From sketch to advertisement: Louisa Kostich Cowan’s 1954 bedroom design

louisa cowan designHere’s a before-and-after of a different stripe: Up top, the original rendering for a 1954 Armstrong Flooring advertisement by Armstrong’s Louisa Kostich Cowan. And just below it: The rendering as it was actually built out and featured in publications. Hey — I spy George Nelson Bubble Lamp Pendants — don’t forget to enter our giveaway for one, contest ends tomorrow [Thursday, Aug. 27.]

louisa-cowanAbove: This photo of Louisa Kostich Cowan’s rendering was taken by Al Reist of Reist Auctioneers, who ran the Cowan estate sale auction this summer. I connected with him, and he gave permission for us to feature it here. I had such a lovely talk with him about these drawings — like all of us, he was mesmerized.

mid century modern bedroomAbove: This photo is taken from a very large image in my personal collection. So interesting, how Armstrong decided to keep the basic design, but changed up the palette. I will guess: Armstrong may have already had the orange lounge chairs, so to economize they reversed some things. Or perhaps, they decided to address other colors they were marketing this year? In any case: Such a beautiful bedroom!

  1. We’re in the flooring business. It’s true, they don’t make ’em like they used to. If you buy your flooring from the big box stores, you can pretty much count on that. Flooring that looks the same and even has the same name is often a lower grade. The quality of the installation also matters, as well as the subfloor. With that being said, you CAN get good quality flooring that will last you until you are sick of it if you pay. You really do get what you pay for. Flooring companies do make good quality vinyl. Check out the higher grades of vinyl plank. Some of these are a lot nicer even than the laminate. In fact, I don’t like laminate at all. I have vinyl plank in my mud room because my husband got them leftover from a job otherwise I never would have picked them. We live on a farm so it gets a lot of traffic. It has held up great and it always looks great. I was shocked. In my kitchen I put in commercial VCT. It might have been AZRock brand; I’m not sure. Cream and what I call Depression-green. Wanted a 1940s look. It is fabulous. I do wax it. But that’s what we did in the old days too. There was a lot of upkeep you had to do on the floors in the old days that we don’t expect anymore. The VCT doesn’t look like it’s ever going to wear out. For a nice midcentury look, think about commercial cork flooring. Again, installation is important. It needs many coats of finish on it.

  2. Birgitte says:

    Thank you for great advice. I will for sure look into getting it from a commercial place instead of big box. We have access to professional buffing machines etc. so the upkeep is no problem.

    What about Marmoleum tiles for commercial use? Any experience?

  3. Carol says:

    There is a chair behind the wall, so maybe a dressing area? I saw a photo of a bedroom once and it had a wall like that with the bed in front of it. There was a window wall with built in cabinets underneath that ran the length of the left side. The opening for the headboard wall was by this wall of windows. It was the closet! Pure genius for an elderly person in a wheelchair or walker. The closet is hidden, easily accessible with no visible doors and large enough for a dressing area. If I build again, that’s my closet!

  4. RAnderson says:

    Yes the commercial stuff is as good as anything from “back in the day”. We put Armstrong commercial sheet vinyl (not tiles) in a small light green random pebble-ly pattern, in our bathroom 10 years ago. We were looking for something to go with the mint green and black tiles in the main bathroom of our 1955 modest ranch. It’s the kind of stuff put at the entrances of stores, banks, etc. and it’s solid, that is, the pattern goes all the way through. Expensive, but it’s a small room, so the overall cost was not huge. Even with animals, kids, and not the greatest maintenance, it still looks as good as the day it was put down. Highly recommended!

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