Mid-century children’s bedrooms from Ethan Allen, 1974

1974-ethan-allen-boys-bedroomI am hearing reports of a Retro Renovation baby boom. Weddings, too. So exciting 🙂 No question, nothing gets the decorating instinct into overdrive than having a bun in the oven. In fact, we’re all just feathering our nests when it comes right down to it, aren’t we?

1974-ethan-allen-boys-bedroom-the-beatlesImages in this post are from Ethan Allen circa 1974 — ahhh, The Brady Bunch Years. Continuing with our bedroom series for a few more days, I chose them to illustrate another point, which is that there are numerous “traditional” styles that are just fine for mid-century homes. Lots of this stuff is solid wood, and you can buy it really inexpensively.


I have seen a number of the Ethan Allen sets with the modular bookcases, desks and drawer cabinets and my goodness, they are so functional and so well made.

"Growing up room" - phase one
“Growing up room” – phase one

A couple of other thoughts on kids’ bedrooms:

      1. Personally, I would buy a new crib out of safety concerns – the image above is shown only for decorative inspiration.  Bunk beds, similarly, scare the heck out of me. Do your homework re child safety when you’re thinking of buying and using anything vintage. NOTE: After this story was published, questions have come in about how to assemble the twins into bunks. On this issue, in particular because it is safety-related, please contact Ethan Allen directly. Also contact them if you have other fixit or parts questions.
      2. When your kid is big enough for a bed, and if you’re going to buy something you plan to have them grow into — I recommend going straight-away for the full-sized bed. By the time they are 13 or 14, they want a bed this big. When they’re littler and have sleepovers, they can double up. When they are older, the friends just sleep on the floor. When the kid is little, and they are sick, you can lay down next to them.  I had a girlfriend who is really smart, studied and networked on such things tell me this early on. I didn’t listen. She was right.
      3. Once your kids get old enough to care — let them decorate their own room, of course. It makes for awesome memories and is, I think, super important to establishing a sense of self. We need to do a whole post (hold please!) on our first personally-decorated bedrooms. I remember mine well… a very formative decorating experience.
      4. Capel braided rugs — great for kids’ rooms, get a design that includes a variety of colors they can grow into and you are all set.
      5. Bedspreads — go look at the corded cottons and other childhood classics (like the one in the first photo today) on Vermont Country Store’s website.
      6. Wallpaper? Here’s one room I’d say “no.” That’s because wallpaper is so personal … Your kid will want to change their wall color two-to-three times growing up. Wallpaper is a ton of work and your work will likely not have much of its day in the sun. But if you want to do it for “you” and your baby’s nest, knowing that he/she will likely want it gone within 8-10 years, well, go for it.
      7. Changing tables make great laundry centers in the laundry room after they’ve gone out of diaper-changing use.
      "Growing up room" - phase two
      “Growing up room” – phase two

      With that said, decorating a child’s room “in mid-century style” is just as wide open as in an adult bedroom. If you are buying vintage furnishings, there are great deals out there, especially if you have an open mind regarding style. In fact, I like to say that vintage bedroom sets and dining room sets are the best bargains around. That’s because you only have x-number of bedrooms and only one dining room. After that, you are done. So folks don’t generally “collect” them, like Stangl birds or whatever. This means there is less demand, which means lower prices.

  1. Mary Ellen says:

    The Ethan Allen Room Plan pieces are the greatest things! I redid my brothers 1960 pieces with bin pulls as I didn’t want the colonial eagle look. I even have the original catalog from Ethan Allen with all of the pieces made for every room in the house.

  2. pam kueber says:

    Hi John, I’m not keen on giving this kind of advice — as it involves safety! Does Ethan Allen have a customer service phone number? I’d give that a try. Good luck! Pam

  3. sumac sue says:

    As a 1974 high school grad, I remember these colors well. My sister and I shared a bedroom decorated in a similar style to the last photo — avocado walls and blue cord bedspreads on our maple twin beds. We had built-in desks which were “antiqued” in blue. The room was saved from looking too masculine by the addition of big paper daisies and pictures of stars cut out of Tiger Beat magazine.

  4. BlueCastle says:

    I have an Ethan Allen bedroom set that I’ve had since my mom purchased it second-hand when I was a kid. Now I know how old it is! It truly is sturdy, well-made furniture. I still use every piece, to this day.

  5. Elaine says:

    Ethan Allen! Loved them all through the 70s. I so wanted those bookcase/dresser/desk/hutch sets for our bedrooms, and couldn’t afford new furniture so had to pass them up. There was a big round dark wood cogwheel coffee table then too, been looking for it ever since. What we ended up with was 30s to 40s stuff that was being garage saled cheap instead. I have a 30s dark mahogany bedroom set and a wonderful late 40s-early 50s maple western set with carved cowboy details on the drawers, headboard and footboard. I think I paid $60 for the 30s set and $90 for the cowboy set. I’ve kept them through several moves. Happy trails to you…

  6. MrsErinD says:

    Love those bedrooms, especially the pink one, that bedspread is awesome!

    Yup, like I’ve said, love my step table end/coffee table 1964 Ethan Allen set, we got it for 25 dollars for all 3!! They needed redone, we put a quick coat of polyshade on for now, but will strip and stain properly someday, but they are SO solid, real hardwood tops, not veneer! They say Baumritter Early American for Ethan Allen 1964 on the bottom. The funny thing is my MIL has EAllen early amer./colonial furniture too from the same year ’64 (when they got married) that is same style as our tables! Hubby says we’ll end up with it someday, and I’m okay with that. when we got ours I finally felt grown up with good furniture! ;O)

    Yup, great rooms Pam and great colors! Thanks!

  7. Tut says:

    They took different PVC pipe fittings, spray-painted them blue, and used them as a decoration. Hmm.

    I never got sick of the wallpaper that my mom put up in my room. They built the house around 1970, and that wallpaper is still up. It’s a bunch of tigers, leopards, and zebras.

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