Before & After: A 1950s House Gets A Faithful but Modern Update

Before & After, 1950s House, via Design*Sponge

Before & After, 1950s House, via Design*Sponge

The midcentury suburban home, at least until recently, has not been given the reverence it mightily deserves. Oftentimes seen as too “new,” too common, or too kitsch for historic consideration, these houses are especially vulnerable to the pitfalls of careless, quick home renovations. When Sarah Brown began her house hunt, she found that—much to her dismay—many of the homes had suffered such fates. “We looked at many houses that had already been ‘flipped’ poorly,” she says, “all the original details removed, hard wood ripped up and replaced with laminate, basically, all the charm gone.” Luckily, after a few wrong turns, Sarah stumbled upon a true gem—a midcentury home that was still relatively intact. “When we toured this house it instantly reminded me of my grandparents’ house (which I had wanted to buy but was unable to at the time it was for sale). It was not so much the layout, because our house has what I think is a rather unique 1950s layout, but more the way it was meticulously organized, cared for and decorated (my grandma also loved pink).  My grandmother had left me money for a down payment and after meeting the original owner it just felt right.” Although Sarah had big plans for the home (updating the sorely outdated kitchen was a must!), she wanted her renovation to be respectful to the home’s original ethos. With some choice furnishings, a few minor additions, and some fresh coats of paint, she pulled it off. The end result is at once strikingly contemporary, but still in harmony with the home’s formal elements and architecture. Check out all the photos, plus Sarah’s design notes and sources after the jump! —Max

Before & After, 1950s House, via Design*Sponge

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Before & After, 1950s House, via Design*Sponge

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“My inspiration was really bringing a lot of the house back to its original state while modernizing certain aspects, like the kitchen,” Sarah writes. “This house was built by a builder for himself after building a number of other houses in the neighborhood. He seemed to have put a lot of special details into crafting his own home. Removing carpet, wallpaper and paint really showcased this—especially the amazing vaulted ceiling. Other than that, my inspiration was making do with our budget constraints and working towards having a home that could finally showcase all my vintage treasures. While I knew by boyfriend was handy (we had done a smaller renovation on our first condo) I had no idea he was capable of the work he did. I know he wanted to strangle me many times. I’m really proud of him and us for not killing each other.”

 

Before & After, 1950s House, via Design*Sponge

Before & After, 1950s House, via Design*Sponge Before & After, 1950s House, via Design*Sponge Before & After, 1950s House, via Design*Sponge Before & After, 1950s House, via Design*Sponge Before & After, 1950s House, via Design*Sponge Before & After, 1950s House, via Design*Sponge

MATERIALS & SOURCES

-The couch was found on eBay
-The rugs, (12) liquor cabinet, and curtains are from IKEA.
-The side table is from EQ3
-In terms of furniture and artwork, most of it is either from my family, estate sales or flea markets. The coffee table was from an estate sale, the luggage cart being used as table was left by the former owner, the dresser being used as a buffet was my grandmother’s, the record player and speaker were my father’s and the dining table was my sister’s vintage find.
-The working bingo sign and the light fixture in the kitchen I bought at the Brimfield Antique Show and made my boyfriend haul back with us. 
-The large, abstract painting was something we made using leftover house paint.
-My pride and joy – the light fixture in the living room was purchased at Design Republic
-The dining room light fixture is from Morba
-The entire kitchen is IKEA with the exception of the open shelves from Home Depot
-The counter tops are quartz
-Paint: the black feature wall is Sico “Grand Piano” and the rest is Behr “Nova White”

Before & After, 1950s House, via Design*Sponge

  1. Amy says:

    Really enjoyed reading this. My husband and I bought a 1950s house in Edinburgh, Scotland last summer and have just started rennovating with our savings. My work have sent me to India for 2 months whilst my husband starts the kitchen – the biggest project along with the bathroom of course! Although the homes in Scotland are probably a little smaller I can see similiarities and I love vintage too! Maybe we should share our story too? Inspiring p.s. love the monochrome scheme….

  2. rosie willford says:

    We just purchased a 1952 home. With almost all the original setting. Hard wood floors, arched ceilings and small kitchen. Oh and the original furnace, it looks like a space ship but still works lol
    We have our work cut out, but you have inspired me. With all your comments and lovely reno’s.
    I would love to send you some pic’s as we have not started the reno’s yet. We move in on xmas eve, I know, I know lol

    rosie,

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