paint colors & vintage guides

Here are some basic recommendations for paint colors with a mid century feel.

Please also see:

Be-Safe-Circle-Reno-Safe-with-message-500v2Important: We all care very much about managing environmental and safety issues properly, so when undertaking your restoration project, be sure to consult with your own properly licensed professionals to familiarize yourself to assess what you are dealing with/working with so that you can make informed decisions regarding these materials, and also about the proper disposal of debris, etc.. For example, the EPA hosts a website on lead in the home and a website on asbestos in the home. For more info and links see our Be Safe/Renovate page here.


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  1. sablemable says

    Here’s my dilemma: The brick siding on my ranch is in the orange shades and since there are four brick ranches, including mine, together on the same block, I’d like to paint the trim and garage overhead. I was thinking of avocado, but not sure yet.

    Any suggestions, retro friends?

  2. diane says

    I have a 1955 large ranch home. When you enter the foyer you are just about in the dining room (the only feature I don’t like about my house). There is a brick planter box that is about 18″ high X 10′ long that separates the dining room from the foyer, has anyone else ever seen that? When we bought the home the dining room was painted an off white color – I think it might have been ony the second color the dining room had ever been painted. I painted it a very light green/gray color and I hate it! I have been on a kick lately wanting to paint it chocolate brown. But, I can’t find any pictures of brown dining rooms anywhere – I am crazy? I am open to suggestions. Also, I have a wall of built in china cabinets that are painted cream on the out side and a coralish pink color on the inside. Please advise!

    • Pam Kueber says

      Hi Diane, and welcome. Why don’t you send me some photos at retrorenovation at gmail dot com. Sound like you have a lovely home! Pam

  3. diane says

    Thank you! I think I have a wonderful house too, and as soon as I can figure out how to add pictures I will! I am very lucky to be the third owner of a very special home. Overall it is nearly 5000 square feet, with two kitchens and an actual “electrical room” not just one breaker box but about 10! The original homeowners were very well off and spared no expense when building the home which is my good luck. I am glad to be joining such a great site!

  4. yvonne says

    first time poster, love looking! I wanted to say thanks, I had a certain retro colour I was looking for so when I came to this section, I saw Sherwin Williams recommended. It was there in the Suburban Modern brochure! yeah! Burma Jade for our 50’s 1.5 story house. As it turns out a SW store opened a month ago up the street from my house and on the day I went in to get a colour swatch they were starting a 40% off sale the following day! The fates were smiling on me for sure! I have convinced my neutral colour lovin’ husband to paint the garage doors this colour in addition to the door I bought it for.

    • pam kueber says

      Welcome, Yvonne. The retro decorating gods were indeed smiling upon you! Send me a photo when you’re done! Send to: retrorenovation [at] gmail [dot] com. I can’t wait to see it!

  5. Nanci says

    I just bought my first home – it’s a fixer which is okay since I get to start from scratch, basically! We just finished painting, using Sherwin Williams “sea salt” for the main rooms. I love this color and it has a very mid-century feel to it, but is calming and not overpowering. It’s a bit more pale and more green than turquoise.

    • pam kueber says

      Welcome, Nanci – and thanks for that tip. It’s always a great value to know what colors that readers had success with!

  6. Carolyn West says

    Is there any place where I can buy some actual 1955-56 brown kitchen tiles? I got a few newly made pieces, but (1) they are not quite the same color, (2) they don’t make the raised edge pieces , and (3) the 1/4 round type pieces to go around the sink are smaller. Hence, I am no where yet. I need to replace sink, but don’t want to tear out the whole kitchen. It is truly a vintage ranch kitchen. Any ideas??? Thanks.

  7. Stephanie says

    My husband and I just bought a 1955 raised ranch. It is in desperate need of paint outside. We cannot come up with colors that will look good on the house. We want to keep the 1955 feel but also make it more “modern”.

    Any help from anyone – please? And thank you!

  8. stacie m says

    Our dilemma is INTERIOR paint color for a room that is using avocado and orange with a little white & yellow.
    Plain white walls seem so “rental”… but yellow seems TOO bright… any green shades would make the room too green (the large sofa is green) and orange is not happening.
    We can do lauan or grass cloth on one focal wall… but then what on the rest of the wall?


    • pam kueber says

      stacie, can you send me some pics and i’ll see what i can do – maybe do a post asking for reader suggestions… retrorenovation [at] gmail [dot] com

  9. Corinne Herndon says

    Pam: I still am looking for a upper cabinet door in the light wood grain, The door dropped from the hinges and broke the top out. Is there anyone what can fix cabinet doors to match. I have not had any luck on the forum. The door is a Youngstown, top cabinet opening on the left,
    16 5/8x 2905/8. I hate to think of loosing the whole set of cabinets if I cannot find a replacement or get it fixed. I love my kitchen. Thanks for your website!

  10. Julie McCormick says

    Hello, I need help! I started this project and can’t seem to make a decision on what to do with this room. I love the country vintage look! Took up the carpet and did decide that I would love to paint the wood floor….But wow ….what color????? I found the old fireplace mantle at an antique store and thought is would add a nice country touch… It’s a small room… with a sliding glass door… which makes it a bit too bright. I love the darker look. I would love anyone’s input on what colors I should use in this room. Your help would be greatly appreciated!!! Thank You:)

    Julie McCormick

  11. Amanda says

    Please help me. My kitchen and living room share one huge wall. I am decorating my kitchen with the 50’s theme. Mama’s kitchen back in the day. I need a very cool retro color that will look good in the kitchen as well as the living area. Please help me, the painter is coming next week lol!

  12. Akash says

    Hi , i have a 1950 house which needs painting , but am not sure which colour they would be and furnitures combination.I have seen in hotels they amaze and inspire me to do the same.Please help.

  13. angelika says

    Hello there,
    I have a vintage philco fridge from the 50’s and am thinking about repainting it. Would love top find a vintage turqoise to begin with and was hoping to get some help in finding the right type of color and product to purchase.
    Thanks for your help!

  14. Tammy says

    I bought a 1946 brick ranch w Republic Steel cabinets in great shape. They need painted and look like the original color was a light lime green. Do you have any idea what the original paint color was?

    • pam kueber says

      Usually white. See all our research about steel kitchen cabinets in our category Kitchens / Steel Kitchens.

    • pam kueber says

      I don’t have a recommendation on this one, Hari… I guess if you’re going 1950s, try for a Candy Apple Red…

  15. Cynthia Salminen says

    Hi I was wondering if you ever came across a place that does the 8ft. Bigold closet (metal) doors from the 50’s. They are awesome but were not taken care of.
    Would loveto not have to replace bc they are great looking for decor?

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