Got cork?


Yes, it is possible that this 1954 bedroom from the interior design team at Armstrong went a little too far with the cork. On the closet doors? Well, maybe for a teen — you could thumbtack your Tab Hunter posters there…. Look beyond this cork excess, however, and this mid-century bedroom has some lovely design going on..


The accent colors — the rich peacock blue, flamingo pink, and black – are wonderful. Look: A robin’s egg blue-green ceiling, nice! The dressing table spanning the two closets certainly looks appealing, even if the use of space is kind of impractical. I have Exactly this same master bedroom set up — the closets like this with a (smaller) window in between. You can bet I have a nice low long dresser there for my loads of Stuff. And of course, those black lacquer cone pendants are fantastic. “Homey comfort blended with modern simplicity” — that’s what the copywriter tells us.


This is another in my treasured collection from Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn, Inc. advertising comps. Oh, how I love my Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn, Inc. advertising comps.

New Retro Renovators, have you bought your our anointed “bibles” yet? Use the links (affiliate links) below, or they are always there in my Pamazon store of favorite books:

And, here’s the ad text, for those who want to soak in more of 1954’s allure:



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  1. James says

    I need to forward this “Cork” blurb to my sister. She will get a kick out of it, as she is living in an early 1950s house with cork floors in her den. Those floors are in great shape after nearly 60 years.

    I’ve never had cork floors but I do like the look of them. I did have a cork wall in a bedroom several houses ago. The prior owner had put up that cork wall. The down side is that the cork smelled pretty bad in the heat of summer- a kind of burning smell. I assume that cork must be treated with shellac or sealant or something, and apparently this wall had never been treated.

  2. MidCent Keith says

    I like the patterned cork on the closet doors, but I would go with a nice shag or wood on the floor. I saw a similar pop up vanity mirror on a mid mod house tour this past weekend. I even checked out the bathroom fixtures – one piece toilets … you’ve taught me well Pam. 😉

  3. says

    Funny you should mention Armstrong, I actually work at their corporate headquarters in Lancaster PA, in the building products division which makes dropped ceilings, etc. Our “showroom” where all the clients are taken has on display some of their more wild mid century products, including a linolium with game “boards” printed on it (probably for a game room in a basement?) Did anyone know that armstrong got its start making wine bottle corks in the 1800s?

  4. Alice says

    Pam what a great room! I love that dressing table…which looks like it could be reproduced without too much trouble. Those pendant lights are awesome, aren’t they. I do have a question, if one has the good fortune to have a “cozy coffee corner” in their bedroom, who is responsible for getting the coffee there? 🙂

  5. MrsErinD says

    Oh I LOVE IT!!!! :O))
    That is sooo cool, but yes, I would like to see the cork on either the closet or floor, not both, I agree shag would be awesome on the floor!

    What I especially love is the colors, I love the pink/black/white/blue,aqua,green combo I am doing that in my house too.
    Those cone lights are the best, and I love the modern with the bit of traditional and how the clothes match, haha!

  6. MidCenturyGirl says

    I love your BBDO comps too. When are they coming out with the 3rd vol: Interiors from Armstrong the 1970’s?

  7. sumac sue says

    Have some relatives who once lived in a home with cork floors in the bedrooms. They’d been installed in the late 50s/early 60s. When I saw them in the 80s, they looked great. They had an interesting organic look, which went really well with the family’s collection of antique furniture and rugs. They were comfortable to walk on, but did give off a faintly burnt odor.

  8. nina462 says

    oh the smell. a friend of mine had a cork wall in her bedroom (the 70’s) and I can still remember the smell! one wall-ok, but a whole room?

  9. James says

    Yes- that burnt smell associated with cork, especially in the heat of summer. Never noticed a smell in association with cork floors- but the cork wall in my bedroom years ago was indeed odiferous. Maybe Armstrong or one of the cork companies have some ideas for sealants to cut the smell…

  10. Christine Brown says

    I have cork flooring in the entry hall of my 1954 ranch. It is in good condition but has darker brown wear marks in the main traffic areas. The corners all look like new. How can I “refinish” or clean the floors to renew their original color?

    • pam kueber says

      I’m not sure. But as usual, I will warn: There can be vintage nastiness such as lead and asbesto in old layers — best to find a properly licensed professional to make sure you know what you are working with before you go messing with it.

  11. Stephanie says

    I’m doing a LOT of research in advance of opening a business I want to give an authentic retro feel. Since I won’t have any genuine retro touches in the space, I’m having to start completely from scratch. I’m considering a cork floor, but there’s so many patterns available in cork grains these days, and I don’t know if they’re all authentic. Could you point me towards some good resources for that?

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