1956 split level house — time capsule with fabulous chinoserie decor — 20 photos

time capsule house-5Tour-a-Time-CapsuleThanks to reader Beth, who spotted this wonderful 1956 split level time capsule house for sale in Newton, Mass., and posted the tip over on our Retro Renovation Facebook page (just hit 27,000 Friends, woot!) The listing agent Eric Glassoff confirms that indeed, this house has been with just one owner, for whom it was custom built. Looking at the interior design, I think that there was some redecoration in the late 1960s or early 1970s — all that lovely chinoiserie and metallic wallpaper. I could be wrong, though — this could just be a very fashion forward 1956 house. Thanks to agent Eric Glassoff for permission to showcase this listing and to photographer David Ward of the The Creative Ward for permission to feature his photos here.

time capsule house-4A split level house is considered a variation on the ranch house. I tend to associate split level houses with the 1960s and 1970s. But, yes, they were around in 1956 — this one proves it.

time capsule house-3This is a very handsome house — great curb appeal. I love all the stone retaining walls and the mature shrubbery.

time-capsule-house-3Let’s head into the living room — simply stunning.

time capsule houseThe sofa is amazing, and the fireplace wall is spectacular… I love how the chunky pendant lights accentuate the fireplace…

fireplace decor…and my goodness, what is the espaliered tree thingie? Woah. In a good way.

time-capsule-house-2This lamp is terrific. Golly, so many adjectives that all basically say, “Wow!” Much of furniture design, I’d call chinoiserie — a style I associate with the 1960s. Furniture like this — with its original lacquer finish — is pretty collectible, I’d say. Chinoiserie is also a style I’d call “timeless,” because you see it used in so many eras.

wallpaper-muralThe wallpaper mural also speaks to the Orient. *Adore*.

time capsule house-6A very pretty chandelier. Toleware, I’d say… almost a “birdcage chandelier,” but not quite.

1956 kitchenHold on to your eyeballs, here’s the kitchen. The cabinets look to be laminate veneer. All the appliances — they must be original, though, don’t you think? This photo makes me think — original kitchen. Patrick, can you date the appliances??

time capsule house-7Foil wallpaper to coordinate. Yum. Yum. Yum.

time capsule house-7-3I zoomed in to try and capture the pink foil wallpaper loveliness.

time capsule house-10More pink. This color scheme makes me think this room’s decor is original to 1956 — which was right at the height of pink-love.

time capsule house-9The upholstered … headboard, I guess we need to call it… is amazing!

time capsule house-11Above: Pink and black bathroom — with metallic wallpaper on the walls — and ceiling above. I also spy with my little eye, wallpaper on the base cabinet doors. Wicked crazy awesome!

time capsule house-13In the way downstairs of the split level (behind the garage part), the party is ready to start.

time capsule house-16The fireplace is very peppy. Those wall clocks made to look like wristwatches are wonderful.

time capsule house-12Above: This is a cool idea, a glass block bar, note how it’s set on two courses of bricks.

time capsule house-15The back of the bar is mirrored — look closely, and you will see the mirror is three pieces. The pieces are set between Knape & Vogt (or KV style) modular shelving standards. This makes it easy to add glass shelves for the booze. What a terrific idea.

What do you think readers:
Is the entire a house a time capsule?
Or was some of it (at least) redecorated in the 1960s?

Want to buy this 1956 time capsule house?

Slide show of the house photos, even larger:

Tips to using the slide show: Click on any thumbnail to enlarge it… Use the arrows below each enlarged image to move forward or back… you can start the slide show from any thumbnail:  

Keep those time capsule tips coming readers! xoxo


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  1. Robin, NV says

    Gosh I just love that living room. The artwork on the fireplace is so graceful – yet another way to think about decorating our fireplaces! Although not everything in the house is to my taste, I love it. It’s like a peek into someone else’s heart and soul.

  2. JKM says

    Wow, what a lovely living room! The interiors look to have been lovingly maintained over the years but, like many after a certain age, the house needs a nip and tuck here and there, lol. I hope someone appreciates it as much as we do but, sadly (if that area’s anything like mine), it could end up being scraped for something new and bigger. I’m shocked at the list price but guess that’s the market up there – $799K? Gasp!

  3. Katie says

    There is a split level down the street from me that was built in 1957-a very similar design that sadly got the McMansion treatment inside. The kitchen looks original to me, I think that this is a house that was very cutting edge at the time it was built.

    I personally don’t see anything wrong with noting-kindly, and with empathy for the former residents-that a house is going to need repairs. Most mid-century houses do need some work, and people who love them need to be realistic about that.

  4. says

    Oh, my goodness! It’s a perfectly preserved time-capsule from end to end!! Retro loveliness and worthy of a family who won’t change a thing!

    I hope and pray the “right” buyer who will appreciate all that retro goodness will come along…before someone else who would desecrate all of it’s wonders!

  5. Scott says

    I think the kitchen gave me pink vertigo, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. 🙂

    Funny how something so simple can be so clever, the identical barstools in bold alternating colors in front of the glass block bar, wow.

    I am also in deep, deep lust for that living room partition.

  6. flaca says

    um i want to move into this house NOW! beautiful, classic, well preserved and on trend!

    who was the former owner of this home?! I want to be her friend! i could see us mixing cocktails, being really catty and gossipy and whilst planning our next vacation!

  7. Jim says

    Few people know that an early influence/term for mid-century modern was “Chinese Modern.” That’s what Lucy calls it in one of the I Love Lucy episodes; the one where she has a bet with Ricky that she can be completely honest for a week and has to tell all her friends what she really thinks. Anyway, the living room in this house is a great example of the early influence that the Asian “less is more” aesthetic had on evolving American taste.

  8. Ginoos says

    Hi everyone, I just want to let you know that we got our offer accepted for this house. when I first walked into this house, my first impression was: GUT IT… after seeing your comments, my husband and I are going to preserve its integrity as much possible.

    • Kate says

      How exciting! Both for your fabulous new house and that you will reconsider gutting it. Pam always says it is best to live in a place for a year before making any drastic changes…things that you thought you didn’t like when you moved in might just grow on you over time. It happened at my house — I’m glad I didn’t jump into anything too quickly — and waiting also let me see how we functionally use the house too.

    • Terri says

      Please please please do not gut this lovely lady. And I hope you will share the freshening up touches you bring to it with us.

    • Heidi says

      Congrats on purchasing the house!!! I visited during the open house and saw it first hand. How lucky you are to be inheriting all the amazing touches the previous owners made. I hope your last name begins with an “S” so you can keep the monogrammed shower doors! 🙂

  9. says

    Hi! We just bought a split level almost identical to this one (not a time capsule though!). Do you have any idea where we might be able to get a room divider screen like they have between the front door and the living room?

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