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October 23, 2013

Let’s Play Good Reno-Bad Reno with BH&G Improvement Ideas – 1974

by Andrea

We’re taking a trip back to the spring/summer of 1974 with Better Homes and Gardens Improvement Ideas today.



This magazine is basically all about ways to renovate – some ideas good, some ideas, definitely not!  First off, let’s take a look at the good, shall we?



Here’s the before.  This house is two bedroom, one bath, and although they don’t give a total square footage for it, it looks like it probably would have felt quite small and choppy inside.



Here’s the after.  The major changes that were made were bringing the front wall out 5 feet and vaulting the ceiling.  Why I like this reno – it was done in a style that I feel is quite classic and holds up over time; and it was not turned into some gargantuan behemoth, but instead renoed in a manner to make it feel bigger and more open.  Let’s take a look inside, shall we?



So much wood!  I love it.  The vaulted ceilings definitely make it look huge inside, even though it’s really not.



The stairway is original, but I love the paneling they added.



This is the foyer – again the high ceilings make it seem huge, along with all of the windows.



This is a built-in bar that was added to the living room – how cool is that?



The only part of this reno that I am not a huge fan of is the type of brick they used on the fireplace.  It’s the only part that screams 70’s to me and that I am not a huge fan of.  Other than that the living room is great, though!

This was a pretty major reno, but I think they added a lot to the functionality of the house, and was well done in a style that still looks great today.  However, now we move on to the bad …



This was the before, which the magazine states was a “pacesetter 50 years ago”.  I see a gorgeous Art Deco style house – I love the angular lines and flat roof.



This is the after, and readers, I must tell ya, it makes me weep on the inside.  According the magazine, the owners wanted to “soften it’s hard, angular lines” (which is what made it awesome, in my opinion!), and decided to cover it in bricks and shakes.  The house now totally screams out 70’s, and not in a good way!

What’s your thoughts on these renos?  Do you think they were a good idea or a bad idea?

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17 Responses to Let’s Play Good Reno-Bad Reno with BH&G Improvement Ideas – 1974

  1. Nathalie Reply

    October 23, 2013 at 2:49 am

    how my, how they have ruined that nice art deco house!

    • Andrea Reply

      October 23, 2013 at 9:22 am

      They sure did, Nathalie! 🙁

  2. Queen of Fifty Cents Reply

    October 23, 2013 at 9:24 am

    Hard to believe that first house is the same one! If you hadn’t said they brought out the front wall I’d have thought they’d really torn the original down. Of course I love the remake. Second one is definitely a pity but I can see how it happened. Those mansard roofs were quite trendy in the Sixties; we’ve got a few in my midcentury neighborhood.

    Somewhere in my collection I have a Sunset remodeling book from I believe the Fifties. In it is a Greene & Greene house (the architects who designed the Gamble House in Pasadena) that was remodeled from a gorgeous Arts & Crafts house to a contemporary. If I’m remembering right they even took off the upper story. Sheesh!

    • Andrea Reply

      October 23, 2013 at 2:17 pm

      Yikes! It sounds like that Arts and Crafts house remodel is definitely another one that would have me weeping. And why on earth would you ever tear off a second story??

  3. Ann Reply

    October 23, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    Technically, I think it is “International Moderne.” (See here, for example: https://www.dartington.org/property-management/warren-house-lane)

    Regardless, it is a bad reno – or maybe not all that bad, because I think it would be reasonably easy to un-do (they kept the garage door and windows). The angles are not similar in the before and after pictures, but I think all you would really need to do is rebuild the front porch.

    • Andrea Reply

      October 23, 2013 at 2:21 pm

      You are right, Ann the “Bad Reno” house was of the International Moderne style – I tend to lump it in my head with Art Deco since they are from around the same time period. It would be somewhat easy to undo, but I would fear getting rid of all of that brick, ugh!

  4. Eartha Kitsch Reply

    October 23, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    Hmm…I love the first house in every way, even the brick. The second house? I really love the “before” but love the “after” less. That said, if I saw the “after” without ever knowing what was there before, I’m sure I’d buy it and be excited about it because we don’t have houses like that here at all.

    • Andrea Reply

      October 23, 2013 at 2:24 pm

      That’s funny, Eartha – there are tons of houses of that style around these parts. There were a lot of neighborhoods that went up in the 70’s, and you definitely see a lot of that style. Mind you, we don’t have the selection of 60’s ranches that you all seem to have in the US!

      • Eartha Kitsch Reply

        October 23, 2013 at 3:46 pm

        Are you in the Midwest? Whenever I go home with my husband to Kansas, we walk through neighborhoods with the large majority of the houses being those houses covered with the cedar shakes. They’re so foreign and exotic to me and he’s all “Gah! Seriously? You didn’t have these growing up?” 🙂 He kind of sort of hates them.

      • Eartha Kitsch Reply

        October 23, 2013 at 3:47 pm

        Wait…how did I miss that you’re from Canada until now? I’m so out of it sometimes. 🙂

        • Andrea Reply

          October 24, 2013 at 9:44 am

          LOL! Well you weren’t totally off, I am in kinda midwestern Canada, I am in Central Alberta. So you weren’t totally far off 😉

  5. tammyCA Reply

    October 23, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    The shake roof/brick reno looks exactly like the ones that are in the Midwest (and, there are even some around here in the West)..but, I’ve always found them, dare I say, ugly…until I see the even uglier gray stucco huge blocky Monstrocities they throw up around here, turning a small charming house into a hideous supersized eyesore…or a grassy lot into 15 crammed together greige 3 story blocks (which makes me believe they are only housing illegal activities, sweat shops and stuff), so now I’ve bumped them up a level to “funky retro ’70s” style.
    But, even if I’m not a big fan of the blocky original, I don’t think I’d have changed it to the shake/brick…I have a hard time with changing things “too much” from their original integrity…it’s the historian in me. I like seeing architectural history/design where you can tell thought and care went into it.
    I guess I am too vocal about this…but, the houses here are becoming more and more eyesores…people don’t care.

    (My fireplace is used brick and it is from 1954, so it’s been around for a long time..I do love it.)

    • Andrea Reply

      October 23, 2013 at 2:28 pm

      I am with you Tammy – my husband can attest to my fondness for things being “period correct”, LOL. There is a fair amount of that shake roof/brick style here as well, although most of them were put up that way in the 70’s and not a remodel. I think it’s a bit of bias on my part because that style has never been my fave, but if you are a fan of a funky 70’s style, I can see how it would have some appeal!

  6. Sara In AZ Reply

    October 23, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    Oh wow, I LOVE what they did with that first house….all that wood and windows – just beautiful!

    The second house I totally prefer the original look. We have 70s houses here that look just like the “after” and I agree – I don’t think it’s ever a style I would be drawn to.

    • Andrea Reply

      October 23, 2013 at 2:29 pm

      That was definitely a popular style in the 70’s, and by the sounds of things it was popular all over the place. It also sounds like it doesn’t appeal to most of us, either, heh.

  7. RangerSmith Reply

    October 23, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    Wow, that Mansard roof on house number two is really unfortunate. Granted, Art Deco was underappreciated and not in vogue during the 60’s and 70’s but to go to all that expense and effort of remodeling and to have that as the end result is disappointing. As Tammy mentioned, the original integrity of a house is usually best adhered to.

    • Andrea Reply

      October 23, 2013 at 2:31 pm

      I agree completely, RangerSmith!

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