Vintage Kroehler “Do It Yourself Decorating Aid” — spin the wheels, design your room

When readers uploaded 249 photos of their vintage art and wall decor this past weekend, I became very excited (and agitated — greedy) when I saw this big set of Kohler Do It Yourself Decorating Aids that Michael won at an auction. He now has these displayed in his rumpus room. The story on these seems to be: Homeowners considering buying a set of furniture could use these in the store to “dial” a design and color. There are dial-a-designs for small, medium and large rooms. Wow. These must have cost a fortune to produce. I asked Michael how much he paid, and I am not sure he wants me to say. He sure scored a wonderful treasure — these need to go to a museum someday! Read on for more info plus more of Michael’s photos. Thank you xoxo Michael! –>

Michael writes:

Hi Pam,

Here are MANY different pics of the salesman’s kit.

I bought the kit at a local estate auction. The green wooden case contains 8 decorating boards (22″ x 27″) and 6 blank furniture arrangement/placement graphs(?). Each of the boards presents a different “predominating color”: sage green, turquoise, beige, black-charcoal, rose to red, toast, brown, and gold. There are 3 different room sizes presented: small, medium and large. Each board has a different style of sofa and 3 or 4 “dials” that can be turned to reveal two different styles of accent chairs (a squared off arm chair and a rounded “shell” back chair) in some of the eight Kroehler colors. The kit is dated 1958 on the case itself and all materials.

I did a very cursory search for information about Sterling McDonald and Adele Whitfield.

McDonald apparently was a Chicago industrial designer and President and Director of the Institute of Interior Decoration; Whitfield was a “decorator and color stylist,” also based in Chicago.

I have mounted four of the boards above our Kroehler “turquoise” sectional (more of a spruce blue/green in my opinion), leaving others in the kit against a wall. Guests love to have a look at them and choose a favorite color combination. The tag on the sofa lists Kroehler manufacturing plants in Montreal and Stratford, ON. Stratford is about 45 minutes from where we live (and probably why this kit was found locally).

I’m just glad someone else thinks it’s as cool as I do! Thanks for your interest.

Take care,

Amazing. Thank you, Michael, you lucky and hard-working-shopping duck! Super duper extra cool that you have a Kroehler sofa. The Retro Decorating Gods definitely delivered this find unto Just You.

My archive of wonderful oddities — “woddities” — from midcentury America just grows and grows! See them all by clicking here. 

  1. Erik says:

    I know this is a couple years old, but if you happen to come across this Michael, I’m wondering what type of wall wood paneling that is and color? I’ve got a gutted basement in a 50s rambler I’m going to be doing and would like to bring it back to a 50’s rumpus room. The only thing the previous owners left was the built in bar.

    1. pam kueber says:

      Hi Erik, we have a few stories on places to buy paneling (although I have not done extensive research on this.) They should come right up if you use the search box. Good luck.

      1. Erik Solis says:

        Pam I’ve been looking here since I got the house, I seen the articles you did on that and have been researching. The lighter blonde look must not be popular no one seems to have that, all darker. I was thinking naughty pine too but dunno if I like all the knots.

        Anyways I seen your article on laminates and that is a good start to redo the built in bar they left. The cream with gold speckle laminate is shot unfortunatly. But the rest of the bar is in perfect shape.


  2. Rick says:

    Those are really a super find (and acquisition)! Great hanging graphics; what DID you do to hang them? Congratulations; super looking room!

Comments are closed.