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. Cheryl says:

    Ethan Allen-

    I have this style of Ethan Allen dining room furniture, the
    Style name they went by was Ethan Allen Heirloom. I have
    Rectangular dining table, buffet/hutch (two individual pieces)
    With 3 side chairs and 1 arm chair. I purchased this from my best friend
    and her sister after their Mom passed away. I had always commented to Isabelle that I would want it if she ever grew tired of it, she said she was
    Passing it down to her (grown) children. The son was to have been the recipient, but he died soon after his Mom, and my friend and her sister already had their own dining room furniture. I wanted this because when I was a young married wife, we bought Ethan Allen Heirloom (round) table and 4 chairs, but could not afford a hutch. After we bought ours, MY mother-in-law gave me her EA Heirloom bookcase. Now I have a dinette off the kitchen with the round table set, a great room / dining room with Isabelle’s EA Heirloom and the cubby area part if dining room holds the bookcase and a rocker – my reading nook. The furniture is so well constructed that my chairs have never faulted-not even after being used
    (Daily since 1988) by my 240 lb mother who had always been very hard on chairs! One day, I would like to have the chairs refinished but only by someone with the same quality of workmanship as Ethan Allen crafts persons. I want them to remain antique quality, they are certainly worthy.
    I cannot imagine anyone wanting to part with such beautiful pieces. My friend knew she would always see her Mother’s furniture cared for and she would see it when visiting me. 🙂

    1. Amanda chaik says:

      I think it just isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, style-wise. I agree that it’s certainly well-made, and I remember this style VERY well from growing up. However, it is an ubiquitously seventies style to me…they style everyone had; and the seventies is my least favorite era. I’ve got bunks and a table and chairs in this style (I’m not sure if it’s Ethan Allen, but it’s certainly similar), and I sometimes wish they weren’t -quite- so well made. I’d like something in a different style and this stuff will last forever! Luckily, there’s something for everyone; what I bemoan because it gives me seventies flashbacks, other people actively search out…and the forties and fifties styles I adore are equally cast off by those who are looking for something that matches their own unique style. 🙂

  2. pamela burt says:

    I have one of those sets! It was my DH’s when he was a kid. Early 60s or late 50s he says. It is modular set that has many pieces (10?) With bookcases, a corner unit and wraps around a large room. Mine has laminate tops (woodgrain). I also have “the girls” set that is pecan wood veneer I think. Im actually thinking of downsizing…. if my now adult son doesnt want them. But he probably will…. I would!

  3. TappanTrailerTami says:

    I have a set of 2 dressers, plus a desk, each with the bookshelf top. While I was going to use them as a bedroom set originally, I found an older 1930’s bedroom set. So what to do with these great pieces? Voila! I have a walk in closet (yes, large) and these are going in there to serve as clothes and shoe/boot storage! Who needs custom closetry, when these work just as well?

  4. Anne-Marie Cory says:

    I am really loving that there seems to be more 70’s stuff on your blog these days. My home was built in 69 and ( the house itself , not necesarly our stuff) has a very late 60’s and 70’s vibe to it. I always l enjoy what you post- but I am especially grafteful to see the 70s sneeking in a little.

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