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Back to the Bones: Restoring 50's Homes.

Stearmen

I'll Lock Up
Messages
7,202
Not sure about the pink bathroom, but i like they didn't make it into some modern 90s house! On the blog, they have a film about cleaning wool rugs with snow. This does work, my mother inherited a small rug from my grandmother, it was a mess, she through it out on the back step and forgot about it. After the first snow she looked out and there was a vibrant colored rug. It is now in my office!
 
Messages
10,879
Location
Portage, Wis.
Interesting, I had never heard of that.

I actually like pink bathrooms, but don't think one would be appropriate in the home of this single 22 year old male lol

I get so tired of finding mid-century ranches in my home shopping, and they look like a Lowe's Catalog inside, so this was a refreshing thing to see.
 

Chasseur

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,494
Location
Hawaii
I get so tired of finding mid-century ranches in my home shopping, and they look like a Lowe's Catalog inside, so this was a refreshing thing to see.

Its funny you say that. When we were home shopping about 5-6 years ago it was funny that my wife and really disliked many of the "luxury" designs in some houses, especially the big bathrooms that are the size of two bedrooms in new homes because they all look "cheaply ostentatious" Lowe's models.
 

dhermann1

I'll Lock Up
Messages
9,156
Location
Da Bronx, NY, USA
My 1939 deco apartment was cheaply Lowe's-ified by the previous woners. They were SOOO proud of it. Luckily they didn't tear the original tiles out of the bathroom. They painted it baby blue, added a cheesy vanity with an acrylic sink (I HATE HATE HATE acrylic sinks) and a typical Lowe's light fixture. I expect to be able to re-deco-ify it soon.
And that's not to bash Lowe's. It's a great store, very customer oriented, etc., etc. But they're behind the retro renovation curve, I have to say.
They essentially did the same with the kitchen, with a horrible acrylic sink that LOVES to get stained at the drop of a hat. It will all be fixed, eventually.
 
Messages
10,879
Location
Portage, Wis.
lol Pam is something special!

It is the TRAGEDY OF MY LIFE that Pam Keuber is already married. ;)

I completely agree with you, there. Cheaply ostentatious is definitely the perfect term. With even minor inspection, a lot of the modern 'luxury' items appear to be poor quality.

Its funny you say that. When we were home shopping about 5-6 years ago it was funny that my wife and really disliked many of the "luxury" designs in some houses, especially the big bathrooms that are the size of two bedrooms in new homes because they all look "cheaply ostentatious" Lowe's models.

I've never been in a Lowe's. We have Menard's around here, which I'm sure is none too different, I just used them as an example, since I figured everyone would know the name. Good to hear they're a good store. I do hope all of these places start carrying more to suit the retro-renovators, as the style seems to be really catching on!

I've seen photos of your apartment on here, and it's lovely. You've done a great job with it, and it's wonderful to hear you're going to go even further.

And that's not to bash Lowe's. It's a great store, very customer oriented, etc., etc. But they're behind the retro renovation curve, I have to say.
They essentially did the same with the kitchen, with a horrible acrylic sink that LOVES to get stained at the drop of a hat. It will all be fixed, eventually.
 
Messages
10,042
Location
My mother's basement
My mantra regarding home remodeling/restoration and furnishing is, essentially, don't fight what you have.

In other words, a '50s-vintage suburban ranch will never be a deco masterpiece, and trying to make it into one is worse than a waste of money. This is not to say that maintaining period and stylistic consistency and "correctness" is necessary or even desirable (unless you really want to live in a museum), but only that the various elements not be in conflict. Very ornate traditional Persian rugs, for instance, can look great in a room otherwise filled with spare, unadorned, modernist furniture.

Perhaps the best-known exemplar is the Ray & Charles Eames residence in Pacific Palisades, a quite plain building (it's basically a steel-frame box) with walls mostly of glass. The structure, designed by Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen, is certainly on the shortlist for the Quintessential American Modernist Movement House. In the years the Eameses lived there they filled the place with books and art and artifacts from their travels hither and yon, and much of that stuff could hardly be considered "modern." Indeed, a goodly share of it is folk art and other "primitive" pieces.

But I'm with y'all -- it pains me to see people tear out what are often the best (and most difficult to recreate) elements of a house because they're "dated." This sin against All That is Good and Right is most often committed in kitchens and bathrooms. I accept that in many cases a remodeling is in order, as previous occupants allowed leaking plumbing to go uncorrected for years, which left the floor and/or wall framing rotted in places. But man, when I see people dump a nice porcelain on cast iron bathtub for a new plastic job (which can cost a whole lotta scratch, as I've ascertained from my strolls through the plumbing department at the local Blowe's), I can't help but wonder just what has taken possession of these people.
 
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olive bleu

One Too Many
Messages
1,667
Location
Nova Scotia
cool,

I would have taken the place for the pink bathroom, too. When I was looking for apartments 2 years ago, I saw an ad for one with pink tiles in the bathroom, plus original pink sink and tub. Alas, it was only a 1 bedroom, so I would have had to kick my son out.( mind you, he'd probably prefer that over living in a place with a pink bathroom)

The knick-knack shelf dividing the kitchen / living room stirs up mixed emotions. My mother used to have one and one of my chores on Saturdays was to dust all her knick knacks. Which was not my favourite job due to dust allergies and profound clumsiness :p
 

Maj.Nick Danger

I'll Lock Up
Messages
4,469
Location
Behind the 8 ball,..
My mantra regarding home remodeling/restoration and furnishing is, essentially, don't fight what you have.
Yes, it's very much like those that continually try to remodel themselves via plastic surgery,...extreme procedures yield extreme results. :eeek:
Best to do the required research and use some discernment when trying to restore a house from a specific era. I think Lowe's and such places is just the instant gratification approach to home remodeling.
Lots of salvaged stuff can still be had. http://www.ecobuildingbargains.org/hot-items/architectural-salvage-and-vintage/
 

vitanola

I'll Lock Up
Messages
4,254
Location
Gopher Prairie, MI
Last year I tore the original 1961 bathroom out of my parent's home, as it became necessary to convert the space into one which was wheelchair accessible, to allow my mother to stay in the house. When we were making the design choices, I repeatedly proposed 1961 finishes, materials and designs, but my father insisted something more trendy, for a real estate agent that he had consulted regarding the eventual sale of the house insisted that "trendy" would improve the eventual sale prospects of the house.

I unfortunately had to tear the old room out down to the studs, for the floor tile was glued with organic mastic down to plywood, and the wall tiles were applied over common plasterboard, and the inevitable water penetration into the structure causednthe growth of a considerable amount of black mold and the decay of some structural members.

Remember that the later 1940's were really the "last hurrah" for certain traditional construction practices, such as applying tile over cement stucco on galvanized expanded metal lath, and setting floor tile into 3" of concrete. When the new materials and procedures were introduced they were occasionally used very badly indeed. This was particularly noticeable between the late 1950's and the late 1970's.
 
Messages
10,042
Location
My mother's basement
Last year I tore the original 1961 bathroom out of my parent's home, as it became necessary to convert the space into one which was wheelchair accessible, to allow my mother to stay in the house. When we were making the design choices, I repeatedly proposed 1961 finishes, materials and designs, but my father insisted something more trendy, for a real estate agent that he had consulted regarding the eventual sale of the house insisted that "trendy" would improve the eventual sale prospects of the house. ...

The Old Man was probably right, much as I'd rather that not be so.

I wonder, though, if people rely too much on the opinions of alleged "experts" in forming their own preferences. If enough real estate agents opine that this or that "update" increases resale value it might become so for that reason alone, right? Enough of them recommend that sellers make these "improvements" and then recommend increased asking prices because of them and so the "comparables," the recent sales of similar houses on which subsequent asking prices are based, also increase. A self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts, eh?
 
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Messages
10,042
Location
My mother's basement
Yes, it's very much like those that continually try to remodel themselves via plastic surgery,...extreme procedures yield extreme results. :eeek:
Best to do the required research and use some discernment when trying to restore a house from a specific era. I think Lowe's and such places is just the instant gratification approach to home remodeling.
Lots of salvaged stuff can still be had. http://www.ecobuildingbargains.org/hot-items/architectural-salvage-and-vintage/

One trend I've welcomed is the architectural salvage boomlet. There are now several for-profit and not-for-profit places in this region that sell mostly salvaged building materials. They're like thrift stores, but instead of clothing and housewares it's doors and flooring and plumbing fixtures, etc.

If a person just has to tear out all of his or her kitchen fixtures, or if a building will be demolished anyway, at least it isn't all going into landfills. I make a point of stopping into such places just to see what I might be able to incorporate into this house. I've long been on the prowl for a front door to replace this steel thing that was put in shortly before we bought this dump. It'll find its way to me sooner or later.
 

LizzieMaine

Bartender
Messages
31,500
Location
Where The Tourists Meet The Sea
The Old Man was probably right, much as I'd rather that not be so.

I wonder, though, if people rely too much on the opinions of alleged "experts" in forming their own preferences. If enough real estate agents opine that this or that "update" increases resale value it might become so for that reason alone, right? Enough of them recommend that sellers make these "improvements" and then recommend increased asking prices because of them and so the "comparables," the recent sales of similar houses on which subsequent asking prices are based, also increase. A self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts, eh?

The inevitable result of a world where houses are not "homes" at all, but simply "investments" to be turned over for profit. Feh.
 
Messages
10,042
Location
My mother's basement
The inevitable result of a world where houses are not "homes" at all, but simply "investments" to be turned over for profit. Feh.

No argument out of me on that account.

In Seattle there's a city Department of Neighborhoods, a central mission of which is "community building."

It's phony as Lance Armstrong.

I got nothing against having mechanisms by which citizen input into parks projects and traffic-calming efforts and such is gathered. Those are basic city government functions, and residents ought to have some say, other than voting the bastards out of office, into how that "on the street where you live" stuff comes about.

But having those citizens seeking (and competing for) city funding and its imprimatur for "community" events and such is a sure sign that authentic "community" is lacking. But that's no surprise, really, in a city with so many newcomers and so few children per capita.

Real community is built and sustained by people who forgo career advancement for the sake of providing their kids with stable childhoods, who stick around as a counter to the factors that put districts in decline, who mow their lawns and pick up the litter that the slobs passing through toss out their car windows, who improve their home because it makes it, and their neighborhood, a better place to live, and not because they expect it to pay off when they "flip" the house.
 
Messages
10,879
Location
Portage, Wis.
We flip houses, and we always retain as much of the original charm of the homes, as possible. Some complain about things being 'dated' but luckily, with most homes around here being prewar, the old fashioned woodwork and such is now seen as an attribute, more than anything.

The saddest thing is that a lot of times, we sell these houses, and the new owners let them go to Hell, after we've brought them back from the dead.
 
Messages
10,042
Location
My mother's basement
Yeah, some people aren't well-suited for homeownership. Renting really is a better choice for many.

There's a fellow who owns a slew of rental houses around here who takes such lousy care of his properties that I wish he would flip them. He owns houses on either side of mine, and while they aren't out-and-out eyesores, both have been in need of new roofs for at least a few years, and both have serious structural damage as a result. He put one of the houses on the market a few months back (and then acted surprised that his longtime renters -- people I befriended -- moved out), but he was asking way too much for it, especially considering that it is in need of tens of thousands of dollars worth of work before it would qualify for conventional financing. So now he has new renters.

I heard a rumor that the property owner has serious health problems. Lord forgive me for what I'm thinking.
 
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Messages
10,879
Location
Portage, Wis.
I remember when my parents sold our farm. We bought it in very rough shape, everyone said to bulldoze it, and the outbuildings. The bathroom was falling into the basement, the roof was still the original cedar, and was about half-gone. It had been used for a rental and clearly had not been kept up.

We remodeled it, keeping everything original intact, that we could, and the modern stuff was tastefully traditional. We lived there for years, and we were known for having one of the nicest farms in the township. Everyone that said that it should be torn down, was now saying they wished they'd have bought it.

Unfortunately, the people we sold it to were young city folk, out to set the world on fire, but didn't know how to light a match. They divided the house up into makeshift apartments for them and their friends, gutted the barn, with plans to make it into an apartment building, with no approval from the township. (The barn was zoned commercial, my dad started his business there.) When the township found out, they put a stop to it, so the barn just sat, gutted.

Then another guy bought it, who owns it now, and when I'm back in town, I drive past. Everything's overgrown, there's junk cars everywhere, and the place just looks like a mess. It's a shame.
 
Messages
10,042
Location
My mother's basement
I'm not necessarily opposed to "updates," because, as AET alluded, some stuff that wasn't around when the structures were built still works within them quite well. Colored glass wall tiles spring to mind, for '50s-vintage ranch houses, for instance. I don't believe that sort of tile came into common use until fairly recently (there's a band of it in our otherwise ceramic-tiled shower stall, which is original to the 1993-built house), but I've seen numerous recent remo's on '50s- and '60s-vintage houses where it was used quite effectively in bathrooms and on kitchen backsplashes.

So, while it wasn't around 50 or 60 years ago (not that I've seen, anyway), it looks like it should (or at least could) have been.
 
Messages
10,879
Location
Portage, Wis.
I think that's exactly they kind of thing they're referring to when you see restored homes for sale advertised as having 'tasteful updates.'

So, while it wasn't around 50 or 60 years ago (not that I've seen, anyway), it looks like it should (or at least could) have been.
 

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