Yes: Knotty pine is nice. There, I’ve said it, defying — horrors! — any modern-day decorating powers-that-be who want us to believe that the old paneling in old houses is absolutely *hideous*. When fact of the matter is: Old wood, including knotty pine, in old houses can be absolutely *charming*.
Just ask all the readers over on my main blog Retro Renovation, who have embraced their knotty pine kitchens, dens, sun porches, basements, bedrooms — bathrooms, even: Knotty pine wherever they find it in their vintage homes. They are adding lots of retro touches — barkcloth curtains, braided rugs, tiki lamps, nubbly sofas, retro wallpaper, whatever — having a blast in their warmy, comfy, cozy, happy spaces. They’re also saving lots of money, too, by avoiding unnecessary renovation expense.
Yes: You have permission to love the knotty pine in your home, without apology. Here, you are among friends. So take your shoes off, pull up a chair, and let’s learn all about the knotty, together, right here on this friendly little website. Welcome!
Above: That’s Betty Crafter in her gorgeous knotty pine kitchen, respectfully restored. You’re going to LUV this kitchen! Read all about it here.
Knotty pine is comfy cozy, unpretentious & warm — and it seems like ‘most everyone has some great memories attached to it:
My great grandmother’s house was done in Knotty Pine (nearly throughout). Built in the 40′s and faced so there was quite a bit of light in the kitchen it represented all that was comfort to me. The smell of knotty pine has not been discussed here. That sweet, semi-cedar nose that the house takes on along with Grandmother’s Chicken ‘n’ Dumplings will live forever in my memory along with the visual warmth of those walls and cabinets as a backdrop to antique lamps, quilts and crocheted bedspreads. The small, dim hallway with that bright aqua tile glow into the one bathroom. The glowing white sheer curtains that lift with the summer breeze. Yes, Knotty is nice….
Do you have knotty pine memories, too? We’d love to hear them!
If you like vintage knotty pine, you will probably like my main website, RetroRenovation.com — a retro-wonderland of mid-century renovation resources… design inspiration… vintage finds… and friends all interested in cherishing their postwar homes. Click here to jump on over to Retro Renovation — welcome!
Eartha Kitsch’s glowy, 1956 knotty pine kitchen was one of the first knotty pine stories I ever featured. Eartha explained the excitement at finding this house with the vintage knotty pine kitchen intact:
I am intensely interested in understanding exactly why knotty pine was so popular in mid-20th-century homes. Alas, I have not been able to find a definitive history of knotty pine interiors — I think that website is going to be where it’s created.
Those TV shows and blog posts where people whiiiiiiiiiine that they just can’t liiiiiiiive with that fugly knotty piiiiiiiine just push me over the eddddddddge. I try not to rant. I really do. But sometimes I just have to let ‘er rip.
Working to properly detail his vintage knotty pine sun porch, reader Jeff researched and found a place where you can still buy pine trim for cornices and molding cut in cut with classic midcentury scallops. Click to see more photos of Jeff’s delightful sun porch — and to find out where to get pine molding with scallops and such.
I wasn’t the first to think Knotty Is Nice — Formica was way ahead of us with this 1952 ad, which touted the charm of wood matched with the ease of plastic: “… All the warmth and charm of the early American kitchen combined with the down-to-earth modern utility of Formica sink and cabinet tops…” That green linen Formica, by the way: Installed in literally millions of American kitchens, I bet!
Brian and Keri’s 1953 house includes a knotty pine den with an original wallpapered ceiling. When they first moved in, they were not so thrilled with the wallpaper. But, they waited a while before taking it down — and now they love it. Don’t you want to light a fire, curl right up and read an entire library? See more pics of this room and the rest of Brian and Keri’s delightful house here.
Do you know about my third/other website: Save The Pink Bathrooms? Kind of the same idea as knotty pine: Both these features were massively popular in mid-20th century American homes. Yet, both get little respect in mainstream design and decorating circles today. I believe this belies their value. Both knotty pine and pink bathrooms can be totally lovely and totally worth preserving. In this photo, we see Lynne’s bathroom which combines both — and look, she’s a youngun’ and she gets it, explaining:
Just like pink bathrooms are “emblematic” of our love for all pastel-colored vintage bathrooms, knotty pine’s kissin’ cousins — all species of wood paneling — can be very nice, too, thank you very much. You can still get “real wood” panelling from companies like States Industries.
Knotty pine wasn’t just for Cape Cod and colonial houses. One of the first reader profiles I did on my main blog was about Arian’s 1960s midcentury modern house in Florida. Look at all that knotty pine — nestled under a modern roofline and parked right on that luscious vintage terrazzo. Arian is a graphic designer, and the interior of his house is a dream. He is a trend-setter. Did you see him ripping out the knotty pine? Or complaining? Heck no, he was thrilled and rolled with it. p.s., The house has a pink bathroom, too. Of course. Save the Knotty Pine and Save the Pink Bathrooms, too.
“Knotty Pine” was a favorite name for motels across America, or in western states, at least. I wonder why that was? I’ll guess: We took a lot of road across the American recent-wilderness and there were a lot of pine trees? Such an icon, knotty pine. Above: Knotty Pine motel in Goose Hollow, Portland, Oregon, photo from Thomas Hawk, licensed under Creative Commons. Our Group includes lots more photos — some cheery… but some kinda spooky, too (Was there knotty pine in the Bates Motel? Probly so.)