Nostalgia, a wider choice of bathroom products and a renewed desire to embrace colour are all driving the trend. Good old-fashioned vanity may also play a part – it turns out pink is a great backdrop for a selfie.
According to mid-century design consultant Alistair McLean of Secret Design Studio, Australians began to look away from the UK and towards the US for design inspiration after WWII. Following the fashion in America, they installed pink bathrooms in large numbers after the then-US president’s wife used the colour to decorate the private quarters of the White House.
While practical issues are discouraging people from preserving these original bathrooms, they continue to take inspiration from them when building new ones. “A new bathroom with a mid-century vibe in pink can be stunning,” McLean says. “It has a charm that matches the rest of the house, and that’s important with a home of that period.”
A case in point is the bathroom McLean worked on with client Lyndie Shaw in suburban Bundoora, north-east of Melbourne. According to Shaw, the old bathroom “had seen better days”, and she and her husband wanted a new one in keeping with their mid-century home. The result was the perfect pink vintage-style bathroom complete with a bespoke kitty litter enclosure for their pet cat.
Mairav Whitten, director of Design Miss M, works with clients who share her passion for colour. According to Whitten, people are drawing inspiration from the past, whether it be mid-century pastels or ’80s-style “fluoro” pinks, but doing it with a modern twist. “With pink, many people think it’s childlike or old-world, but it can also be incredibly sophisticated when used correctly,” she says.
“Having those pops of colour is what brings joy, in whatever way people execute it in their lives, in their homes or in the way they dress.”
Rachel Gilding, a product specialist at Beaumont Tiles, confirms that “colour, shape and pattern are being embraced, with pinks, blushes and rose-coloured schemes increasing in numbers too.”
Gilding points to 2021 contestants Mitch and Mark’s striking art deco-inspired mosaic tiles as an example of both modern and timeless appeal. “Teamed with timber and gold tapware, the overall result is a sophisticated and calming space,” she says.
Is pink likely to be popular with all family members, though, and could there be push-back over shared bathrooms?
It depends, says Whitten, and emphasises that it’s all about balance. “You can say to your [anti-pink partner], I want pink in the shower, but the rest of the bathroom is going to be white with other more neutral accents. So, you’ve got your little splashes of pink or blush or pastel. It doesn’t have to be neon or hot pink – which might make them run for the hills.”
Floss Kelly, co-founder and head of creative at Tile Cloud, believes the wider choice of bathroom products available to consumers is also fueling the trend. “Now there’s a bigger range of tapware that people can use that works better with the colouring, they will definitely pick a pink tile,” she says.
“When it was just chrome, the colour scheme didn’t really work. It looked bitsy. But pairing a beautiful pink herringbone subway tile with a brushed brass shower is giving them the look they want.”
Embracing vibrant shades like pink may also be a way of bouncing back from hard times and could be seen as a version of “dopamine dressing” for our homes.
Gilding agrees with this and says: “In colour psychology, pink is generally associated with hope and optimism, which are two things we need more than ever today. It’s a factor that contributes to pink colourways being such a trend at the moment.”
And it’s not just about looking at the world through rose-coloured glasses. Light reflecting off pink surfaces can make you look good and give you a self-confidence boost, a fact which has possibly gained recognition in the era of the bathroom selfie.
“I do believe it has a timeless appeal. I think you always look better in a pink bathroom,” says McLean.