Midcentury home design and renovation ideas from 8 retro housebloggers

This year I want to give even more visibility to the fabulous activity under way among all the retro house bloggers featured on the blogroll. Above: Uncle Atom is carving his own tiki totem pole — making us all look like slackers and giving our usual go-to-decorating-overachiever TroySF a run for his money. That said, you ain’t getting me near any chain saw. Read on to see some of the great stories from 7 other house bloggers…

closet renovationOver at Cincinnati Modernation, Chris has taken down some wall and is renovating the closet. Ummm…. Chris…. it appears you are plastick-ing yourself into the closet. Did you get out? I hope this project goes well…

On their blog, Our Arts & Crafts Home, Cara & Mark added a boatload of insulation to their attic and walls. Hey, I did this, too, this past fall — a great idea, given all the weatherization incentives out there — and good for the environment, of course!

1939 lavendar and black bathroomMelanie from The Tiny Tudor, shows us the before-and-after of her fabulous 1939 black-and-lavendar tiled bathroom. This tile and the sink are all original – can you imagine! So valuable!

Here is a time capsule living room from a real estate listing that Retro Ruth showcased on her blog, No Pattern Required. It caught my eye because of that fireplace landing area or whatever you call it I can’t think of the word right now. Threshold? Hearth! That’s it! Anyway, it’s the same, inexpensive, random-colored mixed-slate tiles we spotlighted earlier this year for entry ways, patios, and the like. Yes!

Mr. Modtomic showed off his Salem Northstar dinnerware on his blog, Mr. Modtomic. Woah, this stuff is snazzy! Take a look at other readers’ vintage dinnerware — and upload photos of your own — on this Retro Renovation post from last month.

Joe — known as Synthesis in his comments here — is documenting his “Minus 365” campaign over on his blog, Just Another Statistic. That means: One item leaves the house each day every year. Yes, serious clutter-busting. I need to do this, too. Joe, you are my new inspiration to keep at it. 

Over at The Gonce House, Susie is helping her sister to freshen up her new — 1970s — hair salon. The photo is kinda blurry, but not so much that I don’t get the drift. 1970s hair salon? Yes! 1970s hair? no no no no no no!

Important blogger courtesy information: All these photos are (1) “indexed” back to the blogger’s page and  (2) include an additional hotlink identifying the blog by name. This also is what I require if you use any images from my site, see Terms of Use. This is GOOD BLOGGER KARMA. “Indexing” a photo means: When you upload the photo, there will be a “link url” box also — add the link to the person’s blog post there; so, when someone clicks the photo they go to that person’s blog — the original photo remains associated with the original blog.


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  1. says

    Hi Pam,
    Thanks for the nice publicity. It’s a cold morning here in the DC area, and it was tough getting started today, but seeing my hacked up tree stump decorating your morning blog post was even better than a strong cup of coffee!
    Uncle Atom

    • says

      We had a tree fall last week, leaving an 8′ or so high base… I showed your tiki project to my DH and asked him if we should do the same and he quickly said YES. He loves tiki! He was impressed!

      • Kate F says

        We had a tree go this year too. We were devastated – it was our zen hammock tree. But, we purposely left a good 6ft to build a tiki head, and give our old tree a second life. Looking forward to seeing how TroySF is doing his.

      • says

        He can do it Pam, he just has to tap his inner DaVinci. Hmm, DaVinci with a chainsaw. For me, I was stymied for a long time because I couldn’t see the tiki inside that stump. I kept looking online for tiki pictures, and finally stumbled upon one image that gave me the inspiration and didn’t intimidate me too much.

    • TroySF says

      Wow, I’ll need to invest in some larger power tools to keep up Uncle Atom! Looking forward to seeing the finished sculpture.

  2. Gavin Hastings says

    I’m not sure about the slate tiles with French Provincial, but I want, want, want that stereo console!

  3. Joe says

    Wow Pam! I wasn’t expecting a shout out today! What a nice surprise when I get up with my espresso. The Clutter reduction is very cathartic, almost like free therapy. I haven’t really gotten into the good stuff yet, and by good stuff, I mean more junk.

    And yes, I STILL owe you a full writeup and photoshoot of our kitchen, hopefully the decluttering of the house will help motivate that. The holidays wreaked havoc in the kitchen (as your cookies will attest).

    thanks again!

  4. says

    Hey Pam!
    Let me say how much I enjoy your blog! It is great to have a whole community of folks doing the same type of thing I am! (great ideas, resources and feeling of community here!) I started my blog (www.retroranchrevamp.com) when my husband and I bought the retro ranch of our dreams just over 6 months ago. I have been really busy trying to paint and get settled, but my new year’s resolution is to try and post once a week for the whole year! If you get a chance, hop over there and let me know what you think!

    Your fan,

  5. Cara says

    Yay for insulation!!
    Whoa oh, typo alert. DH’s name is Mark though I’m the retro obsessed fan so he’ll never know :o) maybe this Joe version of him will let me redo our bathroom in lavender??
    My blog has been lacking lately but now maybe I’ll have time after the holidays? Ha! My dad found a stack of 50’s-ish era Formica samples while we were cleaning out grandpa’s house last week so hopefully soon scans of those will be my next entry.

    • pam kueber says

      oopsy. i will fix! would LOVE to see those scan’s Cara! yes, and keep up with the blog as over time, i do check and only feature “active” ones…..

      • Cara says

        Normally I seem to average once a week so I’m not too worried. There is nothing more annoying than discovering a good blog only to find it hasn’t been updated since 2007!
        I scanned the tiles last night so hopefully by this weekend I will have them up for everyone to ogle.

  6. JKaye says

    That afghan on the bed of Chris in Cincinnati looks so similar to one we have, made by my grandma back in the ’70s. Maybe Chris’ grandma made his. Heck, maybe MY grandma made his. She lives in Ohio too.

    • TroySF says

      JKaye, I noticed that too. There’s something so comforting about vintage hand crochet/knit afghans, don’t you think? And the colors and patterns are amazing. Is this an Ohio thing? I’m also from Ohio – scored three big beauties at the local Salvation Army during my trip home over the holidays. It’s staggering to think how long they took to make and for $5/each what a bargain! After a good wash they will find a new home on my sofa during these long chilly SF winter evenings.

      • Jeanne says

        I have several of the zig-zag patterned afghans that my mother made. One is black-based with blues/turquoise/purples. The other is white-based with oranges/pinks/golds. I LOVE both of them and they always somehow fit into my color schemes as I’ve moved over the years.

        I’m in Michigan, so maybe it’s a midwest thing. We need stuff to keep us warm while we dial-down our thermostats. 🙂

        • Chris says

          Pam, thanks for featuring our project on your blog! The Afghan on the bed was made by my mom for me when I was a kid. It’s a family tradition to crochet, we have afghans made by my grandmother, mom, and now my wife has made one. Sounds like some good blog post material.

  7. says

    Huh, seems me and Synthesis Joe are working in opposite directions! Well, not entirely. While I’m not ADDING clutter daily I am at least Documenting my clutter daily! And well, on average…I probably AM adding an at least one piece of junk to the house or garage every day. ::sigh::

  8. gsciencechick says

    OK, I did not need to see that Northstar dinnerware because now I want it. Can they be used for everyday or are they more like fine china?

    I also would’ve bought the house with the purple and black bathroom just for that room!

    • says

      The Northstar isn’t so hard to find or so delicate that I’d only use it for special occasions. It’s easy to find on Ebay and seems have been made in large numbers. I think it only commands a premium because of the iconic “starburst” pattern and the fact that you can’t run down to CB2 or Target to get a set. Get yourself a set but always buy spares when you find them or you’ll have to wait on the post office to deliver your replacements.

      • gsciencechick says

        Thanks! I know I have seen these in the past, but we now have a blue retro-inspired kitchen where they would go so well. I will have to keep an eye out for them online and locally in thrift shops. I have a full set of Mikasa china for special occasions, so I am set there. I would be looking to replace our everyday Corelle.

  9. says

    Thanks for featuring my bathroom & blog! So exciting- I’m catching up on my reading and scrolling along and there is my very own bathroom…I can’t wait to share what I just found to add to it too… pale lavendar vintage porcelain sconce shades! They look like they could have been in the bathroom the day it was built. Thanks again- I’m off to visit some of the other bloggers highlighted and scan Retro Renovation for some ideas for new hardware to go with these sconces : )

    • pam kueber says

      wow, melanie, the lavendar porcelier sconces sound just lovely! i keep an eye on your blog, so be sure to post photos. and sell those 60s globes after they are out. i think they are quite cool even though i understand why you are going deeper-into-history vintage.

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