Welcome to Retro Renovation!

Welcome to Retro Renovation — your daily dose of mid century and vintage renovation resources… design inspiration… fun finds… and a growing community of people all interested in cherishing their mid century and older homes.

Our focus here, first and foremost, is to help you find the products and resources you need to help remodel, renovate and decorate your house in authentic mid century style. Increasingly, we  feature resources for pre-war and post-modern homes as well. We’re here to help you get the job done — doing the research so you don’t have to. How can you make the most of the blog?:

  • Dive into all our categories (in the navigation along the top of the page) and you will see, we have lots of research into all the products you might need to Retro Renovate. Along the way, we have lotsa other fun, too — always showing great gratitude and respect for the houses — and their owners — who came before us.
  • And, important for anyone taking on an older home:

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Renovating, remodeling and living in our midcentury and vintage homes can be gratifying, but please always remember, there can be safety and environmental hazards in the surfaces, layers, materials and products in our homes. Anything old, even New Old Stock, that you buy also may have issues. We all care very much about managing safety and environmental issues properly, so when moving into a home … when undertaking cleaning, repair, remodeling or restoration projects … or when adding old materials (salvaged, used, new old stock, etc.)… be sure to get with your own properly licensed professionals to determine what you are dealing with/working with so that you can make informed decisions how to handle, become familiar with and use recommended best practices, and also learn about the proper disposal of debris, etc. Read more: See our Be Safe / Renovate Safe page … the EPA hosts a  website on lead paint in the home and a website on asbestos in the home, etc. Consult professionals regarding these materials, and also about the proper disposal of debris, etc.

blue-kitchenretro-renovation-kitchenaqua-kitchen

We have fun here. Photo credit: Erica Berger

<– I’m Pam Kueber. That’s me with my crazy wallpaper room… that’s my kitchen above — and this my blog, oh I luv it so. Doing all the research to renovate my 1951 colonial-ranch house in Lenox, Mass., is what got me into this online escapade. In the course of my endless hunt to find products and design ideas sympathetic to my house’s undeniable mid-century bones, I got…. obsessed… I learned a lot… and I figured, why not share all my finds with other folks undertaking the same journey. And now – you have arrived!

This blog has lots about *modest, mid-century, middle-class* homes — ranches, Capes, Colonials, split-levels, contemporaries, bungalows. I also write about sleek *mid-century modern homes*… I love them all, but admit that I tend to worry more about the modest homes (themselves full of charm) being at more serious risk of being gutted, with regrets to follow later. Interestingly, both mid-century modern and mid-century modest homes shared many of the same technological features and design cues (like pink bathrooms) inside. For further info see my Mid-Century Modest Manifesto and my micro-site SaveThePinkBathrooms.com.

What do we gab about here? Well: The design aesthetic of retro interiors, exteriors, culture, people, steel kitchen cabinets, colors, pink kitchens, pink bathrooms, hudee rings, pecky cypress, illustrations with people playing accordians, wallpaper, pinch pleat curtains, mint-in-box items — and readers’ fabulous jewel box houses, too. Get ready to be sucked into the retro vortex.

More info:

Restoring the Retro House in the New York Times Aug. 18 2011

Above: As featured in the New York Times — yup, read all about our escapades in this 2,200-word feature story that appeared on p.1 of the Home & Garden section on Aug. 18, 2011.

kate and leo from retro renovation

Hey, Lo0K! The blog made another American job! Above: That’s Kate, my new Managing Editor, along with Assistant Leo. Kate does a lot of the writing for the blog these days, too. We publish twice a day (4:30 a.m. and 11:50 a.m. Eastern) Monday through Friday, and 24/7/365 if there if we spot important Breaking News in Retro Design World.

Oh, and here’s me showing off my latest project — my office remodel. Which was epic: My friend Denise and I pasted 300 squares of vintage wallpaper on the four walls, creating a crazy patchwork quilt of 18 different designs of wallpaper. We celebrated by getting all Love American Style Gothic with the photo.

kate-pink-bathroom-photoLookie, Kate built this pink bathroom from scratch – and when I say “Kate built,” I mean she built it herself.

Hey, see me talkin’ about Mid Century Modest in this etsy.com video:

If you need ideas — or just love the era — be sure to check in for daily updates on new products to recreate that retro style…design tips…vintage finds…history…and more. To email me, click here.

Press Coverage

2015

  • WFMJ-TV: Effort to Bring Back 1948 Youngstown steel kitchen cabinets
  • I got out of the habit of updating press coverage of the blog… I’ll work on it… maybe.

2014

  • New York Times: “When Blogging Becomes a Slog” (but not for me — I am the wise old owl)
  • Huffington Post: The 10 Best Renovation Websites for Living out  your Dream Home Fantasies.
  • Der Standard newspaper profiled the blog. It was in German, so I’m not sure what it said. But I asked on Facebook, and a reader told me it said that, “You are now as loved as David Hasselhof in German.”

2013

  • Fixing to Die: Retro Renovation and a reader remodel featured on the blog inspired the setting and  story line for Elaine Viets’ “restoration comedy” murder mystery, Fixing to Die. The book debuted #9 on the Barnes & Noble paperback list.
  • Yankee Magazine: Six-page story in Sept./Oct. issue — 1.7 million readers! — about the blog and my house. “Fifties and Fabulous.”
  • Globe and Mail: Loud and proud 1970s chalet
  • Columbus Post-Dispatch: Back to the bones: Restoring ’50s homes
  • California Home + Design: Celebrating Midcentury Modest

2012

Summer 2011

Feb 2011

Jan 2011

December 2010

October 2010

  • AP interviews Pam for story, Used Building Materials a Hit Among Home Owners, that runs in news outlets nationwide.

August 2010

April 2010

March 2010

February 2010

January 2010

June 2009

April 2009

March 2009

  • Our tour of the St. Louis 1995 time capsule home covered by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
  • Desert Living Magazine

Dec. 3, 2008

  • Pam talks with the National Kitchen & Bath Association about retro kitchen design popularity

Sept. 29, 2008

March 2008

Winter 2008

Fall 2007

November 8, 2007 — News Release, PRWeb

Thanks and Credits: Many thanks to the many folks who have helped, and continue to help, make this blog possible. Including:

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Comments

  1. Kathy Monaco says

    Please help me find the model year of the Pink Frigidaire Imperial Delux double oven on your blog.

  2. Ellen says

    Hi Pam I absolutely love your site and I loooooove your kitchen. We just recently scored a set of St. Charles cabinets, chiffon yellow, in great shape! We are so excited to put them into our CT 1920’s colonial. I mention that because you don’t need to have a mid-century ranch to appreciate a mid-century kitchen! They will bring a really fun, whimsical element to our home, we love clean lines and COLOR, and I guess we are rule-breakers!
    But I have a question for you: we plan to use one of the awesome retro laminates from home depot that we have seen on your site. We also plan to use the steel edging from NY Metals as we can drive there and pick it up. I believe this is what you used in your kitchen above. But the question is, these metal edges are for a counter 1 1/2 inches thick. I remember my kitchen growing up with these counters and I think they were thinner, maybe an inch or 1 1/4. Is there anywhere to getting a thinner edging that works the same way? Did the difference in thickness bother you? Anyway thanks again for the great resources and inspiration!!!

    • pam kueber says

      We have an overviews story on where to get moldings from other companies, too. It’s at the top of Kitchen Help / Countertops subcategory, I think. Eagle Mouldings is another of our go-to places, they may have other sizes.

  3. Rebecca says

    Do you guys have any tips for removing a bad diy refinishing job from a pink tub?

    The previous homeowners “reglazed” our cute little pink tub themselves but don’t appear to have etched the surface at all, so the paint on the inside of the tub peeled off pretty easily. I’m hoping that I can strip the rest of the paint off cleanly to avoid having to have the tub painted at all.

    It’s the only original feature left in our bathroom, so I’d like to keep it since it’s pretty charming. Thanks!

    • pam kueber says

      Hi Rebecca, I am not an expert on such questions. I recommend you talk to a company that has some scientific knowledge to back up their recommendations. For example, Rust-Oleum has customer service and if they have stripping products might be able to help you. You can also contact the company that make Citristrip Gel for their advice on whether that product would help. Good luck.

  4. Eve says

    I love your website. I see that you are in Lennox. Many of your sources and articles reference projects and business in the west. Have you had luck finding local (New England) sources and stories for those of us who live in MCM houses in the northeast?

    • pam kueber says

      Hi Eve, We cover stuff when we see it… not with any particular geographic focus. Read all my stories about Royal Barry Wills – he was from Massachusetts!

  5. tony Mariano says

    I have been looking for a zinfandel colored toilet.
    Any ideas? This will match our present bathroom
    regards

  6. TJ says

    I am trying to find white mosaic floor tile in the random pattern to patch an area of the bathroom that the original builders just didn’t complete because it was under the vanity. Any suggestions on where to look?

  7. Claudia Neault says

    Hi Pam, I saw you on Chronicle and loved your kitchen. I grew up with all of that and still love it. We have an old gas stove that may need to be retrofitted and wondered if you knew of anyone or company in MA that does that. Aside from that we have so much stuff around as well. Thanks for doing this website and I look forward to checking in regularly.

    • pam kueber says

      Hi Claudia, nice to meet you! Welcome to the blog! Here’s a story we did on companies that do restorations; go through the comments too http://retrorenovation.com/2011/11/04/13-places-to-buy-restored-vintage-stoves/

      Note, I had some personal experience about two years ago (?) trying to get a vintage gas stove for my home Massachusetts – and being stymied because of new requirements. I am not an expert, though — get with the company you work with to understand this fully. I am not an expert by any means on what’s required in our state or others and encourage everyone to get with their own properly licensed experts.

  8. Kristy Giesen says

    Hi Pam-
    I just bought a home and it has an entire set of retro steel st. charles cabinets. We have decided to go with another look but wondered if you knew a good site to sell my cabinets? Thanks for your help!

  9. Charlie Casserly says

    Hi Pam, great site! Where can I sell a couple of glass-front St. Charles cabinets? They were in my mom & dad’s house for 50 years. We hate to see ’em go.

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