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January 7, 2011

Inappropriate Updating Isn’t A New Thing–1950’s Homes Given The 1970’s Treatment

By RetroRuth

So, I know on this blog we post a lot of horrible “flips” and demos of MCM houses, and then all huddle together and cry about it. *Sniff*

And it truly is a sad, sad thing. But in no way is the “updating and demo” attitude of current homeowners a new trend. Nope.  Probably from the time that domestic arts turned from “essential” to “fashionable” everyone at one time or another looked at the the walls of their home and thought, “You know, that wall should really be a little MORE dirt brown.”

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And speaking of dirt, I present to you Sunset Ideas for Landscaping, which was published in 1972 and includes, in a few pages, some 1940’s and 1950’s homes given 1970’s curb appeal “makeovers’”.

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#1 Before – This traditional cape cod.  Cute, right?

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#1 After – Not anymore!  Now it is part of the scary forest in Alice and Wonderland.

That is the ENTRANCE.  You can’t even see the door anymore!


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#2 Before – Okay maybe not the height of 1970’s decorating, but you could see the front door.  And the fireplace is cute.

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#2 After – Wow. I don’t even….wow. And does anyone else thing that bush in the left corner looks like some kind of bird. A quail maybe?

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#3 Before – The little doorway here is pretty cute, if you ask me.  And doorways often open straight into the living room.

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#3 After – Wait…where did the house go? Are you guys magicians? Are you?

Seriously guys, where is the house?

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#4 Before & After – Ohhhhhhkay.

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#5 Before – 1950’s Split-Level

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#5 After – I….you know, this isn’t terrible, but is sure is big and different from the original outside of the home.  I think if they just would have restrained themselves to the front deck, it would have been nice.

But you can’t argue with that station wagon. As long as it doesn’t get crushed by the “outdoor room”.

What do you guys think?  Overdone or not?

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8 Responses to Inappropriate Updating Isn’t A New Thing–1950’s Homes Given The 1970’s Treatment

  1. jafi Reply

    January 7, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    I have a number of these bizarre type remodels in my neighborhood – most often they stuck a big sun room on the front or back of the basic 1100 sq. ft 1 car garage ranch – that ugly 70’s “passive solar” round top type of sun room that never worked as advertised and is all streaky from decades of condensation. Thankfully, none of the 2 story Cape Cod style houses in my late 50’s to early 60’s era houses have had the sort of treatment pictured.

    Mostly agree on the last one – the big end deck would probably work if they hadn’t tried to be so “modern” and huge with it.

  2. Annie B. Reply

    January 7, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    Oh, Ruth. This is sadly hysterical. Weren’t the ’70’s the days of overwrought landscaping!

    They were also the days of the indoor jungle; i.e., spider (airplane) plants, scheffleras, ficus trees, the pothos in the macrame hanging planter…. “Plant Person” entered the lexicon back then.

  3. Eartha Kitsch Reply

    January 7, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    I can’t even fathom that #1 is the same house! I do have to admit to liking #5 both before and after. Though, I am kind of crazy about the mountain cottage look.

  4. RetroRuth Reply

    January 7, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    jafi – I know exactly what you mean about the passive solar sunrooms. I have seen plenty of those eyesores!

    Annie – I think sadly hysterical is right. And the indoor jungle vibe is totally present in the book, everything looks like a giant, overgrown conservatory.

    Eartha – #5 is so close!

  5. Lorie B. Reply

    January 7, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    Ewwwww….I cannot think of another word. When will people learn that less is more when it comes to landscaping? That is one of my MAJOR pet peeves. If I wanted to see jungle, I would travel to the Amazon.

  6. Queen of Fifty Cents Reply

    January 7, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    Reminds me of the back-page feature that This Old House used to run called Remuddling. Horrible examples of house ‘fix ups.’ The nice thing about landscaping is it can usually be torn out and replanted, but I would call these house remodels.

    I would very much like that station wagon to park in the carport of our retirement house though.

  7. Sara in AZ Reply

    January 7, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    Wow, what happened to the whole front on #1??? Crazy!!!

    And #3 Whaaaaaaaa???????? 😉

  8. Miri Reply

    January 8, 2011 at 8:18 am

    LOL!Still can’t get “more awful” than the 1970s!

    Wish I’d had than picture of the brick walk a few months ago though…they have no idea what a brick walk means here and what I got,well, it just isn’t quite right…)

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