How to boil down a year-and-a-half of Retro Renovation learning into a 45-minute home show talk? A number of readers have asked… no, I don’t have it on video, sorry… but here’s what I talked about at my recent talks at the Lane County Home Show in Eugene, Oregon. A mix of… social history… vintage 40s 50s and 60s eye candy… my own story and how I got into the blog… and products and ideas to preserve, restore and renovate modest, middle class ranches, capes, colonials, splits and bungalows.  Oh – and read on for some other fun stuff from the show, too!

  • To start – I talked about the historical context for our midcentury, middle-class homes: The many years of privation in America, beginning with the Great Depression and extending through WWII… and how that created pent-up demand for housing and things like dream kitchens – as in the 1942 Hotpoint kitchen ad, above.
  • Fast forward from 1942 to 2002 – and my own search for a dream kitchen ultimately led me to create this blog.
  • I talked about Cape Cods by Barry Wills… then ranch houses… and how these two American housing styles mashed up into all kinds of combinations in the postwar era.
  • We raced through 25 years of design history and looked at interiors from the 40s, 50s and 60s.
  • Of course this included hudee rings (only one person out of hundreds knew what these were already)… pecky cypress (totally alien to the west coast)… and of course, pink bathrooms. Everyone loves pink bathrooms!
  • At the end of each talk I showed the St. Louis 1955 time capsule. As an example of just how much these homes meant to their original owners… and of how caring people today are recognizing their value and the reasons for preserving and restoring them.

In all: The audience was very receptive… these were folks who owned midcentury homes and were looking for more inspiration to love them… and some folks, too, who had lived through the era and wanted to rekindle memories.

Other fun stuff:


I made a great new friend – Emily. She helped with A/V both days – and sat through my talk four times…. egads, she can do the talk, too, now!


And does this look familiar, or what. The kitchen was on the cover of the Register-Guard home show tab – which was available by the thousands all over the show.


Some of the retailers got right into the spirit – and had retro displays. Isn’t this one, from landscaping contractor Rexius, cool? That’s a vintage stove-turned-water-feature – as that is a pot “boiling over” continuously!


Here’s a true vintage clothesline, too. The designer of the garden exhibit pulled it right out of her backyard! “Nothing like sheets dried outdoors,” she claimed. So right! I’m still searching for a good, modern-day reproduction. I think I will find it – in Canada, where I’m sure I’ve seen them in the past 10 years.


And I loved this three-wheel hybrid electric bike. Now that’s my speed!

Words almost cannot explain how psyched I was by the entire experience. It was good to get out of my cold Massachusetts computer cave – to be sure – and to connect with so many people. It was a good trip.

In a few more home show posts, I’ll showcase some products I spotted from retailers – some good stuff.

  1. Karen says:

    Hi Pam,
    Thank you for making the trip to Eugene to speak at the show. The attendee comments about your talks have been so positive. You are the real deal! Eugene Home Show gals love how you save Pink Bathrooms, and save the architectural integrity of post war homes! We would really like to have you, and your great ideas, back sometime soon. Hugs for the Eugene home show team!
    Helen, Karen, Terie’, Emily et al.

  2. Anne & Gary says:

    How wonderful you got to visit our beautiful home state! We were so sorry to miss you at Rejuvenation, a real asset to those of us who love older homes. We were in La Grande, 250 miles to the east, where work on the first phase of renovating our midcentury home has finally begun. Read more at: http://www.midcenturyhome.org.

  3. Karen Bangle says:

    Hi Pam, I was at the Eugene home show and attended your Sunday noon talk. I was the one taking tons of notes! I got home and shared all with my hubby. You were awesome and I loved your talk and got so much out of it. I hope you come back for more! ~Karen B.

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