UPDATE: In a wave of making my life simpler, I discontinued Knotty is Nice in 2019 — the site has been taking down. I’ll leave this story up, though, in honor of the knotty — and you can leave your knotty pine memories in comments here if you like.
Crikey, I’ve gone and done it: I’ve started a third blog,Knotty is Nice — a big bear hug aimed at respecting, preserving, maintaining and defending the knotty pine paneling and cabinetry that was phenomenally popular in midcentury homes. Above: That’s Mod Betty of Retro Roadmap‘s father having a swell time in a knotty pine living room, circa 1962.
Alas, knotty pine seems to get little respect in today’s design world. To me, though, it’s clear: Knotty is nice. I think we are just out of the habit of being able to see so, and to say so.
One of the key things that I *think* I’ve learned from writing RetroRenovation.com for these past five years is that our concepts of “beautiful interior design” are very much a product of the era in which we live. We are not any smarter today than our parents or grandparents about “what’s beautiful” or “what’s tasteful”. The applied decoration of interior design is fashion, and in almost all cases, wall coverings are fashion: Some years, we did painted walls .. other years, trends favored wallpaper… and for many years, it was a landslide of knotty pine. By 1950, according to an industry brochure: “Famed the world over… Knotty pine … has found its way into millions of hearts.”
So, with Knotty is Nice, let’s do the same thing for knotty pine that SaveThePinkBathrooms.com has done for vintage pink bathrooms: Let’s convince homeowners — and the rest of the design world maybe even — that knotty pine is beautiful, worthy of our respect, and worth saving.
Over on Knotty is Nice, I will talk about why knotty paneling is Just Fine as a decorative choice within midcentury homes. I spotlight readers and their knotty pine kitchens, basements, sunporches — we even have a knotty pine bathroom. I also plan to further develop a solid list of knotty pine resources — where to get it, how to refinish it, how to maintain it, how to decorate with it. And, one of my favorite stories is about the “why” of knotty pine — why it was so popular. I have some theories — from the fact that it was a common, durable, affordable, traditional material … to the idea that its midcentury popularity also was an embrace of the more casual, California-esque lifestyle.
What do you think, readers?
Can we reach out to our parents, aunts & uncles, grandmas and grandpas — and ask them, “Why All the Knotty Pine?”
What do they remember?