Cabinet and Bathroom Hardware Supply Store
For Product Support & Phone Orders:
813-633-7544 landline or 813-362-7898 smartphone
Eclectic-ware in Wimauma, FL
Click our Eclectic-ware logo to return to our home page.
Click to view items in your cart
Go to content

Retro Black Vintage Ceramic Bathroom Accessories

Published by John W. Wagonis in Bathroom Hardware · 8 November 2020
We would like to open this blog post with 3 important facts before they get lost further down.
  1. If you are on a smartphone, we apologize in advance. This blog post WILL BE LONG. We are going to pile a lot of helpful info into it. And the intro picture may look way too tiny on a phone - only because we are emphasizing the number of ceramic pieces available.
  2. All the soap dishes, towel bars, TP holders, corner shelves, etc. shown in this big group picture and the following pictures (with the exception of the two giant square shower caddies) are actually available in approx. 80 colors. Not just black. This article will focus on Retro Black Accessories.
  3. The ceramic bathroom hardware is not just for remodeling. As a matter of fact, it is used more in new home construction than it is in renovations now a days. It is by far one of the best choices for bathroom hardware.

Let's get into it.

There are 22 items shown in our opening photo for this article. And there are 21 items not shown. What? Many of the above items come in multiple mounting methods. When mounted, they look the same from the front. So we are not showing all 4 towel bar choices, or all 3 of the toothbrush holders, and the numerous soap dishes. And there was one fancy corner shelf we did not have on hand at the moment to squeeze into that picture.

Black Ceramic Bathroom Hardware soap dishes and corner shelves
This is the left third of the big group photo.
It shows the majority of the wall mount soap dishes, a couple of the corner shelves, and the clip on towel bar with a couple bars emphasizing that the towel bars come in multiple sizes also. The bar portion of the towel bar set is plastic, so they can be cut down to the size that you need. The 24" is the standard, yet we also offer a 36" black bar and a 12". The 12" can be cut down to 8 or 9 inches to make a nice hand towel holder beside your sink. The 24" is the most popular size when mounted in a shower. But what if your shower is a bit narrow and you need something smaller. Cut the bar down by an inch or two and create the right look for YOUR bathroom. The model 730 towel bar comes in 4 mounting methods: thin-set, flat back, clip on, and mud-set. We will add quick links within this article to the various web pages for the AC Products Stylish 700 Series. This way, when you would like to see detailed info for part numbers, pricing, and measurements, you can.

The two corners shelves shown are the large and the jumbo. Both available in thin-set or flat back mounts. What does that mean? Thin-set has been the traditional way of mounting ceramic accessories in your tiled tub or shower. You basically leave an opening in the tile for the back protrusion of the corner shelf, towel bar, or soap dish to glue onto the same wall surface that the tile is adhering to. For a corner shelf, you would of course have an open slot on two wall surfaces in the corner for the shelf to seat into. The adhesive that you use to mount the tile can be used to mount your accessories. Or you can pick up a waterproof (all weather) adhesive to use. Thin-set generally is used when laying new tile, or doing a repair of one item on a tiled wall. What flat back means is, there is no protrusion on the back. The pieces are flat. Flat back is a great idea for renovations or an afterthought. Say you just tiled your whole shower, and didn't plan for any corner shelves or just forgot to add a soap dish. Flat back can be glued right onto the surface of the tile, or any flat wall surface such as sheetrock. You do not need to chisel out an opening to fit in the traditional thin-set.

So if laying new tile, definitely consider using the thin-set mounting. Flat back is potentially for easier repairs, covering over a hole opening where you cannot find the exact size thin-set piece, or for huge tiles that are not easily cutable, such as marble tiles. There are a lot of reasons why you may consider a flat back item.

The large corner shelf is the only shelf that comes with one side tiered. Two levels. Set a bar of soap low, set something else like a razor higher. The tier is only about 1/8", very subtle, but it is a nice feature. The other side is not tiered. Thus, you get to choose which side you would prefer as the up side.

For all these ceramic soap dishes, so many choices, all come in the thin-set mount. From right to left, if you can still see the photo above or scroll back to it: the BA729 double wide soap dish is used when you want that big of a soap dish. Not everyone's first choice, but nice when you need that. Next to it is model 725 which comes in the same 4 mounting methods as the towel bar does. This is the most popular "tub" soap dish. We already explained thin-set and flat back mounting. The clip on mount is ideal for drywall or wood, wherever you can screw mount the mounting clip. The mud-set mount is for an actual hole cut into the wall. You need 1-1/4" of depth to set the mud-set pieces into the wall. When mounted, they look like any other piece, it is only the mounting method behind the piece that is changing. More on mounting methods.

The next dish over, moving leftward is model 726. A little narrower, and a drain grove that funnels to the center of the dish. Next to it are the vanity soap dish and toothbrush holder combination. VERY popular. The smaller square soap dish is what you want behind your sink. It is not overwhelming. And you can pair it with the toothbrush holder if you like. Again, we would like to remind everyone, all the items we just spoke about are available in approx. 80 colors.

Black ceramic 3-compartment shower caddy and robe hook
This is the center portion of the big picture.
It is very difficult to take a great picture of that 3 compartment shower caddy. We have the shine of the black gloss reflection, it is dark to begin with, and I am far from being a professional photographer. Okay, everyone who just agreed, I'll give you that one. But I am trying. The recessed big shower caddy niche with 3 compartments is a great item to have in a shower. Something premade and 100% waterproof that doesn't stick out from the wall and gives you use of the interior portion of the wall, that's a win-win. On the left, there is a short height opening on the bottom for your large bar of bath soap. The rest of the left side can hold short height bottles of shampoo, conditioner, etc. On the right half is a full height compartment to hold those taller and larger bottles. On our web page for the caddies, we actually show pictures of the caddies loaded with items so you can get an idea of what fits into them. Upcoming in the right third picture of the big picture, we will show the same size single compartment caddy, and the other recessed bath hardware items.

Next to the caddy is the popular tub soap dish with cradle. The cradle is a washcloth holder - or a bottle ledge for those of us who like to rest our bottle of shampoo on top of the the soap dish. It is not a grab bar or a ladder. These items are ceramic, not aluminum. The handle on that soap dish is not for acrobatics when taking a shower. It is designed to drape your washcloth through it.

The small corner shelf, a towel bar showing how you can make a narrower towel bar, and robe hook are shown in front. The small corner shelf is nice for tiny showers and when you want a shelf that will hold only one bar of soap or only one bottle. That is the limit of its dish area. You can call it a corner soap dish. Comes in thin-set mount and flat back like the other sizes of corner shelves. The robe hook or hanging hook since you can hang whatever you like from it, comes in thin-set, flat back, and clip on mounts. Hanging hooks can be used as just one where you need it or a series of them together. We should mention here too, that with the corner shelves that we have shown in 2/3rds of our explanation so far, they can be used to make corner shower caddies. Use them 2 or 3 at a time stacked in the same corner. Alternate your sizes instead of using all the same size. Use them in two corners. Basically, what you will use depends upon how much space you want to stack your stuff.
  • Is this a shower for one or two people?
  • Do you like bar soap or bottles of body wash?
  • Do you need to compete for space?
  • Are you tired of bottles on the floor of the shower or surrounding the ledge of the tub?

One other question that you should consider too, how much do you want to clean? More corner shelves does mean more to clean. So plan. Think about what you need, or what would be nice, and go from there.

Retro black recessed bathroom hardware
This is the right third of our alarmingly big group photo.
The single compartment large shower caddy is shown in the upper left. The two big square shower caddies and one large specialty corner shelf that we did not get to add into the group photo are available in approx. 14 colors each. There are some limitaions on them. Every single other item shown comes in approx. 80 colors each, including most available in most of the stoneware colors from the Exceptional 900 Series too.

Next to the large square caddy is the less wide but taller 2-compartment shower caddy. This one has been around for a long time. Thus it is available in about 80 colors, stoneware colors too. We like calling them shower caddies or caddy. Shower niche seems to be a popular phrase for them too. The 2-compartment niche has the smaller opening on the bottom for your bar of soap, then room above for two small to normal sizes bottles of shampoo or body wash. It does not hold large bottles. If you use larger bottles, one of the two bigger square caddies would be more advisable. OR, make your own corner shower caddy by using the jumbo corner shelves.

Right in front of the caddies are the three popular Recessed items. Two recessed soap dishes and the recessed TP holder. Here's where we get to define "recessed" a little better. The thin-set mount is confused as recessed because it does recess into an opening. But very shallowly. Thin-set sets in only 1/4" to 3/8". Think thin. When we refer to recessed, which all 3 of the shower caddies are, recessed means it sits into the wall approx. 3-1/2 to 3-3/4". On wood stud walls, that is so easy to do. A stud itself is usually 3-1/2". You have the drywall, greenboard, or sheetrock over the framing, thus you usually end up with a wall depth of 4-1/8". Plenty of room for the recessed bathroom hardware to set into. The recessed items come only as recessed. They are by far the most retro items for ceramic bathroom hardware. Older homes and apartments in New York City, Washington D.C., Oakland, CA, and other older cities made bathrooms in the past with a ton of recessed soap dishes and TP holders. When you think about it, a bathroom in an older house sometimes was only about 5' x 6' in size. Sink, toilet, tub. No stretching out space. You hit your knuckles on the wall when you towel dry yourself. Older homes did not have spacious bathrooms. Recessed bath hardware made a lot of sense. And even in newer more spacious bathrooms, recessed bath hardware makes a lot of sense. It is space saving, stylish, convenient, and super functional.

Next to and beside the recessed TP holder are the wall mount TP holders. Model 777 comes in those 4 mounting methods. Some TP holders are mounted onto tiled wall surfaces, so thin-set or flat back work great there. Pros like using mud set and fitting them into a hole in the wall. When mounting a TP holder to a drywall surface or to the side of a wood cabinet vanity, the clip on mount is best. Then there is model BA778. This version comes in thin-set mount only. But it has longer arms on it. Many customers ask us if their roll will fit. The BA778 is designed to accommodate some of those bigger rolls. Not the 3X Charmin or Mega rolls, but bigger rolls near 5-1/2 to 5-3/4" in diameter. The model 777 works for most normal double size rolls. But when you are planning a thin-set mount and want the larger holder, the BA778 is the choice. Pricing, sizing, and other details are on the respective web pages that we have been adding links to.

Lastly in this photo we are showing two of the jumbo corner shelves. On the left is the low height shelf. It does not have that taller back wall to it. It comes as a flat back mount only. So you can adhere it onto the tile surface, or slot the entire shelf into a slotted surface. We recommend surface mounting it only. Why? It has nice curves. When you glue it onto a surface, you see all the curves. If you slot it in, you will have your sharp ragged tile egdes and what do you do with those? Add some grout or silicon? You could, the silicon that is. But it could end up being a big unsightly bead. You would be filling a gap. So surface mounting makes better sense. The shelf next to is is the jumbo with hook, comes in thin-set and flat back mounting. The embedded hook under it gives you a nice place to hang a brush or sponge. If using in a stack in the corner, use the jumbo with hook as the bottom shelf in a stack so whatever hangs from the hook does not dangle over a shelf below it.

The one corner shelf that we did not have in stock for our big picture is the BF784-Retrokit shelf. This is a jumbo size, a little fancier as either side can mount as the top, and each side has a different sculpting to it. And this shelf is prepacked with a 2-part adhesive and mounting assist blocks. It is limited to the basic 14 colors. If it becomes more popular, AC Products may expand on those colors one day.

Still with us, there's more.

The retro black look, and black and white look, is so popular. The above items we keep in stock in the C5 Gloss Black color. We also stock them in the C1 Gloss White color. By far, these two colors are the most popular. There is also a M137 matte black color which is pretty cool. Kind of has a leather look to it. Then there are other whites and matte whites. Black and white bathrooms definitely are popular. All black are more popular though. This is why we have shown all these items together. Most people just have no idea of the numerous items that are available and that go together. Sure, we are all aware of towel bars and soap dishes. But the number of soap dishes, and the wide array of corner shelves, the Stylish 700 Series has a lot to choose from.

AC Products has a few other series:
Sleek 800 Series: oval and rounded shaped pieces
Inspired 500 Series: conch shell shaped pieces
600 Series: simple clip on towel bars and TP holders

And these three series are all availble in glossy black too. How cool is that? There is no law about mixing items between series. If you would like to use some of the smaller base 600 Series towel bars and two-piece toilet paper holders and then some soap dishes from the 700 Series, do it. It's your bathroom, make it look the way you want. The 500 Series shell shaped pieces are larger, and thin-set only. So if you are retrofitting and kind of need something bigger to disguise holes or potentially blemishes in your tile, this might work. The 800 Series is different. More curves, more rounded and oval shapes. They have a purpose. Oval shaped soap dishes and toothbrush holders to match an oval shape sink; makes it look like you planned well and knew what you were doing.

Black is beautiful. We love our black gloss cars, our black leather jackets, and our black bathroom hardware. Eclectic-ware can help you with the bathroom hardware. You are on your own for the car and black leather jackets. We do answer questions over the phone and via e-mail. We have customers e-mail or text us pictures of what they have. Many people are just repairing one towel bar or soap dish. No order is too small for us. And we have customers who just gutted their whole bathroom, knocked out the adjacent wall to the closet to expand the size of the bathroom, and then they are installing a half dozen or more ceramic bath hardware items. Two or three towel bars in one bathroom is more of the norm now. The whole family is not fighting over one towel bar. Place them on different walls, stack one high one low. Draw out your plan. Make your bathroom work for you. Do you have a tub or a shower stall, or both. I have both in my master bathroom, and just shower stalls in the other two bathrooms. We have many towel bars, soap dishes, and corner shelves set up. Decorative and functional use of the space.

It's your bathroom, and your project. Let us help you with the ceramic bathroom hardware that you need. And in white, bone, biscuit, almond, beige, a dozen grey tones, a dozen brown tones, pinks, greens, yellows and blues. And of course, black.


As we proofread this, we noticed that we forgot the BM782 mud-set tumbler holder, the AR171 soap dish with drain hole, and the AR151 shell shaped soap dish with drain hole. You will see them on their respective web pages. Thus, if our big group picture got any bigger, those on smartphones really would not be liking me right now.

Back to content