101 design ideas to decorate knotty pine — 24 page catalog from 1960

mid-century-knotty-pine-kitchenLet's-decorate-1960Today’s vintage 1960 catalog is a real treat — especially for those of us who love knotty pine (do you know about our other little website, Knotty is Nice?). And even if you are not sure about the knotty, this 1960 look at “101 Home Ideas Featuring the 10 Fine Woods of the Western Pine Region” might update your view.  For example, I have always considered knotty pine in terms of its Early American heritage…. something that today, we’d play up in a kitschy way. But take a look at the kitchen above: Knotty pine goes all mid century modern — and it looks pretty good! Check out this catalog — 24 pages — to see wood the way that homeowners saw it back in the day.

knotty-pine-kitchen-with-trim-on-counter-edgeThis Americana kitchen looks like it belongs in a Storybook Ranch house — look at the awesome built in controls for the stove top and the decorative scalloped trim on the counter edges and undersides of the upper cabinets. Dig the window treatments. Dig the wallpaper. Is that a built-in barbecue peeking at us over on the left? Is that a Lamb Chops cookie jar over on the right?

knotty-pine-kitchen-with-bar-seating-vintageHere’s another view of the same kitchen, taking a look at the eat-in bar area. It combines knotty pine with stone to face the bar. The flooring (vintage Armstrong, wethinks) continues the stone motif throughout the kitchen, while the posts that hold up the interior awning coordinate with the captains chairs at the bar.

unusual-knotty-pine-ceiling-vintageAbove: A third photo of the same house — you can tell because the window treatments are carried room-to-room. This is a great design idea if your house is small and you want to unite adjacent living spaces; it also saves on agonizing decisions about often-expensive window treatments. We love this cafe curtain treatment, as well — a nice design idea if you want privacy and light at the same time. The curtains themselves are also beautifully designed — a little bit of color, but not so much as to draw too much attention… and the scalloped design where the cafes hook to the rod is a nice, subtle touch.

knotty-pine-kitchen-with-tile-counters-retroThe kitchen above has a more modern looking pine design — the use of multi leveled counters with what must have been the most cutting edge custom, built-in appliances and lack of ornamentation make this kitchen feel more minimalistic than kitschy.

knotty-pine-kitchen-with-tea-kettle-lampDoes anyone else love the tea kettle pendant light in this kitchen as much as I do? And, laying the copper metal tiles on the diagonal is a lovely idea. Wallpaper: A small-print geometric, on the soffits, just like in Pam’s kitchen. These are nice design touches that adds a bit of fun to this otherwise straight forward utilitarian space.

pink-knotty-pine-bathroom-vintageCould this be? A pink vintage pine bathroom? Yes: The text says, “A gray-glazed pink enamel over clear grade ponderosa pine….” Yum. Terrific storage in this pine bathroom, too.

knotty-pine-cabinets-in-vintage-bathroomHere’s a bathroom with loads of personality. Scalloped edges are everywhere. White knobs pop off the wood, over exaggerated hinges line the doors — and those decorative fish tiles set into the backsplash — to die for. I also spy a Hall-Mack revolving toothbrush holder. This bathroom has it all.

knotty-pine-and-tile-vintage-bathroomMore scalloped trim decorate the built-in light fixture and shelves in this mid century bathroom. It is nice to see the pine mixed with pastel and checkerboard in this space — which gives the bathroom a balance between a masculine and feminine feel. Interesting also is how things line up in this bathroom. The curtains meet the edge of the trim on the light, the tile backsplash runs all the way up to the underside of the shelf and mirror. These touches give the room a very intentional and finished feeling.

knotty-pine-retro-bathroomIf it is possible to go overboard with knotty pine in a bathroom — this would be that bath. Knotty pine covers every surface — the walls, the counter top, the knobs, the medicine cabinets — heck, I think if it were possible, they might have used knotty pine sinks and toilets.  Sound yucky? Don’t forget: It wasn’t until after World War II that many homes got indoor toilets. Before that, we had outhouses — wooden thrones. We love outhouse stories. Here’s our favorite: An outhouse named Sally.

knotty-pine-cathedral-ceiling-retroRound rooms are always intriguing — but this one takes the cake with its radial pine domed ceiling, high shelf for knick knacks, flamboyant wallpaper, and paneling that follows the curve of the room. All with pretty modern looking furniture!

knotty-pine-fireplace-surround-vintageSurely it is not a normal thing to make a fireplace out of knotty pine — even the inside seems to be pine-lined. Huh?

knotty-pine-in-laundry-room-vintageThis adorable vintage laundry room — love that washer/dryer combo — employs pine in the built-in cabinet that must conceal all the “un cute” items that belong in a laundry room.

knotty-pine-basement-workshop-retroThe basement rec room — or in this case, workshop — is a place where we often see wood paneling in a mid century home. Over on our Knotty is Nice website, Pam wrote a detailed story about 5 reasons we believe that knotty pine was popular in mid century homes. What do you think?

knotty-pine-rec-roomHere an entire basement has been transformed into a fun and usable space with the help of Western Pine. Complete with a built-in bar, shelves and TV space, this is one terrific space.

knotty-pine-wall-built-in-tv-retroSpeaking of built-in television sets — here is another — this one presumably on the main floor of the house. In the days before flat screen TVs, this must have been an exciting space saver.

vintage-knotty-pine-finishesThe catalog shows several finishes and effects that can be achieved using different pine species and glazes. Yellowstone appears to be the color most people think about when they imagine an knotty pine room. We *think* that Amber Shellac — still available today — is the classic finish.

To see all 24 pages of this fantastic catalog, view the slideshow below.

Thanks to the MBJ Collection via archive.org for making this catalog available via Creative Commons license.

Tips to view slide show: Click on first image… it will enlarge and you can also read my captions… move forward or back via arrows below the photo… you can start or stop at any image:

One of our other little websites -- all about lovin' the knotty pine. Teehee.

One of our other little websites — all about lovin’ the knotty pine. Teehee.

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  1. Janet in CT says

    I really enjoyed this particular topic. I think back in the day, pine was prolific and cheap so it tended to be used more than other woods. It is not that durable though, and soft wood shows every little mark. In the mid-sixties to the mid-seventies, pine furniture was very popular because it was so cheap but fell out of favor fast. Even the maple companies like Heywood-Wakefield and Temple-Stuart started running pine lines. I love it though, and can’t part with my honey finish cannonball pine bed. It was very interesting to see all the different applications from colonial look to more on the modern side. That round room is to die for! Are those windows curved too? Amazing! I also liked seeing the built-in bedroom cabinets. We tried to purchase a house that was full of these built-ins, probably a hobby of the owner who put them in every room! I think of knotty pine as colonial New England, but I also found it interesting that the names of the finishes shown seem to be Native American, like Umatilla and Klickitat, so that reminds me of the western knotty pine use too. Thanks for this great article!

    • Wendy says

      Hi, my house was built in 1950 and my kitchen and den are both heart pine which is almost a hardwood. I have a love hate relationship with it

  2. Janet Gore says

    Pam, what a pleasant way to start my day which is filled with one “chore” after another. Knotty pine takes me back to a cozy little cape cod in Pottsville, Pennsylvania. The kitchen was absolutely beautiful, and I’d take it back today if I could. We have quite a bit of paneling in out 1960 ranch, which would be a turn off to many; but it’s good quality and is “living proof” that I live in a our mid-century home!

  3. Sarah g (roundhouse) says

    I like the different color finishes shown as examples, odd that they weren’t very popular because as you said the yellow/amber color dominated. I’ve never seen a different variation in person.

    My mother in law has a knotty pine kitchen/den. She wants to paint the cabinets white and leave the knotty on the walls. I know this may be sinful…. but it will probably look a lot better… Either way they need attention badly! They look perma-gross even though I know she cleans them.

  4. Jay says

    Great posting! Yes I like that tea kettle light fixture also. The picture of the woodworking area jogged my memmory. The ShopSmith pictured is what my father had and used to finish the basement in knotty pine. Sort of like the Nutone kitchen center but for woodworking. ShopSmiths were big in the 50s. The TV in the wall was also a big feature of the original Levittown houses.

    • Jay says

      Kate, I’m laughing now! You commented about the “wood” fireplace, when I read the descripion in the brochure by squinting, it reads: False fireplace to add a psychological warmth” gotta love the marketing people.

      • Kate says

        That must be the early version of psychological warmth — in the 90s they had those VHS tapes that just had a zoomed in fire in a fireplace, instantly “turning your tv into a roaring fire.” Remember those? One of my mom’s friend’s had one on when we came over and I though it was weird. 😉

        • Jeanne says

          It’s funny that you mention that! My son bought a 50s bungalow that had an old wood console TV the sellers left behind. He left it in the living room and hooked up a DVD player to it and bought the “raging fire” DVD and plays it during get-togethers. It’s hilarious! LOL

          I have knotty pine built-in bookcases/gas fireplace in my knotty pine basement. I’ve been too afraid to use it, though. Someday I’ll get it cleaned up enough to photograph.

  5. Andreas Jordahl Rhude says

    I work in the wood industry. I have ring binders full of “design ideas” for residential and commercial construction from the 1940s 1950s 1960s. Tons of pics like you have shown here. Organisations such as the Southern Pine Association and the Western Wood Products Association printed reams of brochures and flyers with ideas for builders, architects and do it your selfers. Private corporations were also very active promoting to the home markets.

  6. Sara says

    I like the color finishes, especially Shadowy Shoshone and of course that pink bathroom is fabulous! My first house had quite a lot of pine paneling. Mostly applied like wainscotting on the walls but one bedroom had it on the ceiling and closet door. Many people suggested I paint it but I liked it the way it was. Then my second house had the fake 70’s vintage wood paneling that you see in mobile homes. I painted that and it looked surprisingly good. Funny how the real stuff was so popular and then it evolved into the ugly fake stuff…no clue why that ever became popular!

  7. says

    Oh wow – seriously, are we on the same wave length? I wrote about the “comfy country” look on my blog just a couple of weeks ago (under “What is Authentic?”). I’m so glad you’re featuring a design aesthetic that’s not mid mod. Don’t get me wrong, I love mid mod but there were other decorating trends in the 50s and 60s. My Grandma Charity’s house was done in this style – big comfy upholstered chairs with wood accents, little tiered side tables, hurricane swag lamps, braided rugs, etc. She had a rocking love seat, which is something I’m dying to find for my house. “Comfy country” is the look I’m going for in my living room. Mid mod just doesn’t seem right some how – I own a granny ranch after all.

    • says

      Oh and I just saw the comment about outhouses. My grandma’s house in Fort Rock, Oregon didn’t have an indoor toilet until the late 1970s. I used to spend summers with my grandparents, so I have quite a bit of outhouse experience. I can tell you as a little kid who needs to use the potty in the middle of the night, it’s pretty scary to grab the flashlight and head out back – coyotes howling and everything. My cousins used to tell me that snakes lived in the outhouse, which added to the terror.

    • tammyCA says

      When I think about the home I grew up in (the early ’60s) I see a mix of Modern and Modest. The house was a small 2 BR 1 Bath ’50s brick Ranch..we had the knotty pine kitchen, some rooms paneled in a grayish wood, glass block windows, and the furniture was a mix of Danish Modern chairs, black tiered end tables, and atomic drapes mixed up with some antique furniture & hand me down furniture.
      So it’s pretty much the same for me now. As much as I like looking at cool Mid century modern furniture/design I know a lot of it isn’t practical for us. I would choose squishy sofas over sleek. I remember the Danish Modern chairs as a kid and not cozy..and, ‘ouch’..I used to throw my tantrums over the arm. So, my home is not “period”…it’s a bunch of everything.

  8. Betty Crafter says

    Ahhh…isn’t knotty pine and turquoise just the most heavenly combination?? Love that bar in the first picture. And I especially love me some “naughty” pine :)

  9. says

    Love this post. Knotty pine is truly one of my most favorite passions. We have one of those fake fireplaces – it’s strange but you really CAN convince yourself that the room is warmer once you fire up those electric fake logs.

  10. nina462 says

    Thanks! I have the full knotty pine basement/bar combo that sold me on my house when I bought it. What’s a house without a bar in the basement ?
    Thanks especially for the cafe curtains pictures. I’m always at a quandry on what type of curtains to put up since my dining room/living room is one big room with picture windows on both sides (yeah, you can look right through my house). I have drapes up now, but switch to swaggy shears in the summer. Maybe it’ll be cafe curtains this year –

  11. tammyCA says

    That little tip about putting metallic gold paint and wiping it off to get the golden effect is neat.
    Of course, I love KP and scallopy trim…that lower scallop trim is on the original cabinets in the garage…but, they aren’t KP, maybe, Douglas Fir with lots of tree rings.
    Recently, I found an old photo in my mom’s stuff of the only grandmotherly person I had, a wonderful neighbor & friend to us…and, the color photo was taken in our knotty pine kitchen in the ’50s.
    Will KP ever return? It seems everybody on those ‘home wrecking’ shows despises it..along with anything with charm & color.

  12. J D Log says

    My house has a fake wooden fireplace as well complete with electric heater and electric fibreglass glow logs it was strangley one of the 1st features which made me fell in love with the house.

    The first house I owned had a knotty pine pine kitchen from the early 70’s with the brightest yellow formica so painted over it.

    My father still has a knotty pineroom in his 70’s mission style house with a fake potbelly stove. I really do not like that stove and have offered to take it out for him so many times

  13. Susan c. says

    I like the floating tea kettle. The diagonal copper metal tiles look have that quilted look. Love your website!

  14. tammyCA says

    Coincidentally, last night I was browsing through a ’59 Better Homes/Garden magazine and recognized some of the same rooms featured above. :)

  15. LauraRG says

    Just a guess, but I bet that large cabinet in the laundry room photo is actually where laundry goes after it’s dropped down the chute. That set up is very similar to what was in the house I grew up in with a terrific KP family room (c. 1948)

  16. Cheryl says

    Wow! I’ve lived in my 1947 home for 30 years and have always wondered what color stain the original owners used on all the knotty pine. It is somewhat unique and not as beautiful as most, but we have grown to love it. Thanks to your post, I now know that the color is “Klickitat Cloud”! BTW—I always love your posts.

  17. Dana says

    When we bought our 1956 split foyer home 12 years ago it still had the original knotty pine kitchen cabinets, albeit in very poor condition. When we renovated the kitchen we made the bad decision to replace them with modern maple. If I was doing the renovation today I’d have the original cabinets refinished. There’s nothing like knotty pine! On the plus side, I did have the sense to save our original pink tile bathroom, with frosted glass light fixtures.

  18. Jacquie Y says

    I’m sooo glad you started this part of the blog. This has been one of our favorite looks in any cozy home for such a long time. Glen and I always wanted to find a way to incorporate it into our decor, but the good stuff is hard to find and very expensive.
    Patience always prevails…we were fortunate enough to see an ad on Craigslist for 20 -12 inch wide Pickwick panels salvaged from a 70+ year old home in Prescott, AZ. about a month ago. My husband is the greatest! He took his brother with him to load and bought it all.
    I took a few out of the truck at a time, cleaned them, and did an amber shellac, and they look new. A few of the panels were a little damaged, so we have designed a way to get the most out of it and onto our dining room walls. There wasn’t enough to do full walls where we want it, so it will be cut to 5ft lengths, and put up from ceiling to the bottom of the dining room window.
    We had to buy trim, and after many coats of the shellac, it will be a good match. The panels are hard heart pine…beautiful. So glad we could give it a new home. .. the installation will be done Saturday Oct. 11th..can’t wait!
    I am envious of all the lovely homes with original pine decor, but now am happy to have the chance to use some that we “saved” . It looks so homey..will be a lovely addition to our dining room.
    A sidenote*. I know you wanted a little more history of the pine, and I came across a website you might enjoy, and then can do a little more hunting from there. Southwest Forest Industries was a company in McNary AZ. You can find more info online about the company, I was reluctant to send all of it because it is subject to copyright, but I had to send this one on to you. If you enlarge the pictures of the black locomotives, you can see the Southwest logo..on several of my panels, the logo is very visible, and looks to be branded into the wood. So neat! http://www.rgusrail.com/azslm12.html. Hope this helps with a bit of the research! I’m sure you know how to work out the copyright thing if you would like to use the pictures on your blog at some point.
    Thanks Pam and Kate for everything…you are the best. (Hope the recovery is going well Pam!)

  19. Debbie says

    We have purchased a 1950s house with knotty pine walls in the kitchen and den and knotty pine cabinets. I want to keep the walls, but change the cabinets. They are in bad condition and the drawers are difficult to open. I don’t know what finish I need on the cabinets to coordinate with the knotty pine.

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