James and Robi’s 1949 ranch house with 1964 St. Charles kitchen cabinets

1949 ranch houseRetro Renovation readers James and RobiJames and Robi recently became the third owners of this 7,400 s.f. (woah!) ranch home near Fort Worth, Texas. As you would imagine, this was built by some folks with some dough re mi — it includes an indoor pool and a fabulous 1964 St. Charles steel kitchen has all the bells and whistles. Moreover, the kitchen is interesting, because we can see what vintage metal kitchen cabinets look like when they are finished with granite countertops — which were added by the previous owners. Robi writes:

Hi Pam,
I have been enjoying the Retro Renovation site and am so happy to know that there are others who love and appreciate their postwar homes. I was extremely fortunate to purchase my dream home a few months ago, and want to share some photos. The short version of a long story: The house was built in 1949 in a small college town an hour southwest of Fort Worth, Texas. The second owner purchased it in 1954, and cared for it meticulously for 50 years. The original owners’ son bought it five years ago, but decided to downsize. Now it belongs to my partner, two cats, and me, and it’s home!
.1964 blue metal kitchen cabinets
I write back right away and ask James to tell me his “Retro Renovation Story.” He replies:

My partner, Robi, and I were living in Fort Worth, in a nice early-1990s home in a great neighborhood.  We both thought of it as our permanent home, and I was content to spend the rest of my days there.  Several years ago, through mutual friends, we met Jim and Cissy, of Stephenville, Texas.  They soon came to be our friends, too.  We had admired their huge (7400 square foot) 1949 home and Robi’s half-serious comment to Cissy was, “If you ever want to sell this house,  let us know.” This surprised me, because I have always liked older houses, but Robi prefers new ones.  Go figure.

Through fate … the house became available this past spring, and Jim sent us a note.  After much deliberation, we took the plunge and bought it, giving us a one-hour drive to work in the city, but we knew we’d have to make some sacrifices.  This much said, a little history on the house.

1960s indoor pool in texas ranch houseJim’s dad owned the feed mill in Stephenville, a town of about 15,000, and an important dairy and agricultural center in North Texas. His wife, Kathryn, wanted a stylish new home to reflect their standing in the community, and hired a noted local builder.  They lived in the house for about four years, then for reasons not entirely clear (too big?) sold it to another family, who owned it for the next 50 years.  They added the pool room around 1963, hiring the original builder and his crew to construct it.  I am lucky to have several snapshots of the room and pool being built. Over the years, they meticulously cared for the house and yard.  Jim and Cissy bought the house in 2005 from the estate.

built in spice rack in 1960s st. charles kitchen cabinetsHe and Cissy redecorated a bit and made some changes, which might be cringe-inducing for dedicated midcentury-ists, including new bathrooms and updated the kitchen with the granite countertops you see in the pictures.  Fortunately, we don’t mind the updates, and they left a lot of the good vintage details intact, including the magnificent circa 1964 St. Charles kitchen cabinets, Vent-a-hood, laundry room, and pool room.  There are two vintage NuTone doorbells and a working NuTone Heata-venta-light.  The house retains its original woodwork and moldings, and has a great, comfortable mid century feel.

1960s kitchenaid dishwasherThe Hobart KitchenAid dishwasher was rescued (by me, the finder and fixer of things) from our local Habitat for Humanity store and restored, so it works as good as new, plus the house is home to our mostly mid-century traditional furniture and accessories and my vintage appliance collection.

Thanks again for letting me share the house on your site!  Stephenville has some other cool mid-century homes, including a terrific 1961 era Eichler-style on an estate-sized lot.  The original owner died this year and I’m not sure what the family has planned, but I went to the estate sale and it’s a wonderful, untouched example of uninhibited sixties modern!   I will keep an eye on it and if it comes up for sale, send some pictures.

Thank you for hosting this fabulous site, which is interesting, educational, and always inspiring!
To view slide show, click on the first thumbnail, the image will enlarge, and you can move forward or back via the arrows below each image. You can start the slide show anywhere…
Thank you so much for sending all these photos, Robi, and for sharing your story. What’s particularly interesting about your kitchen, is that, if you showed it to folks who weren’t into retro or mid century, I bet they’d think it was a modern “today” kitchen – what with those granite countertops and marble (?) backsplash and floor tiles. No question, those St. Charles cabinets have staying power. I recently saw my first set of vintage St. Charles cabinets “live” at the Re-Store in Springfield. Woah, those cabinets are honkin’ heavy — heavier than my Genevas, even. I am now a first-hand believer that St. Charles’ were top-of-the-line among steel kitchen cabinets. That said: I am pretty sure my Genevas will last forever, too.
Congratulation on your and Robi’s new/old home — it’s a lucky house!


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  1. Suzanne says

    What a fabulous house! It’s lovely that it’s gone to people who can really appreciate it. I wish you both many wonderful years to enjoy it together.

  2. Joe Felice says

    Good-looking couple for a good-looking house! Now all you need is a hot tub! You can tell the former owners were well-to-do, as they all the luxury features built in. Now you need Nora’s paper-towel holder.

  3. anita says

    How were the granite countertops installed on the metal base cabinets? I have been told that granite is too heavy to be placed on vintage metal base cabinets. Is there reinforcing to hold the countertop.

    Great cabinets!


    • James says

      Hi Anita,
      Thanks for your comments. Yes, the granite sits directly on the top of the metal cabinets. I wasn’t there for the installation, but it seems the cabinets are sturdy enough to support it without any extra bracing. Those old St. Charles cabinets are solid – built like tanks and are quite heavy.

      • anita says

        Thanks! I have a set of metal cabinets and have been struggling with what countertops for them are possible. Didn’t think something as heavy as granite was possible.

  4. Northside CJ says

    WOW! That’s an absolutely fantastic home. I’d love to see more pictures of it. Yay for the vintage appliances, my kitchen is filled with them! The granite counters do look good, but would not have been my choice. It is an excellent blending of the old and the new.

  5. Lara E. says


    LOVE your kitchen. Were the cabinets originally powder blue, or did you or the prior owner paint them? We are having our SC cabinets re-painted soon, and want to be sure it’s done properly. Also, we’ve unfortunately experienced minor rusting on some of the interior shelving – anyone have any suggestions to clean/treat the cabinets so this does not happen?

    Thanks for any input you can provide – beautiful kitchen!!


    • James says

      Hi Lara,
      Yes, the blue enamel on the cabinets is original. I have two St. Charles units that the previous owner took out, but saved in the utility room. They have been repainted off-white, but I plan to take them to a local auto-body shop and have them stripped and repainted original blue, then installed in the butler’s pantry with my vintage Frigidaire Flair wall oven! My advice is to check with a local auto body shop and ask if they paint metal cabinets; most will be glad to accommodate you, but you’ll probably have to take the cabinets to them.
      As for the rusting, I have a small amount starting in the cabinet under the sink. I keep a rubber mat under there, so the rust doesn’t show or rub off on things.
      Thanks for your comments!

  6. Jonathan says

    What a great story, Pam. Thanks for posting it.

    James and Robi, thanks for sharing photos of your home and the story about how the home came into your hands.

    I admire you for your decision to relocate to this home despite having to do 1-hour commute to work. When I was looking for my first home, I had been commuting for 40-minutes for about 6 months and I had enough of it. So, I made sure that I would live in a home that’s in the town where I live. I now have a 5 to 7 minute drive. I do like my 1942 house very much. I do sometimes wonder what it would be like to live in a MCM home. But, there are very few MCM homes around here.

    And, I am curious to know how do you two and your two cats use such a large home. What does the rest of your home consist of? I hope to see more photos someday. Good luck with setting up your home for the Christmas tour.

  7. Stonesmama says

    I LOVE the pictures of your home. I used to work for home health care years ago and visited a patient that lived in the home. I’ve always remember that fabulous kitchen and cool 60s vibe of the house. The circle skylights in the pool room are too groovy! Anyway, it was on the tour of home a few years ago and I was so afraid of what they were doing to the home. I am SO glad that you guys bought the house and appreciate it’s special features. I can’t wait to see it again on Sunday. Thanks for preserving the spirit of the house.

  8. Marianne says

    I had never seen a pressure cooker on “legs” until I saw one this past weekend in a local thrift store – then I see a second one in your kitchen! What’s the story on these? Should I run back and buy the other one? I think they wanted $10 for it.

  9. says

    Oh. My. Goodness! That kitchen is so amazing, I can forgive the granite. The cupboards make me so jealous, and the collection of small appliances is sublime, from the Farberware electric frying pan, the Presto (I think) electric pressure cooker, Sunbeam egg poacher, Sunbeam electric pot, Waring blender, to the Braun Citromatic juicer. These people know good stuff when they see it.

    It strikes me just a tad funny that the ad shown to me on the page is for new kitchen cupboards. Sorry! Not after looking at these ones!

  10. Sara in WA says

    This is everything I dream of. I am truly envious and wish you many happy years in this truly uniquely amazing home!!

  11. Michelle says

    So, silly question…but I have the same cabinets and the same spice rack!! We just finished installing them and I can’t for the life of me figure out how to get the short shelves behind the pull out spice rack to hook in. Can you help

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