Do you have a retro design dilemma? Ask us!

If you have a retro design dilemma, Kate and Pam may feature your story — with potential solutions in our Retro Design Dilemma series.

See our Retro Design Dilemma stories to see the kinds of questions we feature

To be considered, follow these five steps:

  1. Take 3-5 photos of the room in question — making sure to read over my post for 6 tips to take great photos of your room. Also please take photos that help to illustrate your design dilemma — example — if you aren’t sure how to decorate around your colorful retro flooring, make sure to include a good quality close up of the floor itself as well as a shot of the whole room, so we can see how it reads in the space as well as what it looks like up close. Another example: If you have a piece of vintage fabric… or a vintage dinette that you want to start with as your inspiration piece, be sure to send photos of those, along with your room. Remember, because we can’t be in your actual room to look around, you must give us all the visual information we need to help you from afar!
  2. Make your question specific — We want to know what you want to know — so tell us. Do you need our help to pick flooring? Find the right style of sofa to complement your knotty pine den? Are you clueless when it comes to your front door? Explain exactly what your problem is so we can help you solve it.
  3. Tell us about your style — If you are trying to make your bedroom look like a 1970s flashback, clue us in so we don’t suggest something that screams 1950. This is also a great time to mention fun information about yourself, how you ended up your house — your “Retro Renovation story”. All this adds some extra frosting and sprinkles to your cake… I mean … submission. (We like sprinkles!)
  4. Email your dilemma — We will likely get many emails asking for advice so please send only one email containing all the information requested above (it’s crazy hard for us to keep track of multiple emails).  Of course, we likely won’t be able to answer all of your questions — we’re thinking that we will feature one, maximum two, reader design dilemmas each week. To give yourself the best chance to have your question answered here on Retro Renovation, please follow the above steps (take 3-5 good photos, specific question, style preferences). After you submit your design dilemma, and it has been reviewed, you will receive a confirmation email.
  5. Read and agree to the Terms of Use — When you make a submission you are agreeing to the site’s Terms of Use. So be sure to read them here:

Note: This is not the place to submit your urgent design questions — We work on these stories 4-6 weeks in advance and usually only post one per week — your patience is appreciated!

Please send all retro design dilemmas to:

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  1. says

    My kitchen cabinets are standing in the living room, so it will be a while before I have photos, and, of course, by then it will be too late for advice!

    What I need to know, now, is how to choose colors and shades for the walls, cabinets, countertops, floor, appliances, and backsplashes. Are there principles that apply to deciding which one should be the darkest and which the lightest?

    I will have straw-colored cabinets (yellowish, bit of tan, hint of green medium light) with a grey-silver trim, and white appliances. Otherwise, I’m having trouble deciding which of the other surfaces should be emphasized.

    I want to introduce some aqua or pistachio, but should it be on the walls or the countertop or the floor? I don’t want to end up with too many colors, and the cabinets are already a blend, so I’m thinking the countertop and floor need to be a solid color.

    My question, though, is not what colors I should choose, but what are the principles that apply. I notice in photos that even a dark countertop reflects light, the floor less so. I will need light!

    • TappanTrailerTami says

      IMissLiberty: Yay~! I am so happy to know that I am not alone – my kitchen cabinets are also in my living room! And have been for a long while.

      One of the best things I did was to get a good house plan design software (can be had for about $80) and mine has 3D view, so I can view a room before it gets constructed. Mine also allows for uploading of patterns/colors, so I can generally replicate what the walls/counters/floors would look like with different materials.

      There are some limitations in my program (Home Designer version 8), but overall, it has helped tremendously.

      I may take Pam and Kate up on their offer, but instead of sending photos since my kitchen isn’t built yet, I would send the 3D views of the computer generated images of my proposed kitchen. I’m having a bit of trouble deciding whether I want the style of my kitchen to be more “Arts/Crafts” vs. a full- on Post War 40’s kitchen. I have both versions on my computer.

      • J D Log says

        Wow my kitchen cabinets have been in the living room and hallway for 2 years now, Have been working my way down only have the floor to go.

  2. Valerie says

    Just what I need! After over two years of looking for the right mid-century ranch, my husband and I have now occupied our 1956 raised ranch for only a week. I have a ton of great ideas already in store for the home, but it is throwing me some curveballs and I am anxious to see what Pam, Kate and other readers think! Where to begin!?!?

  3. Pta Richard says

    I have an old house circa 1970. It has a ming green bath . I am missing 2 of the bullnose tiles arround the sink. can you tell me where I might find these?

  4. Marty Jacobs says

    I have St. Charles cabinets that I would like to upload and add to the forum. Oddly enough I cannot seem to find out how to join the forum. Please help!

  5. James Fletcher says

    I have a Ranch 1955 with additions in mid 80s. It has a board and batton wood exterior that I have painted a light moss green with Dark green trim. Roof is dark brown shingles aswell as gutters . Would it be appropriate to add a 36 inch faux rock exterior to bottom of the roadside wall, which is the front of the house? Will do drystack look in a gray hue or slatestone in brown. Thanks

  6. says

    I’m repainting my pink tile bathroom the original Mamie Pink. My question is: should I also paint the ceiling??
    From what I can tell, the cabinets were pink at one time, but I wasn’t sure if the ceiling should be pink.
    Right now the room is all white (cabinetry etc.) and only the tile is pink.
    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

  7. Jason says

    Is this where I do this? I hope so. I have enjoyed the site for over a year and have been restoring my 1957 ranch for almost the same amount of time. I have finally gotten around to the bathrooms and have run into a snag. ALL of the beautiful pink tiles in the master bath have been reglazed white. WHY? It is insane. How can I remove the glaze? Any ideas?

  8. Peggy S says

    I live in a 1952 house in Houston that still has its two original pink bathrooms. I am looking at the tub in the picture accompanying this comment string below. It’s a jetted tub so it must be new, and yet it’s tiled in. My question: how do I (actually the tile guy) get my old tub out and get in a new one with minimal damage to existing tile?? Everyone says it can’t be done. All the plumbers/tile installers want to just break out all of my brownish coral tile and re-do the bathtub area with a white fiberglass pre-formed surround. I’m digging in my heels. Need some help, information, and maybe a web article that shows how this can be done. Please help!

  9. Maribeth says

    I am having trouble finding the maroon bathroom tiles. Our house was built in 1957 and we want to keep the pink and maroon tiles, but we need about 12 of the 6 inch by 2 inch tiles? Help!!!

    • pam kueber says

      use the search box – see my stories about World of Tile. Check B&W also — again — use the Search, the FAQs or the categories

  10. Edwyna says

    Does anyone know where I can buy shelf paper like my Mom had in the 1950’s? Paper fit on the cabinet shelf, and then hung over the shelf edge, usually having scalloped edges, often with pictures of Dutch children, roosters, and the like.

  11. Julie says

    Hi! I have a couple questions regarding our 1941 [half] pink bathroom. The tile in the shower stall is the original pink and black. However, the rest of the tile in the bathroom is beige (WHY??). I have no idea if they were reglazed or if they are new. Also, the tub and bathtub are white. I want to tie together the pink and beige tile and am having trouble picking a color for the walls. They’re currently white, but would an off white in the pink family be too much? I’d rather not redo the tiles. Also, what flooring would go well with this?

    • Kate says

      Julie, If you’d like you can take some pictures and email them to me at along with your question and we can consider featuring your bathroom as a Retro Design Dilemma. Just make sure to take good photos with the best lighting possible and several overall room shots along with some close-ups of the tile and other important room features. Thanks!

  12. Primrose Road says

    Hi — I have an interior basement bathroom that needs fixing but cannot for the life of me get photos to capture the wall tile color. It’s sort of peach-pink with what looks like metallic finish (it reflects light) dark brown tile as trim. House was built in ’58. Does anyone have a clue about what color combo this might have been? Thank you!

    • pam kueber says

      Is the tile ceramic or plastic?

      In any case, there were so many manufacturers… and so many colors…. it’s virtually impossible to guess…

  13. judy says

    I am looking for a retro violet/orchid colored toilet to replace the one I have.
    Do you have one available and if so what ks the price?



    • pam kueber says

      We do not sell anything here. For all our research on where to find pastel-colored toilets, see Bathroom Help category / Toilets subcategory.

  14. Teresa Schrampf says

    Hi guys, I want to re enamel my pink bathtub and vanity. Companies of have approached wont do colours…only white. What do you suggest?


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