Yes, you can have wall-to-wall carpet in your retro home


With so much focus these days on hardwood, tile, cork and here, of course – VCT – flooring, it’s easy to forget that in postwar homes, carpet was very desirable.

In our 1951 colonial-ranch, the long step-down living room had (1975-era) carpet, with plywood underneath. Okay, we tore it out and replaced it with beautiful Berkshires oak. But honestly, my husband and daughter really wanted carpet. I was stymied by the fact that the room is more then 15′ wide and we would have seen a seam in a design like the one in the 1954 image above.

1954-wilton-carpet205.jpgNote – we absolutely have carpet in the basement, where it is colder and we plop on the floor in front of the TV each and every day, thank you very much! It’s a medium-pile gold, as close to harvest gold as I could find. Someday I’ll try and get a good photo of my cherry paneled rumpus room, it is so cool!

Anyway….If you prefer to go with carpeting, I’ve seen a lot of current styles not too different to that above. UPDATE: Be sure to read Stephan’s comment about Stainmaster carpets as a great solution. You can take your Sherwin Williams Suburban Modern or Sears Harmony House color cards along to shop.

This post was first published Jan. 12, 2008

  1. Stainmaster has begun reproducing these patterned carpets again … what used to be called “sculptured carpet” back in the day … at a very reasonable price. And because the pattern has a regular “repeat,” it can actually be laid seamlessly if the installer is skilled and careful. But if you want a really authentic 1950s look that is also versatile, go for a “carpet rug” over the hardwoods, about 2 feet smaller in each direction than the room itself, with a color-matching 1 inch cotton canvas twill edging all the way around. Lay it down in winter, roll it up in summer!

  2. Sumac Sue says:

    I like Stephan’s idea of carpet that can go down in winter, up in summer. I like the look of lighter window treatments and maybe no rugs in summer, then getting warmer and cozier for cold weather.

    But what I want is not carpeting, but, braided rugs. They go with the more colonial look. I sat and played for hours on one as a child. But, it disappeared when my mom got — of course — harvest gold wall-to-wall carpeting. I have two small wool braided rugs, and a big one for the living room is on my wish list.

  3. 50sPam says:

    I completely agree, Judi, that braided rugs are another great option. Did you see the post on Capel Rugs? They are my favorite. I have two in my house. And – if I ever redo my attic, I want “braided wall to wall” carpeting – they can do this, too, although I fear it is ungodly expensive!

  4. Femme1 says:

    As a child growing up in the late 50s/early 60s, our house was decorated in early American with braided rugs. Now my mom’s pristine 1951 ranch (very little modernization was done except for the kitchen) still has the original scuptured wool carpeting, which looks exactly like the ad above. It was wall-to-wall in the living/dining room, but the bedrooms had the bound carpet rugs with the hardwood floors showing around the edges.

  5. Amy says:

    Our 1954 custom ranch was built on a concrete slab with carpet laid directly on the slab. By the time we got the house a few years ago, the original carpet was long gone.

  6. Mer says:

    I have a question regarding Stephan’s post- is it possible to have it all in the form of a “patterned carpet/carpet rug?” I’m looking for a large carpet rug in harvest gold, avocado, or turquoise. If you have any suggestions about brands, etc. That would be great. I love the pattern in the photo but I also like squares and more linear motifs. Thanks!

  7. Jeanne says:

    At my previous home, I had a similar pattern-cut pile carpet in mocha (very much like the photo!) in my hall way. I LOVED the color, it was very retro looking and it was very durable and didn’t show dirt. 🙂 I’ve also had a carpet “rug” on my hardwood floors in a previous home, by purchasing my carpet of choice (I did a charcoal floral pattern) and having the edges bound. I believe back then they charged something like $1/foot, but it’s probably more now. It’s definitely worth it, though.

  8. RetroRuth says:

    According to the previous owner, our 1956 home has never had anything else but wall to wall carpet in all the rooms. In fact, it was designed to have carpet in every room but the kitchen, even the three season porch!

    I love the patterned carpets. Thanks for the info, since we need to go carpet shopping for the bedrooms in the near future….

  9. Tikimama says:

    When we were considering carpet for our last home, we saw carpet made out of corn! The salesperson said it was very durable, eco-friendly and it was soft and beautiful. Sorry I can’t remember a brand name, but this was in Yucca Valley, of all places, so I’m sure it’s available in other areas! Just thought someone might like to look into it as an option. Or, you can come to our house and take all the wall-to-wall rusty-orangey-gold carpet for FREE! I want my hardwood floors 🙂

  10. Happy Daze says:

    “Carpet Rugs” can sometimes be a bargain, as you can just get a remnant from a carpet place and have the edges bound.

    Regarding the comments of summer vs winter decorating, I have a 1949 Interior Decorating book that shows a room fitted out for summer and winter. The summer room has light window coverings, light colored slip covers on the furniture, and a low pile floral rug. The winter room has dark window coverings, dark upholstered furniture (same furniture w/o slip covers), and a light colored shag carpet rug.

  11. Alex says:

    Oh, my. When my husband and I were looking for houses, we found one with this carpet in it — in green. He couldn’t stop commenting on how much work it would be to rip out the “green brain carpeting.” Haha!

  12. Elizabeth says:

    Just a note to say that, at least in the desert southwest, wall-to-wall carpeting in 1957 was considered an “upgrade”! Our 1957 rancher has oak hardwood throughout, except in the living and dining room, where the original owners upgraded to carpeting. Too funny! We are now looking for retro-style carpeting to replace the ugly one currently installed. Great site, by the way!

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