Decorating ideas from a retro 60s avocado and orange time capsule basement

retro basement

How to add light to your basement? This wonderful 60s room spotted by reader Tom B., ready with the camera for retro recon, provides a great example.

Tom writes:

“Pam, My wife and I hit up an estate sale late yesterday and stumbled across a “time capsule” room I just HAD to share with you:  Get a load of the green stained walls, built in seating nook and orange tweed carpet!!! and look at those windows!

Tom continues:

“a closer view-

“get a load of the sweet little handprints in the stain on the right-And a closer look at the windows-


“did i mention that this room is in THE BASEMENT!!!! there is about a 10” gap between the walls with lighting along he ceiling:


“and here’s the next room over, similar windows and a false fireplace. (i loved this basement!!!!):


“The rest of the house was pretty unremarkable, just a normal, late 60’s ranch home. The kitchen had a wierd combo- the original wood cabinets/appliances with new beige/white corian countertops/backsplash. it was an, er, interesting look… (sorry no pics of that)

“I also picked up a new in box, ceramic doorknob escutcheon with gold fleur de lis printed on it along with a grocery bag full of other stuff for a whopping DOLLAR (like i said it was late)  Anyway, i hope you enjoy the pics, feel free to use them however you want.
your faithful reader,

Thanks, Tom — great green paneling, wonderful carpet! And just to be super clear, readers — those are fake windows in the basement. Built out from the wall, with lights behind them, to simulate daylight at the touch of a button. Pretty nifty!


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  1. sumacsue says

    Remember when people did that “antique-ing” paint technique on furniture back in the late 60s/early 70s? That’s what it looks like on the green built-in seats and other trim in this room. (Did you all see the little hand prints in the paint in the second photo? Precious.) Anyway, my mom went through a big “antique-ing” phase, and she used this color on the old wooden kitchen cabinets in our 40s era house. She used some other colors on some pieces of furniture elsewhere in the house. You put on the color, then put a brownish stain over it to make it look old, I think.

  2. lynngweeny says

    That stain color brought back memories of the room I shared with my sister in the late 60’s. We had matching dressers which my dad “antiqued”. Mine was the same green as this basement and my sisters’ was blue. They painted the walls soft yellow and put down avocado green carpet for us too. It was quite the hip remodel. The first night we spent in it we were jumping back and forth on our new twin beds and my sister overshot the distance and went feet first thru the big window on my side of the room, slashing the new curtains to ribbons. Her fuzzy slippers saved her. My parents were furious and said that this was why we could never have nice things.
    They were right.

  3. Elvis says

    Yes, SumacSue, I remember it well. For many years my parents had a blanket chest on which my dad had done that…same green as the photos above. And he built in and “antiqued” a whole dresser/vanity/desk unit in their bedroom, this time in a blue tone. The technique, as I recall it, was to paint the color layer on, let it dry, then apply the brown stain and sort of wipe it down gently, leaving it somewhat streaky.

    Great basement photos, Tom B. – thanks for the covert action!

  4. sumacsue says

    Lynngweeny, I do hope your bedroom was not on the second floor! That episode sounds like it should be in a National Lampoon movie with Chevy Chase.

    A big reason I love retrorenovation is seeing how much we all have in common. My sister and I shared bedrooms throughout our childhood. When we were around junior high age, my dad built us matching desks in one corner of our bedroom and antiqued them in blue. Our walls were painted avocado green. We had twin beds with blue bedspreads. He put up bulletin boards so we wouldn’t tape our pictures of the Monkees onto the walls. By this age, we were much too mature to jump on the beds. But a few years earlier, I ran into our room and jumped on my sister’s bed, and it broke down. She was so mad at me for breaking down her bed instead of mine. My dad was so mad at me because he had to figure out how to fix the bed. These stories make me think of Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen singing “Sisters, Sisters.”

  5. Elvis says

    SumacSue, your recollection sounds eerily similar to mine, except the desk unit my dad built in for my sister and me was painted white, with every drawer a different warm color (orange, yellow, brown, etc.) So cool!

    And I guess every dad whose teenage daughters want to put up hearthrob pics has the same reaction: save the paint job!

    Thanks for the memories!

  6. lynngweeny says

    Nope, our bedroom was in a darling single level ranch house in Anaheim, just a few miles from Disneyland. We badgered our folks for years to add a 2nd floor because we wanted a staircase banister to slide down. Can you imagine how we quickly we would have destroyed that?

  7. Tiffany Phares says

    Late to the party, but anyone have any idea how they stained/painted that paneling? I’m wanting to do something similar in our living room in something close to this color…but ours is veneered panels in a dark orange brown and I’m afraid the stain won’t lighten it up but make it darker. Thanks for any info.

    • pam kueber says

      I am not an expert on this. With wood floors, you need to sand out the stain, then restain. With a veneer you won’t have much to work with. You could try something like Citristrip Gel — it might lift the old stain. On the face of it, I would agree with your guess: New stain will not lighten up old stain.

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