Laminates that 'Retrofy' DIY

Restoring countertops to period perfection with exciting mid-century surface designs
Fridays on the Homefront
Authentic period-perfect patterns for covering countertop, tabletop, and vanity surfaces are back. We zeroed in on several of the coolest ones available—all attractive, kid-friendly, and easy to care for. Above: Panolam's 'Venus 2' pattern in turquoise. Photos courtesy of laminate manufacturers.

Thanks to their resurgence in popularity in recent years, laminates of postwar retro design are back in vogue and available on today's market.

Used to cover countertops, tabletops, and vanities for generations, industrial laminates are well known for their durability and stain resistance. These dependable utility surfaces are not only attractive but also kid-friendly and easy to care for.

One of the most timeless 20th century laminate styles ever produced is the 'Boomerang.' The dynamic, amoeba-shaped design was originally created by industrial designer Brooks Stevens in 1950 under the name 'Skylark.'

Happily, the Wilsonart company has saved the day. You can now find the Boomerang pattern, included in their Retro Renovation Collection, through Wilsonart's offering of 21 attractive colors, from Delightful Jade to Retro Butterscotch to Charcoal. Free samples are available online through Wilsonart's Virtual Design Library.

  Fridays on the Homefront
Wilsonart's 'Boomerang' in Delightful Jade.

'Cracked Ice,' an early design you may remember seeing on 1950s chrome dinette sets, is also being offered by Wilsonart. The digitally printed design is made to order and available in Gray, Green, Red, and Yellow.

A delightful Nevamar design has been revived by Panolam Surface Systems.

Panolam's Venus Collection, plus eighteen other mid-century inspired patterns, are being reintroduced as part of Nevamar's 80th anniversary. It includes a digital replica of a 1950s favorite pattern called 'Venus 2,' which features the ever-popular Googie-style starbursts, available in either turquoise and white backgrounds.

Panolam's Yesteryears Collection features 20 new designs, including Kinetic, Mid-Mod Walnut, Miesian, Planetree Maple, Odenton, Raffia, and Solids.

  Fridays on the Homefront
Wilsonart's 'Cracked Ice' in grey.

But there's another vintage favorite that has been elusive up until recently. SparkleLam, produced by the Make it Mid Century company, is styled after the glitter laminates that were wildly popular during the postwar years. For Eichler homes of the 1950s and 60s, if you recall, it was the white glitter laminate that was Joe Eichler's choice for kitchen and bath countertops.

After extensive research and experimentation, architect and entrepreneur Susan Halla decided it was time to produce and market products that have long been sought after by mid-century homeowners, and among them was this sparkle laminate.

Embarking on a serious R&D adventure, Halla, who lives in a mid-century home in St. Louis, realized there was a real gap in the restoration market when it came to mid-century modern. So she started out by offering period-appropriate front door kits, and by 2017, had launched her own Make it Mid Century operation.

A stickler for authenticity, Halla updated her popular white SparkleLam, tightening up the look of her white glitter laminate with a softer-toned white and adding more 'inclusions,' the random-patterned glittery sparkles that make SparkleLam so fabulous. Halla's company, she says, invested more than a year working to replicate the period laminate and create a look that's very close to the original.

  Fridays on the Homefront
Panolam's 'Venus 2' in white.