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3 retro laminates from Arborite: including a substitute for red crackle ice

1940s kitchen countertop materialWhen folks move into new/old 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s or 1970s homes, it seems like one of the biggest and most common needs is to update materials in the kitchen that are on their last legs. In general, if you have a laminate countertop that is in good shape, I’d say: Keep it. Or at least, live with it a year. I’ve heard lots of feedback, and seen examples, of old countertops that are stunning — and, they really seem to be better made than what’s available today. But, if they’re wrecked and have to go… or, if you inherited a more modern kitchen and want to back-date it (“back date” = “Retro Renovation”) then I am always on the look out for laminates on the the market that have an appropriate, retro vibe. Today: 3 possibilities I spotted from Arborite.

1938 kitchen renovationFirst up… and featured in the lead photo, above, is Arborite Berry Blue Linolite. I have a little chip — and oh my, it looks just like vintage linoleum. I quite like it! There are two other colors, but alas, they are neutrals — Cafe Au Lait and Creme Brulee. And double drats, it looks like there were several “real” colors discontinued in 2007: Grass Green, Mango Tango (?), Ice Blue and Peaches ‘n Cream. If you’re interested in those, maybe you could contact Arborite and see if they have any leftover stock… In any case, this blue linoleum style laminate would be good for a 1920s, 30s, 40s or early 50s kitchen as a replacement for linoleum. Linoleum is gorgeous, and there are a gazillion more colors, but it’s not specified for kitchen use. Folks like Dave and Frances used linoleum for countertops in their 1938 kitchen…interestingly, their lino is the same color as this Arborite laminate.

blue marble laminate for a retro kitchenMy second find is Palermo Cielo — a light blue granite (I think) style laminate from Arborite. I think this one could be a good choice for a bathroom tiled in light blue, or it could be used in a kitchen as well. I know there is a tendency to gasp at the thought of real granite in our retro kitchens… and I am in the camp that says, “Don’t do it,” especially if you’re in a mid-century modest rather than a mid-century modern. But laminate that looks like a marble-y granite: I’m okay with that. Lineoleum was made to look like marble, after all. Faux for sure can be “period authentic.”

red crackle formica laminate for a kitchen countertopI’m kind of thinking this is a Big Discovery, as well: Red Xabia laminate from Arborite. I know that a lot of folks want red crackle ice laminate – but that stuff is gawdawful expensive from places like Bars & Booth online — $400 for a 4′ x 8′ sheet. Heart attack prices. But, this Red Xabia, which has what I would call a “rag rolled” finish — it’s not solid, it’s lightly patterned — might make for a much more affordable substitute for red crackle ice. Get it with the Gloss Finish. There are a number of other Xabia colors, as well — the white, navy, gold, grey and taupe might be of interest, depending on the era of your kitchen and look you’re going for.

Before pulling the trigger on any of these choices, or anything I find and feature, be sure to get a large sample and test it under the light in your kitchen to make sure the color works for you.

I am not going to put in links to each laminate – in case those change over time. Instead, here is the link to Arborite’s product page, type the color name into their Search box to get to the laminate you’re interested in.

  1. Jackie says:

    Another possible option–not Arborite–is Formica Denim Canvas. I ordered samples of the Berry Blue Linolite, and found that it was just too dark for what I had in mind. The Denim Canvas has a similarly marled appearance, and it’s available from the big boxes. Online, the color looks very light, but seems more truly “denim” in person.

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