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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.

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 Visit eddelgrande.comor write Always consult local contractors and codes.

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