These perfectly preserved time warp homes will blow your mind
We can’t step into a time machine and blast ourselves off to the past, but we can use a looking glass to see what life was like 100 years ago. These homes were decorated by their owners in the style of the time, then left untouched for decades, and allow us to witness what homes looked like in the 1920s, all the way up to the 1960s.
The house that time forgot
They just don’t build them like they used to, right? Well, you may have heard that from time to time but in the case of the Straw (Straw is the family name, not the building material of the house that the Big Bad Wolf blew down) house, that just might be the case.
The brick house (coincidentally the building material that the Big Bad Wolf couldn’t blow down) was built in 1905, and acquired by William Straw, a grocer, some years later. He and his wife Florence decorated the house in 1923, and since the decor hasn’t been touched since then, going inside is a trip back in time.
A trip back in time
William Straw passed away in 1932, which was the same year Adolf Hitler ran for president of Germany (he lost that round of elections). William Straw must’ve been quite a guy, because Florence and her two sons were so grief-stricken that they couldn’t bring themselves to change the decor.
For over 90 years the house in Wistol, England sat untouched, with the same dark paint on the walls in the living room, and the same oil paintings, with their gilt frames, hanging from the picture rail that surrounds the room. How style has changed over the decades—we’d just nail those into the wall these days.
A cozy reading room
Evidently being a grocer in the early 1920s was a lucrative trade, because the red brick lived in by the Straws is decorated with some expensive treasures. The Straw family also prospered as seed merchants, which enabled them to afford the house in Blythe Grove.
Mirrors over the fireplace were common in the Straw home, and judging by the cast-iron stove in the fireplace itself, you can see why this would make a fantastic study or reading room. Imagine cozying up next to the heat with a good book under that gold clock, while one of the Straw children practices on the piano.
Can’t handle the heat, stay out of the kitchen
As we make our way through the Straw home, we find ourselves in the kitchen. That oven sure leaves something to be desired as it looks just big enough to fit a frozen pizza. But it got the job done and the stove top looks ready to serve up a hot cup of tea.
The iron is the most telling portion of this photograph that we’re back in the 1930s. Ironing clothes with iron (now you know why it’s called that) goes back to ancient China, and even though the electric iron was patented in the U.S. in 1882, you can see the Straw family did it the old-fashioned way.
Beef tea, for real
The fireplace and the stove weren’t the only things to keep the Straw home warm, as you can see many bottles of Bovril, which was used to make one of Britain’s favorite hot drinks — “beef tea.” It could be that the family used the beef powder to cook with, but that wouldn’t be the norm for the era.
Bovril beef powder is still sold to this day, and for the soccer faithful (football for the Brits), beef tea is still enjoyed in the stadium during winter games. The grocer’s pantry is well-stocked as you can see, and even has two different brands of everyone’s favorite — sardines. Yuck!
Wood fire baking
While the kitchen does have a range top and oven, it was probably installed well after the original construction of the home. We can see that there’s another chimney in the background to support the original stove, which heated food the old-fashioned way — with a wood-burning fire.
Are we back in time yet? If so, then take a look at the butler’s station in the corner, complete with a farm-style sink and hoses from the ceiling. The pots suggest Florence Straw may have been a baker, further evidenced by the scale on the kitchen table. We don’t know what she baked — bread, pie, or other treats — we just know we want it!
The stand-up shower was no way to get clean in the 1920s, as the old-timers subscribed to an age-old mantra that this writer embraces wholeheartedly — why stand when you can sit? Okay, I mostly only take showers, but only because it takes a while to draw a bath.
Roll-top baths were common in the era, and that goes for the wooden rack holding a pumice stone, pear soap, and scrubbing brush. Though almost everything else in the house was heated by wood fire, it’s likely the Straw house had a gas water heater, as they became common in upscale homes after they were invented in 1889.
Back in the 1930s it was common for people to use newspapers for bed sheets…okay, that’s a bald-faced lie, but from the look of this bedroom, you might believe me. This bedroom became Florence’s room for the brief time she occupied the house after William’s death, which is when she had the piano moved into the room.
By the state of the decrepit sheets, it looks like they’re still the original bedding, and by the state of the old newspapers on top, we can bet that it hasn’t been slept in for a long time. The year 1932 would’ve been a particularly tough time for Florence to lose her husband, as there were over 200,000 unemployed men in London that year due to the Great Depression.
Hanging onto the past
Here we see a photograph of the happy couple taken not long before William passed away. Florence went on to live for another seven years before she died as well, allowing them both to escape the perils of the coming German Blitz and WWII.
The year before Florence passed away (1938), William Straw Jr. came back to Blythe Grove to live. He stayed there for an astounding 47 years, and somehow didn’t redecorate one bit the entire time. He was so adamant about keeping the house the same that he didn’t even have a telephone, radio, or TV ever installed in the home!
Old shoes look like new
It looks as though William Straw Sr. was a well-put-together man, as he has two pairs of black dress shoes, and if I look close enough, I can probably make out my face. They look worn, but certainly buffed and shined, though I bet you can’t guess why they’re stuffed with newspaper.
You’ve probably heard it rains a lot in England, and an old trick for soaking up the water in shoes is to stuff them with newspaper. It may also explain why no mold has appeared on those shoes, but we certainly can’t vouch for any odor or lack thereof.
Stuck in the past
Here we have another cupboard, and if you look closely, you can see that we have yet another bottle of Bovril. What’s perhaps most revealing in this cabinet is not the collection of spices within, but the multiple bottles of Nesquik powder.
Nesquik wasn’t even invented until 1948, which means that William Straw Jr. must’ve been the one to stock it. That also means that when he was a full-grown adult, he still preferred chocolate milk. It kind of makes sense, and I’m not judging here, but it does seem like William Jr. is a bit stuck in the past.
A lesson in postage
Now we’re starting to get a sense of what kind of hoarder William Straw Jr. was. This package was meant for him, as it’s postmarked for February 1983, and although it has clearly been opened, it appears to be in semi-pristine condition. Why in the world would he preserve this package?
The postage rate on this package is 0.16 pounds, which would’ve roughly equated to 24 cents at the time. Assuming it only weighs an ounce, today that would cost about $1.00, or an increase of 400%. It probably weighed a lot more, though, as the content was likely reading material after coming from a London-based bookstore.
If we weren’t sure that William Straw was a sharp dresser by his shoes, now that we see his neat assortment of hats and coats we know he was a well-dressed man. The three hats to the left are felt trilbies while the two to the right are called flat caps.
The wonderful rainy weather of England comes to mind again as it seems incredible that one man would have not one, not two, but five raincoats. But William Straw Sr. did, and his sons never bothered to wear them. And for all we know, they never bothered to touch them.
Here we see another set of letters, this time from 1956, and the stamp for a letter-sized envelope was only 0.3 pounds. William Jr. moved out of the house in 1985, and when he died in 1990, it was turned over to the National Trust.
William’s brother had died some years before, and William never had any children. Since the house had been preserved for so long, the National Trust decided to keep the home as is, and the manager of the house put it best when she said, “It offers the public a unique insight into family life between the wars.”
Once upon a time…the American Dream
Moving on from the Straw family home of the 1930s, we find ourselves with another home that’s caught in a time warp, and this time we’re in the 1950s. This Dallas, Texas-based rambler represents the style of the era and even has the pink Cadillac to match.
In 2016 this 1954 home was put on the market for $900,000, and even though it resides on Pinocchio Drive, we’re not lying about the fact that 100,000 people walked through it. The paint and the style on the outside is the mere cover to the book, as the real treasure lies within.
Into the kitchen!
When was the last time you saw pink appliances? Well, not everyone tries to match their car to their appliances but the owners of this house managed to do just that. They also managed to match their side door and backdrop to a spaceship, leaving us asking, what’s in the garage?
Perhaps the most striking feature in this pink and titanium kitchen (with some wood too) is the “dead man” knife block on the counter. Perhaps the lady of the house wasn’t a fan of the kitchen, or maybe we just found the voodoo doll responsible for her husband’s arthritis throughout his entire body.
Enter the 1950s
Here, we find ourselves at the entryway of the house, and we can bet that this homeowner didn’t throw stones, because his front door is made of glass. Let’s just hope they had a more accessible way, because could you imagine trying to fit a couch through this door?!
The best part of this entryway has to be the coatrack, which appears to be a giant collection of oversize map tacks. The exposed brick is a nice touch and keeps the privacy in the otherwise transparent entryway. The fireplace is on the other side, and that opening in the brick is meant for heating, though just like everyone else who had this feature, the owners used it for storage.
Relax, make yourself at home
You can almost hear Austin Powers saying “shag” when you take a look at that purple shag rug, but we’re in Texas, so get that English accent out of here! It would seem that the decor has gone more for style than comfort as that couch looks about as comfortable as Austin Powers’ teeth are pretty.
The house itself is in the shape of a “T,” and has four bedrooms and three bathrooms to go along with this living room that faces a pool in the backyard. The surfboard-style coffee table is a nice touch too, but the best part has to be those stylish chairs that no one ever took a nap in.
Now we’re talking!
What 1950s style home would be complete without a pool in the backyard? Well, the answer to that is a lot of homes would not have such luxuries, but we don’t mind thinking about sipping lemonade (spiked or otherwise) and taking a dip in the pool to cool off from the Texas heat.
We’re calling BS on that barbecue to the left, but oddly enough instead of opting for a propane-fueled outdoor heater, the owners stuck with a fitting wood-fired heater that we can see on the right. The bucket, barber-style chairs are a nice touch too, and that umbrella is so tacky it’s stylish.
Space Age furniture
This house is the Muppets — every room in it has its own unique personality (just wait until we get to the bathroom). There’s a sort of space theme in this room, with the ceiling fan, and all the furniture that seems to be either floating in zero gravity or has a shape that defies our normal perception of what furniture should look like.
The living room above is a perfect example of the concept of open living, as nothing partitions the dining room from the living room except an imaginary line that runs down from the central beam in the ceiling. And on the floor we see more of that shag rug tickling our toes as we walk through.
The coolest bathroom in the world
Spearmint green was definitely “in” during the 1950s, and this bathroom is practically dripping with it. The only problem is we can’t see the toilet, and I’m definitely wondering what that looks like! Whoever found a radio that matches the decor in the room can interior design for me any day, as they also effectively used several mirrors to make the room appear larger.
The average price for a home when this house was built in 1954 was just over $10,000, which means this house enjoyed a a nearly 9,000% increase in value. With rooms like this—perfectly decorated and perfectly preserved (not to mention inflation)—we can understand how that’s possible.
Back to England, and now we’re in the swinging ’60s!
We’re moving on from the 1950s to the swinging ’60s, and this house looks slightly less cool than the rambler in Dallas. But this Canadian-style home was built in 1966, and won House of the Year in 1967. Since then the rooms inside have been untouched, bringing us into another time warp that shows the style of 1960s decor.
The house in Great Barr, Birmingham (that’s England, not Alabama, by the way)—with its top floor level with the street and the bottom floor going subterranean—looks a little unkempt on the outside, but sold for somewhere in the neighborhood of $350,000.
Let’s step inside!
The house was named Montana (don’t ask us why) and was bought in 1966 by the Tipper family for 11,000 pounds sterling, and has enjoyed an over 3,000% increase in price. Like the Straw house, Eric and Winifred Tipper were grocers, and willed the house down to their son when they departed.
Mrs. Tipper passed away in 2015, outliving her husband by 13 years, and their son decided in 2016 it was time to sell. He argued that with his own family and house, he didn’t have time to keep it up, which is understandable since the original furniture and decorations still adorn the house.
Let there be light!
Here we are in the entryway of the house, and again we’re confronted by a glass door, and then we’re hit with stairs going down straightaway. You can see how the rails outline the staircase, and this would’ve been extremely stylish in the 1960s, as it’s paired with that psychedelic carpet.
The skylight and giant window next to the front door ensure that there’s plenty of light flooding into the house. The front door entry area is also constructed as some sort of an air lock, but again, security is not provided when both doors are made of glass. It must’ve been a nice neighborhood.
Just in case you were wondering, we’ve made our way to the kitchen and it’s not hard to believe that this is the original oven. It would be a darn shame if someone were to replace this oven when they buy it, opting for functionality over nostalgia (okay, maybe we do understand if they replace it).
The oven was manufactured by the Belling Formula company that boasts over a century of business providing appliances for homes in England. In their “About Us” page on their website, they mention that their products are “at the heart of the home” twice in the first paragraph, leading me to think this one needs a pacemaker.
Now that’s decor
Not only is the same oven in the kitchen, but we can see the same counters, floor, and cabinets. The colors clash immensely and are so tacky they’re stylish. What is striking is that everything is original, is over 50 years old, and looks like it’s brand new. It really does give the feel of being warped back in time.
Linoleum floors were the norm in 1960s kitchens, as they were durable and gave the impression that professional tile work took place (though it’s not fooling anyone). The best part of this kitchen is the cabinet handles, causing us to ask: were hands shaped differently in the 1960s?
The owner himself
That’s Mr. Tipper there, and though his name implies he’s a generous guy, don’t expect him to share his proceeds from selling this house, or for him to upgrade anything in it. He was born in 1952 and was 14 years old when he became a resident of Montana (the home, not the state) in 1966.
Mr. Tipper enjoyed many happy memories right where he’s standing, and with the exception of the time he spent in college, he lived in the house until 1980 when he got married. When he was selling the house, he was hoping the next buyer would maintain the charm, and you have to ask yourself, would you?
A visit to 1950s England
Robert and Freda Close renovated this house back in 1952, and since then, the house in Stockton-on-Tees in County Durham, England has barely been touched. The house went on sale in 2015 for just under $365,000, after Mrs. Close passed away at the ripe old age of 97.
Again we find pink in the kitchen, but this time it’s from a coat of paint and not the appliances. Also typical of the era, there’s very little counter space, as all we can really identify is a small portion used as a tea station (coffee station in the U.S.). And like all the British homes we’ve seen, there’s tea kettle ready to go.
Love that lamp
You can see that although the furniture and fixtures are the same, there have been some modern upgrades. Take that picture rail for example, which was probably in use back in 1952 when the home was renovated, but even Mrs. Close wasn’t hanging anything from it by the time she passed.
It looks like some modern electronics have made it into the room, and when they renovated, they likely sealed off the fireplace in favor of that heater. Somehow the coil one behind that incredibly awesome lamp is still in the room, as are at least two speakers the size of small refrigerators.
We’re gonna start commenting on the lintel for the closet at the back of the entryway, and say that it’s really messing with our feng shui. Despite the fact that feng shui has been around for over 3,500 years, it didn’t really go mainstream until 2003, so I guess we’ll give Mr. and Mrs. Close a pass.
Other than that, we have to point at that psychedelic paisley carpet and realize what an obstacle that would pose for anyone under the influence. It’s moving every time look at it, but at least that banister looks absolutely solid. Did they polish that wood? Because it sure looks like it.