Posts Tagged ‘vintage bathrooms’

“A Mansion of Colonial Style Architecture” - Sears Kit Home #303

December 6th, 2012 Sears Homes 6 comments

There are scores of Sears kit homes that I have never laid eyes on, and Sears Modern Home #303 is one of them.

This particular model is of special interest because it is so grand and ostentatious. It has many unique features, so it’s easy to differentiate #303 from your garden variety Queen Anne manse.

And this was offered by Sears Roebuck as a “Kit Home.”

What a kit!

I don’t know that any of these were ever built. The sale of Sears Homes didn’t really take off until after The Great War ended (1919), and this house was only offered in one year (1910). It does not appear in “Houses by Mail.”

My dear friend and co-author Dale Wolicki posits that it was just a carryover from a pattern book house that Sears added to their catalog in 1910. That’s a pretty sound theory, and very likely.

Modern Home #303 was offered only in the very rare 1910 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

Modern Home #303 was offered only in the very rare 1910 Sears Modern Homes catalog. It was the most expensive house offered in the catalog, and was intended to be built with solid brick walls. Sears estimated that the finished cost would be about $6,700.


Would you pay almost $7,000 for this house?

Would you pay $6,700 for this house?


One of the towers

One of the towers is a polygon (not circular).


And the other is round.

And the other is round.



And there's a toilet on the first floor! No sink, just a toilet!


Close-up of all that busyness on the back of the house.

Close-up of all that busyness on the back of the house.


Check out this floorplan!

Check out this floorplan! Notice the trunk room over the kitchen area? Back in the day, it wasn't fittin' to put a bedroom over the kitchen. Too much heat and too many odors.


And its even better than a Barbie Dream Mansion!

And it's even better than a Barbie Dream Mansion!


To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To read about Wardway Houses, click here.

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The Sears 264P202! What a House!

December 1st, 2012 Sears Homes 1 comment

Before 1918, Sears Homes were given numbers, not names. From a marketing perspective, it was brilliant to assign names to these models. After all, would you rather tell Mum and Dad that you’re buying “Sears Modern Home #2089″ or that you’ve just purchased The Magnolia?

Pre-1916, some of these houses had very long model numbers, such as the house shown here. It was apparently a fairly popular house for Sears, as I’ve got four real-life examples below, and yet it was offered only for a few short years, appearing last in the 1916 catalog.

Does this look like a Sears House to you? Didnt look like one to me, either, but it is! Its the venerable 264P202, and judging by the photos below, its a design that you should memorize, because it was apparently fairly common!

Does this look like a Sears House to you? Didn't look like one to me at first, but it sure is! It's the venerable 264P202, and judging by the photos below, it's a design that you should memorize, because it was apparently fairly common! This one is in Benld, IL.


An interesting aaside: Do you know how Benld got its name? A fellow named Ben L. Dorsey purchased the land foor its rich mineral rights (coal, really) and it was developed into a tiny town. The name “Dorsey” was already taken, so Ben L. Dorsey chose the name “Benld,” a combination of his first name and subsequent initals.

For the flatlander tourist, it might help you to know that it’s pronounced, “Benn-ELD.”


The original catalog page (1916) shows that this house sold for

The original catalog page (1916) shows that this house sold for $1,165 and by 1917, it was gone. In 1918, Sears Homes were given names instead of numbers. The 264P202 never had a name, so we know it was gone by 1918.


housse house

This wonderful example of a 264P202 is in Okawville, IL. Look at the detail on the columns! It's a real beauty in original condition, but...


house house

A broader view shows that this old house has been converted into a Funeral Home, and that brick ranch globbed onto the side is actually a not-so-sensitive addition.


house house

This 264P202 is in West Chicago. Of the four examples shown on this page, three of these homes have porte cocheres.


house house hosue

Close-up of the original catalog image (1916).


House in Arkansas

Here's one in Searcy, Arkansas that is being offered for sale at $128,000. In the listing, this house is described as "One of the last Sears Roebuck houses left in White County."


To learn more about “one of the last Sears Roebuck houses in White County,” click here.


The house in Searcy has a bathroom thats in beautifully original condition.

The house in Searcy has a bathroom that's in beautifully original condition. Left is the 1916 Modern Homes catalog. Right side is the house in Searcy.


house text

Nice floor plan.


To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To see an abundance of awesome photos of the house in Searcy, click here.

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All Settled In…

October 2nd, 2011 Sears Homes 5 comments

Yesterday, October 1st, was our housewarming party and we had about 35 of our friends and relatives show up, which was 100% delightful.

We closed on the old house on Wednesday, August 14th and the following day, we closed on our “new” house, a 1962 brick ranch.

It took us a solid six weeks to get “settled in” to our new house, and even now, we’re still missing several boxes! (Not sure where they ended up.)

In preparation for our big housewarming party, we worked for hours and hours cleaning and scrubbing and tidying up and painting walls and washing windows. We worked for days and days trying to get the yard prettied up, and had help from one of the world’s best neighbors, who gave up three hours of his life weeding and mowing and raking.

And it was all worth it.

While I had the house all prettied up, I decided it was an ideal time to take some photos.

Enjoy the photographic tour of our beautiful brick ranch!  :)


Our house in Norfolk.


Not a big flower bed, but keeping it pretty takes some work!


At our old house (on Gosnold), we had a big fancy pergola. And this house, we have a cute little pagoda. Pergola, pagoda - pretty close trade.


This brick ranch is almost 80 feet wide. It's tough to get a good shot straight on. Notice the shrub on the far right that I pruned? It's look a little barren these days, but it was way, way too tall. I like big plants, but not when they interfere with my electricity!


The picket fence was recently added to contain the wild beast in the back yard.


Here, Teddy is demonstrating that she knows how to open the gate (which has no latch on the inside), and is merely "choosing" to remain contained in the spacious back yard.

And what a fine back yard it is.

And what a fine back yard it is.


And Wayne has it all set up for our house-warming party!


Another view.


Many of our guests said that the den was their favorite room.


The bricks in the fireplace came from an old house in Norfolk that was torn down in the early 1960s. The home's original (and only) owner (Mr. Martin) worked for the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority.


Mr. Martin had these bookcases put in when the house was built.


This light is not only handy, but a delightful piece of early 1960s Americana.


And we've added a few accouterments to our 1960s house, such as this vintage cigarette lighter. Lighter fluid was stored in the bowl, and when you withdrew the rod, a spark was ignited which lit off the wick at the end of the rod.


Another piece of 1950s Americana: An old wall clock.


An anachronistic living room: A 1960s ranch with 1980s carpet and 1920s Arts and Crafts furniture and a 21st Century La-Z-Boy.


My mother gave me this quilt about 15 years ago, and it's always been one of my favorite possessions. I painted the room to match the comforter. The master bedroom (shown above) was the same size as the master bedroom at our old house (on Gosnold), but we couldn't fit the same amount of furniture in the new bedroom. Perhaps it was because of all the windows and doors at the new house.


The guest room also serves as my hide-away. Very quiet at this end of the house. And very pink. I really like pink.


The man cave.


Our long hallway provides a perfect gallery for family photos!


One of the top five most perfect bathrooms in North America.

The mans room

As with the pink bathroom, all the tile in the master bathroom is in top-notch condition.

trimBack in May 2011, when I first read the listing info on this house and saw that (according to the realtor’s comments), the house needed “some updating,” I knew I’d found something special. The house was custom built in 1962 and had only one owner (The Martin family), and it’s evident that they really did love this house. Even the formica countertop was in flawless condition. The kitchen is 49 years old, and still looks shiny and new and beautiful. I love the look of 1962.

Detail on the unique trim molding in the kitchen.


When we first walked into the sunporch, it was pretty smelly. The house had been closed up for a time and there were several issues on the sunporch. This was the first room we started working on, and it took about six weeks, but eventually, we got it all done. We removed the green indoor/outdoor carpet, washed and sanitized the floor, removed the ceiling fan (low ceiling height), and then painted everything. Each window had a storm window that had to be removed for painting and cleaning. Many, many years ago, the walls, ceiling, trim and windows had all been painted YELLOW. Our new paint job (pink and white) required two coats, but when it was all done, it was stunning!


The new and improved sunporch, looking transformed. And the windows are so clean and pretty! It is a grand and glorious room.


Bev and Mike brought us these gardenias as a house-warming present. They were grown from cuttings off two beautiful gardenia plants I'd purchased from Bev, three years prior. It'll be a real treat to watch "The Twins" take root and grow at their new home.


Mr. Ringer was tired at the end of the day.

To learn about Sears Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

To read about Addie, click here.

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High-heeled Pumps and Sears Modern Homes

June 21st, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

The kit homes sold by Sears in the early 1900s were known as “Sears Modern Homes” because they were just that - modern!

Plumbing, electrical and heating systems were not part of the kit, but were offered separately for many reasons. For instance, someone in Wisconsin would need a very different heating system than someone in southern Florida!

Sometimes, these homes were more modern than the communities into which they were sold, and there was no need for an “electrical outfit” (wiring and fuse boxes and fixtures) if electricity was not available to the house. (In 1910, only 10% of American households had electricity.)

However, everyone - city dweller and homesteader alike - was tired of hauling water to and fro, so modernistic plumbing systems that provided water at the tap were very valuable.

In this 1930 “Modern Plumbing” catalog, one of the hot items was this “reliable water supply system.” You’ll note that the woman in the picture is standing on the foot pedal whilst dressed in her Sunday best, complete with high heels! The foot pedal is used to give the four-cycle Briggs and Stratton engine a kick start, which provides power to a pump that will draw water from a nearby well.

She probably descended those long, steep, dark basement stairs in a most lady-like fashion, but once she starts that little engine, she’d better be ready to run like a bat out of hell before the carbon monoxide fumes overtake her!


Don't stand there looking dainty! Get ready to RUN!


Is that why they call these shoes "pumps"?


Cover of the 1930 "Sears Modern Plumbing and Heating Systems" catalog. I'm pretty unnerved to see that the house on the cover (at the bottom) is not a Sears house!

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

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New Old Bathrooms

January 31st, 2011 Sears Homes 3 comments

When my husband and I first looked at our old house in February 2007, we loved many things about it. It was spacious and elegant and well-built and full of potential. The kitchen had five nice windows and a walk-in pantry and the upstairs bedroom was just right for our four-poster bed. It was a fine house, but…

It had a terrible bathroom.

It had been done in classic 1980s beige and it had been poorly done. Tiles were popping off the walls and the floor tile (12-inch faux marble) crunched and wiggled when we stepped on it. Redoing that bathroom was a major undertaking. We started in January 2010 and finished in May  2010. That’s a long time to have your primary bathroom out of commission.

The hex flooring (shown below) came from a floor covering company in Los Angeles. The material is very popular in Hollywood, and is often used in movie sets, when a 1910s or 1920s bathroom or kitchen set is needed in a hurry.

It creates the look of the 1920s hex tiles in a hurry. When I saw the material up close and personal, I was thrilled. You have to bend over and touch the flooring to ascertain that it’s not real tile.

Below are some photos of the project.

Update:  As of August 2011, we’ve sold this house and moved to a new house (Mid-Century Modern). Looking at these pictures of our “New Old Bathroom” reminds me of how much I love the 1920s look!

To see what I did to our 1960s bathroom (in our new home), click here.


Ugly bathroom

If I had to pick one word to define this bathroom, it would be ugly and beige. Wait, that's two words. How about "ugly-beige"? Pictures don't do it adequate injustice.

ugly radiator in ugly bathroom

Poor old radiator in ugly bathroom. Notice how - due to two tiling jobs atop the original tile - it's slowly being swallowed up by substitute flooring materials. The vertical pipe is rusting because some moron put the tile and/or adhesive right up against the pipe, instead of using a sleeve to protect against corrosion.

Ugly bathroom vanity

This photo shows how ugly the vanity lights were. This really was a hideous affair.

Ugly floor

Originally, it was my goal to restore the old hex tile, but after spending about 2/3rds of my fifth decade chipping away the TWO layers of tile on top of this 1920s hex tile, I realized my efforts were in vain. About half way back (headed toward the back of the room), the tile floor had been destroyed.


A very smart flooring guy studies the mess and figures out what to do to make it all pretty again. He sat on the edge of that tub for about 20 minutes but his solution was genius.


The radiator was removed and taken away to be sand-blasted and powder-coated. In the meantime, the heating contractors had to chisel out 6" of concrete and replace the old pipe(s). Cost: $,1900. This was a problem, because I had promised my husband the total bath redo would be under $2,000. Oopsie.


More views of the ugly floor mess.

New bathroom floor goes in

New bathroom floor was installed, after vast amounts of floor leveler were floated on the surface of that old mess. The look was transformative. Everyone was surprised at how good it turned out.

bathroom walls go up

New wainscoting is installed. Dave the Contractor covered the new floor with three layers of kraft paper to protect it.


Finis! Isn't it beautiful? Thanks to Craigs' List, I found this pedestal sink - Kohler Memoirs - and got it for $250. Brand new, never installed. Guy bought it and his wife didn't like it. So he did what any smart husband would do - sold it for 1/3rd the value on Craigs' List. We placed the marble slab under the radiator so that the if it ever needs service again, removal will be simple. Plus, we wanted to protect the vinyl floor from the weight of this 400-pound radiator. The marble slab is under the toilet because after we removed all that flooring, the pipes were too high. Plus, it's a cool look. And yes, that is real Italian marble.

Bathroom pretty

The only original thing in this "vintage" bathroom is that brass towel rack. We found it in the back of the linen closet when we bought the house.


Close-up of bathroom faucets.


Now the purple bathmat matches the rest of the room! :)

To read more about Rose’s pink house, click here.

To learn about Sears Homes, click here.

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