Create a Fabulous Vintage Home in a Post-Mad Men Era

Renovating in a vintage style may seem intimidating, but take comfort in knowing you are covering ground that is already tested, tried, and true.

Updated on June 06, 2017 0:06 am


Article originally published in Edited and posted with permission.

Almost as soon as it aired, Mad Men fuelled a red-hot madness for vintage-anything. The show‘s eight-year run dropped several home décor styles upon us, though not all deserve to be remembered and maintained.

Knock Down a Wall
For centuries, kitchens were kept separate from living quarters because theory dictated it was more prudent to keep this smoke-filled “workshop” away from cleaner living areas. It was thought that a woman‘s place was in the kitchen.

Many suburban homes were designed around the open floor plan. Kitchen, dining rooms, and living areas all flowed together when walls were removed.

Load-bearing interior walls carry the weight of floors or the roof above. They can be removed only when replaced by load-carrying beams, a difficult project that requires the intercession of a contractor and structural engineer.

But few homeowners are aware that many interior walls are non-load-bearing and thus can be removed. Ample information is available online for methods that help you detect which walls carry weight and which do not. For instance, when a wall runs parallel to the joists above, it is generally not load-bearing.

Expose Those Beams
Modernists loved to show the underlying structure of buildings. The king of all Modernists, architect Mies van der Rohe, designed his famed Lakeshore Drive Chicago apartments to expose parts of the steel beam structure.

Exposed interior wood beams play off that desire for structural honesty. It is inadvisable to peel back your ceiling drywall to expose beams, as you will not achieve the desired effect. Structural beams originally meant to be hidden should stay hidden.

Instead, faux ceiling beams made of high-density polyurethane look incredibly like real wood, since they are cast from moulds created from real wood. Manufacturers have improved the polyurethane mix so it perfectly duplicates the wood‘s exact colours.

Bring on the Wood Paneling
You can purchase and self-install paneling veneered in exotic hardwoods such as wenge, mahogany, zebrawood, or teak. These panels come in sizes that are easy to handle, ranging from two by four feet to three by six feet. With so-called invisible fasteners, they easily attach edge-to-edge. Veneer-wrapped edges mean you do not have to hide the edges as you must with the cheap chipboard variety.

“Bring the outside in” has been the goal of many architects over the years, and the 1960s saw this in full force when natural stonework began to enter the home. Partially this is the influence of the desert, a place where flagstone is found in abundance.

Building with real stone is tough and is best left in the hands of stone masons. But an acceptable substitute called “manufactured veneer stone” (or even more euphemistically, “cultured stone”) is a mixture of Portland cement, expanded aggregate, and binding resins. Thirty percent lighter than real stone and with pieces designed to interlock, it is easy work for a do-it-yourselfer to veneer a fireplace, den or living room wall, or home exterior.

Period Windows
Windows are a big-ticket item, so you should not change them out solely to achieve a Modern style. But if you are already in need of new windows, you might be pleased to know that window manufacturers have wised up to the fact that consumer-grade windows should architecturally match the home.

Furniture and Colour That Make the Room
Low-and-flat is the order of the day with any Modern-style sofa. Sofas in Don and Megan Draper‘s apartment are so low you could almost miss them as you scan the room.

Be sure to go bold with colours, too. By the mid 1960s, pastels were passé, a sickening reminder of too-cheery Eisenhower America.

Homes were dominated by colours that were rich, vibrant, and earthy. Paint manufacturer Sherwin-Williams says “avocado green, burnt orange, cherry red, sage or copper” are the little “pops” that show against Mad Men‘s restrained backdrops of black, white, or smoky grey. 7 The best thing about designing with colour is that most paint retailers can mix and match any colour you show them.

Get Started
Renovating in a vintage style may seem intimidating, but take comfort in knowing you are covering ground that is already tested, tried, and true.

Mad Men-style remodelling means emphasising:
* Good, solid shapes, such as rectangles and squares
* Underlying structural elements
* Bold colours
* Sleek, sophisticated wood and rugged stone

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