1950 American dream houses – we start a new series

Copyright 1950 National Plan Service, Inc.This year I was really fortunate to nab a real treasure –an expansive portfolio of 1950 home plans, from the Indiana Lumber and Coal Company. It is a big, wonderful binder – 18″ x 24″ – with 37 large watercolor prints of home plans for sale from the National Plan Service, Inc., copyright 1950.  It appears that potential homebuyers would come into the store and look through this binder. Or even more likely – considering the minimal wear, they ordered a copy of their own and spent time with it at home. It must have been expensive, though – the binder is in full color and huge. From what I can tell googling around, the NPS was a prolific distributor of house plans in the postwar era, although I can’t find any mention of them still existing today.

Over time, I will feature all of these homes. They are just stunningly beautiful. So full of hope and appreciation and simple amazement for this thing – a new house. In addition, the watercolors showcase lots of design details that we all love to scrutinize and potentially apply to our own retro renovation projects.

Which one to start with? At first, I thought, a tiny house. Because back then, that was enough. Plenty. Then, I saw this image. Dad’s come home.


Get our retrolicious free newsletter.


Get our retrolicious free newsletter.


  1. Sumac Sue says

    Seagulls overhead, looks like some blue water behind the house, and maybe Dad is in a naval uniform? Fun details.

  2. says

    You have my attention. I’m adding you to my favs. I’m interested in designs by a company that operated in the Portland, Oregon area in the 1950s. It was called “The Home Building Plan Service”.

    My wife and I are about to make an offer on a custom-designed 1958 stone house in the Portland area. It has 3000+ sf on one floor and an attached two-car garage.

    We presently live in an historically significant house based on a Gustav Stickley design from 1907, on the southern Oregon coast.

    I want to research the Portland house and hopefully restore it to its 1958 condition.

    Advice from you and your readers would be appreciated.

  3. Chris says

    Love the details! It looks so warm and inviting! Love the post light and the flowers. Smoke coming out of the chimney, the children greeting Dad and walking him in .. .truly the home fires are burning . .. how loving .. .and warm. . .so very different than the ads for homes today. .. you don’t see this “feeling” any more. .

  4. says

    This is DARLING! The side porch and all those flowers are tugging at my heartstrings…what a charmer! If I saw this house today I’d have to be dragged away from it, no doubt.

  5. Sandi says

    Makes me think of the William Levitt homes built in NY/PA/NJ. I grew up next to his NJ community (now Willingboro, NJ) and knew some people that lived in Levittown, PA. The ad is so charming-and definitely NOT like today’s McMansions-blech!

  6. says

    Just wow. Love the lake in the background.

    NPS was even around in the early 1900’s. The lumber companies used designs and catalogs from NPS to compete with the catalogs offered by Sears and the other kit home manufacturers.

    I’m looking forward to future posts.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *