That most-wanted vintage floor looks awfully familiar …


Do you recognize this floor? Of course you do. As do I, because: it was once at the Manse! (Photo from Retro Renovation,

I’ve already told you (right here) about one of my new favourite blogs, Retro Renovation. It is a wildly entertaining compendium of information – much of it gathered from readers, as is much of the information here at Meanwhile, at the Manse – about period-appropriate renovation of midcentury homes. That would be the middle of the 20th century, of course (as I always feel the need to remind readers, especially younger ones): the era of bungalows and split-levels and “ranch” homes. (Just picture the home of The Brady Bunch and you’ll know what I mean.)

Now, the Manse, having been built in 1888, is a long way from a midcentury split-level. And one could very sensibly argue that, as Raymond and I ponder renovation plans for it, we shouldn’t even be looking at, or thinking about, the stuff posted on Retro Renovation. But here’s the thing: while the Manse itself may far pre-date the midcentury Mad Men era, my time in it does not; when I was growing up in this house (between 1964 and 1975),  it was the middle of the 20th century. And the things one saw in houses in those days are the very things I find on Retro Renovation now.

And not to put too fine a point on it: I want those things!

Or at least, I want to think about them as possibilities for the Manse. Those thoughts might never translate into any real renovation activity, but they’re fun to consider.

Anyway, this evening I feel that, in the interest of sheer entertainment value, I must share with you a great post from a couple of days ago at Retro Renovation. (And before I go any further, let me encourage you to read the whole post, and enjoy the great photos, here.) It caught my attention, let me tell you. Its title was this: 3 Midcentury Home Design Products We Wish They’d Bring Back NOW.

The first of these three products is glitter laminate for kitchen and bathroom countertops. Take a look and you’ll recognize it instantly. I’ll tell you honestly: glitter laminate is like a familiar friend from my past, but I could totally live without it.

The second I am not sure I can live without, however: it’s a “double-bowl, dual-drainboard, metal-rimmed, cast-iron kitchen sink.” It doesn’t sound that exciting when you say it that way, but take a look at Retro Renovation’s photos and just try to tell me that this isn’t the best and coolest kitchen sink ever designed. (I am thrilled that Retro Renovation steers us toward this sink from Kohler as a not-bad 21st-century version of it.)


That classic 1970s flooring, as it must have looked when it was delivered to the Manse. From the Madoc Cash & Carry? (Photo from Retro Renovation,

Mum's floor

A scrap (thanks to our excavations of the Manse’s kitchen floor) of the brick-patterned flooring we had in my youth here, and that is now apparently so desirable once again.

But the third and final “midcentury home design product we wish they’d bring back NOW” was what really caught my eye, and made me laugh out loud. It was our kitchen floor at the Manse!

Not the kitchen floor that Raymond and I have now, you understand; the current swath of brown and off-white vinyl that the Manse kitchen sports is one floor (and a couple of decades) later than the one that Retro Renovation has deemed most worthy of a comeback. But, as I reported in a long-ago post here about excavating down through the layers of floor in the kitchen, it is the floor that, in the early 1970s, fulfilled my mum‘s dear wish to cover up the turquoise-and-white-tile linoleum that greeted my family when we first crossed the threshold of the Manse in July 1964. (My mother never liked turquoise.)

Retro Renovation helpfully tells us that Armstrong #5352 flooring, which you have all seen, the one with the sort of brick-like pattern, is “believed to be the most popular flooring of all time.” It continues: “This floor was made from at least 1935 through to the mid-1990s — 60-some years!”

And it goes on to call Armstrong #5352  “classic.”

Well! Who knew? I guess my mum did, when (in conjunction with the Manse Committee) she chose it for the Manse’s kitchen, all those years ago. (Then again, it might just have been the flooring that was on sale at the Madoc Cash & Carry that week.)

At any rate, I found it highly amusing to see that this early-1970s-floor that is so familiar from my past has now been deemed a must-have decor item if you’re doing retro renovations in 2015.

Truly: everything old is new again.

18 thoughts on “That most-wanted vintage floor looks awfully familiar …

  1. We have this on our kitchen floor if you like to see it come on over, phone 613 473 4945 anytime after supper

  2. Argh! That red brick floor! I think my aunt still has it in her family room. I like it. It’s warm. Definitely vintage. But the ‘argh’ response comes from a recollection, from one of my early jobs. I was a childcare worker at a residence for kids with developmental disabilities – a good bunch. The staff had to rotate through the various shifts, including the hated 11 PM to 7 AM marathon. One of the jobs was floor care – and I can remember gasping through those long hours on the nights when Mrs. Peach would ordain that those brick-look floors (which were hand waxed) needed to be stripped – with ammonia! (likely wouldn’t happen today). Really looking forward to seeing your renovation thoughts take shape. As are, no doubt, you and Raymond!

    • Oh yes, you have that right (re the getting going with the renovation), Lindi. Meanwhile, wow – floor-wax stripping! Now that is something I had not thought of in a long, long time. What on earth were we (and especially Mrs. Peach) thinking? And ammonia? Really? Yikes!

  3. Wow!! Memories! That flooring was in our porch. Porch was built in 1973, just after Ian was born. “Wears like iron for jobs like these.” I don’t think you can wear that stuff out!

    • I think you are right, gng – the only reason those floors were replaced was because people got tired of looking at them, not because they were worn out! Meanwhile, I am curious about that slogan you’ve quoted, “Wears like iron for jobs like these.” It sounds familiar but I can’t put my finger on what it’s the slogan for. Armstrong flooring? Something else? Help!

      • I could not think where that came from, but i had a flash of memory, (Maybe my dementia is reversible) it is from the wonderful poem “The One-Horse Shay”

      • Of course! The Deacon’s Masterpiece! “Have you heard of the wonderful one-horse shay/That was built in such a logical way/That it lasted one hundred years to the day?” (Or was it two hundred?) I can only remember snippets after that, but I used to find that poem hugely entertaining. Thank you for reminding me of it – perhaps the dementia is reversible in both our cases!

  4. Goodness, this is getting creepy with coincidences.

    I also saw this on Retro Renovation in January. I sent my sister an email on Jan. 18, reminding her that THIS was the floor that was the foyer in the house WE grew up in!
    We lived there from the time it was built, 1961 until 1971.

    (And my sister had the same floor in her c.1880 cottage in Cambridge – obviously added in the mid 20th C.)

    • Gracious, there are a lot of similarities and coincidences in our backgrounds, Jane! Very cool. Now, as to your sister’s cottage in Cambridge: England, or Ontario? Just curious to know if this near-ubiquitous midcentury flooring made it across the Atlantic!

      • Oh no…..Cambridge ON! It’s a classic “Ontario Gothic Revival Cottage.” It’s been their home for over 30 years. It was originally a dairyman’s house built in the 1880’s. About four years ago, an arsonist set fire to their garage, which spread immediately through the old beams and decimated the house. Although the insurance co. wanted to raze the remaining shell, my sister and husband stood firm and the house was restored!

        Here’s a picture I took of it a couple of years ago:
        Ontario Gothic Revival Cottage

        Off course when I first went to that part of the world when I was about four (in 1959), it was called GALT. It’s such a pretty place and I think the surrounding countryside is probably quite like “North of Belleville.”

  5. Sorry – I didn’t mean to clutter up your blog. I thought just the link would be there, not the whole dismal example of my photography!


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