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Decorating a 1960s kitchen — 21 photos with even more ideas from 1962 kitchens

design ideas from 21 1962 kitchensThe best way to get ideas to decorate or remodel your mid century kitchens is to — go back the experts who designed them back in the day. My reference library continues to grow weekly — and today, I’ve pulled 21 kitchens — with 21 photos from 1962 — to examine for ideas and inspiration –>

mid century modern kitchen from 1962I’m also reading the text more carefully these days, so that I can start to re-introduce the original terms used to describe different products and features. The first and most fabulous one we’ve ever discovered has to be: Hudee rings. But in this 1962 brochure, I’ve learned that we should be calling electric range tops “tabletop ranges.” And, in this brochure, cabinets with raised panels were called “sculpted.”

And you know I always must call out some of the macro-trends images like these illustrate and reflect. Some thoughts:

  • Cabinets are mostly wood. The brochure calls these kitchens “warm and colorful.” Steel, especially white steel, ain’t so warm… Also, by 1962, I think the transition from steel-to-wood was well under way because, more than ever, kitchens were being opened to adjacent family rooms, causing kitchen cabinets to be treated more like furniture.
  • I’m seeing lots of tile in these photos… and lots of brick and stone on the walls. Incorporating these organic materials into the interior of the home comes from ranch-home movement, which included the idea of merging the indoors with the outdoors.
  • Lots of fun with laminate. Notice several thick countertops and breakfast bars — the move away from metal countertop edging to laminate edging meant that designers and homeowners were no longer hostage to 1.5″ thick countertops.
  • 1962 kitchen wacky but interestingAll this said, these are mostly studio shots — they are marketer-interior-designer fantasies, and include some silliness to be sure. This brochure was produced by the National Plan Service, Inc. — a company that was all about selling house plans. As far as I know, the National Plan Service was not in the business of selling kitchens per se. This booklet was likely produced to help homemakers building a new house to decide on their kitchen plans. I am not sure what Interestingly, A.A. Laun Furniture Co. continues in business today [link now broken, no longer sure of the status of this company 3/1/2019], making furniture in Kiel, Wisconsin. The company is 110 years old. In the 1950s, it had a Modern Collection of more than 50 furniture pieces. I am guessing that in the 1960s they also facilitated new-home construction in some way, and that is why their name is on the front of the booklet.

I have made notes on each photo in the slide show. To launch, click on the first image, and it will enlarge; move forward or back with the arrows at the bottom; you can start or stop anywhere in the show:

  1. Jason says:

    What great inspiration! As I’ve commented before if I do any more work to my kitchen I will lean even more retro perhaps, but I think what I’ve done so far is still period appropriate with modern versions of the period materials, i.e. vinyl sheet flooring and laminate countertops.

    I’m not sure about taking the wall down between the dining room and kitchen, many said to do it and I didn’t want to do it because the house wasn’t built that way and I wanted a true dining room, but it would make entertaining maybe better, or maybe just different, I’m not sure.

    ANYWAY, on this topic I just wanted to say that I watched an episode on Antenna TV this weekend of Hazel where she and Mrs. B. are convincing Mr. B they need a kitchen renovation and then in the end we get to see the updated kitchen and appliances. It was retro renovation via retro tv!! Watching those shows is awesome and then to see the interiors is even better. Screen Gems seems to have paid a lot of attention to their sets and the house facades at the Columbia Ranch, especially with continuity. My personal favorite of course is Samantha Stevens Frigidaire Flair stove in her kitchen, just like Mommom used to have.

  2. Meridith says:

    Pam…Impecable timing! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

    We started demo this week to bring our kitchen and living rooms out of the 1980s and back into 1963. It won’t exactly be a time capsule when we are finished, but your post today was exactly the inspiration I needed to finalize my tile and wallpaper selections so we can keep with the charm and style this home deserves.

    When we are finished, our home will (fingers crossed) be a great blend of the best of the 60’s built around what our growing family needs!

  3. pam kueber says:

    yay, Meridith — take lots of before and after photos, so I can do a story on the blog when you are ready for prime time! Have fun!

  4. Jay says:

    Pam, thanks for the picture gallery with your comments. A real fantasy land of retro design. What’s just as neat are all the acessories – kitchen implements, decor that can be spotted in the pictures. I think in the same kitchen with the Franciscan ware is a Pyrex carafe on the tabletop stove that I am looking for that goes with the elec. warming plate I found in an antique mall.

  5. JKaye says:

    The furniture in #10 is the type that my parents purchased in the very early 60s, and my mom still uses it today. She has an open front hutch almost identical to that one, except hers has brass hardware rather than wooden knobs as shown. She also has a couple of those chairs, which she calls captain’s chairs. She and my dad sat in the captain’s chairs, and the rest of us sat in similar chairs that just had backs, but not the armrests. We had a round table rather than a rectangular one. We had a huge woven rug in the dining room, much bigger than the one in that photo, and our wallpaper was a similar pattern with medallions, but it had a very light, maybe white background, and the colors in the medallions were a coral or cantaloupe color, along with a pale blue or turquoise. All of the wood trim was painted white, and there were white ruffled curtains at the windows. The house was not new, however; it probably had been built in the 40s. It had wonderful paned windows that were nine over nine or nine over six. Oh, and we had some lamps with that white glass, that my mom called milkglass. If you want an authentic early 60s colonial look, that photo is dead on.

  6. Jeanne says:

    Jason – My house was built in 1952 and the kitchen was renovated around 1960 (I found the copyright on the brochure for my Philco gas range that I still use).

    They tore the wall down between the kitchen and dining room and hung upper and lower cabinets with the pass-thru open to the dining room. It really opens up the two rooms and allows for more cabinet space in the kitchen. When we bought the house from the two sons who grew up there, they told us the neighbors “envied” the newly remodeled space and how much nicer it was than the other identical bungalows on the block.

    So I say go for it! People remodeled back then just like they do today. Our home was only eight years old when the original owners remodeled the kitchen.

  7. nina462 says:

    Image #14 chairs are from Brunswick (the bowling company) I suspect. Our church had those chairs for years before we got pews … and they were donated by a guy who worked for Brunswick. Who knew they made chairs?

  8. John says:

    Those kitchens are so gorgeous. Classic design never goes out of style. Most of them looks like what you’d see today! I love the first pic with the wall oven that is tiled in. Even that one with the wallpapered soffit with the matching curtains and the top freezer refrig I dig, I can see it done today with maybe a more updated print in black and white or something!

  9. nina462 says:

    Pam thanks for sharing. It’s nice to see what my knotty pine would look like with white appliances. It currently has black appliances – but I’ve always wondered what white would look like.

  10. Lenea says:

    Great photos and write ups to go with pics, but they were hard to navigate-the lead poisoning video blocked the upper right portion of every photo so I wasn’t able to click to the next photo or see any imagery in that part of the frame.

  11. Robert says:

    Love all the photos and they are giving me great ideas for the 1953 home I’m closing escrow on! My grandparents’ kitchen is nearly identical to photo 18 with the indoor bbq. I remember my grandfather grilling chicken on that bbq and my grandmother would be ironing our church clothes on a mangler iron in the laundry area off of the kitchen. When microwaves became mainstream they ended up putting countertop slab over the bbg and placing the microwave on top of it and thats how it stayed for about 20 years until they both died. I always thought that was a neat feature and had never seen a kitchen since with a bbq.

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