Make It Work: Old School Tile in the Bath

Make It Work: Old School Tile in the Bath

Nancy Mitchell
Mar 15, 2013

You might not think it, but there's  a lot of controversy in home decor. Animal hides. Naked pictures in the bedroomOrganizing books by color. They all have their proponents and detractors, but the one topic that gets people truly riled up is the pink tile

Pink tile: 50's dream, modern nightmare? 

For every person who feels a little murderous upon glimpsing an avocado bathtub, there's someone else starting a campaign to save the pink tile. But love it or hate it, sometimes you just have to deal with it. 

Maybe you're renting. Maybe you can't afford to remodel just yet. Maybe you're an old-school tile apologist (and take heart, you are not alone!). Whatever your situation, here's a way to lessen the awfulness (or embrace the glory) of the old school tile. 

Go ahead. Hang photos and paintings in the bathroom. Get a punchy shower curtain. Giving yourself something else to look at takes some of the attention away from the tile and makes everything a little more modern. 

1. Okay, so your tile bath may only aspire to this kind of lighting or proportions, but you can still recreate the vintagey, hanging-photos look. The Irish Country House via The Adventures of Tartanscot.
2. Joshua's bath has great natural light. he's dressed it up with a shower curtain and some personal mementos that complement, and don't compete with, the tile. (Click here to see the full tour of his lovely Spanish-style LA home.)
3. The shower curtain and lighting fixtures in this bathroom from Design*Sponge complement the vintage tile. 
4. Blogger Victoria of SF Girl by Bay calls her blue-and-pink tiled bathroom 'hideous', but we think she's totally making it work. 
5. Similarly, Apartment Therapy house tour hostess Zeinab describes her bathroom as her 'biggest embarrassment' — but we think she's made it really lovely. (Click here to see the rest of Zeinab's Beachwood Canyon apartment.)

If you're feeling a little more daring (and your landlord will let you), the next step to really working the old school tile is to paint your bathroom. You can choose a color that complements the tile — above, black blends seamlessly with the accent tiles in this DC apartment, while also addding a little bit of dark drama. 

Or you can make like blogger Joanna Goddard of A Cup of Jo, and pick a color that really pops. I love this bathroom's nautical vibe. And the Componibili, of course. 

Punch it up with some badass wallpaper. 
This is the go-to option if you are really bold. And probably you own your place. It's not a quick fix, by any stretch, but it's a good one. The thing about the pink tile (or any other kind of vintage tile) is that it's so attention-getting. 'Look at me! I am pink tile!' Once you've added a really great wallpaper, that's all anybody will be looking at. 

1. This eye-popping wallpaper (seen in a bathroom from The Glitter Guide) steals the show. 
2. Silhouettes of birds? Been done. Silhouettes of dogs? Feels yummy and fresh.  Bathroom from Urban Grace
3. Lovely wallpaper in a vintage tile bath from Lonny

(Images: 1. Lonny, 2. Better Homes & Gardens Decorating Book, 1956 edition, via Hooked on Houses, all others: as credited above)

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