Monday, May 12, 2014

Kentile Corktone Flooring (1955-1956)

Good afternoon!

People, I have been DRAGGING along all morning and on into the after lunch hour. I did not get enough sleep last night and boy does it shows! I found a few things out at the estate sales on Saturday, but danged if I didn't remember to photograph about half of it, so that'll have to come up on the blog tomorrow. As for today, in between fighting off actual bouts of falling asleep at the desk, I've been mainly looking at old tile ads. I know, you're thinking, "Lisa! Do you never tire of looking mid century flooring options?" Gentlemen of the press, I do not. Especially since my mom, while I was at her house celebrating mother's day over the weekend, mentioned, over the blaring sounds of the new Cher cd I got her to mark the occasion (like mother, like daughter), mentioned that she might like to lay some kind of laminate flooring in the den of my house. Excitement! As this offhand remark plants a seed of great hope in my home-design-loving heart, I've been preparing a pitch for "what the den needs to look like" to one of the toughest audiences going.

The red sofa! The yellow fireplace! The lady of the house's curved-toe slippers! LOVE. IT. 
Obviously, this ain't my first time at a (dream) rodeo (of tile). I've done posts on that very subject several times, including this one, this one, and this one. However! Now that the possibility of different types of floor is out there, and after seeing what a difference a gorgeous faux wood floor made in the tragically-too-low-ceilinged-basement of my dream house, I have so many ideas! I think if we could add a primary red or a light grass green rug to off set the aggressive medium brown of the room (brown panels, leopard print couch, lots of beiges in the wall hangings-- intentional, but it doesn't need to look like a jar of Nutella in there...or does it...), something like this varied "Kentile Corktone" would be neat! Minus the asbestos, naturally. Even using a uniform layer of that very dark colored tile might be kind of interesting (and not show dirt). As always, I am mesmerized by the ad copy and its plucky, midcentury tone:

These ads for "Kencork" ran in 1955 and 1956 Life magazine, and I am a big fan of the seeming oxymoron of "natural cork flooring" in "new plastic-fortified factory finish." Doesn't the one seem to negate the other? However, the look of blonde wood and natural materials if not actuality in the flooring does give it that airy, Scandinavian vibe, doesn't it? Or, taken in another direction, the clean lines and design economy of a Japanese inspired living room, like this one:

Are you seeing this? The whole living room has an Eastern-inspired loveliness, from the canted coffee table to the minimalist mantle. I love the combinations of the white and tan neutrals with the acid yellow of the sofa and chair, the powder blue of the chaise longue, and that dark lacquered wood! I know I would only mess this look up with a proliferation of Sprite Zero cans and George Jones records...but I can't help it, the heart wants what the heart wants.

Thus ends the actual practical part of my Google Books sleuthing, as we descend into "dream scenarios in houses other than the one I currently live in".  Like this one, where my basement TRUMPS ALL OTHER BASEMENTS.

Who needs a built into the wall RCA television set, or a hi-fi phonograph (photo right) when you have a young Kingston Trio member of your very own to entertain? I'll take both, like the lovely lady in the red cigarette pants, if that's all the same to everyone.

The floor is neat in this example, but the wall unit there is a KNOCK.OUT. Professionally installed built-ins of any kind, being a child of lower suburbia, immediately conjure images of rich people and a life of wealth to me, but dang, that doesn't mean I can't dream. For a basement, too, which I'm assuming this is (or a rec room?), notice how much LIGHT is streaming in. Maybe one idea to brighten up the relatively dark den of my house would be to incorporate some non-garish light color combinations in there. After the tile situation is squared, I'll have to think about it.

Speaking of innovative style choices, how about this kooky-but-right kitchen set up? I can't decide if I like it or it's too crazy-- and that's in 2014! Think of how "out there" this must have been in 1955! As you see, woven baskets store everything you would otherwise have in cabinets, and where there should be overhead cabinets, there's a weird implement hanging rack and bamboo curtains. Again, it's something different, that's for sure!

Last but not least, more text from the ads above...I love how it's like "SERIOUSLY, IT'S JUST LIKE CORK!", the very insistence of which makes me think there must be something flim-flammy about this advertising assertion!

I gotta scoot back to work, but what do you think? If your den looked like this, what would you do as far as the flooring? See this post from a while back...(remember seeing video me for the first time, haha?) or the photo below for a refresher. What do we do floorwise? (Again, I pretty much love what the room looks like, but it will look much better with a fresh new floor instead of the threadbare carpet that's in there now).

That's all for today! See you tomorrow with weekend finds! Til then.


  1. Holy cow those bamboo fabric curtains are too too. I have some wood grain fabric and wonder how wood curtains would look! Those baskets though. Dust catchers and no labels. I don't think so. A few would be fine but not all of those. In a few I'd just put some dish towels handy to use. I couldn't see where the stove was. It was the weirdest kitchen I have ever seen. Thanks for a post that really floored me.

    1. Oh man! I bet woodgrain fabric curtains would look AMAZING? If you try it, you better send me pictures so I can be jealous! :) No, I was on the fence about the baskets too-- you'd either have to have what was in them memorized or NEVER use them, and it's like..what is the point? And you're right, where IS the stove? (ps haha FLOORED :) )

  2. Ooooohhh Nice flooring! My mom had mottled cork walls with an orange background in the '70s. They did look nice!

    1. I just love the look of this and I wouldn't have known what to call it until now. Very cool!

  3. Gah! Put me there in basement number 3 please, with a glass of wine, a man on guitar, and dart board and an awesome mid-century look. *Swoon*



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