets out the window and guffaw. I was
appalled. Thatís disrespectful," she said.
"That bath was put in by somebody who loved that
wasnít the only pastel used in postwar home design, as
the nationís mood turned sunnier. Builders also put in
bathrooms that were yellow, blue or green, often with
were exuberant years, and people chose these
colors," Kueber said. "Walking into a pink or
yellow or robinís-egg blue or turquoise bathroom is
going to be more uplifting than walking into a greige
bathroom, donít you think?"
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home buyers who shun pink will accept the other 1950s
pastels. In her house hunt, for example, Lopis saw a
yellow and black bath that she loved.
and black totally work," Lopis said. "You
could make it funky and fun. But pink is a little much
for me. Pink just wasnít really in my repertory of
colors. Pink, to me, is like a little girlís
usually the man who reacts," said Maryanne
Elsaesser, a Coldwell Banker agent in Wyckoff.
"Theyíre opposed to the fact that itís a female
Armstrong, a retired chemistry professor, has lived for
years with a pink bathroom in her 1950 Bogota condo.
really donít like it," said Armstrong, who is
selling the condo.
sheís always been too thrifty to replace the bathroom.
"Why should I?" she asked. "Nothing is
wrong with it. Ö I knew that if I took care of it, it
would last another 50 years."
that point, everyone agrees: These bathrooms were built
to last. The tile was generally sturdier, and set into
of tile from that era was literally twice as thick as
the tile of today," said Ron Aiosa, a Coldwell
Banker agent in Butler, N.J. "They donít make
materials like that anymore, thatís for sure."
Jochmannís parents bought their Rochelle Park, N.J.,
split-level when it was new in 1957. The house, which
Jochmann is selling, still has the original bathroom.
The floor and wall tiles are gray; the tub and toilet
are pink, and the vanity is a Formica faux-marble swirl
of pink and gray. The bath is still in excellent
you going to get 58 years out of anything you buy
today?" asked Jochmann, an accounting and project
manager at a pool construction company.
Rosko, a real estate agent with Coccia Realty in
Lyndhurst, N.J., recalls how difficult it was to rip out
the pink bathroom in his North Arlington Cape Cod two
a job," he said. "The tiles were on concrete
embedded in a heavy steel mesh. I was bleeding trying to
have to say in many cases, theyíre in really fantastic
shape," said Robin Baron, a Re/Max agent in Saddle
River, N.J.,who helped Stacy Lopis find her home in
Hawthorne. "I say to people, if itís not in your
budget to take it out, you can make it work with new
curtains, towels and decorating. Or you can paint the
tile and tub."
the color of the tile and tub requires special paint. It
costs from $1,000 to $1,500 to refinish a tub and tile
in a typical 5-by-7-foot bath, said John Emmons of
American Bath Resurfacing in Boonton, who often works on
"pink, blue, yellow or green" baths from
is making plans to have her pink tile painted white. For
now, she has tried to dilute the pink with a delicately
patterned white-and-gray shower curtain.
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kind of decorating is the approach often recommended by
real estate agents and stagers trying to sell homes with
todayís buyer, we generally try to combat the
pink," said Maria Rini, a Re/Max agent in Oradell.
She recommends neutral wall paints and shower curtains.
Flaim, a home stager and designer based in Leonia, said
she has toned down pink bathrooms by bringing in more
"contemporary, updated elements" while at the
same time acknowledging the color.
bring the problem into the solution," she said. For
example, she has used a shower curtain with stripes of
pink and khaki. "It was very subtle and neutral,
but still connected with the pink."
has also had sellers leave the tile in place, but
replace pink vanities and toilets with white versions
ó much cheaper than a gut job.
want to get (a reaction of) ĎThis is so charming, itís
retro,í rather than ĎIím going to have to rip it
out; this is going to cost me thousands,í" Flaim
she recommends that sellers make sure the rest of the
house is very clean and freshly painted, with gleaming
hardwood floors. If the house is move-in ready, Flaim
said, "it makes it easier for them to live with the
Kueber is convinced that homeowners can learn to not
only live with, but also love, their pink baths. For one
thing, the rosy glow can be very flattering.
go into that pink bathroom, with all that pink bouncing
off your face, you look 10 years younger," she