Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Celotex Ceilings (1958-1959)

Good morning!

I'm still on a 1958-1959 kick this week. Do you fellow MCM enthusiasts out there agree that this pair of calendar years boast the MOST out there designs of the Mad Men time period? I am continually knocked off my rocker by how inventive, colorful, and just flat out GORGEOUS interiors were in the last gasp of the fifties'. Perfect example? These Celotex Ceiling ads from Life magazine. Check 'em out!


LOOKAHERE. Red carpet as far as the eye can see, split level sunken living room, fireplace IN THE WALL, wrought iron room divider. I saw a lamp at an estate sale this weekend that was about the same size and design of the hanging fixture over the checkboard table, except it was freestanding and there were two of them. $200 firm or I would have had to figure out a way to incorporate them into the design scheme of my home. HOW. AWESOME. Doesn't the whole room gleam with a kind of atomic age French Quarter aesthetic? SIGN ME UP.

And the hits keep coming! All the Celotex ads from this time period boast similarly jaw-dropping, envy inspiring interiors. Who's even looking at the ceiling, when you have all that delicious Danish modern eye candy to ogle?


Celotex is a British insulation company that opened up shop in the 1920's and is actually still in operation to this day. In the American post-war housing boom, you can imagine that the firm did big business in sound-proof tiling and glitzy sparkles-embedded-in-the-fiberboard ceilings. I remember looking at a house in suburban Madison, outside of Nashville, during the big house-hunting phase that preceded my parents moving in the late nineties' with a very eye-catching ceiling. The tiles were actually pitted with iridescent pieces to the point that the overhead tiles seemed to wink at you as you walked from room to room. Sus and I loved this, obviously...my parents thought it was gauche. Who's to say who was right? The "Vogue" line of ceiling tiles in the first panel seems to be similar.

I feel a little bad for cutting out whatever celebrity couple was featured in the below ad, but I really wanted you, the reader, to focus on what's important-- which, in this case, is that A-line roof, blonde wood paneling, and THE RUG OF MY DREAMS. Look at it! What is it, even! It looks like they've skinned some kind of sci-fi beast to visually tie the room together, and I am ok with that! Beautiful.


I was actually in a house that looked a lot like this out in Donelson last year or the year before, complete with Keane-esque paintings hanging on the wall. I got a bad vibe from the house in question because it was one of those wing ding sales where one of the cashiers was walking around the sale beseeching women to leave their purses in the car. "ABSOLUTELY NO PURSE AT THIS SALE," she kept crowing, as the ladyfolk portion of shoppers instinctively clutched at their handbags like "What? THIS? You mean the thing I keep my money in? How am I gonna pay for things?" There were no smalls or jewelry of value, so it really didn't make sense, but my mom and I dutifully headed back to the Civic, wresting wallets from the insides of our very cluttered pocketbooks. I don't think it's much of a sales technique to insinuate that anyone with a carry-on item must be coming in with the intention of stealing, but, just another real life example of how nutty estate sale companies can be.

That said, I want that enormous owl statuette. Maybe enough to inconspicuously slide it in my oversized stealin' handbag! Lemme at that loot, folks!


I am a big, BIG fan of this couch. See how lovely the low-lying lines of it are, and how those goofy little pillows give it an abstract "pop" of color. The candelabra hanging on the wall is a little strange, but I think I could grow to love it. Do you think you could actually light the tapers without catching that club-paneling wall on fire? I want to find out.


Last but not least, one of the best examples of the Celotex tiles, paired with one of the best interiors, coming with a seal of approval from no less of a hep cat than Steve Allen. Do you know the little bespectacled fifties' tv personality? He did one of the coolest interviews I've ever seen of Jack Kerouac on his television show in 1959 (contemporaneous to this ad! See! How fabulous?!) and also did a pretty cute book called Bop Fables, my copy of which is now for sale in the Etsy shop my sister's working for me (thanks, kid!). How perfect is his wife's titian bouffant there? How about that light fixture and the dividing wall with built in bench? I. LOVE. THIS. ROOM.


Which one of these Celotex interiors do you most favor? Had any run-ins with truly mouth-watering MCM interiors lately? Have any rococo wrought iron touches of interior designing in your own house? Let's talk!!

That's all for today, I gotta get gone-- have a great Wednesday, and I'll see you back here tomorrow! Til then.

10 comments:

  1. First picture. Oh, what's that? A little TV in the cabinet? Why not. That's only totally awesome.

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    1. Dude, we can make this dream a reality.

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  2. when the wall panel will not burn off - the wax drips on your evening dress..........

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    Replies
    1. HAHA, I HAD NOT EVEN THOUGHT OF THAT!

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  3. Dang, those ceiling are gorgeous! Also loving the split level living rooms.

    Adrienne
    What Lola Wants

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    1. I know! Who knew ceilings could be so glamorous?! The first room is probably my favorite.

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  4. I'm one of those women who has an anxiety attack at the thought of being separated from her oversized, cluttered handbag, so "Leave your handbag in the car" is pretty much saying that you want to make me irrationally angry. Also, these are awesome rooms...loving the first split-level especially!

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    1. Right? We talked about it the whole way home, like someone had called us something rude. "Can you believe they wouldn't let us have our purses? They didn't even have anything in there worth anything!" It's just weird and rude. Have better security or more people staffing the place, but don't weird out your customers with strange demands treated as if it was some common estate sale practice!

      And yes, that red and wrought iron living room is calling my NAME!

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  5. I went to an antiques mall recently and they had a bunch of signs at the door saying that purses werent allowed. Not one sign, a whole bunch. I didnt go in, my purse and I hit the next shop down the road, where we were welcomed. Now, that said, these rooms are fantastic!

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    1. I can understand don't bring in your freakin' duffle bag, but a PURSE?! Invest in a security camera if you have that many thieving people coming into your store. I think you did the right thing! I'm glad I'm not the only one who's feathers get ruffled by that kind of discourtesy.

      And aren't the rooms MINDBLOWING? I want that rug in the third picture down more and more, every time I see it!!

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