Let’s help Catherine retro-renovate her 1948 Ohio ranch

Sweetheart Catherine wrote me a while ago, asking for ideas for her 1948 Ohio ranch. She tells me she is already a daily reader — hurray! — and she’s also the Catherine who scanned and sent us some great Drexel brochures. So she is a Giver not just a Taker!

Catherine is fortunate to have a vintage Youngstown kitchen (albeit beat up) with metal tiles (do we agree – fortunate on this?), as well as a pink (metal tile) bathroom with some original fixtures. There are a lot of fun photos to look at, so I thought — I’ll post them today — ask readers to contribute their ideas via the Comments (or if you have a photo, send it to me) — and then on Saturday — I’ll do a post with all the ideas, including mine of course!

Hello Pam,

I am a big fan of your website and your passion for all things retro! I have recently (well, two years ago) moved into a 1948 brick ranch in Northeast Ohio. I am 27 years old and live with my husband and two young daughters. We like a lot of things about the house. It has a great location and a great .5 acre yard full of lilac trees. It’s just right right size for us, with good bones (brick with hardwood floors). There is very little that I want to change, it’s more about what I would like to add to it. I’m new to this so I need all the help I can get, as far as design and what would be the style of a house from 1948.

The kitchen

This house has the original Youngstown Steel cabinetry in the kitchen, with the original burgundy and cream metal tile all around. I am having a hard time figuring out which direction I should take this. The cabinet’s paint is severely worn, and the laminate countertops have been replaced with some sort of flooring material. I found out about your site when you wrote to me after posting an ad on craigslist for wanted: Youngstown Steel kitchen pieces. My cabinets only stretch one wall, and I am looking for a corner piece, and a few others to make an L shape with it. The stove and the fridge (both newer, came with the house and do not match) just float out by themselves on other walls. To sum it up, I want to pull my house together in a very clean and mid century modern design. Does this fit my house? How do I work that into a pink bathroom? I need a color palate to work with my kitchen tiles, and fridge and stove information. What do people think about repros like Northstar and Big Chill?

The bathroom

Here, the bathroom still has the pink and black tiles (also metal). Tub, medicine cabinet, and lights are original but the sink and toilet have been replaced. I love my house and the fact that it hasn’t been stripped of it’s originality, but I am having a hard time understanding the overall style and color palate.

I have purchased a beautiful Heywood Wakefield Sculptura bedroom set, and a Drexel Declaration bedroom set and dining room set for my house. And I think the style of those fit the house perfectly. All suggestions and information is greatly appreciated. Your website is such an inspiration, thank you!


So – faithful readers — let’s help Catherine retro-renovate! Post your ideas in the Comments section – or send them to me for the Saturday Ideas post.

  1. sleepingbee says:

    Catherine what a great house! You’re going to have fun bringing it’s retro aspects back to life!

    Starting with your cute pink and black bath, I would recommend some of the great retro wallpapers reviewed by this site…I think I even saw one that had an overall them of pink and black with tiny little flamingos on it…very clean and sweet looking.

    Stick with this site…you’re going to get great ideas!

  2. maddy123 says:

    Catherine, I really like your house! It’s amazing that so many original aspects still remain. I am so glad that you “get” the value of what you have. So many people would not. Good luck with your retro reno.

  3. catherine says:

    Thank you! I do agree with you, sleepingbee, wallpaper is what that bathroom needs. I’ll go back now and check out that post, I remember seeing the one you are talking about.
    I am absolutely addicted to this site!

  4. jen says:

    Great house, Catherine! It’s darling, and I can see why you don’t want (or need) to do a lot of heavy-duty work…

    If you’re in NE Ohio, you may not be far from Pittsburgh. If that is the case, and you want period replacements for the bathroom, you MUST visit Construction Junction (http://www.constructionjunction.org/) in
    Pittsburgh. It…oh. It’s marvellous. The multi-coloured sinks and
    toilets all sitting on shelves and in the floor are something akin to
    a candy store or confectionery. Yellow, pink, blue, aqua, even a pale
    orange sherbet sink once (wouldn’t you have loved to see THAT
    bathroom?). It’s fabulous.

    Frankly, CJ has all sorts of great salvage stuff from older (and
    sometimes newer) homes, and is well worth a visit, so much so that I
    bring my camera every time we go to document what we see (like marble fireplaces, lighting fixtures, church pews, 10-foot-high doors, etc.).

    Unfortunately, none of my bathroom fixture shots have turned out, but we’re due for a visit soon…

    Just a tip for those in the area!

  5. San Diego Amy says:

    thank you so much for sharing! I love the tile on your kitchen and bathroom! In fact, I think that your kitchen tile has finally given me the inspiration I’ve needed to finish my own kitchen – I love the look of yours! I have been trying to find something that would work in mine and I think that this might fit the bill!

  6. Pingback:Retro Renovation » Ideas for Catherine’s 1948 retro kitchen

  7. Pingback:Retro Renovation » 10 tips to renovate your pink bathroom

  8. Colleen says:

    Hey Catherine,

    If you happen to change that tile in the bathroom, I’ll buy some from you. I have the pink tiled walls in my bathroom, prob from the 20’s and had to have some plumbing done and unfortunately they had to break the tile to get to it. I happened upon the pic of your bathroom and those pink tiles look exactly the same as the tiles in mine!

    Good luck with your remodel!

  9. Suzanne says:


    I love those burgundy and cream tile. I want to do the same thing in my kitchen. I am doing a retro look and hope you would be kind enough to tell me the sizes of the cream tile as well and the size of the border tile.

    I love that pink bathroom tile also, don’t change a thing that retro look is hard to duplicate when doing a renovation.

    Any help you can give me will be greatly appreciated.


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