A Dining Room Makeover, 1950′s Style

by hookedonhouses on August 26, 2010

BHG 1956-Redecorating

Vintage decorating books are one of my very favorite things. It’s so much fun to look back at styles that were once deemed chic and sensible. I have a Better Homes & Gardens Decorating Book from 1956 that has a “Redecorating” chapter I especially like. (That’s the cool chapter divider from the book above). Check out this dining room makeover it featured:

According to the copy, the dining room was “dark and dingy” before–downright gloomy with its hardwood floors, high ceilings, and “outmoded” chandelier.

But they fixed that! The so-called “high ceiling” was painted pink to “bring it down.” The depressing hardwood floors were covered with wall-to-wall carpeting. And the chandelier was replaced with “adjustable ceiling lights.” Wow.

I imagine that a makeover on this room today would include–at the very least–uncovering the hardwood floors again and bringing a real chandelier back in. It makes me wonder what we’re doing to our houses now that we’ll be undoing again in 50 years. Any guesses?

I posted this when I first started blogging. If you remember it, then you’ve stuck with me a long time! Go to Retro Rooms to see more.

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Tricia Rose August 27, 2010 at 12:01 am

Stripping white paint from floors, perhaps? Building in ‘inconvenient’ claw footed tubs? Replacing glass tile with mildew visible through the glass? Taking the bathtub out of the bedroom? Taking out cumbersome, space-gobbling kitchen islands?
.-= Tricia Rose´s last blog ..Love my Bee =-.

Tricia Rose August 27, 2010 at 12:02 am

A lot of it is in the language, isn’t it, Julia!
.-= Tricia Rose´s last blog ..Love my Bee =-.

Wendy @ The Shabby Nest August 27, 2010 at 12:03 am

That’s very funny…everything old is new again…so they say. So we’re back to what was considered “old fashioned” in the 50s. That seems ironic, doesn’t it?
.-= Wendy @ The Shabby Nest´s last blog ..Frugal Friday =-.

The Little Red Shop August 27, 2010 at 12:55 am

Ahhh…I wonder how many lovely chandeliers were lost in the shuffle. Thankfully, the 1919 bungalow my mom and I rescued and moved was un-bungled. They did replace one of the two original living/dining room chandeliers with a ceiling fan…but I found the discarded beauty in a pile of dirt, pots, and beer cans in the cellar….not far from where I found the lil’ glass knobs for the existing glass-front kitchen cupboards! (They had been replaced w/ big wooden ones) Oh, and this post brings to mind an elderly neighbor lady who, a few years ago, was quite pleased as she talked of lowering the ceilings in her historic home. Oy oy oy!!!

Have a lovely weekend.

: )

Julie M.
.-= The Little Red Shop´s last blog ..Clayson Farm Antique Show =-.

Beach Vintage August 27, 2010 at 1:03 am

Painting the ceiling to bring it down…….thats hilarious

Monica August 27, 2010 at 2:35 am

This post made me smile.

Brismod August 27, 2010 at 2:53 am

What an interesting post! I agree with Tricia Rose though. It’s all about the language. Glad you re-posted this one.
.-= Brismod´s last blog ..Home advice for Bob =-.

Julie August 27, 2010 at 4:33 am

Oh this is hilarious.. I recently moved.. and cannot stand the ‘depressing wall to wall carpet’ haha.. and crave the hard floors… The before seems quite spacious doesn’t it? I wonder why they craved ‘closing it all in’.. interesting.. xx Julie
.-= Julie´s last blog ..To The Moon Alice- I Saw The Moon =-.

Karrie August 27, 2010 at 6:27 am

Hilarious! Especially the light fixture–oh my! It will be interesting to see what we’ll be doing to our houses in 50 years.
.-= Karrie´s last blog ..I Like My Blueberries WILD! =-.

Sheila August 27, 2010 at 6:37 am

The best takeaway from this just may be the artwork for the chapter divider! A pink ceiling is a scary ceiling, in my book. And carpet in the dining room? Their kids were obviously not like my kids. Ha! Fun post, Julia. Have a great weekend!
.-= Sheila´s last blog ..Google as a verb — and a puppy =-.

Laura August 27, 2010 at 7:04 am

It’s so true. My mum is all about ‘out with the old and in with the new’, and so she has an attic full of antiques, saying that she wants modern decor now… (she’s almost 70!!). Every time I visit she lets me go through and take home what I like. She’s visiting me in a month or so and bringing over the most gorgeous tea set. It just goes to show how changes evolve from generation to generation. Lx
.-= Laura´s last blog ..A little bit of home comfort =-.

MissCaron August 27, 2010 at 7:13 am

Oh Lord… amazing. I truly hope that in the future we don’t decide to cover up beautiful hard wood floors with linoleum or carpet! That has to be one of the dumbest things we’ve done as a civilization! LOL.
.-= MissCaron´s last blog ..gimmie five =-.

Amanda @ Serenity Now August 27, 2010 at 7:17 am

I loooove stuff like that. :) I have an old Housewife’s Handbook and it has some similar things. To me, that room looks much smaller after the “makeover.” Reminds me of my grandmother…I can’t fathom why. ;)
.-= Amanda @ Serenity Now´s last blog ..-Weekend Bloggy Reading- Link Up! =-.

Kate August 27, 2010 at 7:31 am

How funny. The split-level house I grew up in in Cincy was built in 1958. Bathroom floors were ceramic tile, kitchen & ground floor family room (off the garage) were linoleum (the real stuff) and the rest of the house was hardwood floors. Over the years, with the exceptions of the bathrooms, my Mom “updated” all the floors with wall to wall carpeting, even the kitchen! They did change the kitchen to vinyl before they sold it in the early 80′s. I can’t help but wonder if someone since then has had the sense to pull all that carpeting back out & let the hardwood floors shine!

Mom in High Heels August 27, 2010 at 7:32 am

That’s hilarious! If I walked into an old house that looked like that today I’d be horrified by what they did to it!
.-= Mom in High Heels´s last blog ..Tunis- Tunisia- where we discovered I’m worth about 61-000 =-.

jennifer black August 27, 2010 at 7:36 am

I’m pretty sure stainless steel appliances, granite, and vessel sinks will be the oh-so-retro finds in antique sales and houses before my time is up. ;-)

It all goes and comes, round and round. That’s what makes it so fun, yes?

.-= jennifer black´s last blog ..Someday- therell be a photo without building supplies in the background =-.

Lesley @ The Design File August 27, 2010 at 7:46 am

I love this! I’m actually crazy about the sideboard. But the switch of that light fixture is hysterical.

It really did make me start thinking of what I’ve done to my house! I have green plastic tile in my bathroom (yes, plastic tile) that was added sometime in the 50s or so (the house was built in 1930). And I’ve had friends who think it’s a crime to get rid of it. Sometimes I wonder…but I don’t care…
.-= Lesley @ The Design File´s last blog ..Pink can be sophisticated and modern =-.

Allison August 27, 2010 at 8:10 am

I also thumb through old house books like this when I see them out. I have several of my grandmother’s cookbooks. Not quite as much fun!

As a regular reader of your blog, I wanted to let you know about Atticmag’s new linky party – Giveaway Friday! It’s a convenient place for bloggers to link their giveaways each week. We’ve kicked it off with a fantastic giveaway of our own. Five lucky winners will win material to do a backsplash or ceiling in their home. Hope to see you there!

.-= Allison´s last blog ..Giveaway Friday =-.

Becky @ Farmgirl Paints August 27, 2010 at 8:18 am

Oh that is too funny. I think about that sometimes. What will we think 20 years from now. What will be outdated?? Definitely prefer the before:) Have a great weekend Julia.
.-= Becky @ Farmgirl Paints´s last blog ..Blind dating =-.

karin/lifeinsmallchunks@blogspot.com August 27, 2010 at 8:36 am

I love those old decorating books, too. Funny!

Derek August 27, 2010 at 8:42 am

I can’t get over the front cover. The illustration suggest that the Husband and Wife have the same dream room in mind. Um..That hardly EVER happens. He really wants to hang his dead animal heads on the wall, and she wants to paint it pink. Decorating , the unltimate battle of the sexes.

Katie August 27, 2010 at 8:50 am

That’s hilarious! They said that the room was dark and dingy, yet they covered up the windows and painted the ceiling to “bring it down”. Surely that couldn’t have made any more common sense back then than it does now….

It is entertaining to see how things cycle. God forbid that we ever cycle back to wall to wall carpet over hardwood floor…. in a dining room, at that! :)
.-= Katie´s last blog ..No Greater Love =-.

Ms. Pearl August 27, 2010 at 9:21 am

Too funny! The room was “dark and dingy,” so they covered the windows with sheers and drapes?
The room looked so much better empty….
Thanks for a look into the past. : )
.-= Ms. Pearl´s last blog ..Fresh produce and “I’m not a spy!” =-.

Ann August 27, 2010 at 9:31 am

I love these old books too! My house was built in the 50′s so I love to see the furniture placement, as there are doors and windows in these houses that don’t really allow for rearranging the furniture much!
.-= Ann´s last blog ..Weekend Wish =-.

Cindy August 27, 2010 at 12:05 pm

I have a terrible confession to make. When we extensively remodeled our house in 1985, and I was young and stupid, we had the original hardwood floors from when the house was built in the 40′s. The builder set up his work area in our living room and I told him I didn’t care if the floors got damaged because we would be putting in carpet. It cost a lot of money to repair that damage three years ago! We also moved our O’keefe & Merrit stove outside and let it die. That has haunted me for years.

Ann makes a good point. Before the remodel we had a bedroom about 12×12 that had 3 doors and 4 windows. Ha!

Mrs.B August 27, 2010 at 12:18 pm

Crazy how things go in cycles…
.-= Mrs.B´s last blog ..All is Well =-.

Beth August 27, 2010 at 12:27 pm

It is amazing how things go in cycles. We have been watching the old Get Smart TV episodes on DVD. Maxwell Smart’s apartment is very well decorated in a 1960s style, and I see touches that are coming back today. Maybe you could do a post in it :).

melissa @ the inspired room August 27, 2010 at 12:53 pm

That is hysterical…and it really does illustrate that what we THINK is so amazing right now really and truly can be all wrong once trends change. Makes me glad I try to avoid costly trends!!
.-= melissa @ the inspired room´s last blog ..31 Days =-.

Lisa Mackin August 27, 2010 at 1:44 pm

I’m currently working on a large city apartment that hasn’t been updated probably since the house was built in 1919 – complete with soap stone sink, gorgeous oak pantry and hardwood floors. This house has missed out on so many trends it’s back in style again!

Susan August 27, 2010 at 1:58 pm

When I was a little girl, well to do people had carpet; working class had hard wood floors :) I wonder if that is a swinging door at the end. Times do change, but they seem to go in circles. I expect in a few years we’ll all be in love with natural wood again and denouncing that gloomy old color gray. I love the old home economics films from that time period. I think the same announcer did them all !
.-= Susan´s last blog ..Beefeater Salad =-.

Kim August 27, 2010 at 2:42 pm

I liked the before picture better. It had beautiful hardwood floors and seemed more open. I hope they covered over the hardwood floors with carpet so they can be ripped out if desired.

I am not a big fan of carpet. Unless it’s in bedrooms or livingrooms. The worst place to have carpet is in the hallways. My childhood home had carpet in the hallways and it got so dirty and stained.

It’s interesting to see how styles change over the years. It makes me wonder what things will look like in 10 or 20 years from now.

anna see August 27, 2010 at 3:52 pm

Don’t you just love this????

My parents bought our fam home in 1969. It was an 1800′s farmhouse! You should have seen the groovy touches my Mom added– lots of shag rugs and wallpaper, natch! At least the clawfoot tub stayed!

Jocelyn Stott August 27, 2010 at 4:16 pm

This is great. People have always loved before and afters!
.-= Jocelyn Stott´s last blog ..Feeling Fall =-.

Janell Beals August 27, 2010 at 6:06 pm

Very interesting…just switch the before and after placement and you have a room redone today! I love old design magazines and books, I once stumbled across a huge stack of old Architectural Digests while walking home in SF, carried one load home and returned for more…but they were GONE! They were fabulous! Janell
.-= Janell Beals´s last blog ..A Sunburst Mirror DIY Style =-.

Bre August 27, 2010 at 6:09 pm

What an adorable book! I’m not sure their after room is an improvement though ;) Wall to wall carpeting was the height of sophistication. Now it’s just another thing to make me sneeze like a champ. It’s amazing how the styles and tastes change through the years. I’m still waiting to live like the Jetson’s. But I love kitschy, vintage throwback touches incorporated into modern day living. Great post. Have a wonderful weekend Julia.
.-= Bre´s last blog ..Skincare DON’T- St Ives Apricot Scrub =-.

Carrie August 27, 2010 at 8:12 pm

It looks like they took down some beautiful crown molding too. I like the before picture better.
.-= Carrie´s last blog ..Huge Savings in 10 minutes! =-.

Loribeth August 27, 2010 at 9:25 pm

Oh come on…. You guys don’t like that beautiful light fixture they added? haha!

I thought it was funny they put curtains up over the one tiny window. And of course, everyone wants a bright red wall in their dining room with a pink ceiling and white carpet!!!

Actually, though, I think this look (modified of course) might look good in a living room going for a bit of retro flare.
.-= Loribeth´s last blog ..Tablescape…My latest china finds =-.

Debbie August 28, 2010 at 8:52 am

Change the chandelier to one with a colonial feel, put down a large oriental rug, add gorgeous drapes and elegant dining room furniture…done!

The “after” may have been the design to strive for, but I find it hideous!

As a fan of “old” television shows and movies, I’ve yet to see any of this period decorated in this fashion. They were always tastefully done with classic appeal!

Carin T. August 28, 2010 at 2:43 pm

Carpet is the bane of my existence. I hate it…a lot. It just grosses me out thinking about all the stuff that can be living in there if you don’t clean it often enough and the stains are next to impossible to get rid of. Spill some juice on hardwood and you just wipe it up–easy peasy.

I don’t see vessel sinks lasting very long. I imagine most people with regret them in a few years lol.

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com August 29, 2010 at 9:11 am

Hah! I LOVE it. I love vintage decor.
.-= Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com´s last blog ..Roving Reader- World Shaking =-.

Amy August 29, 2010 at 11:16 am

I think the takeaway is that if you have an older home, you should try to renovate it in a way that respects its original style. My house is from 1953, so I’m trying to undo some of the changes that were made in the 80s-90s, while still making it a modern and comfortable home that doesn’t feel like a time capsule. If I updated it with vessel sinks and granite counters (as Jennifer mentioned above), it would probably seem just as hilarious in a few years as this reno does to us right now.
.-= Amy´s last blog ..Super Hyper Micro Link- friday finds- gray- grey- greige « Hirshfields Color Club =-.

angela | the painted house September 1, 2010 at 6:33 am

I remember this post! An oldie but a goodie…in more ways than one!
.-= angela | the painted house´s last blog ..Nesting at the Cottage =-.

Andrea September 2, 2010 at 6:56 am

I’m either 50 years behind the times or somewhere in the distant future. When we bought this house in 2005, the builder was about halfway done. He was going to make an eating counter behind the sink extending into the great room and add an island. I asked him to skip the counter and island and build the wall up one foot so that people in the living room coundn’t see the sink and stove top, just the beautiful cabinets. We have plenty of room for a round glass table for eating in the kitchen and I don’t have to keep bumping into an island when I’m going from refridgerator to sink. Now there’s a nice stretch of wall where the counter stools would have been that can be used for furniture placement.

Next he was going to put down hardwood floors and , other than the ceramic tiles in the kitchen, we had him cover the entire house with a beautiful taupe berber. We had poplar floors in our previous house (gorgeous) but I spent my life fussing over them. Every week it was, swiffer, mop, wax, swiffer, mop wax and the noise when we walked was incredible. Now I just whip out the vacuum and cover all 2000 square feet in 20 minutes flat. It does seem less sanitary but it’s been amazing how spills lift up off this tight weave, we’ve even raised a puppy on this. Surprisingly, I recently read a study that said carpeted houses have less alergens in the air. I think the surface of the carpet holds the dust better while the hardwood bounces it back up.

Sorry to go on but I love this subject of changes in what we like. Thanks for the great retro pages, Julia.

Handy Man, Crafty Woman September 2, 2010 at 12:04 pm

Well I’m convinced that eventually, people are going to say “look at all of this hideous wood flooring!” and cover it all up with carpeting of some sort again.

Ditto with stainless steel appliances in the kitchen. Eventually people will turn up their noses at them and say “those are so OUT” (even though all designers CLAIM they are “timeless”)…maybe people will be replacing stainless steel with avocado colored appliances again. Or not. LOL!
.-= Handy Man, Crafty Woman´s last blog ..Tortilla Pie Recipe =-.

Kristina @ Costumes 50s September 7, 2010 at 11:14 pm

:) Something about the 50′s brings out such joy and happiness! Good stuff!

Carol February 2, 2013 at 7:50 am

Honestly, can’t stand cold hardwood floors, if it’s done right it does look nice, but I love comfort too much. As for stainless fridges and such, I find it so irritating, unless you live in a home decorated like spaceships or very modern, I don’t think they fit with a traditional or country style home.

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