Thanks to reader Cat, who spotted this terrific 1957 catalog of Swift Homes. This catalog is typical of others we see from many home manufacturers from the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. Yes, an old house catalog may help you identify your home — that’s how Cat found it, she owns a Swift. But most catalogs have something for every homeowner: The beautiful illustrations are chock full of ideas to help add curb appeal if your home needs some era-appropriate exterior design or landscaping TLC. These illustrations were impeccably crafted to make these homes look as appealing as possible — scrutinize them for details you can bring to your ranch, Cape Cod, or split level.
We know that many of our readers love 1940s decor. To be sure, there’s a lot to like! For example, this 1940s kitchen — with its lovely green cabinetry, bits of red scattered about the room and that fantastic linoleum floor — is just calling me to come inside and spend an afternoon baking pies. For some, creating these kinds of rooms is easy — others may need a little help, especially if the room they start out with is less than ideal. Luckily this week’s vintage catalog provides lots of ideas and inspiration. The catalog was directed by Hazel Dell Brown — an amazing historical figure, the longtime queen of interior design at Armstrong.
Lovers of vintage tile — get ready to count the ways that this Friederichsen Floor & Wall Tile Catalog from 1929 illustrates the many patterns you can make with its decorative tile shapes and colors. Mosaics, pinwheels, basket weaves, plaids, geometric borders and much more eye candy fill this vintage catalog. Perhaps there’s a design here that you can replicate today, 85 years later?
Wow — 52 pages of vintage lighting in this delightfully illustrated Virden Lighting Catalog from 1959. Virden was one of the big name manufacturers of lighting in mid century modern America. Moe and Lightolier are two of our other favorites. This big catalog covers all types of lighting — for kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms, hallways, dining rooms, porch and patio — every part of the house. I was amazed by the variety of styles available — and even recognized a few models from the many stashes of New Old Stock and vintage lighting that we’ve featured here on Retro Renovation. Read on to see some of my favorite designs — and for a slide show of the complete 52-page catalog from 1959 –>