Many older homes still have 1940s bathroom fixtures. Only 55 percent of American homes had indoor plumbing in 1940, according to Lone Star College. People of previous decades perceived the bathroom as a utilitarian room. However, in the 1940s, homeowners decorated the bathroom to reflect their favorite style.Some bathrooms had only a sink and toilet, especially if the home did not have running hot water. Newer construction, however, included a bathtub and running hot water.
Muted colors dominated early 1940s bathrooms, even though they included reds and blues to show support for the war. Lavender, rouge, autumn brown, old ivory and spring green were also popular during this time, according to Kohler. Peachblow, ice green, cerulean blue and Tuscan shades remained popular colors throughout the decade.
Floor and Walls
Tile and linoleum were the main flooring materials. Bathroom walls displaying tiling from floor to ceiling in the tub area was another new trend. Previously, all four walls had tended to comprise part tile and part wallpaper. Glass-covered prints and wall sculptures added decorative touches.
A standard ceiling light fixture was common in most homes. Track lighting did not become popular until the 1960s. Etched floral patterns adorned many of the light covers. Bathrooms that did not have windows, as was common in row homes, had skylights for ventilation. These bathrooms had wall lighting.
Sinks were freestanding rather than enclosed in a vanity. Some homeowners made use of the potential storage area under the sink by enclosing it with a skirt. Some bathrooms had a very small second sink that the family used as a tooth brushing station. Builders in the 1940s started including a medicine cabinet as a standard feature.
Bathtubs in the 1940s resembled our modern fiberglass tubs, with both shower and tub. They did not have feet nor were they freestanding. Lightweight plastic bathtubs had not yet been invented. Shower curtains had floral patterns.