retro mod decor
Photo courtesy of Everett Short Photography.

I loved me that Kara Vallow Bicentennial Chic kitchen, and the fact that Ben Sander installed this Bicentennial Chic den into an apartment on the fancy schmancy Upper West Side of Manhattan amuses me to no end. No, I am not making fun of Bicentennial Chic. I quite love it. Design done well is design done well — and Ben does it well! Oh, and dig that Vitsoe shelving — we’ve never written about it before. I learned a bunch of new things from Ben in this Ben-miniseries!

bicentennial style retro
Photos courtesy of Ben Sander. Want wallpaper like this? See our story, 7 places to find vintage wallpaper — from 80 cents to $200 per roll

Ben told us about this room:

The Bicentennial den is one of a pair of themed rooms I did for this apartment. The shelves are Vitsoe, designed in 1960 and still in production. The desk is another one of my signatures. I call them ice cream antiques, and they harken back to the 1960’s in style. I paint traditional furniture, then pinstripe it in colors. Then I antique it and give it a clear coat. (You’ll notice I did a similar treatment on the red chair in the master bedroom, then upholstered it in patent leather) The resulting pieces serve as accents in the room. The cork wall provides a place to pin important reminders and serves as a sound deadener.

I asked Ben where he got the cork. He said:

I found it at Jelinek Cork Group:  It comes in several different styles and colors. We didn’t use the adhesive pads to install it though. We used contact cement. [Pam here: Ben also warns, the contact cement was super stinky – be sure to read the directions and take proper safety precautions.]

bicentennial chic vintage ethan allen
If you can bear it: Read our story that deciphers the Bicentennial Chic decorating style.

I need to to find a place for a cork wall somewhere in my house, stat. Did I ever mention I graduated high school in 1977? This is my groovy, coming-of-age era. Ben’s den makes me very happy.

Link Love:

  1. missbike says:

    I love the Ben Sanders articles. In the Gulf South, nobody I knew did the Bicentennial Chic, but there was plenty of Colonial from the Fifties kicking around. The butter churn telephone table is a standout memory!

    Can we see some Art Deco Revival sometime? That’s more what I grew up with, and Seventies Egyptian Revival. They make nice living rooms for late night parties… Or maybe that’s what I remember.

  2. Rick S says:

    My house (c1978) was colonial when built and absorbed the 80’s Victorian vibe. It was a wonderful evolution. I am just waiting for the 80’s to show up, on your site. What would they be called?
    You are right design well done is wonderful.

  3. RAnderson says:

    Love it!!! Where where where can I get that fab wallpaper?! Or something similar, you know, eagles, Liberty Bells, flags &c &c… it’s so late 50s or early 60s! My folks had something like that in our den. Except for our living room, we’ve been gradually segueway-ing (is that a word?) our decor from MCM to Early American/primitive, it’s such a cozy look that warms the cockles of my heart! Awesome job Ben!

  4. Elizabeth says:

    Ha! I just realized our living room is turning into Bicentennial chic. started with an estate sale lamp that has bicentennial figures on it, and more recently with an Ethan Allen rocking chair that has red, white and blue seat cushions. And I love it! I never would have thought I would decorate with red, white and blue but its so bright and cheerful it makes me happy.

  5. Allen says:

    I love royal blue carpeting! This is a great room. Does anyone have a source for that color and style in carpeting?

    1. Ben says:

      I found that carpet in the remnant room at ABC Carpet. You never know what you’ll find in the remnants of a large carpet store. I had this one bound in red to accent the room.

  6. ineffablespace says:

    We are only ten years away from the Semiquincentennial or the Sestercentennial, whatever they are going to call it, so I predict we will be seeing more “Early American” or “Colonial-Revival” influences, just like we did starting in the 1960s leading up to the Bicentennial and in the 1920s for the Sesquicentennial.

  7. Jay says:

    Nice room! The blend of modern and traditional furniture styles work well together. I am currently looking for a fan back Windsor chair with arms like the one pictured. This room is reminiscent of some I saw back in the 70s. I graduated in 76, we had red, white and blue tassels.

    1. Jacki says:

      Jay, there is a shop in Phoenix called the Maple House. They have been there since the late 1950’s and still carry the windsor chairs including those beautiful fan back ones. They probably ship. I was in there about a year ago and this lovely throwback shop in the older part of Phoenix is struggling. Guess there aren’t enough people who think like we do.

  8. Carolyn says:

    Oh, my goodness – I didn’t realize I’d been so influenced by Coolonial until I saw the George and Martha panels. I’d made a child-sized wardrobe in HS shop class (I was in the first “girls” class!) and painted a soldier and miss on the doors. I probably used a coloring book for a template.
    My daughter has the wardrobe but the doors have been lost to the mists of time…and, of course, no pics!

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