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Pink Bathrooms: Extinction Looms

Remember the very first commandment of old house renovation? Thou shalt not destroy good old work.

That’s it.

More than 35% of the garbage at America’s landfills is construction-related waste. That’s a phenomenal amount of debris. What’s worse is this: The replacement materials promoted at contemporary big box stores (in most cases) has a serviceable life of less than 10 years. So that new light gray bathroom with white accents will probably need replacing, and THOSE construction materials will also end up at the city dump.

We have got to stop destroying “good old work” in older homes in the name of keeping up with the Joneses (and the Kardashians).

You know what makes my blood boil? Ads like this.

NOTE: All the houses shown below are in Portsmouth, Virginia.

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Theres a special extra-toasty place in preservation hell for this bank.

There's a special extra-toasty place in preservation hell for this bank. A very special place. A friend sent me this advertisement. It popped up on her Facebook page. Oh, how I loathe this promotion. It feeds into the insanity promoted by HGTV that "old and lovely" is never good enough. And yet odds are that this same bank will spearhead efforts to promote recycling. Not much sense in saving 21 pounds of plastic and yet promoting the destruction of thousands of pounds of "good old work."

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Classic good looks.

This light-pink bathroom features classic good looks and will provide decades of service. The tile floor (cartwheel pattern) is already more than 60 years old, and is set in about 6 inches of concrete. With minimal care, this floor will endure another several decades. The same is true for the tile walls.

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The pink tile in this Portsmouth home (Virginia) dates to the mid-1950s, and yet - due to good care and maintenance - it is in like-new condition. The materials used in these mid-century bathrooms will last another 50 years. And yet their modern replacements - fiberglass and plastic junk from big-box stores - will not endure.

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When I was a kid growing up in Waterview (a 1920s/30s middle-class neighborhood), I don't remember seeing anyone "remodel" their bathrooms, and yet by the 1960s/70s, these kitchens and baths were quite old. The pink bathroom featured here has its original sink and toilet. As with the others, it will endure for many more years.

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The same bathroom (shown above) from a different angle. It has a tiled shower and separate tub. It's also beautiful, with the white and pink tile.

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Some pink bathrooms are more subdued than others, but these mid-century tile jobs are typically set in several inches of concrete. When experts recommend retreating to a bathroom during a tornado, this is the type of "safe space" they have in mind. The thick-set mortar bed plus copper pipes plus additional wooden framing makes this one sturdy space.

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My favorite pink bathroom is a deep rose with blue accents.

My favorite pink bathroom is a deep rose with blue accents. I tried to purchase this house (in Waterview) late last year, but it got tangled up in a bidding war, and the price went from $210,000 to almost $270,000 within hours. It was probably this bathroom that drove up the price.

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We have got to stop destroying “good old work.” My current home has a green bathroom. Green is my least favorite color, but I have decided to live with it for a time and see how I feel about in 5 years or so. It may grow on me. I do know this: Society needs to learn that “keeping up with the Joneses” is a path to madness, waste and financial foolishness.

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Save the pink bathrooms!

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NOTE: All the houses shown above are in Portsmouth, Virginia.

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  1. Donna Connolly
    March 24th, 2018 at 10:25 | #1

    It is a sad day when someone tears out old tile and fixtures.

    The construction techniques today are subpar and pretty soon there will be no one left who knows how to do any of the proper building methods.

    I wish people who want new baths and kitchens would buy a new house instead of buying an old house and take every bit of integrity out of it.

  2. Teena
    March 24th, 2018 at 10:26 | #2

    Hear, hear!

    I am reminded of a meme that shows a picture of an elderly couple holding hands as they walk together towards the unknown.

    The words were something along the lines of “a pretty face gets old, a nice body will change, but a good woman will always be a good woman.”

    Trends will come and go, and opinions will vary, but quality speaks for itself. Suntrust Mortgage doesn’t tell me what’s what!

  3. Denise Moore Smith
    March 24th, 2018 at 14:21 | #3

    My dad’s place has not one but TWO gloriously pink-tiled bathrooms.

    I need to get over there and photograph them, though I despair of ever getting shots that show just how gorgeous that swirly pink, glossy tile is in person.

    The master bath tile is a sort of strawberry pink marble swirl, and the half-bath downstairs is done in an even deeper raspberry swirl.

    If Dad ever loses his mind and remodels, I have dibs on that tile.

  4. Jenny
    March 27th, 2018 at 10:34 | #4

    My grandparents had a pink bathroom.

    I think it was installed in the late 70s or early 80s. As a child I thought it was awesome, because (in my little girl opinion) pink is the best color!

    Way better than the blue bathroom we had at home. (The blue bathroom was a 1980 installation.

    We had a blue tub and toilet and the sink/counter top was blue and white fake marble. We even had blue toilet paper back in the 80s).

    I can’t figure out a theme or what color towels to buy for my bathroom.

    It must have been so easy when the fixtures were a color other than off-white.

    Hope your finger is on the mend and congrats on the new car!

  5. Rick S
    March 29th, 2018 at 10:55 | #5

    I am saying amen. At the very least live with your house a year before making major changes.

    The pink (or green) bathroom can be beautiful with the right towels, accessories and maybe even wallpaper.

    My biggest gripe with the HGTV shows is the sledgehammer removal methods.

    It is training people that their quality features are not desirable and the only solution is to destroy them.

    At least if they are to be replaced salvage as much as possible and take it to Restore or Craigslist it to someone looking for materials.

  6. April 2nd, 2018 at 04:53 | #6

    Original features can make a home super attractive to buyers, then can also make a place look old and dated.

    I think it’s each to their own in this case and sometimes it’s nice to have a fresh start and rip it all out.

    We move our clients internationally and often from the UK to US, the houses are so very different on both sides.

    They say 100 years is a long time in the USA and that in the UK it is not - let me tell you in the UL 100 miles is a very long way.

    Great work on the blog, keep it up always enjoy reading it .

    @Rick S

  7. Rhonda Frazier
    April 13th, 2018 at 08:25 | #7

    I have a wonderful 1950s poodle shower curtain just waiting for the day I have a pink tile bathroom!! With black tile trim.

    I’m sharing this blog to the Save the Pink Bathrooms fb page. The pictures you shared make my heart swell.

  8. April 28th, 2018 at 20:54 | #8

    @Donna Connolly

    Hello there and Greetings from Wales, UK.

    I stumbled upon your page whilst researching pink bathrooms, We are a house clearance and recycling company.

    We have come across a few and are re-purposing them right now in modern apartments.

    We aim to send less than 5% to landfill, sinks like this here I would hope we could re-use!

  9. Ann
    May 20th, 2018 at 17:41 | #9

    We have the tinest pink tiled bathroom next to our kitchen.

    Our house was built in 1915 but I think this bathroom was squeezed in in the 50s. This was a fun find! Thank you!!

  10. Eric Sulman
    May 22nd, 2018 at 20:49 | #10

    My dad’s place has not one but TWO gloriously pink-tiled bathrooms.

  11. Denise Moore Smith
    June 15th, 2018 at 11:26 | #11

    @Eric Sulman
    This looks familiar.

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