Share on Facebook

What Houses Used to Look Like 50 Years Ago

Take a peek at what homes used to look like five decades ago. Things are a tad different these days.

Family Handyman

Attic conversion

This attic conversion project created an open floor plan to maximize the available space and cut down on costs by eliminating any construction of walls. We called it the groovy attic pad back then to give Bob Lewis’ teenage sons a spot they might’ve thought was far out. Notice there’s no molding, just a simple base, and clean, modern lines. Check out some more vintage home trends that will take you way back.

Family Handyman

Attic pad

The attic pad had a dormer, along with six recessed ceiling lights. We can only imagine how long it took before bean bag chairs and lava lamps moved in.

Family Handyman

Put a wasted alcove to work

That’s what we urged readers to do in 1969 by constructing this handy storage system. We used perforated door filler material for the doors that have a pattern that could only come from the ’60s. Get a look at some vintage cars you’ll wish you could buy today.

Family Handyman

Adventure-filled den/bedroom combo

From the compass rose-design tile to the conquistador on the wall, this room is an adventure in decorating. The pillowcases feature toile patterns in this den/bedroom combo project we developed.

Family Handyman

Overhead garage door

Old houses across the country started upgrading their old garage doors in the ’60s, moving from the previous swinging garage door to an overhead garage door. The swinging garage door came from the days where houses used to have stables for horses. The overhead garage door offered more innovations. It would later usher in the period of garage door openers. Find out which vintage home trends from the ’60s are making a comeback.

Family Handyman

Built-in desk and storage

Inflatable furniture became en vogue in the ’60s but Family Handyman didn’t jump on that trend. Instead, we showed how to create a built-in desk and a bench to use for storage as well as study. We paraphrased Frank Lloyd Wright in this story, saying he often felt built-ins were hard to beat for efficiency, space usage, convenience, and beauty.

Family Handyman

Easy built-in fireplace

We disguised this fireplace and actually used an insulated, pre-fabricated fireplace. We just gave it a look like it was a brick fireplace. Metal stamped in a simulated brick design outlined the pre-fab fireplace to further the illusion. Find out what your favorite retail stores used to look like back in the day, too.

Family Handyman


When Family Handyman trotted out this basic chevron design in 1969, we wrote about patterns that emerged in 1969. At the time, zebra, leopard, tiger crocodile, and snakeskin patterns started to emerge. Along with those came optical illusions, simulated collages and this pattern, which created a feeling of depth. 

Family Handyman


Mix and match patterns, which some are saying will make a comeback in fashion. There’s a strawberry pattern on the floor as well, which we don’t think will make a comeback. While you’re at it, check out how we decided wallpapering the door was a good look. These are the things in your home that are making it look dated—and how to fix them.

Family Handyman

Avocado green

Kohler and many other companies added Avocado green to their fixtures. This 1969 issue of Family Handyman shows a lighter Avocado green, along with harvest gold. We just didn’t include it with the appliances like so many others did.

Family Handyman


Color exploded in the late ’60s as the country moved from the conformity of the ’50s to the revolutionary ’60s. Next, find out what some more everyday objects looked like 100 years ago.

Originally Published on The Family Handyman