From the Record:
When Stacey Lopis’ friends see the bathroom in her 1960-vintage Hawthorne ranch, they all say the same thing: “You have to get rid of the pink tile.”
They were built by the millions in 1950s and 1960s ranches, Capes and split-levels, but they get no love from today’s home buyers — even the young buyers who are drawn to other midcentury styles in architecture and design.
“As much as the midcentury modern look is back, it’s still something that people are not going to find appealing,” said Gary Silberstein, a real estate agent with Keller Williams in Woodcliff Lake. “Barbie’s not back.”
But one lover of 1950s design says pink bathrooms deserve more respect.
“Pink bathrooms are emblematic of the design of the period,” said Pam Kueber, who started the websites savethepinkbathroom.com and retrorenovation.com after buying a 1950s ranch in Lenox, Mass. “If people could get their heads around pink bathrooms, they’d understand why something that looks so shocking today is actually a very appealing and wonderful thing.”
Kueber said developers of suburban tract homes started installing pink bathrooms after first lady Mamie Eisenhower popularized the color when she wore a rhinestone-studded blush ball gown to her husband’s inauguration in 1953.
Kueber started savethepinkbathrooms.com after watching people rip them out with “sledgehammer glee” on TV home-improvement shows.
“They’d throw the toilets out the window and guffaw. I was appalled. That’s disrespectful,” she said. “That bath was put in by somebody who loved that color.”
Pink wasn’t the only pastel used in postwar home design, as the nation’s mood turned sunnier. Builders also put in bathrooms that were yellow, blue or green, often with black trim.
“They were exuberant years, and people chose these colors,” Kueber said. “Walking into a pink or yellow or robin’s-egg blue or turquoise bathroom is going to be more uplifting than walking into a greige bathroom, don’t you think?”
George Rosko, a real estate agent with Coccia Realty in Lyndhurst, recalls how difficult it was to rip out the pink bathroom in his North Arlington Cape Cod two decades ago.
“What a job,” he said. “The tiles were on concrete embedded in a heavy steel mesh. I was bleeding trying to remove them.”
“I hear stories from people who start out hating pink bathrooms and go on our site and come out loving them,” Kueber said. “Here someone gave them permission to love something that’s not necessarily popular. Once you understand why the color was popular, I think it’s really easy to love a pink bathroom.
“I have readers looking for houses with pink bathrooms,” she continued, “so get with the program, people.”