14 favorite stories from 2014

2014-stories-collageWoah, Nelly: Kate and I are taking a real, throwback vacation — for the first time ever. No blogging for the next 10 days. All comments going into moderation, although I will free them up once a day and I will likely keep my ebay lists updated ‘cuz I check daily anyway. We’ll be back Jan. 2. Meanwhile, we took a look back and came up with some of our favorite — well, “representative” favorite, because there was lots we loved — stories of year. It was a great year, if we say so ourselves!

1. World of Tile

world of tileBoo to the hoo, World of Tile went out of business this fall. It was the liquidation sale to end all liquidation sales — all 100,000 square feet of warehouse, piled 30 feet high with vintage tile, was wide open. I went three times. I made bunch of new friends. It was exhilarating, it was depressing, it was once in a lifetime bittersweet — and now it is over. I still need to showcase my stash o’ treasure. 2015, here we come.

2.  Mike and Lindsey’s House of Good Taste

mike and lindseyWe met readers Mike and Lindsey a few years ago when they shared the two pink bathrooms in their last home, but we really got to know the couple as they shared their latest project: remodeling and restoring their Edward Durell Stone House of Good Taste — shared with us in an extensive eight-part series. Over the course of a few months, Mike and Lindsey let us see behind the scenes of their remodel and shared each step of the project with us — from refinishing terrazzo floors to installing custom cabinetry. Thank you, Mike and Lindsey — YOU ROCK!

3. Nine tips to consider before remodeling a mid-century house

anne taintor deeply in debtI consider this a “foundational” story for the blog. If you — or someone you know — has recently bought a mid-century home and is all excited to renovate right away, make sure they read my nine tips to consider before beginning a remodeling project. And: We have more comments from readers… and 21 more ideas from readers about planning kitchen remodels.

4. 12 reasons to own (and love) a midcentury home

model houseAnother RR Basic: Whenever I am interviewed for stories involving mid-century houses, reporters always ask, “Why do you and your readers love mid-century houses so much…What is the appeal?” It is hard to answer this question simply, so I compiled a list of 12 reasons to own and love a mid-century home based on my personal experience interacting with thousands of readers. Lots of reader comments on this one, too.

5. Mel and Mimi Brown’s 1964 time capsule home

Mel Brown

Mel Brown in the warehouse surrounded by all the goods, which are good indeed! Photo courtesy of Lin Cariffe.

We take credit for launching the Time Capsule House Craze that is pretty common now across home sites today. This year — usually following up on reader tips — THANK YOU! and keep ’em coming! — we featured 26 time capsule houses. We especially like it when can do back story interviews that give us greater understanding of the house and the people who lived there. For example #1 (above): We toured the fabulous 1964 time capsule home of Mel and Mimi Brown, for sale for the first time ever after 50 years of the Browns living there. Mel was the enthusiast of the pair, dubbed the “Furniture King of Los Angeles” from the 1950s-1980s, while his wife Mimi was the cool businesswoman. I was able to talk to the couple’s daughter, Pam Brown, over the phone and learn much more about this amazing couple, their home and their story.

6. Albert and Gloria Martin house

time capsule kitchenTime capsule favorite example #2: We just loved touring this magical 1954 Los Angeles time capsule house built by architect Albert P. Martin and his wife, artist Gloria Martin. Besides seeing oodles of yummy photos of the property, we also were able to find historical photos from when it was being built, and learn more about Albert and Gloria from one of their sons, Neil.

7. Pam and Kate finally meet

pam and kateAfter working together via the internet for nearly two years, Kate and I finally met in person February. During my short stay at Kate’s Retro Ranch in Milwaukee, we crafted, went to the local tiki bar and visited Kate’s favorite antique mall — Antiques on Second. We had a great time together! Why does Kate look so shocked in this photo? Apparently I look taller in person.

8. Howdy, Hukilau!

tapa clothAfter our trip to The 2014 Hukilau tiki festival in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Kate and I went nuts for all things tiki. This new obsession led to my unfortunate accident involving killer barkcloth and spaghetti globe lights.

9.  Maria Kipp

Maria KippHere on the blog, we love covering lesser-known history. For example, women working in midcentury America decorative design don’t often get the visibility they deserve. This year I wrote about Maria Kipp, a textile engineer and designer who led her own successful company, Maria Kipp, Inc., in Los Angeles from 1926 through the 1977. Her hand-woven textile designs — used for draperies, upholstery and lampshades — are exquisite and were specified by some of the most famous modernist designers.

10. “Green Lady” by Vladimir Tretchikoff

Green LadyHere’s another thing we didn’t know about until this year, but now that we do — we neeeeeed one. Vladimir Tretchikoff’s famous painting, “Green Lady,” was so popular in midcentury America that more people have seen it than have seen the Mona Lisa. Kate and I have been searching estate sales since this story aired, but no luck yet — the search continues!

 11. Pickwick pine

pickwick pineWe learned the proper name for what is likely the most popular wood paneling profile in the 1940s and 1950s — “Pickwick pine“. Of course we didn’t stop there — we also researched the history and sources to find this paneling today, too.

12. Jalousie windows

jalousie windowsAnd, we learned more about one of the most endangered features of midcentury homes — jalousie windows. These windows were popular in times before air conditioning was common as a way to let cool breezes and extra light flow through homes and create extra living space by enclosing porches and breezeways.

14. Cabana Bay Beach Resort

cabana bay resortToo much fun and shows that Retro is HOT: Cabana Bay Beach Resort in Orlando opened. Lively, colorful and hip decor — from the guest rooms…  to the atomic Galaxy Bowl… to America’s first Jack LaLanne Fitness Studio… to a throwback arcade… and more — positions Cabana Bay as a great destination for fans of the 1950s and 1960s.

14. Day-n-Night mailbox markers — manufactured continuously since 1949

midcentury address markersOf course, the blog is fundamentally about helping readers find the products and resources they need to get their job done. We covered lots of such stories. And oh did this one make us happy: Brilliant readers Caryn and Nina discovered where we can still buy aluminum “Day-n-Night” house name and address plates — made on the same machinery — in the same factory — by the same company that has been making them continuously since 1949 — an epic 65 years. Plus, they are quite affordable, too.

As reader Diane said in comments:

This discovery almost relieves the pain from the World of Tile closure.

Yup. Almost. But the WOT lesson, wethinks: Get it while you can.

Have a great holiday season!

And that’s a wrap folks! Thanks so much for a fantastic 2014…. We look forward to all the retro fun that’s yet to come in 2015!

pam kueber hukilaulove the house youre in— Pam and Kate


Get our retrolicious free newsletter.


Get our retrolicious free newsletter.


  1. Allen says

    I received my Spear Day N Night mailbox marker yesterday in the mail!! It’s wonderful!!! Great year Pam and Kate Merry Christmas. Happy New year and enjoy your break. 2015 will be the best ever.

  2. Jay says

    Thanks for a wonderful year of RR goodness, Pam and Kate. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Keep up the great work!

  3. Neil says

    Not specific to this past year, maybe, but I have to report on my recent purchase from you gals. I ordered one of your longsleeved “I Saved A Pink Bathroom” shirts and it was a HUGE hit with the recipient!

    My dear friend owns a condo, in a cement-block/stucco building from the early sixties, overlooking the Pacific ocean here in San Francisco, and has treasured her original pink bathroom since the day she first saw the place.

    When she opened my gift (wrapped in pattern-coordinated, hot pink/parrot green/mod yellow vintage gift paper and ribbon) she was deee-lighted with her snazzy new shirt. And immediately declared she was going to wear it to the next meeting of the condo board of directors (of which she’s president) to show it off to all her neighbors, some of whose matching pink bathrooms have long since vanished, and some of whom do not mourn the loss.

    But my friend vows her pink beauty will never bite the dust as long as she has breath in her body, and a great shirt to emphasize and advertise the point.

  4. Scott says

    Enjoy the break, you both so deserve if for all the hard work, great stories, and fantastic finds you brought us this year. And thanks again for featuring my little modest on the blog. The story and all the kind comments that followed were definitely one of the highest high points of my year! 🙂

  5. Heart says

    Best of the Season Pam/Kate! Thank you so much for a Great Year, more to come! See you on the flip side, Happy Holidays! <3

  6. Laurie Louise says

    Enjoy your vacations, girls. You’ve earned it! Thanks for all your hard work keeping us informed and amused. Merry Christmas to you and your families. Love ya both!

  7. Pamela H. says

    Retrorenovation Ladies,

    Thanks for great blog posts this year. I love to learn – and your posts never disappointed. When I begin to think of the amount of hours spent planning, researching, writing and posting all this good stuff, I truly am in awe. Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas, a healthy and successful 2015!!

  8. G S says

    Because of reading it on RR, I stayed at Cabana Bay when I had my annual professional convention in Orlando this year. I was able to get the special rate since the whole resort was not open yet. Loved the decor, and the pool was wonderful! So easy to get to the resort by the retro bus service.

    In addition, my wonderful DH ordered me the RR shirts for Christmas!

  9. Mike and Lindsey says

    Merry Christmas to a couple of my favorite ladies, we hope you put RR to the side for a while and enjoy your family and the holidays. . It has been great working with you this past year and wish 2015 to be your best year yet.

  10. Victoria Ross says

    You had a fanTASTIC year! So many cool stories. Love the retro spin you put on everything and I hope you have a fantastic holiday. You definitely earned it!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *