When we sent out a call for great mid-20th-century bathrooms, the stories came pouring in.

And while a lot of them shared color schemes - bubblegum pink being the most popular - they also shared pride of ownership.

The Tucsonans we spoke to love their original bathrooms, down to the chrome toilet-roll holders and cone uplights. And yes, they say, they can even live with the dated plumbing.

In the words of Jeff Rush, whose 1956 bath (and home) bought last year is practically untouched since it was built: "We struck gold."

Here are our picks of the best.

"It's our pink powder puff"

"We've kept it kind of nostalgic," says teacher Don Curry of the 1951 home he shares with partner Tim Chafey, a registered nurse.

And for good reason; they acquired it fully furnished, even down to linens and glassware. The home had had just one owner, Klonda Lynn, a former professor at the University of Arizona.

They've repainted the turquoise walls and added a shaving mirror and retro-style light fixture above the vanity (glass shades on mirrored backs, $80 from Home Depot).

The original pink mosaic tile floor is intact, and the pale pink wall tile is edged with a turquoise detail. They call it their "pink powder puff."

The downsides? It's the only bathroom in the house and "it would be nice to have a bigger shower," says Curry.

"It's very 'Mad Men' . . . and it's going to stay that way."

Designed by prominent architect/builder Tom Gist, Michael Fassett's 1959 home on Tucson's east side is historically intact, its style moving more toward the 1960s.

"It's very 'Mad Men,'" says Fassett, who is involved in the Modern Architecture Preservation Project of Tucson (MAPP), an organization that raises awareness of architecture from the 1940s to the 1970s.

The guest bathroom features mahogany cabinets, a signature theme of Gist's, says Fassett, along with a medicine cabinet with sliding glass doors, a revolving chrome toothbrush holder and opaque tile flooring.

"It's almost like it's a transparent resin or base, then layers of varying shades of brown," he says of the flooring.

The toilet and tub are original, too, "and it's going to stay that way," says Fassett.

"It feels like home"

Andie Zelnio calls her main bathroom colors of pink and dark red "drugstore makeup." A standout feature is the maroon tile inserts in the floor, and the matching tile accent above the bathtub.

As well as original side lights either side of the vanity, there are a revolving chrome toothbrush holder and sliding-door medicine cabinet.

Her master bathroom is baby blue and yellow with maroon tile inset into the shower wall. Because of plumbing problems, she was forced to replace the toilet and install a new pedestal sink, and she was sad to lose her original pink toilet for the same reason.

But the 1954-built ranch house reminds her of home; she grew up in a ranch house in Illinois built in the same year and designed by her father.

"The workmanship is really excellent compared to what you get today," says this freelance designer specializing in interior and graphic design. She's also an active member of MAPP.

Old tile poses remodeling headache

You love the look, you can live with the lack of space, and the tile work was built to last.

But you'd love a walk-in shower, the plumbing's not great, and that tile's getting cracked.

What happens when you want to keep the vintage look but can't find tile to match?

Tony Horness, co-owner of Tucson firm Conway Tile Co., says he sometimes sources tile in similar colors from manufacturers like Daltile. But since they no longer manufacture the exact same shade, often the solution is to rip it out and start again.

That's what Pam Kueber did at her home in Lenox, Mass. - only she kept the original 1951 style. Kueber, who now runs the website www.retrorenovation.com, says if you're looking to match original tile, keep your eyes peeled.

"There are plenty of stories of folks literally driving or walking down the street in their neighborhoods and stumbling upon a neighbor doing a renovation who is discarding the exact something that they need. You can also put the word out and maybe someone has some extra pieces."

Or you can get clever, as Jan and Hermann Hastreiter did in the original bathroom of their 1940s Tucson home.

Hermann replaced the shower hardware because of plumbing leaks, removing some of the old blue tiles and mounting new white ones. He used the blue ones that were still intact to replace cracks in the tile bathroom floor. Then he carefully took out a few choice blue tiles from the shower wall, replacing them with white to make it look authentic.

There is at least one possible source, though. B&W Tile Co in California, a manufacturer since 1947, still produces the pastel blues, greens, yellows and pinks that were popular in the 1950s. For more information call 1-310-538-9579 or visit www.bwtile.com


• Pam Kueber's website is www.retrorenovation.com

• Conway Tile Co., 747- 9636 or www.conwaytile.com

When you're fixing up an old house

• Watch out for lead paint and asbestos. Get a home inspection to uncover where these might be, advises Kueber.

• If you're ripping out tile from any time up till the mid-1950s, be prepared for a tough job. Then the tile was mud-set - laid directly into concrete in a plaster wall - rather than today's process of thinset and backerboard.

On StarNet: See 1950s bathroom photos at www.azstarnet.com/gallery

Visit Gillian's blog at www.gilliandrummond.net