26 January 2010

The bold look of Kohler, from 60 years ago

Angela Miller is a communications specialist and corporate archivist for Kohler. Angela's the lucky soul who gets to keep track of Kohler's written history and that means she's up to her elbows every day in vintage Kohler ads. Talk about a fantasy job. Angela also write for Kohler's blog, Kohler Talk.

Kohler Talk has a number of contributors from both inside and outside of the company. Friend of Kitchen and Residential Design and blogging pioneer Susan Serra is one of the outside of the company bloggers. Brava Susan!

Anyhow, when ever I get wind of another Angela Miller post on Kohler Talk I click over there to see what wonders she's unearthed. I think she hit the mother lode this time. Here is a series of Kohler ads from the 1950s.

Now, I remove bathrooms just like the ones shown in these ads on a monthly basis at least. The part of Florida where I live reached fully built out stage by the time the '50s were through. Every other bathroom in Pinellas County Florida looks exactly like at least one of these ads.

Most of them are still in surprisingly good shape and that says volumes about the fixtures and construction standards of the time. Most of the fixtures end up in architectural salvage and most of them do find new homes. But in the meantime, while these baths are still intact, they function as a reminder of of quality and longevity. Once I tear out one of these '50s baths, it gets replaced by a contemporary "spa" bath and sure they look great when we're done. But I wonder if they'll still be around in 60 years. Hmmmm. I doubt it.

But before I get too wistful here, check out this kitchen sink:

Man! I'd give my right arm for a sink like that!

What do you guys think? Too nostalgic or not nostalgic enough?


  1. I love these old bathroom fixtures. The tubs are deep, there is lots of chrome and the corner tub is great for little kids.
    Shorpy has this great picture on their blog: these fixtures are beautiful!


  2. That's my tub! In the picture with the be-jeaned boy at the sink. But it's the salmony-pink color as shown in the one with Susie getting ready to play tennis. I should send them photos of my bathroom. I now suspect that it was an addition put on the house in the 1950s. I was outside looking at it a couple of months ago and it doesn't look like it was part of the original house.

  3. I love these campy old bathrooms. Those tubs particularly were made from enameled iron back then and they will last forever. Hold onto them if you can.

  4. I like nostalgia to stay in the past, or in nicely framed pictures on walls. One of my friends had that sink. I helped her remodel and the top of her wishlist was "THE SINK HAS TO GO." She said it was too shallow and really hard to keep clean (coffee stains especially). She also broke a few dishes and glasses over time, dropping them on the cast iron.

  5. Yeah yeah yeah, but I still want that sink (in white) and I want to use it in the most starkly minimalist kitchen I can imagine. I love a little high/ low. Actually, I love a lot of it.

  6. Ooohh I love that sink too! I saw one somewhat like that in my journey around the internet in a really pale robin's egg blue that'd look gorgeous in a white kitchen, I think. Can you tell that I'm pining for a non-rental kitchen?

  7. Out of all the things we saved in our recent remodel, it was the sink in the powder room that looks just like the one in the ad with the boy in jeans. Only it was placed so low on the wall, that when we raised it we couldn't find the right legs for it, so it's un-legged. That kitchen sink is cool, but I'm so in love with my single bowl sink I could not go back to double.

  8. It's all quite lovely. Have you seen my little website, Susan?



    Vintage 50s pastel bathrooms are becoming quite "collectible" -- worth preserving.

  9. Pam! Thanks for your comment. Ladies and gentlemen, 50s Pam is none other than Pam Keuber, the dynamo behind the blog RetroRenovation (http://retrorenovation.com/). Follow that link back to her site, it's a feast of mid-century splendor.

  10. Nim: I love that old Kohler blue. It's back you know. The have a line of modern kitchen and bath sinks that use it now.

    Erika: Good save on the sink. If you'd like to get legs for it after the fact, I have a resource in mind who does just that.

  11. Thanks Raina, I'm over the moon for integrated drainboards.

  12. love the sink also....perhaps agree...a bit deeper...but love built in drain boards if you have the room...curious Paul...have you seen the nkba winners yet? . Impressions?

  13. I have not seen them yet. are they on the NKBA website now?

  14. I have the bathtub in pics 2 & 3. Unfortunately the finish is "finished" and it has already been refinished once (not sure with what or when - before we moved here), so will have to be replaced soon.

    The pink bathroom made me laugh. When we were looking for our current home, we visited a home that had a pink bathroom in the basement. Bubblegum pink toilet, sink and shower. And to top it off, there was pastel happy face wallpaper. I wish I had my camera with me - it was priceless!!!

  15. I can imagine a pink bathroom with pink smiley face wallpaper would be pretty priceless. Have you ever seen Pam's (commenter above) Retro Renovations? Amazing website she puts together. Amazing.

  16. I think these designs are still fabulous! Colors may need updating but they still have much appeal. This is an incredible post for me because it speaks to a new party I am hosting on Tuesdays.

    Beginning Feb 2nd, I am hosting a party every Tuesday on all timeless classis things ~ interior design, fashion, special occassions and entertaining, art, ..... See how this post fits right in?!!

    Your blog is one of my classics now so I hope you and your readers join the party.

    Here is a link to let you know more about it ~ http://paulagracedesigns.blogspot.com/2010/01/timeless-tuesday.html

    Looking forward to seeing you there!

    Paula Grace ~

  17. Thanks Paula, you can count on me!


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