The Groovy Features You’ll Find in a 1960s House, According to Real Estate Experts

published Mar 2, 2022
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The 1960s were a groovy time full of people pushing boundaries — in politics, civil rights, art, music, fashion, and beyond. The same was true in architecture and design, with interior decorators and home builders developing the decade’s unique signature style. Now, 60 or so years later, you can still find some of these vintage features while searching for a home or condo — depending on your personal taste, they may be good, bad, or “interesting”, but they’re all distinctively ‘60s.

Grasscloth Wallpaper

Grasscloth is a special kind of textured wallpaper made from interwoven natural and synthetic fibers (sometimes grass fibers, but not always) that was extremely popular during the 1960s, according to Sarah Sain, who remodels houses in Greenville, South Carolina, with her family’s company, Sain Homes. It’s starting to make a comeback now, too, and Sain is here for it.

“This wallpaper trend was everywhere — I actually removed some from my childhood home and it was a beast,” she says. “But I am thrilled that it’s back, and this time in a range of colors and patterns.”

Colorful Appliances

Though crisp, clean, stainless steel appliances are in high demand today, kitchens were a lot more colorful in the 1960s — even refrigerators, ovens, dishwashers, and microwaves were part of the palette.

“In the ’60s, avocado green and harvest gold appliances were all the rage,” says New York City real estate broker Sheila Trichter

Bare-Bones Style

Pre-war apartments and homes (those built before World War II) tended to have a lot of little extra flourishes — crown molding, large foyers, high ceilings, and arched doorways. By contrast, homes built after WWII in the 1950s and ‘60s really leaned into the basics, according to real estate broker Kimberly Jay. The ‘60s, in particular, were all about efficiency, she says.

“Telltale signs of 1960s apartment design and style are large rooms with low ceilings, simple and efficient baths, and very plain-vanilla style with no amenities,” she says. “These apartments are efficient, have large bedrooms, and are less formal than prewar. They tend to be less interesting to buyers due to the basic box structure, low ceilings, and small bathrooms. 

Conversation Pits

Instead of a standard, one-level living room like you find in homes today, 1960s homes often featured sunken living rooms, or conversation pits, for people to relax and entertain guests. This unique architectural element really resonated with homeowners and remained popular into the 1970s, too.

“One grand feature that splashier 1960s homes might have is the conversation pit, which you rarely see anymore, but can look chic today, if done right,” says real estate agent Steven Gottlieb.

Real Wood 

Wood featured heavily in the design and decor of 1960s homes, according to Ben Fisher, a real estate agent in Park City, Utah. “Most of the houses had cabinetry made from oak, cherry, or walnut wood,” Fisher says.

That affinity for wood extended to furniture, which you can still find today (if you’re lucky!).

“The furniture for this era is chef’s kiss,” says Sain. “Go shopping at any vintage shop and you’ll find furniture built from this era that still looks gorgeous. Not only were these pieces made well, but they also used gorgeous woods like walnut and cherry. And the clean lines of this style still translate so well to this day.”

New Materials

Inspired by the space race, the 1960s ushered in a new era for household materials — particularly in the kitchen, where Formica countertops and bold plastic accessories became en vogue, says Lisa Wirth, an interior designer with the online remodeling platform Beam

Homes for Family

Both split-level and cape cod-style homes also became popular during the ‘60s, thanks in large part to their family-friendly designs, Wirth says.

“In these two-bed, two-bath homes, children often shared bedrooms, family supper meant eating together at the dinner table, and entertainment equaled gathering around a single household TV located in the living room,” she says.