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Originally published Friday, October 29, 2010 at 7:00 PM

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Toilet color may be a clue to home's history

Ed the Plumber: Toilet colors follow fashion trends but white is still tops.

HGTVPro.com

Q: My husband and I have finally saved up enough money to consider building our dream house late next year. We plan to stay there a long time. What are some of the new hot colors we should consider for bathroom and kitchen fixtures?

— Jane and Leo, Rhode Island

A: Wow, this is a fun question. I bet you never thought of your toilet as a history book, but plumbing-fixture colors can tell you about society over the past decades. Let's take a look back at some popular colors of the past and you'll see what I mean.

In the early 1920s, all plumbing fixtures were white. End of story. But by late in the decade, color popped up.

1920s: Rich pastels like autumn brown reflected fashion trends, and the surplus of beige left over from World War I found its way into our homes.

1930s: As the home became the focus of more activities, cozy neutrals like peach blow gave way to rich colors like dark green and maroon.

1940s: During the war years, the fashion and plumbing industries restricted the number of new colors. Some soil-hiding colors like olive green did appear.

1950s: Striking new colors such as flamingo pink and cerulean blue expressed optimism.

1960s: In this decade of rule breaking, it seemed that anything was accepted. Plumbing fixtures followed the times with colors like antique red, tiger lily and even blueberry.

1970s: How do you follow the psychedelic '60s colors? With new colors like sunflower, avocado and Swiss chocolate, of course.

1980s: Muted tones made a more sophisticated statement. We welcomed soft colors such as sea foam green and innocent blush.

1990s: Soft colors gave way to a more straight from the earth look as green-building trends began to catch on. New colors such as biscuit, beeswax and merlot were introduced.

Though we've lost a lot of trendy colors over the years, some of the most popular ones are still available. Today, popular choices include caviar and honed white. Yes, I did say white, where it all began. As the saying goes: The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Master contractor/plumber Ed Del Grande is the author of "Ed Del Grande's House Call" and host of TV shows on Scripps Networks and HGTVPro.com. Visit eddelgrande.comor write eddelgrande@hgtvpro.com. Always consult local contractors and codes.

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