3 midcentury home design products we wish they’d bring back NOW

3-mcm-products-to-bring-back2014 was a great year for reissues of classic midcentury product designs.  Still, there are three very basic products — I’m trying not to be greedy — that I would love to see brought back to the market, mass produced for cost, quality and availability. My list is based on seven years of blogging about midcentury modest and modern homes, hearing about what Retro Renovators need and have been excited about whenever the products come up. 

1. Glitter laminate:

gold sparkle laminateThe absolutely positively #1 item on my list is glitter laminate. Made with deco paper — with real glitter inclusions, just like they were starting around 1950 all the way through the early 2000s — yes, this stuff was available for more than 50 years, non-stop. Today, this deco paper is still available — I have personally seen where it is made! Laminate manufacturers: I won’t even be greedy and ask for different colorways. Just give us a white (check the historic examples to get the rightish white) with gold glitter. The white field glitter laminate will solve for MULTITUDES of Retro Renovator kitchens and bathrooms.

Alas — this neeeeds to be a production laminate — it can’t be digital special-order run.  As far as I know, the metal glitter cannot be replicated with current on-demand digital printers. That means this must be done with paper with real glitter inclusions. Laminate manufacturers must buy minimum (lotsa) size rolls of the deco paper… once they make the laminate, the sheets must be stored flat, in climate-controlled warehouses… and then there’s the whole marketing machine to get it out to the public. Note, I also tend to think that laminates made with deco paper (on a rotogravure press or as in the case of sparkle laminate, with real inclusions) are nicer looking — the ink saturation will be more intense… AND production laminates are much less expensive than on-demand digital prints because they are mass produced.

Pretty please with sprinkles on top: Will some laminate manufacturer take a big gulp and take a market risk on this? We’ll buy it! Maybe there are enough of us!

vintage-Wilsonart-White-gold-satellite

Gold Satellite had crackles in it. Cool. Super cool. But I just show this for a close up of the glitter. If we can have ONE design, just give us plain glitter, sans crackles.

 .
2. Double-bowl, dual-drainboard, metal-rimmed, cast-iron kitchen sink:

vintage-drainboard-sink-kohler-1940s

vintage-drainboard-sink-in-1940s-kohler-kitchenNumber two on my list: A double-sink, double-drainboard, hudee-rimmed, porcelain-on-cast-iron kitchen sink. The photos above show vintage Kohler sinks from our story about 16 vintage Kohler kitchen sinks.

kohler drainboard sink

And above: A 1956 ad for the Kohler “Clearfield” sink — now we know its name. Thanks to ebay seller splittinimagecards for giving us permission to show this photo of this ad for sale, we love having it for our archive.

Note, we love the hudee-rimmed Kohler’s Delafield sink currently available today — it’s a go-to recommendation for a replacement kitchen sink. But oh dear Kohler, can we have a design with drainboards?

Hey, I’d even settle for a double bowl with one drainboard. OR, a single bowl with one or two drainboards. Must have the metal rim, though!

3. Armstrong #5352:

armstrong 5352

armstrong 5352

From a 1963 catalog in my personal collection. Some of the other colorways, which I pretty sure varied over time. Lookie the one with the pink!!!!

Armstrong Floors, can we have #5352 — believed to be the most popular flooring of all time — back, please? Unbelievable: This floor was made from at least 1935 through to the mid-1990s — 60-some years!

This classic rich brick red color would be fine if we can have only one color. But if you can do other colors, how about something light and creamy (predominantly warm, rather than cool)?

armstrong linoleum 5352

Armstrong #5352 started off as an embossed linoleum. We’ve spotted it in catalogs as early as 1935…

Armstrong-5352-linoleum

… As manufacturing techniques and the market changed, the floor was printed on vinyl. We have a reader who worked in the flooring department at Sears and said it was sold there through the mid-1990s.

Note: I am not saying Armstrong #5352 floor should be paired with a glitter-on-white laminate countertop. To me, the brick red screams “put me in a warm cozy midcentury modest kitchen” with a rich-colored countertop. But maybe I’d pair glitter laminate with a light, creamy colorway of the floor.

Updated: Like in Lori’s kitchen, photo below, thanks, Lori! Well, she says that floor originally had green squares, but they’ve faded with use. Still, you get the idea of how a monochrome meet-up between a beige 5352 floor and the glitter laminate could look:

glitter laminate with armstrong 5352 beige

And another update:

vintage flooringReader Jan provided this photo (above) and the history:

Re: the Armstrong Brick flooring among the things we’d like to come back – I found this photo of the side porch at my grandmother’s house. This photo was taken in the late 1950s. My mom can’t remember when this floor was put down – she was born in 1934 and just always remembers it being there. I remember that it was a green colorway -very pretty! (The dogs are Come Here on the bench, Buster in the middle and Kilts on the right – Kilts was a full Scottish terrier and mom to the other two, who were “accidents” with a neighborhood dog – before spaying and neutering was the right thing to do!)

Thanks, Jan!

Some historical images from our files:

armstrong linoleum 1935Armstrong 5352 in a bathroom design, 1956

What do you think of my list, readers?
I’m wary of pushing our luck by being *too greedy*…
but for the “next wave” of we-wannas, what else?

 

Be-Safe-graphic2.3

Get our retrolicious free newsletter.

Newsletter-sign-up-2NMAS

Get our retrolicious free newsletter.

Comments

  1. Susan McGhee says

    Yes! Didn’t know the name, Armstrong Embossed Inlaid Linoleum #5352. I’m thrilled to have stumbled onto your website. I just want to add my voice to your plea, “Please bring this pattern back”. I too have fond memories of it from my grandmother’s house and would like to put it our late fifties kitchen.

  2. Jeana says

    We have an old house on Cape Cod, dating back to the 1800’s and we also would like to get the Armstrong brick pattern linoleum style#5352. But it is unavailable as far as I know.
    I don’t like most of the flooring that is available today.
    Please Armstrong bring back this classic floor!!!

  3. Amanda chaik says

    Hi, I’m not sure whether you’ve covered this product or whether it is even available in the U.S., but Savoy Timbers offers a white sparkle laminate worktop: http://www.savoytimber.com/worktops/samples/white-sparkle-gloss-kitchen-worktop-laminate-sample.html

    It actually looks like it might be the same laminate as Ny-style snowflake laminate. They also have a blacks sparkle laminate. http://www.nu-styleproducts.com/laminate_fabrication_perform_panel.html

    I’ve also been wondering if it’s possible to locate any deco paper in sparkle that could have an epoxy top put over it (people are diy’ing this with tables right now…I know this isn’t a diy site), or have someone make a custom laminate top using the deco paper.

    • pam kueber says

      WOAH! WOAH! WOAH! To the Savoy Timber laminate. I will contact them to find out the story on this laminate!(Alas, I want gold sparkles, though!) Thank you!

      Note: Epoxy on deco paper… meh. Will not be hard enough… And to get custom laminate using deco paper? I think you would have to have a melamine bath and ginormous press….

  4. Amanda chaik says

    Gold sparkle would be the -best-! My recent steel cabinet purchase included bright yellow laminate countertop…but also came with one homemade wooden cabinet that has a gold sparkle laminate top!

  5. Joyce Wallach says

    Sorry Pam that this reproduction double basin, double drainboard sink doesn’t have metal edge. I prefer the lip coming to the edge of counter and back splash because that will reduce cost for the pink concrete counter tops I’m planning to surround the ice grey sink. Also new fabrication/materials supposed to be easier to care for less likely to damage! http://nbidrainboardsinks.com/?product=model-dbdw6025

    • pam kueber says

      Yes, NBI — who is a longtime advertiser on the blog — makes a seemingly ever-growing number of reproductions, but, yes, the drop-in kind with hudee. I’ll have to ask the owner if he has any interest/plans!

  6. G C P says

    My Great-Grandmother had the exact same vinyl flooring in her house, same color. It was super durable, and still in the house when my husband, daughters and I moved into it for several years. That is good quality flooring.

  7. Emily says

    I’m so glad to finally know the name of the Armstrong inlaid vinyl tile! I have the brick red in a couple small places in my 1955 home bought just a. Couple of years ago. It saddens me the I believe the whole kitchen had the vinyl but it was removed and replaced with hideous modern ceramic tiles to try to “update” some things to sell. Blech. There is something similar (or that exactly) still under the carpet on the stairs leading to the basement. It is a future project to remove carpet and glue stuff from past carpet layers to see whatever tile-ish looking stuff can be saved somehow. The basement backslash is one of the white with gold glitter laminates, though! I love looking at it. Then. Thankfully my kitchen sink is with the white porcelain, it is a double with metal rim 🙂 but in a really small kitchen and no side drain boards. Counter laminate is the orangish boomerang pattern. My husband finds it hideous, I love it.

    • pam kueber says

      Be aware that there can be vintage nastiness in the vintage materials of our old houses — get your own properly licensed professional to help you assess what you have so that you can make informed decisions…

  8. Mark E. says

    YES! to the Armstrong flooring–in ‘red’ and in ‘tan-and-beige’. My childhood home’s original 1961 ‘tan-and-beige’ kitchen floor is smothering under a 1980 layer of THE SAME pattern (no-wax on vinyl) that can best be described as ‘orange-and-yellow’. It would be ‘fun’ to take them both out and start again with a new original.

  9. Jennifer says

    Yes, yes, and…maybe. I love the look of the embossed linoleum. But I’ve found that embossed vinyl floors, at least, and textured floors are a bear to keep clean! But perhaps those of you who have similar floors have suggestions about cleaning them?

  10. Sue says

    LOVE #2 – Mom’s house has the single bowl w/ 2 on the sides boards – independent standing with 4 draws on either side of 2 doors in the center – it is wonderful to ‘live’ with – can put hot pots on the cast iron – gotta be careful when scrubbing – the enamel gets thin…sadly there is nothing I know of that can repair it/refinish it or I would. That white stuff in the tubes – one can not put hot pots on that! The 3rd floor [apt] kitchen has a single bowl with one side board. BTW – Those side ripples boards were for washing clothes!

  11. Lauren Zeeck says

    It was a lovely Saturday afternoon on Pinterest and I was searching for remodeling ideas, my keywords? Knotty. Pine. Cabinets. The results were mostly before and after pictures of these cabinets being painted over. They were white and they were boring. Then I stumbled upon a wonderful article on your website, “A knotty pine kitchen — respectfully retained and revived” and felt a wave of inspiration! I absolutely adored the mossy color they painted the walls and their kitchen kitsch.

    My kitchen is an almost identical style, from the cabinetry to the countertops, except it is much more open and large than the galley style and has (you may have guessed it) the Armstrong #5352 flooring in “brick red”. Truthfully it’s not far off from the historical photos in your post.

    I am now convinced the floors , the formica countertops and the cabinets need to stay. We have some small gouges and cracks in the floor. Also the cabinets need to be cleaned. How would you proceed? And do you have any decorating tips?

    Thank you so much for your wonderful site and advice. I hope day I can share some before and after pictures of my own kitchen!

    • pam kueber says

      Yay! Use the Search box to get to all of our stories about Knotty Pine, we have quite a few including about decorating.

      I have on my list to talk to Rust-Oleum for a complete story on how to clean and revive these cabinets, given they are likely coated with Amber Shellac.

      Regarding the floor: Please be aware that there may be vintage nastiness in old flooring and its adhesives, etc. — consult with your own properly licensed professional to assess what you have and make informed decisions how to handle.

      When you are ready for prime time, contact us using thE contact box at the bottom of the site.

  12. Jan says

    When I was a newly wed in 1962, my father-in-law installed the gold speck laminate in aqua blue, with the metal around it for a wedding present.

  13. Zoe says

    Oh, if we could only get them to make the linen countertops in the historic colors (red and green at a minimum), I’d be so happy!

  14. M.H. Harris says

    Please bring back the Armstrong 5352 before I have to put in a new kitchen floor! Mine dates back to my grandmother’s time, before 1951, but after I had to put in a new dishwasher, it is lifting and separating along the seam in a dangerous way.

Leave a Reply

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