After I showed the proposed room layouts for my Mahalo Lounge, which I had drawn up using Powerpoint and Excel, I heard from reader Dan:
Your room planning method is so old fashioned! What you need is the exciting new Plan-a-Room Kit (Patent Paul McAlister Associates) that includes an acetate grid marked at 1′ = 1/2″ and an assortment of about 70 standard furniture pieces. Makes furniture arrangement fun and easy!
I have some photos of this fun little kit I think you would enjoy. I picked it up in a thrift store ages ago, and have never seen another one.
The sad thing is, I probably have one of these somewhere. Sure. Send photos. Hey, can you make up the design for my room you like best????Best, Pam
Here is your Mahalo Lounge, rendered as well as possible within the limitations of Plan-a-Room. Those numbers on each piece (handwritten) correspond to a grid in the box to show how to repack the set.I’ve enjoyed your site for some time now. I grew up in the era you celebrate, and it is such a pleasure to see a new generation developing an appreciation for a time when folks really did seem to have more fun with their homes. Keep up the good work!Dan
Oh my word — this is fantastic! I will surely feature it. Probably next week, though, as I am drip drip dripping out the Mahalo Lounge stories. Many thanks!!!
Now I need to look for one of these for myself! Best, Pam
Delighted you enjoyed it. Best of luck with your project.
A Plan-A-Room Kit for sale on ebay right now!
But wait! Of course I went looking, and I see there’s a Plan-A-Room Kit for sale right now on ebay — I used one of these photos (not one of Dan’s) as the lead photo in this story. Seller antiquephoenix gave me permission to show more photos of the set he had for sale.
My Paul MacAlister Plan A Room sets
But wait, again! On Monday morning this week (a bit after my convo with Dan), as I was finalizing this story, I started searching for more information about Paul MacAlister. BOOM! The Google popped up with three Mint In Box complete sets from his estate for sale on ebay since I’d looked the last time, or maybe I was just searching using the wrong terms before. New Old Stock! From the estate of Paul MacAlister himself!
I bought one. Then I bought them all. Then I also bought a bunch of sundial cards, also from his estate, different seller. All this, before 10 a.m. Monday. Monday!
As you can see from the packaging, my sets seem to be a different version of the Plan A Room. I’d say my sets are later.
Don’t ask me what I am going to do with all this stuff. It’s for my Museum.
Paul MacAlister – Interior Designer
Back to searching for more info about MacAlister. Seems he was a very interesting and creative person. He started out with excellent bona fides. He was the first at Yale University’s School of Architecture to receive a degree in Interior Design and Architecture.
- Here’s a bio on his Camden roots along with a story about his interior design — he designed the furniture, too — for a Vanderbilt mansion in 1938.
- Here’s a bio with additional info.
- And, here’s a story on a home he interior designed in Chicago.
But he also played a lot with miniatures. The most amazing MacAlister collectibles seem to be his full, miniature room sets — created for his TV show on WGN in Chicago. Yes, he had a TV show about interior design and home planning — the first in the nation. Apparently, for each episode he would make a new room set.
He seems to have made all the furniture in the rooms. After he died, there was a quantity of furniture that was sold as part of his estate. The seller of my Plan-A-Room sets sold a lot of it five years ago. Obviously, I am quite late to this party.
MacAlister also illustrated bookplates. There were the sundials. The biographical references also say he designed wallpaper and textiles. He wrote a book in 1954 (affiliate link). Super creative!
The Plan-A-Room kits were quite famous, it seems — used in some 1,500 schools and colleges nationwide as well as among decorators and designers.
Thank you, Dan, for turning me on to Paul MacAlister and his legacy!