In the early days of plumbing, everything was white: The sink, the tub, the toilet. And there’s a reason for that. When you think  of the color white, what do you think of? Clean? Sterile?

That’s exactly what manufacturers wanted you to think, and it’s why many of the first products were white. A Kohler associate publication from 1928 explains:

“Take the case of plumbing fixtures. There are only two reasons why they remained white so long. One was that white was thought to be the appropriate color to symbolize cleanliness. The other was habit. The plumbing world got into a rut of white fixtures…” Kohler of Kohler News, February, 1928.

Along came the 1920′s, a decade known for its fashion and fun – an age of color. Suddenly, a room such as the bathroom could be beautiful as well as functional. Colors first began showing up as accessories: Towels, rugs, curtains, etc.

Then, in 1927, Kohler Co. asked the question, “Why not color in plumbing fixtures?” Kohler introduced six colors that year: spring green, horizon blue, lavender, autumn brown, old ivory and west point gray.

This new color selection positioned Kohler as a leader, the first to introduce vitreous china and enameled cast iron products in matching colors. Customers could finally purchase a full, colorful selection of bathroom products.

Ads in the December 3 issue of the Saturday Evening Post and the December 17 issue of Liberty magazine were the “official” announcement of the new Kohler colors.


Kohler went on to add the industry’s first jet-black plumbing products in 1928, which were showcased in a Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibit in 1929. However, during the 1930′s, with the U.S. in a Great Depression and World War II on its heels, Kohler slowed much of its color production for a couple decades.

Stay tuned for our next installment on color, as we dive into hues of the 1940′s and 1950′s.