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Well, it's already July and we've been busy!  Before we jump right in, how about a little history lesson about the image above?  This stamp depicts the 49-star flag, commemorating the Statehood of Alaska on January 3rd of 1959. This stamp was short-lived, however since Hawaii also achieved Statehood on August 21st of the same year.
Flooring Options for the Mid-Century Home
One question we've gotten a lot at Make it Mid-Century is about flooring. We've had a number of inquiries about sparkle floor tile (and it just doesn't exist anymore) and many more general question about what types of flooring are appropriate for a mid-century home. We're going to give you a little food-for-thought right now.
Let's start with one of the most expensive options - terrazzo. Have you been to an airport, art museum, or even your grocery store lately?  Chances are they may have terrazzo flooring. Traditionally this is particularly expensive because it is poured and trowled in place and then is ground and finished - a very labor-intensive process. If you plan to stay in your home for a long time, it may still be cost-effective, because this is the most durable of all of the materials mentioned here and it could possibly last for the life of your home. If you're interested in terrazzo but at a lower price point, look into terrazzo tile. Check out Fritztile for more information.
Another option seen quite often in mid-century modern homes is cork. Cork is a natural product that comes from the cork oak tree and can be harvested every 8-10 years without harming the tree.  One tree can produce cork for around 150 years! The first byproduct of the cork tree is for bottle corks. The remaining cork sheet with the punched sections is then ground up to be used for flooring, which means virtually no waste for this product. How green is that? Cork is found more in the later years of mid-century homes, particularly in the 1960's and on into the 70's. Maintenence for cork is similar to hardwood; a layer of polyurethane that can be refreshed when damaged is all it takes. Check out WeCork for more information.
Natural stone was also popular in some mid-century homes; stones like slate, travertine, and bluestone. Spotted most often in entryways and three-season porches, the colors can be variegated and shapes may be irregular or rectilinear. One thing that I have not seen often are square stone tiles - if stonework is rectilinear it was most often laid in alternating patterns of larger and smaller pieces. Stone is definitely something you will want to source locally - not something you would want to buy online, but check out this article from Floor Coverings International all about slate flooring.
Wood flooring was very popular in many mid-century homes. If you are replacing flooring, you do need to be careful to choose a species, stain, and size that is appropriate to the era. Quite often that would have been white or red oak with a clear stain (or varnish) in a 2 1/2" wide board. (Flooring now only comes in 2 1/4", not 2 1/2") Wide planks and dark stain colors will make your home look very 2010's and not mid-century. Another wood product seen in mid-century homes is square, fingerblock parquet. The reasoning of the term "fingerblock" is that each parquet block is often made up of 4-5 smaller pieces of wood to make each square. Some mid-century parquet was even made from one solid piece of wood on each block. This type of parquet can almost impossible to find if you have any damaged pieces (like my neighbor). One source of traditional parquet floor tiles is Czar Floors.
A fun product that is almost as soft and comfortable under the feet as cork is rubber. I'm not talking about the black stuff made from recycled tires (that still smells like tires) and is found in your gym, I'm talking about the old-school streaky stuff that you used to see in your DMV (or your high school chemistry class) in the 1960's. There are only a few places still making the old-fashioned stuff - and most of them are from Akron, Ohio. No surprise, as that was once the rubber capital of the United States and known for rubber manufacturing. One place that still makes the retro-looking rubber sheets and tiles is R.C. Musson. Storytime with Susan: In one of the first architectural firms I worked in, I was also the person in charge of interior design. I was going through our catalogs of products when I found the R.C. Musson catalog. It looked ANCIENT and I wondered when anyone would ever use such a product. (I was young and foolish). Looking on it now, this stuff is AMAZING and I would love to have it in my house. R.C. Musson started manufacturing in 1949 and haven't changed their rubber flooring lineup one bit. What's old is new again!
Ah, linoleum. You are a natural wonder, and people keep getting you confused with vinyl. How cruel! Like cork, linoleum is a green product, made up of linseed oil, pine rosin, wood flour, cork dust, calcium carbonate, and natural pigments. One of the big benefits that is bringing people back to linoleum is not only the green aspect but also COLOR! The nature of typical linoleum also means that it has a soft, marbelized pattern throughout that is great for hiding dirt. It can also be cut into patterns, or even waterjet-cut into very detailed inserts for your floor. Professional installation is probably the way to go with this. If you get a true professional installer, they can even weld the seams to make the flooring impervious to water. Because it is so flexible, linoleum can also be curbed up the toe-kick of your cabinets to form its own baseboard. Linoleum is magical! Check out Forbo's Marmoleum for more information.
While some of these products will work in bathrooms, tile is still the granddaddy of them all in mid-century bathrooms. What types of products work well on floors? Steer clear of glossy floor tiles for safety's sake and steer toward the matte materials. Mid-century baths were often pastel colors, white, pink, baby blue, yellow, and occasionally purple and peach. Later years brought in shades of brown, gold and green. A classic can't-go-wrong floor for a mid-century bathroom is a small, through-color, porcelain mosaic, either with all square pieces or alternating square and rectangular pieces. Early mid-century homes may also have hexagonal floor tiles or penny rounds. For porcelain mosaics, check out Dal-Tile. They used to have a super-cool mosaic designer app on their website, but it is no longer available. (What a bummer!) They do have a downloadable PDF with some patterns, but you may be better off with some graph paper, colored pencils and your own ingenuity.
Finally, the least expensive of all options while still being almost historically accurate is vinyl tile (known to the trade as VCT or vinyl composition tile). I say "almost" historically accurate because the tiles of yesteryear were typically 9"x9" and modern tiles are 12"x12". (The old products also contained asbestos, so you can be happy about THAT modernization.) If the size difference bothers you, VCT is easy to score and snap and thus can be cut down to a 9"x9" size. Because it is so easy to work with, VCT can also be used for creating wonderful floor patterns. (I have a fun pattern of VCT on the floor of my office.) Back in the day the makers of this new-fangled vinyl product also had cute inserts that you could place in your floor and even inserts such as shuffleboard. (My parents had a shuffleboard court in their basement and they went over it with a wood-look vinyl plank. I was so sad. We did get to play shuffleboard once or twice before it was gone.) If inserts appeal to you, you can take VCT to a waterjet cutter and have them cut designs for you. VCT is fairly easy to install yourself if you have a level floor to start. VCT comes in a myriad of colors. The best-known manufacturer is Armstrong, and the product is even sold in local big-box stores.
Do any of you have cool floors that you love? Any other flooring suggestions? Does anyone have a shuffleboard in their basement where I can come to play (I can bring my own cue)?! Tell me all about it!
(Note: We do not have any affiliation with these companies - many of them are companies we have worked with personally in the past and can recommend from experience.)
Installing Laminate
The popularity of our new SparkleLam product has been astounding. We're starting to ship full sheets, and the most-asked question is, "Where can I find someone to install my laminate?" You asked, and we're going to answer.
Solution 1: Do it Yourself (or with someone you trust).
If you've been a fan for a while, you might have read our blog post about the mid-century do-it-yourself movement. It would be very retro of you to tackle this task for yourself. The very un-retro part of it is that you, my friend, have the internet at your fingertips, where your 1950's ancestors would have had to rely on the neighbor or the guy working the desk at the hardware store to show them how. Here are some of my favorite online tutorials on how to do it yourself. (If one of those tutorials scares you, try another one until you find one that you connect with.) Don't be afraid, but you can always ask someone with better carpentry skills to help. It might be your father, your sister, your best friend or your neighbor. If that scares the $%*& out of you, your next option is:
Solution 2: Find a handyman
Finding a handyman might be as easy as looking at the bulletin board at your local hardware store or perusing your local Craigslist. Going the 21st-century route, there are a number of online resources for finding a handyman. The four that we would recommend are Thumbtack.com, HomeAdvisor.com, AngiesList.com, and HandymanConnection.com. You want to look for a carpenter, and let the service know that you are looking for someone to build a laminate countertop. (P.S. These recommendations hold true if you'd like to have someone assist with one of our other products as well.) If all the handymen you find are questionable, on to the next step:
(Note: We do not have any affiliation with these vendors.)
Solution 3: Call a Kitchen & Bath Company Near You
This is the most expensive option, but if you have a complicated layout or are concerned about going another route, this one is for you. Kitchen and bath companies do nothing other than - you guessed it - kitchens and baths, and they have a ton of experience with making countertops for even the craziest layouts. We can even ship the laminate directly to the kitchen and bath company, which means one less step for you.
Do you have any more questions about any of our products? We're here to help.
Help save Route 66!
If you've enjoyed the tales from our journey along Route 66, or if you'd like the opportunity to travel the Mother Road for yourself, please visit the National Trust for Historic Preservation and sign this petition to help designate Route 66 as a National Historic Trail. Here is what the National Trust has to say:

There’s nothing quite like Route 66. It’s the most culturally celebrated and internationally recognized stretch of highway in America, where generations of open road seekers got their kicks and experienced the quintessential road trip.

But Route 66’s history runs much deeper than that.

As our nation’s first all-paved U.S. Highway System connecting the Midwest to California, it was the “road to opportunity” for hundreds of thousands of Americans escaping the devastation of the Dust Bowl in the 1930s. It also provided thousands of road crew jobs for workers unemployed during the Great Depression. Throughout World War II, critical troops, equipment, and supplies were transported on Route 66 to military bases across the country. And when the war ended, thousands of those troops traveled Route 66 back to their homes and families.

Over time, travelers began bypassing Route 66 for the Interstate, causing the independent businesses, rich roadside architecture, and kitschy landmarks and attractions that the roadway was known for to slowly diminish. By the 1960s, many communities and businesses along the route fell into deep decay…or disappeared entirely.

Today, this same threat persists as motorists opt for faster and more direct routes. That’s why we need your help. Please join the National Trust, the Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership, and dozens of statewide and local partners in seeking a National Historic Trail designation for Route 66. This permanent designation will bring greater public interest and investment to the communities along the iconic highway and encourage their economic revitalization. And most importantly, it will help preserve Route 66 as a vital, iconic, and evolving piece of Americana for generations to come.

Again, please go to this link and sign the petition and help to save Route 66 for future generations! Thank you for your support.
That's all for this month. I wish each and every one of you a marvelous Independence Day. Stay safe and have fun with friends and family. We look forward to seeing your next month!
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