Pyrex 100th anniversary — thank you, Bessie Littleton!

vintage pyrex adHappy 100th birthday, Pyrex! This clear glass cookware — classic Americana — has a very colorful history. Its genesis came in 1913 from Bessie Littleton, whose husband Jesse worked at Corning Glass Works. Bessie was frustrated when her stoneware casserole broke apart in the oven, so she asked her husband if the Glass Works had a suitable substitute. vintage pyrex advertisementUp until then, it seems, there was no such thing as glass bakeware. The next day, Bessie’s husband brought home the sawed-off bottom of battery jar used by railroads that was made of a special shatter-resistant glass. Bessie put it the test and liked the results… the company decided to use this opportunity to make a move into the consumer market… and in 1915 the Pyrex we know of today was born. Let’s take a look at this classic Americana company’s history … and at the products they have introduced to mark their centennial.Heck yeah there is more →

Message in a bottle: Cindy finds a 1976 time capsule in her bathroom wall

time capsuleIf you’re a Retro Renovator, at some point you’ve probably unearthed a hidden story from within your own home. Perhaps it was stripping the kitchen wallpaper to discover three more layers of interior design history underneath. Reader Cindy was extra lucky: When she recently remodeled her bathroom, she found a real time capsule tucked away by the home’s previous owners, who had remodeled the bathroom 39 years ago. Pam had me play Brenda Starr — and I actually connected with those previous owners to learn what they remembered about creating their message in a bottle or, as it were — in a peanut butter jar?!Heck yeah there is more →

Repeating architectural motifs: A hat trick example from this 1953 ranch house

mid-century-brick-ranch-exteriorTour-a-Time-CapsuleThis 1953 time capsule house in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan includes a number of lovely classic features (pink Cinderella bathtub alert!), but what really caught our eye is how the architect repeated one architecturaly motif — the pinwheel — three times throughout the house. We love repetition of architectural elements… and we love things in threes. Thanks to Teri for this time capsule tip!Heck yeah there is more →

Nine hand-lettered 1940s furniture store signs

vintage furniture store sign

It isn’t often that you see well-preserved, handmade cardboard advertising signs from the 1940s for sale — so when we spotted nine fantastic vintage furniture store signs from ebay seller wafa510, we just had to feature them. The best thing about these signs is that they were all hand lettered — a real art form that is dying out in this age of computers, fonts and fast, easy printing. Let’s take a look. Heck yeah there is more →

Where to find vintage bathroom tile: Remember to check your local tile stores for deadstock

save the pink bathroomsHere’s a #1 fundamental tip we’re pretty sure we don’t repeat often enough: When looking for pastel-colored bathroom tile, try tile stores that have been around for a while. Ask if they have any deadstock in their warehouse — and you might just turn up a bargain. That’s what Phyllis did when she needed to remodel a worn pink bathroom in a rental property.Heck yeah there is more →

Two places to buy Roman bricks in a wide variety of colors and styles

Roman brickCommonly chosen to emphasize the long, low architecture of ranch houses, “Roman brick” was a signature design feature likely used to build millions of American homes  in the 1950s and 1960s. We also see Roman brick frequently used on fireplaces. My immediate neighborhood reflects this trend — with about one in three homes built using Roman brick — including mine, that’s my brick above. We’ve received questions in the past about where to get Roman brick, so Pam sent me on a research mission, and I found two places to buy Roman brick in an impressive variety of styles and colors.Heck yeah there is more →