• Formica – 54 retro colors and patterns from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s still for sale today

    Formica White Onyx, available since 1969 — You KNOW you’ve seen this in a gazillion kitchens and bathrooms!

    I have been on a tear, of late, researching laminates. Considering how Greige and Granite-y 99% of what’s out there is, I want to provide Retro Renovators with the broadest researched selection possible of designs that have a more historical, retro appeal. After I learned that Formica’s butcher block laminate has been in production since 1972, I asked Formica if they could look through their records to identify any more laminates introduced in the 60s, 70s and 80s, and which are still for sale today. And yes, the company found 54 more postmodern-era laminates for us to consider for our bathroom and kitchen renovations. At the left: White Oynx, which has been in production since 1969. Faux granite today — faux marble back then. A reminder to let’s not diss today’s granite fixations too much, we’re now in houses built during a time when there were just different fixations.

     

    I have always loved Dune Wood – introduced in 1982

     

    Marine Blue, 1976: Heck to the yeah!

     

    In 1963 – possibly earlier – we had Antique White (above), as well as White, Champagne and Beige. Why not!

    Formica’s archivist says:

    White Onyx, from 1969, is the oldest pattern in the range. Many solid colors are older than I have records for, since intro dates on databases have changed with supplier changes. But I do have a brochure from 1963 that shows: 949 White, 932 Antique White, 925 Champagne, 879 Beige, The 70′s and 80′s are much easier:

    Cool, huh? See all of Formica’s solid-, pattern- and woodgrain laminate here.

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    Comments

    1. I think I might need to do the White Onyx. I wonder how popular it will get now that marble is coming back and granite is, in the design rags, on its way out.

    2. Your blog has become a valuable source of info on retro laminates. Thanks for all the work you’ve done.

    3. We have a 1962 ranch house, with original formica countertops and original cabinets that are in a great user-friendly footprint, even if they are a bit beat-up. Near the sink, there is a line where two pieces of formica meet, and they are starting to peel upwards. Is there anyway to fix that?

      We can’t afford to replace the countertops, and if and when we do, we want to use eco-friendly materials which don’t outgas. I

    4. What a gift! My 1963 time capsule cabinets appear to be faced with Dunewood! I need a piece for the bottom of a cabinet that has discolored from having a light fixture there. I was going to try to paint it, now I have another option!

    5. Ann-Marie Meyers says:

      My mom called the other day and said she found two pieces of white laminate left over from one of their earlier kitchen remodels in the basement. She thinks one is from 1972. That one has a bit of sparkle to it, and is a full 8 ft sheet. If I remember that one correctly, the sparkle was imparted by a texturization technique. It was hard to keep clean, but we had a lot of iron in our water in those days.

      The other one is a plain white but only about 4 1/2 to 5 ft. I am going to look at them tomorrow and see if I can use them. Maybe backsplashes if nothing else.

      Knowing my mom, I will HAVE to take them. Her feelings will be hurt if I don’t find some use for them.

    6. gavin hastings says:

      A heads-up about the Marine Blue or any dark color Formica:

      Last kitchen, I installed red Formica. I was assured by the countertop former that I was getting the highest grade available. (kitchen and bath: 60k)
      It was beautiful, until you slid the toaster 3 inches….or someone put down car keys…

      I scratched very easily and it scratches to a beige color. Weekly- I would would walk around with a red felt tip marker- filling in the marks. Eventually I ended up with those clear glass “Counter Savers” on each side of the sink and stovetop.

      I will use Formica again-but never in a color that isn’t in the beige-y family.
      I honestly think that the formula for this product has changed. When advertised in the 50′s, the housewife…in evening gown…was shown attacking this stuff with a hammer and blowtorch.

      BTW: I want to apologise to readers for my terrible spelling and grammar in most of my post. After a lifetime of bottled up “decor opinions of woldwide impotance”- sometimes I get a bit lightheaded at the keyboard, unable to get it out fast enough. I’m still “high” by the time I hit the submit button. Please pardon my weakness.

      • gavin hastings says:

        …3 errors in that post! Sorry. Lets all just Skype….

      • Gavin, we haven’t had the issue of scratching so much, but we found the deep chocolate/eggplant color we put on our master bath counters has an extremely high waterspot issue: it’s almost impossible to clean it to a uniformly clean-looking gleam. It still shows spots and smears. We have resorted to expensive cleaners suggested by the manufacturer (Wilsonart) but even they don’t do a great job. So I’d caution readers from selecting a deep color for that reason.

        • @ Jane/MulchMaid: Have you tried these two products? Hope’s Countertop Cleaner/Polish and Hope’s Perfect Countertop? I’ve used and recommended these since forever. They really clean up any surface issues without any leftover residue, and leaves a shine that really lasts without smearing or streaking. They sell this stuff at the big box stores and on amazon.com.

      • Gavin, there’s no to apologize for anything with your posts. They’re always interesting, entertaining, and contain something new to be learned. I’m concerned about your bad experience with that red formica, as in, are you 100% certain that the formica you paid all that $ for REALLY was formica? If it is the real deal, you should consider contacting the Formica people, because maybe something went wrong with that batch and they will want to make it right for you. I’ve been around plenty of laminate installations in the dark/intense shades, and I’ve never seen a situation like yours. The only surface abrasions I’ve seen are created by carelessness/stupidity, such as using the surface as a cutting board, sliding rough-surface cast iron pots, and setting scorching pots directly on the laminate.

        • gavin hastings says:

          Oh believe me…I contacted Formica!

          The representitive I talked to told me that I had a grade…..I want to say 5. The color was Burgundy and it was only available in Matte finish….to HIDE scratches!

          The Formica in my present kitchen was installed in 1972…..and other than the yellow color, is in mint-y condition. I don’t think the formula used today is going to withstand 40 years-yet there seems to be alot of old rusty kitchen tables….with PERFECT “Cracked Ice” laminate in the junkyard. Go figure.

    7. Do love that Marine Blue! It has that saturated color I adore in Mondrian paintings.

    8. I am familiar with lots of these more recent 80s colors having laid out minor renovation projects where I work.
      Yes to the above comments, laminate surfaces are great but they are not without wear issues. They will scratch and show wear – especially the dark glossy colors. That’s why I like the matte finish with all-over patterns. My current counters are beige ( I know but I like it!!! and it has all these little specks. Stupid me, after reading so many of Pam’s ruminations on faux granite laminate did it strike me that the counters I have are supposed to look like granite. I don’t read it as such, all I see is beige with lots of muted brown and white specks. I also use glass counter savers but mainly to protect from hot items since the cook top is built into the counter and there is limited counter space.

    9. Our house was built in 1978 and the folks we bought it from renovated the kitchen sometime in the early 1990s (we bought it in 1995). They installed blue Formica counter tops that look a lot like (and very well may be) Indigo Terra.

      I LOVE it. The counters never look dirty and the color is quite pretty. The cabinets are typical oak cathedral design, which I hate and would love to replace one day. Maybe just the doors, since the bones and the color are OK.

      Has anyone ever replaced just cabinet doors?

      • Tina, in our last house, we replaced all the upper cabinet doors. Originals were painted so we painted the replacements. It was a wonderful transformation although each door was slightly different in size, since the cabinets were built in place sometime in the 1030s. If your cabinets are from 1990 or even as new as the house, they are probably delightfully standard size!

        And I absolutely agree with you about the serviceability of Indigo Terra. That’s exactly what we put on our current countertops about 5 years ago and I’m very happy with it still. I think the slight color variation is perfect for hiding minor imperfections and wear.

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    11. So any of the white fake-marbles should be workable, in a vintage setting, right? I ask because Formica’s Australia branch doesn’t seem to have all the options of the USA one. But they have some white marble ones under other names, and Wilsonart has them too.

      I am so happy contemplating white “marble” counters and white cabinets! My kitchen cabinets and counters have been destroyed by water damage (and honestly was too late-period for me anyway!) so making my kitchen not a disaster zone is so nice to contemplate.

      Black wrought iron strap hardware, perhaps? Perhaps!

    12. I think Dune Wood is done for.

    13. Trying to restore a Vally coin-op pool table to original and looking for some gunstock walnut or walnut gunstock formica from the 1970. If you know anyone with vintage formica in the above flavor, please forward this or e-mail me Thanks

    14. Brian Davis says:

      Do you have a color of bight yellow in a counter top?

    15. Well I’ve had red on the brain day and night for weeks on end but that White Onyx really stops me in my tracks. I think I better get myself a sample of that too! You can’t get much more authentic than never out of production since 1963. :-)

      I think this would be especially beautiful trimmed in aluminum… if I walk into Lowe’s or Home Depot and ask for aluminum trim are they going to look at me like I have 4 heads? Do countertop installers still know how to do that?

      • pam kueber says:

        Probably – ask from someone who’s been doing it a while. See the Kitchen/Countertops category for trim suppliers.

    16. Brenda R. says:

      The 1965 ranch I grew up in had/has a formica counter top white background with space age stars and spots all over. Has anyone else seen this or might have a commerical photo?

    17. dick decker says:

      i put formica in 1993, it is white textured like slate, it also came in black..the only numbers i can find on a scrap is 799…5198..others are 11323021685..we are renovating and would to find more again..thanks for a great website..sincerely, dick

    18. Pam thanks for your link back to this article – mystery solved I think as to what my 1948 wood cabinets were faced with – dune wood. (which still seems to be available). As the floor, sink, and countertops are original I also wished the cabinets had been left alone, but putting a name to the pattern has helped me to appreciate them more. They are still in very good condition.

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