The most popular laminate design in mid century America? Boomerang Formica? Nope, guess again. According to materials expert Grace Jeffers, the most popular design was actually linen. You know what I’m talking about — that kind of tight-to-medium-weave with nubblies stuff. I had it both my bathrooms with vanities. In pistachio green = absolutely iconic. Now, it’s great to add this new laminate to our Retro Renovation laminate countertop arsenal: A close-enough proxy to vintage linen laminate, three shades of Hemp, from Arborite.

Hemp and Linen come from similar plants – so the laminate is close, but different, too. The Arborite Hemp design appears to me tighter and most notably — to have no nubblies (“slubs” is, I think, the official term, but I like to make up my own words), compared to vintage Linen laminate (see photo of the vintage stuff, below). But like I said, close enough, especially as there are currently no other similar alternatives on the market that I know of. Of course, I do wish that the colors were more decisively retro. The three Hemp colors, to me, seem like kind of – greyed-out 60s / 70s…. I’m sure, in some sort of assessment regarding today’s broad consumer market. Even so, that Sun Washed Hemp is doing a nice version of harvest gold. For a 1970s kitchen Retro Renovation, I’d be All Over It. And the Weathered Hemp — actually has a greenish tone when I look at the larger, 4″x6″ samples that Arborite kindly sent me. The Earthen Hemp = kind of a mushroom brown. Neutral, I guess you’d say. Critical tip: Get a big sample and try it out in your space before you marry it.

Above: A photo of vintage red linen laminate — taken at an estate sale time capsule I visited.

It also looks like this Arborite also comes in a variety of finishes. And: Readers have asked whether laminate can be purchased at low-medium-high quality. On the Arborite product page, they point out you can choose from three thicknesses — I am going to deduce that: Thicker is better. Note, the thickest cannot be thermoformed — that is, heated and bent/rolled into shapes (like a rounded edge).

Overall: It’s great to have this new laminate selection to add to our choices.

Link love:

  1. Nancy Hesby says:

    Hi Pam! Love your site. Just wanted to let you know that we just visited the Frank Lloyd Wright Zimmerman House in Manchester NH. It is open to the public (tours through the Currier Museum) and is intact from it’s original design and single owners.

    What is on the kitchen countertops? I shrieked when I saw the red linen laminate!

  2. Ann-Marie Meyers says:

    We had a pistachio green weave in our 1951 house we bought in Wisconsin in 1981. Unfortunately, we had to replace it because it was worn down to almost no pattern in spots, and we were selling the place in 1997. I wanted to put in, duh, boomerang, but the Realtor said no way. I settled for a white with little coral and green speckles.
    “The Fort Worth Dream House” has maroonish red ceramic tile right now. (It clashes with my fiesta ware, and also with the yellow Chambers stove. What WAS that woman thinking??)
    If I get the place, I will live with it until I get my 50’s cabinets, and then I will look for some more weave laminate, but NOT maroon.

    1. Ann-Marie Meyers says:

      Oh, of course, the counter tops in the house in Wisconsin had metal edging, with a green plastic strip in it, that kept coming out. I kept popping it back in.

    2. pam kueber says:

      The linen-weave was actually the best seller back in the day, I was told by a historian of laminate. white with little coral and green speckles sounds nice!! and, i think i could live with maroon ceramic tile even! the retro decorating gods (RDG’s)will send you what you need when you need it….

  3. kmodek says:

    I think the most widely used Formica/laminate counters in this area (St. Louis) was the white with gold speckles. It was in EVERYONE’S house that I knew.

    1. pam kueber says:

      Yes — we love our gold lame <- add accent mark countertops. There are several posts on the blog about them…

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