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Thread: Best of old vintage and mid-century houses

  1. #1

    Default Best of old vintage and mid-century houses

    Is there anything you miss from the last century's housing designs? The pastel coloured bathroom fixtures, shag rugs, sunken living rooms, the use of real wood, the absence of drywall, coved ceilings, etc.

    This site has a number of interesting discussions that reminded me of what we've lost or are rapidly losing here as well (good riddance to some of it however):

    The 10 Most Endangered Features of Midcentury Homes: 2012 report
    Posted by: pam kueber • August 20, 2012
    http://retrorenovation.com/2012/08/2...s-2012-report/


    20 time capsule house living rooms — mid-century fun & fabulous flavors galore
    Posted by: Kate • July 10, 2014
    http://retrorenovation.com/2014/07/1...-room-designs/



    This is cool:

    GE wall refrigerator-freezer — a 1955 innovation — 5 design photos
    Posted by: pam kueber • April 8, 2013
    http://retrorenovation.com/2013/04/0...rator-freezer/

  2. #2

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    Neat article (that first one) and I agree with almost all of the author's opinions, except about windows in our climate: guaranteed it's possible to save cash and net carbon with modern windows replacing mid-20th century vintage windows in Edmonton. Maybe closer to the line in New York or wherever she's writing, but very little doubt at our distance from an ocean.

    Homework as she advocates is never a bad thing, but I'm pretty positive where it would lead.

    (Not a huge fan of vintage wallpaper either...)
    Let's make Edmonton better.

  3. #3
    I'd rather C2E than work!
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    The best features of my house in Parkdale are the coved ceilings. You defintiely don't see that anymore. It's one of the few original features left in the 1946 house, as it's been renovated quite extensively

    The Gold Bar house was built in the early 1960s, was somewhat updated in the early '80s and is about to go through a fairly extensive modernization to the whole upstairs. There's nothing really noteworthy about the interior of the upstairs at this point. The best feature of that house though is the basement. It is the quintessential '70's basement (it was finished in the early 70's) , complete with multiple shades of red shag carpet, actual wood panelling (not that pressboard garbage) a knockdown ceiling with glitter in it, a big red metal wall hung electric fireplace and multicolored glass globe style wall sconces. It's all in pristine condition, and it's so funky, I don't think I'd ever redo the wayback basement.
    Last edited by 240GLT; 11-07-2014 at 10:37 AM.
    Parkdale

  4. #4

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    Ha ha, shag carpet. I feel like I've been there. Was never a bad look in my books, but a bit hard to clean.

    Disco ball?
    Let's make Edmonton better.

  5. #5
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    I miss wood panelling. I lived in a vintage apartment building in Saskatoon -- the first purpose built apartments. The walls were this lovely textured real wood that looked like it had been ripped into sheets and then varnished to a textured smoothness. I found the darker surfaces soothing. I find beige drywalled walls (which I have now in both home and office) boring.

    Eve

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by JayBee View Post
    Ha ha, shag carpet. I feel like I've been there. Was never a bad look in my books, but a bit hard to clean.

    Disco ball?
    Alas, we sold the disco ball at the community league garage sale last year. Should've kept it

    70's style is coming back in a pretty big way, if you chat with the contemporary designers these days. Not necessarily verbatim, but a lot of the cues are coming back
    Parkdale

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  9. #9
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    This reminds me of the guy who publishes "celebrities who used to be hot" guides. Essentially young people are hot and middle-aged people are not in those guides.

    Frankly, I find a lot of what passes as wonderful these days as totally boring. Perhaps because I see so much of it. It's hard to tell one home from another on these HGTV programs because they all have shiny beige surfaces (in fact beige all over), and open concepts and those hideous breakfast bars (do people actually use those in preference to tables?). Everything is bland and shiny because individual taste would lower the "property value".

    Back when I was young (and we had dinosaurs for pets), people were not as obsessed with what the next purchaser was going to think of our household interiors because the intention was to live in the house for decades and then pass it on to one or more of the young'uns.

    Eve

  10. #10

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    As a carpenter, all the numbers I've studied, and can show, do not justify new vinyl replacement windows.

    Major issues is proper seals and not painting the old wood ones shut. Nothing beats the authenticity of original wood windows!

    R values from new to old are almost laughable on the difference!( as in next to nil!

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by KC View Post
    Real good site, even one picture can tell a lot of stories.
    I just hate it when they tile counter tops. It just seems like the most unhygienic thing to do. Some of the 60's - 70's furniture is just shiny pressed board crap. I like older appliances though. Would like those styles to come back with lower prices on them. Interesting look into the past with some styles I would not like to see revisited.
    "The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read." –Mark Twain

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gemini View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by KC View Post
    Real good site, even one picture can tell a lot of stories.
    I just hate it when they tile counter tops. It just seems like the most unhygienic thing to do. Some of the 60's - 70's furniture is just shiny pressed board crap. I like older appliances though. Would like those styles to come back with lower prices on them. Interesting look into the past with some styles I would not like to see revisited.
    Hey, I love the look of a tile countertop. In fact, just last week I tiled a kitchen countertop into our old cottage.

    I think hygiene risk depends on how you use them. I never cut meat, veggies or fruit, or anything for that matter, directly on our plastic (arborite/formica) countertops at home. We always use plates or cutting boards. For the vintage look, I'd also have loved butcher-block, slate, zinc or copper. Even stainless steel or concrete would have looked ok, but there would have been other issues with any of those too. Now butcher block and hygiene - that's were I have issues because that's how it gets used - as a cutting board.

  13. #13

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    Some of those houses built in the early 70's look just as cluttered as the Victorian era. Busy wallpaper, busy tiles. It seems that any surface could not remain one color, and if it was one color it's not white. If a person is into monochromatic colors living in a house like that would be torture.
    "The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read." –Mark Twain

  14. #14

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    I love Victorian busy best part is the house is complete on it's own not the junk people fill it with. Could many places that are wholly empty nowadays pass the sniff test on quality/ architectural charm?


    As for vintage homes I have a 1908 beautiful home, one of the nicest structural features I have is; cedar! Wall sheathing, and subfloors. Does not rot and will last a lifetime! Better then the voc enriched osb we use nowadays lol and let's not even get started on black mold that is so prevalent in new homes that don't breathe

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swillv8 View Post
    As a carpenter, all the numbers I've studied, and can show, do not justify new vinyl replacement windows.

    Major issues is proper seals and not painting the old wood ones shut. Nothing beats the authenticity of original wood windows!

    R values from new to old are almost laughable on the difference!( as in next to nil!
    So, how exactly do you seal weathered wood windows while maintaining operability? The old wood single hung windows I replaced leaked all around the moveable sash. They were also hard to open, but still needed a stick to keep them from falling shut. The single pane glass would frost up in the winter despite exterior storm windows and low interior humidity (my glasses don't fog when I walk in in the winter, but my old windows did).

    Much happier with the $200 vinyl windows I replaced them with. No frost, and sitting in front of one is much warmer than before. The spring mechanism combined with just the right coefficient of friction makes them easy to open and easy to shut, with no sticks and no spontaneous dropping. I have wood siding, so I did my own exterior wood trim to match. Interior trim is painted MDF, but hardwood veneer plywood could easily be substituted if you want the look of wood.

  16. #16

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    A couple resources:

    http://www.kcrestorations.com/how_to...d_windows.html

    http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/m/ar...0083-2,00.html

    http://thecraftsmanblog.com/how-to-w...-wood-windows/

    http://www.vintagewoodworks.ca/stormwindows.htm

    I am between moves so I do not have access to literature showing better examples on r values with wood windows Wood has a better u value rating the vinyl your basic double pane window which I'd guess are over 90% of modern homes are almost nothing in percentage better. I totally understand human nature, we are very busy and do not maintain household chores as recommended. But when we are talking about 1 r value on windows I'd rather blow a bit more insulation into my attic where there is 50% heat loss(25% through your walls and the other 25% through ur foundation. I'm a red seal carpenter, and building envelopes, and energy efficiency is as you can imagine a big part of the trade. A lover of old architecture, i don't agree with convinence misconstrued for the holy grail of energy efficient houses.

  17. #17
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    ^Those articles all seem to be discussing better quality vintage windows than the ones I replaced, with hardwood frames and sashes and rope and counterweight retention systems. My old ones were softwood with no retention system except for propping a stick under the sash.

    Back to the original topic, my favorite vintage architectural element are the steeply pitched roofs that double as the ceiling of the upper story, especially when it is a 3rd floor. I hate to think of the millions of cubic meters of attic space that has been rendered useless as living space and often even for storage by the low pitch and extensive cross braces in modern roof trusses. Not to say that all modern materials are bad though - substituting the 2x6 (sometimes even 2x4) rafters in a vintage sloped roof/ceiling assembly with 16 inch I-joists would give the same look and feel but with much more room for insulation.

    BTW - if anyone has any ideas for properly insulating an old sloped roof/ceiling (from the outside, roofing needs replaced anyways and I'd rather not lose any height inside), I would be interested.

  18. #18

    Default

    I'd go closed cell spray in foam. Is not cheap! But r value of approx 5.5 per inch, so r 20ish for 2x4 rafters. Benefits are huge, rigid foam(closed cell) acts as a vapour barrier also so there will not be condensation issues, I forget the code but there must be cross ventilation for batt or loose fill 40mm I believe(don't need this for closed cell foam). Also u can strap the roof with an extra 2" of rigid board to gain extra r value( I would highly recommend as hot air rises.

    If you have an a framed upstairs the ceiling behind your pony walls should have a good quality building paper with most likely 3-4 " wood chips, the paper would suffice well as vapour barrier, I'd top up the sides with loose fill at least r40 or more

  19. #19

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    Mid-Century Modern architecture exhibition in Calgary

    "For two short days only, the Kerby Expo & Calgary Heritage Initiative present an exhibition focusing on 55 Mid-Century Modern buildings located in Calgary. The exhibition takes place from Wednesday, September 10th (9:00am-4:00pm) to Thursday, September 11th (9:00am-3:00pm), and is complemented by three lectures."...

    http://www.canadianarchitect.com/new...234200/?&er=NA

    Mid-Century Modern House Tour | Vancouver Heritage Foundation
    http://www.vancouverheritagefoundati...y-modern-tour/
    Last edited by KC; 04-09-2014 at 06:31 AM.

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by EveB View Post
    This reminds me of the guy who publishes "celebrities who used to be hot" guides. Essentially young people are hot and middle-aged people are not in those guides.

    Frankly, I find a lot of what passes as wonderful these days as totally boring. Perhaps because I see so much of it. It's hard to tell one home from another on these HGTV programs because they all have shiny beige surfaces (in fact beige all over), and open concepts and those hideous breakfast bars (do people actually use those in preference to tables?). Everything is bland and shiny because individual taste would lower the "property value".

    Back when I was young (and we had dinosaurs for pets), people were not as obsessed with what the next purchaser was going to think of our household interiors because the intention was to live in the house for decades and then pass it on to one or more of the young'uns.

    Eve
    I don't mind a bit of drywall but having every surface covered with the stuff is almost overwhelmingly drab. I guess that's why they invented wall paper to cover plastered walls. Entire rooms covered in wood boards is great in cabins but again, excessive in residential homes. Pressboard wood panelled interior walls definitely went too far.



    "A contemporary analogy might be: Today we don’t write a lot (or ever) about drywall; in 60 years will researchers look back and scratch their head trying to understand why it was so common?"


    [quote]
    5 reasons why knotty pine was so popular
    BY PAM KUEBER

    Excerpts:

    Several years ago, an editor for a magazine about vintage home interiors emailed me asking what I knew about the subject. She said that among literally hundreds of reference materials in the magazine library, they could not find a single article that talked about the historical use of knotty pine. She underscored: Not a whit about the knottiness in hundreds of references scanned. I can only surmise: Knotty pine was so popular… so common… so understood… so assumed… that no one felt the need to discuss or debate it. A contemporary analogy might be: Today we don’t write a lot (or ever) about drywall; in 60 years will researchers look back and scratch their head trying to understand why it was so common?

    ...

    It was inexpensive and durable, and survivors of the Great Depressions understood value: Our grandparents and/or parents installed wood paneling because they were extremely cautious with their money. They grew up during hard times, and they learned to fear debt and unnecessary overspending. They saved for a rainy day *clue phone*. Now that we have suffered the Great Recession and are living in the New Normal, this all seems to make a lot more sense to people *clue phone*.
    .
    It was an easy, attractive DIY material, at a time when millions of families did their own room expansions: When Dad and Mom or Grandma and Grandpa excitedly and gratefully bought their 9oo- or 1,000-square-foot house after 1945, the basement and attic and maybe even the second floor were unfinished. This is part of what made the house a “starter home”, and couples ...Then, they would Cover the Walls with Wood Paneling. Knotty pine and cherry were particularly beloved, I think, but I suspect there were also regional preferences. (For example, I am love with an old skool paneling called pecky cypress, which we see now and then in vintage homes.) Installing wood paneling was way easier than taping and finishing drywall — Dad could do the paneling all his own, no problem. I’m thinking it was cheaper, too. Mom and Dad or Grandpa and Grandma were proud of the new room(s) they had built, and deserved to be. ..."


    It was a respected material used since colonial times and suited Early American decor: Pine is a wood native to North America. It has ..."


    http://knottyisnice.com/2012/04/17/5...entury-houses/
    Last edited by KC; 02-11-2015 at 09:28 AM.

  21. #21

    Default

    More from the site above. Our cabins have pine board interiors and I've seen it in older basements and in cabins in Jasper. It must have been pretty cost effective back in the day.

    The Pickwick history I'd never heard before.

    I could live without the butterfly routering of the boards.


    Pickwick paneling — the most popular knotty pine pattern in midcentury America

    Pickwick Pine! We recently learned that this is the name for the what we believe was the most common profile of knotty pine paneling in the 1940s and 1950s — and possibly, for many decades prior. Since we love to chronicle the almost-forgotten terms for the beloved decor within mid-century modern and modest houses, we dove into this subject and today, explore the origins of and more information about pickwick pine paneling. Oh and yes: We identify some sources where you can still buy pickwick pine paneling today.

    http://retrorenovation.com/2014/05/1...pine-paneling/
    Boards like this:


    Source:
    Beach Cottage Living Room
    Photo Credits: Alex Donovan, asquaredstudio.com
    URL. http://judycookinteriors.com

    https://st.hzcdn.com/simgs/3c01365a0...iving-room.jpg


    http://st.houzz.com/simgs/08318e6d0f...iving-room.jpg




    http://gemoftheweek.com/embracing-knotty-pine-paneling/
    Last edited by KC; 19-01-2017 at 08:56 PM.

  22. #22

    Default

    In terms of basements. The above knotty pine is actual boards 1"x6"... 8, 12" wide. Solid stuff.

    My 1970s house though had those 4'x8' sheets of pressed cardboard with fake textured wood grain. Ours was light whitish-grey but in house shopping the textured or flat ribbed 4'x8' sheets in dark brown were in near every 1960s and 1970s house I looked at.

    Since then I've seen the textured stuff painted and it looks great when painted an off white. The smooth surfaced panels though look rather poor when painted. Amazing what a bit of pressed in texturing does.

    Like this:



    https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com...e855bfbe4d.jpg
    Last edited by KC; 19-01-2017 at 09:06 PM.

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