5 Complaints We Hear from Homeowners with 1970s Homes

When you think of homes from the 1970s, the Brady Bunch’s iconic 1970s-style ranch house comes to mind. It’s hard to believe, but a home built in 1970 is nearly 50 years old! If your place looks anything like the Brady’s, it may be time for a remodel to enhance the look and functionality of your home. Homes from this era are ideal to remodel because they’re old enough to be dated, but the structure, along with electrical and plumbing, are typically in decent shape.

Image via Hooked on Houses

In 1975, 60% of new single-family homes were one-story. The one-story ranch was one of the most popular house plans in the 1950s and 60s. Ranches built after 1970 are typically larger at 1,700 square feet. Homes built in this era are often on dramatically larger lots compared to anything currently being built. In our area, established developments such as the Highland neighborhood in Beaverton or Rock Creek off Highway 26 are desirable for this reason.

As building became more efficient, the split-level style, also called a tri-level home, became popular. Builders reused similar plans all over town due to their mass appeal – bigger homes that occupied less acreage.

A typical home from the 1970s

Now, the modern design is back in style, and homeowners want to remodel their 1970s ranch, split, and tri-level homes.

Here are 5 comments we repeatedly hear from our homeowners looking to remodel their 1970s homes:

1.) My kitchen is outdated.

Kitchens in the 1970s were often closed off from the rest of the home. Besides opening the walls, updating the materials in the kitchen will bring it into the current century. Most homes in this era have likely gone through a previous remodel, but it may be time to redo the redo if it didn’t address the main concerns.

Cabinetry in 70s was nothing special. The upside? The dark, manufactured cabinets come out easier than built-in-place cabinetry. Updating the cabinetry allows for customized storage solutions and utilizing the space better. It’s time to upgrade the harvest gold or avocado green appliances. Updating the appliances usually requires changes to the existing cabinetry. Tired of laminate counter tops? Solid surface granite and quartz counters make a beautiful statement, but don’t hesitate to entertain large format tile for a refreshed contemporary solution. Backsplashes can be simple and understated depending on the pattern in the countertop. Adding a textured or geometric backsplash will easily create a vertical impact statement if the countertops are simpler in pattern.

Investment: Kitchen remodels run in the $60k-100K range

2.) I want to open the space.

The 1970s introduced “open plan living” with double height-spaces, grand entrances, and sunken living rooms, but not all home plans feature these layouts. Especially in a split-level, the small kitchen is closed off from the rest of the home. This is not good for family togetherness, entertaining or keeping an eye on your kids. A larger kitchen is more desirable –especially if there’s more than one cook in the family. Opening the kitchen walls is the number one most requested remodeling project in split-level homes. This change makes a dramatic impact in the livability of your home.

You can gain space while staying in the home’s existing footprint by stealing space from an adjoining bedroom. It’s common to combine a bedroom with the master to create a proper master suite with walk-in closet and larger bathroom.

3.) The flooring needs updating.

Linoleum and vinyl were popular choices in the kitchen. These products were marketed as easy maintenance.However, the cancer-causing material asbestos was discovered in many building products in homes built before the 1980s. Manufacturers have stopped using it in products since then. But if asbestos is discovered, it must be remediated properly during construction. Good news! Asbestos isn’t dangerous if it’s undisturbed or contained.

You can freshen up other rooms by replacing the wall-to-wall carpet or installing hardwood to create a cohesive look. It is popular to re-sand, clear coat or stain Oak floors for an updated look, but a very strong trend is the new Luxury Vinyl Plank flooring which mimics the look of hardwoods in hundreds of colors, widths and styles. This product works well in active households – especially with pets – for traffic wear and tear.

4.) Dated aluminum windows, doors and trim need replacing.

Aluminum windows were popular in 1970s homes. For a dramatic update to the appearance and the comfort, replace the dated aluminum with energy-efficient vinyl or fiberglass windows. Vinyl windows are significantly better insulators against heat and cold. But there are other options in fiberglass and wood clad that may work better with your existing style of home. Black is the hot new color trend in windows. Using slimmer dividing grids or trim also allows for maximum viewing and natural light.

Homes from the 70s beg for new, light and bright millwork to combat the small rooms and narrow hallways. Many of our homeowners want to add new doors and millwork to get rid of the dark wood. Opting for new, paint-grade doors and millwork keeps things lighter

Cost to replace windows: $800-$1500/per window
Cost for new doors/trim: $30K-$50K for whole house

5.) The popcorn ceilings have to go!

Save the popcorn for the movie theater – not your ceiling. Popcorn ceilings were a retro, style trend to add interest, absorb sound and used to hide imperfections. Builders sprayed on the texture as a cost-effective way to hide imperfections rather than doing a smooth drywall. Popcorn ceilings can also cast shadows. Not only does it date the space, it makes ceilings difficult to clean and keep dust-free.

Aside from being an eyesore, another issue with popcorn ceiling is asbestos. If the ceiling tests positive for asbestos, it will need to be remediated by a qualified asbestos abatement company. If the area does not test positive, it can get removed during the normal course of construction.

Thankfully, the fad fell out of style in the late 70s with regulations on products containing asbestos. Now, newly skimmed and re-troweled ceilings with a fresh coat of paint can brighten up any room.

Popcorn Ceiling Removal Investment: The price is more reasonable than most people anticipate. Compared to the overall cost of a substantial remodel, this is a very minor piece that instantly improves the look of your home.


Does your home date back to the 1970s? Addressing some of these complaints will revitalize your home for another 50 years. If any of these things punch your buttons, reach out to us to make your updates.