Tuesday, November 16

Retro 70's Rescue, Part 1

I am a proud product of the free-range 70's. But I am realistic and I realize that many ugly things were created in that decade. For example:

Yes, we still have authentic green shag carpeting in our house. It is a fascinating story ;-) and I will share it with you right now.

We are living in the house my husband grew up in, built in the early 70's. It is a one-level ranch style home, pretty standard in this area.  The house was a modern marvel at the time as his parents were doing well with their building business and had saved up a tidy sum. It had an alarm system, vacuum system, intercom system, fire alarm system, antique glass in many of the windows and cabinets, expensive dark wood paneling in the den, double-ovens, built-ins galore, 2.5 baths, solid interior doors, huge rooms and the list goes on. They were builders and had the best of the best in this house.  And did I mention they paid for it with cash?  They were of the generation that pinched every penny, saved, and paid things off in full. 

Along with all of the amazing details I mentioned above, they also had the finest interior designer that suggested putting in that amazing soft and lush green shag carpeting and flocked wallpaper. Ironically both of these iconic 70's design elements are back in style, but not necessarily in green.  Oh, our oven is the original oven and is green also.  It matches the harvest gold laminate in the kitchen.  ;-)

My husband's aunt had shag carpeting all over her house including the kitchen, and I have been entertained with stories of how she had this special rake that she used to keep it in fine form.  I am getting grossed out just thinking about this...

Now, shag carpeting is soft, lush, and apparently lasts forever. Back in the early 90's my parent's-in-law decided to upgrade their carpets to the best light beige ones, but my father-in-law said the two front rooms (living and dining) were never used so the carpet was pristine and should be left as is. My mother-in-law bit her tongue to keep quiet, happy that she had convinced him to make any changes at all.  My father-in-law was one of the nicest men I had ever met, but he was not fond of changes in his home.  He had things built to last, so why change them out on a  whim?  They had their 1970's lavalamp out until it was back in style...  And no, that is not a joke!

The reason no one used those front shagalicious rooms? Have you ever entertained guests for dinner on a deep shag carpet? I won't go into any details, but things get lost there, never to be found. Once I found a large dried-up tree frog deep in the shag in the dining room. It thought it was lost in the forest...

So we moved here a few years ago and didn't have the money to do any real renovations on the inside. So day after day I have had to stare at that shag carpeting, worrying about what toy or wild animal was lost in its deep lush depths. I almost lost Imp one day.  OK, that was a joke.  Needless to say we have not hosted any dinner parties in our dining room. 

Flash forward to a few weeks ago. We decided to have Thanksgiving for the first time at our house for both of our families.  Yes, I am crazy.  I went into the front rooms, pictured turkey and dressing hiding in the deep depths of green,  and realized I had finally had enough.  We ran to Lowe's and picked out a nice laminate flooring which my dear husband is installing, frantically before Thanksgiving.  No shag or new camera?  Yes, it was a hard decision...

Here is a photo of my hero and highschool sweetheart/husband.   He can do anything, not because he is necessarily talented (well, he is that too!), but because he is the most stubborn man I have ever met. There is no project that will beat him, and he is also a perfectionist.  Unlike me.  I will be working away at a project and see something shiny and get distracted...

Luckily he has his two little workers to help.  Oh, did I mention we also have some really cool vintage lamps?  Any takers?

The last days I could barely breathe due to the haze of sawdust in the air.  And the noise. 

So you might wonder where I fall in to the picture. The rooms have not been painted since the carpeting was installed (my mother-in-law is the cleanest person I have ever met, and the walls were still pristine if a bit dried out), so that is my job. Yes, I am the painter of the family.  Lucky me. 

I will continue my Retro 70's Rescue in my next post.  Stay tuned if you want to hear my flocked wallpaper dilemma.  To paint, pull down, or savor for its authenticity?


  1. WoW! All this so close to Thanksgiving. Well good luck and o by the way pulling wallpaper well for the lack of a better word SUCKS!
    Hope you have an amazing Thanksgiving in your "new" dinning room:)

  2. There's no time better than RIGHT before a big family holiday to do major upgrades. I had a flash back to my childhood home when I saw that carpet.

    Good luck with the install and hope your Thanksgiving meal is fantastic!

  3. This sounds like a very ambitious project! Good luck with it- and I look forward to seeing the "after" pictures!

  4. I'm a Realtor.They don't build them like they used and they don't decorate them like they used to (thank goodness).Get rid of the flocked wallpaper look but be prepared, it is really a bear to take down(and same if you have foil wallpaper too).I have seen it painted over but then it looks embossed (and you have to really make sure to cover all the flocking) and will be twice as hard to remove if you change your mind.I say bite the bullet-just remove it now and update the look-it will look better with the new floors also.

  5. Michelle, like you say, removing it will be a PITA! I removed some 60's foil wallpaper from my previous house and ended up with major drywall repair. Luckily my husband is a pro at drywall since he used to do it summers. But that old stuff is horrid to remove!

    I have to confess I kind of like it... I need to decide what to do.

  6. I could write this very post.

    We replaced the carpet in our living room and hall this summer.

    I painted the walls. Half of them anyway. They are covered half-way up with rough-hewn panelling.

    This panelling was chosen - I kid you not - BECAUSE the kids (my husband and his younger brother) would get splinters if they rubbed them with their hands. Apparently the horror of dirty walls was prevented with the occasional booboo. (This was clearly not a problem in the bathroom vanity area which was covered with 30 years PLUS of hairspray and aerosol deodorant, etc.

    Intercom? In each bedroom and a box approximately 12" h x 24" w on the kitchen wall and a 12"x12" metal speaker box thing on the back porch.

    Overhead lighting? Kitchen and bathtrooms and closets and basement rooms only.

    I feel your pain!

  7. Don't paint the wallpaper. It will begin to peel around the edges just to spite you. Then you will be unable to get the wallpaper off because you have sealed it with the paint and you will have to scrape it off inch by inch instead of steam it and pull off whole sheets.
    Trust me on this. Do not paint AND do not begin to remove wallpaper this close to turkey day - are you crazy?
    Okay - I am freaked out now - the word verification was "dolater" - now really how spooky is that? So just do it later. Or who knows what will happen...jes sayin....

  8. We live in a '70s house, too, and it's taken us 15 years to rid ourselves of all the flocked and foil paper, cheap colonial-style light fixtures, and ugly carpet. No deep shag, but the upstairs was a blindingly bright gold/orange and the downstairs a brown shaggy carpet with big gold and orange flowers. And that's not even mentioning the Harvest Gold appliances in the kitchen :).

    Slowly we've remodeled as time and money permitted. Two weeks ago my husband laid wood flooring down, too, and it looks awesome! You will love it, it makes a HUGE difference.

    BTW, I also got to do the painting!

  9. This post made me smile. My parents still have the shag carpet that is IDENTICAL to your picture.... and the heirloom wallpaper, still hangs proudly in the main bathroom in the same home. It's good to know there is more than one house with these items!

    Hope it continues to go well!

  10. OMG! I can't believe you're cutting it that close, your stress levels must be skyrocketing. It will be great to have your new, more modern dining room though :)

    On a side note, I would so take those lamps! Vintage pin-up shoots coming after the new year :)

  11. Ha ha!! My hubs and I bought a "vintage" 60's house about 10 years ago. There was orange shag carpet in one of the bedrooms. It sat for several years until we finally removed it and refinished the gorgeous underlying hardwood flooring. We also tackled the job of removing the black floral (yes black) wallpaper from the bathroom. We're still holding out on the vintage kitchen. I kind of like my little stainless steel Real Host oven ;-)

  12. Ha!!! Can you send him over to my house next? I also have many retro elements in my house.
    Good luck with the finishing!

  13. This totally brought back memories of the shag carpeting I grew up with, ours was olive green, browns and some yellowish color(darker) so we were multi colored.....LOL

  14. I'm so glad that your carpet pad came up cleanly! We're getting MIL house ready for sale and pulled up the shag (teal and orange -different rooms) to find beautiful hardwood floors. The problem was the carpet pad melded to it so it was a ton of work to get it looking good again. Left the Orange shag on the basement stairs just so there would be a conversation piece. Good luck!
    (And thanks for all your hard work too--you're a big help to this newbie digi scrapper)

  15. amazing carpet! id love to have that in my home so retro its not funny.

  16. The house looks to have really good bones. Sounds like a great snag! Having ten kids myself I think carpet is icky no matter what the era. But before you toss those appliances check ebay and other websites! Retro renovators are often desperate to locate original appliances and countertops.


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