Assess the Existing Features

Take stock of any original 1950s features your bathroom still has, like tilework, fixtures, or cabinetry. Decide which elements you want to keep to preserve the retro aesthetic. Often things like tile and porcelain sinks have great vintage appeal.

Update the Plumbing and Electrical

While preserving vintage style, it’s still important to make sure all the plumbing and electrical is up-to-date and meets current codes. Replace any aging plumbing pipes and update the bathroom wiring if needed. Install any new ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets.

Change the Flooring

Many 1950s bathrooms have out-of-date vinyl or tile flooring. Upgrading to a new floor can completely transform the look. Go for a retro-inspired tile like black-and-white checkered, or install new vinyl flooring printed with fun mid-century motifs.

Replace the Fixtures

Clean-lined fixtures with gleaming chrome finishes epitomize ’50s style. Replace existing fixtures with new ones that have retro flair. Go for porcelain pedestal sinks, wall-mounted faucets, and porcelain tank toilets. Installing a vintage-style tub is a great way to anchor the space.

Update the Lighting

Swap out old lighting fixtures for ’50s-inspired ones. Go for globe or dome-shaped ceiling mount lights, or install round Hollywood-style vanity lights beside mirrors. Sconces with colorful, patterned lampshades also look neat.

Work Color into the Tile and Paint

Use tile and paint to introduce bold, fun ’50s color. Rich blues, sunny yellows, and retro pinks and greens all evoke mid-century style. Paint the walls a vibrant hue, and update the floor and shower tile. Keep accents like the ceiling and cabinetry neutral to let the pops of color shine.

Choose Retro Bath Accessories

Fun ’50s-inspired accessories like geometric patterned shower curtains, black rimmed circular mirrors, wire storage shelves, and vintage-style soap dispensers all help complete the retro look. Pay homage to the era with your accents and decor.

Add Some Wallpaper

For a bold retro statement, install some bright, graphic wallpaper, like cherry or floral prints. Wallpaper only one wall as an accent, inside shelving cabinetry, or on the ceiling. Many modern wallpaper designs now have a cool mid-century vibe.

Redecorating a vintage 1950s bathroom takes creativity and vision, but the completed retro revival project will supply endless style and charm. With the right updates, you can transform a dated mid-century bath into a cool space with modern function and loads of era-specific character. The key is staying true to the era in your material and design choices. Embrace color, clean lines, and a sense of playfulness for an authentic ’50s feel. Your refreshed bathroom will become a unique showpiece blending vintage appeal and current comforts.

Frequently Asked Questions About Redecorating a ’50s Bathroom

What are some key design elements that define the 1950s bathroom aesthetic?

Some key design elements of a 1950s bathroom include:

  • Black-and-white checkered tile floors
  • Globe or dome-shaped lighting fixtures
  • Retro wallpaper prints like cherries or florals
  • Porcelain fixtures like pedestal sinks and clawfoot tubs
  • Bright, vibrant color schemes like pink, yellow, turquoise
  • Wire storage shelves and metal bathroom accessories

What colors work well in a 1950s style bathroom?

Great colors to use in a 1950s style bathroom include:

  • Pink – ranging from pastel pink to hot pink
  • Turquoise – looks fresh and vibrant against white
  • Yellow – cheery sunshine yellow evokes the era
  • Green – mint green and lime green were popular
  • Black and white – great for checkered tile floors
  • Metallic accents – gold, silver, and chrome all fit the retro style

What type of tile should I use in a 1950s bathroom remodel?

Some great tile options for a 1950s style bathroom remodel include:

  • Black and white checkered vinyl tile – captures the diner aesthetic
  • Colorful geometric tile patterns – evokes mid-century motifs
  • Subway tile – classic rectangular white ceramic wall tiles
  • Hexagon tile – adds retro honeycomb pattern in white or colors
  • Pebble mosaic tile – in solid colors or multi-hued blends

What kind of lighting works best for a 1950s bathroom update?

Ideal lighting options for a 1950s style bathroom include:

  • Globe or bubble lamps – capture Sputnik era aesthetic
  • Wall sconces – go for ones with colorful, patterned shades
  • Vanity lighting – Hollywood-style lights flanking mirrors
  • Track lighting – allows flexibility for aiming bulbs
  • Under cabinet lighting – illuminates sink and counter space
  • Neon lighting – great for adding pops of color

What type of materials and finishes suit a 1950s bathroom remodel?

Some perfect materials and finishes for a 1950s bathroom include:

  • Porcelain, ceramic, or enameled steel fixtures
  • Chrome, gold, or other shiny metal finishes
  • Solid wood vanities (like teak or walnut)
  • Lacquered wood furnishings and cabinets
  • Vinyl flooring or wallpaper with retro motifs
  • Subway tile, hex tile, or ceramic mosaic tile

What are some tips for adding vintage style on a budget in a 1950s bathroom?

Some budget-friendly ways to get the retro look include:

  • Finding deals on vintage fixtures at salvage yards and antique shops
  • Using contact paper with fun patterns instead of new flooring
  • Painting existing tile floors instead of replacing them
  • Decoupaging wallpaper onto plain walls for accent areas
  • Buying reproduction mid-century modern bathroom accessories
  • Installing peel-and-stick wallpaper or tile
  • Painting existing vanity and furniture funky retro colors


Redesigning a bathroom from the fabulous ’50s era allows you to impart oodles of nostalgic style. By keeping existing retro features and combining them with new mid-century inspired elements, you can refresh your bathroom into a hip blast-from-the-past. From flashy color schemes to groovy lighting and tiles, there are many ways to inject vintage flair. Focus on the iconic hallmarks of ’50s decorating like graphic prints, clean lines, and bright colors for an authentic retro-chic look. With strategic updates and materials sourced from salvage yards, you can recreate the 1950s bath trends on a budget. Get creative with your redecorating, and you’ll soon be showering and primping in a swanky new-old bathroom. Your ’50s revival bathroom will be the epitome of vintage charm.