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.)
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.