Whether or Not to Choose Vintage Bath Fixtures

Vintage 1930 Fixtures

Vintage 1930 Fixtures

Isn’t that a gorgeous shade of green? You are looking at the most pristine 1930’s bathroom set I have ever seen, in the perfect shade of vintage green. I found the set at ReStore a couple of weeks, ago, $95 for the tub, toilet and sink, complete. Mint. Yes. Mint.

I didn’t buy them.

Vintage 1930 Bathtub

Vintage 1930 Bathtub

I know many of you will be shocked, especially given the mouthwatering combination of vintage, charming and cheap. But as much as I love the idea of these pieces, they just don’t fit into what I’m doing at the moment. For me, by the way, this is the hardest part of thrifting: leaving something fantastic behind.

But when dragging various lost and found objects home, especially big ones like this, it’s a good idea to have a handle on what will and won’t work for you. If you are a person with innate style and unswerving taste, this is probably not an issue for you. But if you are like me, a person with broad likes and more enthusiasm than good sense, having spent some time figuring this stuff out is probably a good idea.

Here’s some examples of what I’m talking about.

What’s Your Style? There’s as many styles of cottage as there are cottage-dwellers. Shabby, beachy, modern, retro, English, French… or some mixture. Not everyone knows for sure what their style is. I’ve been in love with all of these at one time or the other over the years. Right now I’m really in love with the clean lines of farmhouse and the natural influence and bright palette of Scandinavian.

Vintage 1930 Bathtub

Vintage 1930 Bathtub

Tolerance for “Character”? Though we all love to look at magazine photos of houses full of character and individual style, not everyone loves living with the realities of those choices. Are you willing to hand-tighten your vintage porcelain faucet knobs twice a week? Bathe in a very shallow, or chipped tub? Put up with perma-dirt ground into your old barn cabinet? There’s no right answer, but know your limits.

How Handy Are You? Not only is there no guarantee that a vintage fixture will fit into your space, it may or may not use readily-available parts or pieces required to hook up or maintain it. You may have to be clever in solving this problems, and some experience in this area is helpful, or access to a clever (and patient) person who is handy if you’re not.

Personal Preference or Resale? Is this your forever house? Are you living for your own utility? Or do you need to keep one eye on resale? Can you afford to install permanent fixtures that are extremely personal? Or do you need to confine your personalization to your paint and accessories?

What is Appropriate for the Home? I definitely don’t recommend slavish adherence to this, but there are limits. My 1950’s ranch is calling for a cleaner line than my 1930’s English did, even though everything is still very cottage. But a claw-foot tub, though beautiful, isn’t really appropriate to this home. Likewise, translucent acrylic room dividers weren’t really appropriate for my last, older, home.

For me, the right answer for now is to make neutral, low-maintenance choices for permanent fixtures, and accessorize to personalize. But my next home, who knows?

What about you? How are you approaching these choices in your home today?

Love, Angela



37 responses to “Whether or Not to Choose Vintage Bath Fixtures”

  1. I bet I’d love that bathroom set in someone else’s house but definitely not my own!I have the same problem as you – a lot of enthusiasm and not as much good sense :)I have a hard time keeping things that I love but don’t work with my house from making their way home with me anyway. And as we’re about to undergo bathroom #2 remodel, I am realizing as much as I’d love a clawfoot tub, it’s probably not the most fitting choice *sigh*Great thought-provoking post.And how nifty are you with all different feeds now? I’m sticking to the main feed because I love EVERYTHING! 🙂

  2. I probably would have cried a little too! But I love what you said about even though it’s fabulous it might not work for you in your home…I’ve passed up things before that I KNEW were lovely and great price, but it just would not work for me. (it still hurts a little though)

  3. Hello Miss Magpie,You are soooo funny, I have a lowsy neighbor behind me that “uninstalled” this gorgeous set in a lovely shade of yellow,last summer I adored it for the first week as it sat under his carport,dreaming of a new gorgeous yellow and black vintage bathroom and how awesome I could make that work for us…Alas, BV said NO WAYYYY. now, however..I am not so inamored of it, as I wish he would take it to RESTORE and get it out of the neighborhood!! Really, how long is acceptable for your poor neighbors to view your old toilet sink and tub? Hey neighbor, Ive got a good place for your old porcelain..just incase your reading my Angelas blog,think???great post, lady!!!Lisaps, girls..Im reaching 100 posts(probably next week, dont forget to check me out for a great give away..)

  4. Oh wow! Those fixtures would be SO PERFECT in my bathroom, especially since I repainted it green. Unfortunately, I doubt that tub would fit into the weird tub nook in my bathroom. :/

  5. Oh Angela! I could just see your husband’s face if you drove up with all that green porcelain. Maybe he’s more supportive than mine.My sister and I haven’t yet learned the discipline of passing things up. We actually had to start having “vintage market” sales to unload all the stuff we bought and couldn’t use. It’s just impossible for us to pass it up and so I applaud you.Great job on the reorganizatin and RSS feed stuff. You need to have some tutorials. I know NOTHING about that stuff and probably should.Have a great day, I always love coming to your place.- Suzanne, the Farmer’s Wife

  6. Wow Angela! What a great post.I’ve done my fair share of dragging home large pieces with no idea how or where I will use them. Not good.My tastes are wildly eclectic and so, I’ve been pondering, what is my “style”.The house, at the moment definitely leans towards romantic or cottage, but has a clean line quality, too.Again, great post. Makes you stop and think.And I would have been sad to leave behind that beautiful green bathroom set, too. But just taking its picture was a nice compromise.Kimberly 🙂

  7. I think that I need a couple of different homes so that I can decorate each one in a different style. I love the vintage, shabby chic look, but it’s not really me. Too much clutter. I like French country, but more light. A woodsy cabin look would be fun if I owned such a place.I’ve been thinking about this for awhile and I think I’m a little bit French, little bit Scandinavian in my tastes – clean lines, no clutter, clear colours and light! Vintage touches in accessories.Great post to get us thinking!Lorrie

  8. I love the fixtures, but I’m a bit obsessive. If the toilet seat doesn’t match the toilet, I just can’t go for it. What a great find though. Excellent points as well, they sure do change things over time, don’t they?

  9. Avatar

    Welcome back Angela. I posted a picture of my friends courtyard on my blog. She told me you wanted to see it. I can e-mail you a copy if you prefer. I’ve missed you!Janet

  10. I do feel that the type of home sometimes does really influence things. I know that if I had an older spanish home I would probably do some things different and more “global” feeling. But I don’t know if I could have had the will power to pass those beauties up!

  11. I like your admonition to choose a style and to relinquish what doen’t fit but it’s so difficult! One thing I am not is a minimalist. I can really appreciate minimalist interiors but I just want to start filling them up immediately. Thank you for your lovely blog. Warm wishes Eleanor at Thatchwick

  12. I think I understand the difference between a “thrifter” and a person who occasionally goes looking for something particular in thrift shops: I feel no aching pains about leaving cool things behind that won’t work for my situation. I loved that green set but it just wasn’t right for us so I didn’t mind walking away.Great and useful post, I think lots of people need to remember these pointers.

  13. Sorry, I forgot to fill in my info.Janet

  14. I just found your lovely blog and I’ll be back to read more!

  15. Angela, I just love the colour of those bathroom pieces.I tend to get overcome with enthusiasm and then i have to reorganise the whole house to fit something in , or else it ends up in the shed until I can bear to part with it.

  16. Ugh! You hit the nail in the head this morning. This is everything I’ve been talking to my husband about. Last night in fact. I love our new home. It’s a small 1959 rambler in town. Love the home! Love the size of the yard. Have SO many visions for this home and the yard. We live 3 blocks from a wonderful city owned lake/park. We have a corner lot. If I look down the block towards the lake you see a well maintaned established neighborhood. It’s like that all the way to the lake. If you look across the intersecting street it’s not so pretty. I would LOVE to say that this is our forever home. I want to pour my heart and energy out into this home and property BUT I wonder if it will stay this way for the next however many years I live. Will it just get more icky across the intersecting street? Will the ickiness creep into and onto our lovely street? It’s not that it’s horrible across the way…just not pretty like our cherry blossom lined block.

  17. I’ve been told that here in Austin it is illegal to resell old toilets because they waste so much water. The city wants us to replace all our toilets with water-saving ones. I tried to do that but ran into problems. In the end I kept my old classic fixtures (probably from the 1940s) and recently have redone the whole bathroom to celebrate the retro look.Those people attracted to thrifting because it enables them to reuse and recycle have to also weigh the issue that some old materials or designs may not be as energy or water efficient as newer models.

  18. What a great post! That is an interesting commode and tub, I must say. I know what you mean about leaving things behind. I went to our local flea market this weekend and had to leave so much behind, it just broke my heart.But I did walk away with a great D.R. table base for 20 bucks. I can’t wait to rehab it:)

  19. Ha ha – I don’t care what you say…mint green is for ice cream…not for toilets! Good post!

  20. You do love your green don’t you? This is so pretty. I’ve never seen a set like this before. I love the color but must admit I’d be too chicken to actually install it-lol.Have a great week!

  21. I love the art deco charm of these fixtures, but like you, they would not fit into my home (and I don’t know if I’d actually want to see them every single day). I really like your tips on deciding what is right for you! This is something that I struggle with!

  22. I’m definately thinking resale…. Not that I don’t love my home, I do. But we are a family of 4 living in an apartment in downtown Copenhagen, Denmark. So we will eventually want to move out of the city.

  23. I feel the same way.. it’d hard when you like a piece, but if you don’t need it…?Jen R

  24. What a great and enjoying post! Well…it´s hard and difficult when you like something but because of samething couldn´t buy it… but I usually find reasons anyway to buy it… especially when it comes to linen, china, roses…and things with roses… the other day it was shoes with roses…You can see them at Annalunda :)Love Annie

  25. Wow. Wow. Wow. I wish to goodness I had the original pink bathtub and toilet in my retro bath, but somewhere over the years they were changed out. Oh well, I’m just thankful they left the pink tile.

  26. Sigh…I have to decorate my home keeping future sale in mind. I would love to install a farmhouse sink, clawfoot tub, etc. but I don’t want to go to the expense and then leave them behind. Oh yeah…and money decides a lot for me, too!! In my neck of the woods, retro features don’t come cheap!!Great post!Linda

  27. Great post! I have done a few renovations and lots of thrifting and your points are excellent…. And…good for me to read as I had off to an Estate sale first thing in the AM! lol!Carol

  28. Oh MY GOSH! WEirdo that i am, i want that set!IT would go perfectly in my cottagy home thats red, yellow and that color green 😉

  29. I have that exact bathtub! I am sure that it used to have the matching toilet and sink one day a long time ago. It’s still in pretty good condition too. I just don’t know how to work it into the decorating scheme. Any ideas??

  30. Ha, that is so funny. I have that same green in my 1935 bathroom tile (and there is an abundance of it all over the walls and floor!), but they put in a soft yellow tub! I agree with your article, thanks for all the tips!Melissa

  31. Theresa N Avatar
    Theresa N

    The colors on that older bathroom set are beautiful!! I have an Aunt who’s a wonderful decorator her homes have always been an inspiration to me. In the house she lives in now she has a pink bath tub (from the same time period) and she’s decroated around it. Now at first look you might think she just hasn’t replaced…but it looks really great in her bathroom.

  32. I agree about making spur of the moment decisions when re-doing a room-although that green toilet would’ve rocked in a kids bathroom -gotta look at the long term. I’m in the middle of re-doing a room and love SOME of the cottage style but haven’t quite figured out other style what I want to mix with it. My favorite color is yellow but not for/in my house…after reading a lot of your posts and of links you’ve provided, I see that I’ve done myself a disservice by not going to my local RESTORE (baltimore-image the goodies):)…it’s on my list of things to do next month!KateB

  33. Before this home, we lived in a 90 year old home. Then, I had to do a lot of soul searching then!My husband did a lot of work on it and we actually won a historic preservation award for our home.Cindi

  34. I have the very same tub and toilet in my bathroom. Theres a date of September 27 1954 stamped under the lid for the toilet. They are a very pretty shade of mint green and the toilet actually flushes well unlike those ultra low water consumption toilets they sell these days.

  35. That green bathroom set is from the fifties, not the thirties. My home was built in 1951 and that exact color and model is my bathtub.

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