Meet Maribeth, her darling daughter — and their 1977 contemporary / ranch house in Tennessee. Maribeth has seized the opportunity and given this house, an original time capsule, a fresh dose of 21st century flair. And yes, avocado appliances! Not only did Maribeth embrace them, she engineered a neighborhood swap to get a matching vintage dishwasher, too.  Maribeth writes:

Dear Pam,

I have finally finished my 70’s (1977) ranch house renovation….

contemporary ranch house

We had corresponded a couple of months ago about my avocado kitchen redo, but I wanted to get as much of the rest of the house finished as possible before I put up more pictures.

The kitchen "before"
The “before” kitchen. Maribeth explains: ” The original plan was to paint them. But once the counters were removed we realized that they were not in very good shape and should be replaced.”

The appliances are original to the house, (even the trash compactor and central vacuum still worked great!)  but the cabinets had to be replaced.  The original layout was retained.  Other than that, we replaced the wall-to-wall carpet with cork and replaced some of the “updated” lighting that came with the house when we purchased it last spring.


I wanted to furnish with a mix of 50’s through 70’s furniture.  As anyone moving into the house in the 1970’s would probably have a similar collection.  Most of it came from Craigslist and local vintage stores.  My living room Kroehler sofa and chair was like brand new.  The original owner never let anyone sit on it except for very special occasions.

dining and lounge
The shades? Maribeth says: “The two hanging lights came from moonshine shades I love their stuff.”

Thanks so much for taking the time to look at my pictures and for your compliments — it is especially meaningful coming from you as your site had been the source of  so much of my inspiration. We bought this house last winter…  Since I was all the way up in coastal Maine, I had to do all of my house hunting on the internet.  We had narrowed our search down to about 20 homes to visit in person the following week (only a few of which were ranch homes) when I saw this house pop up on a real estate site.


A double avocado stove! Just like the one we had when I was a kid.  It was love at first site and I had already picked it to be my house.  (If the realtor had featured those tiki door knobs, I might have purchased it over the internet.)  So we did the obligatory looking at all the other homes but I knew this was the one.  Huge open floor plan, Brady Bunch double entry doors, original appliances, even a pink mini tub and shower all in a nice, suburban neighborhood of similar designed homes.  Sold!


It’s funny to think that the things that sold me on the house were the very things that probably turned off a multitude of potential buyers before me.  In front of the beautiful stone wall and fireplace was an old, cracked wood stove and fire board covering the entire opening.  I had no idea what I would find inside but it turned out they were hiding one gorgeous fireplace.

kitchen desk
Maribeth on painted MDF cabinets: “I had a cabinet maker come in and make a template from the existing cabinets with a few improvements. He then crafted them in the shop from MDF… He painted them very well. The entire kitchen PLUS the laundry cabinets were less than $6,000. And this is a really big kitchen.” I have been really happy with them, so far. Cost wise, its definitely a good way to go.”

As for the kitchen, we had the cabinets recreated in MDF and painted, which turned out to be really economical. I splurged on the glass tile because I wanted to bring in the avocado and orange tones to make the appliances look deliberate and not as though I was saving my pennies for some shiny new stainless pieces someday.  I dragged a like new avocado fridge down with me from Maine.  (Some of the used appliance salespersons thought I was joking when I called to ask them if they had any avocado appliances.)


The only appliance missing was the dishwasher.  Well, there was one but it was new.  Imagine! What were these people thinking? Luckily, my 1970’s neighborhood has many of the original owners still residing in it and I found someone willing to swap their harvest gold whirlpool for my newer one.  I’m planning to paint it avocado at some point.

entry 1

Furnishing the home was lots of fun.  We sold every last thing in Maine so that we could start over in true design of the house’s era. Amazingly, the mid-century trend has not caught on here yet and I’m finding beautiful pieces that people are selling at prices too good to be true.

cabinet open

But the really fun part has been in the details, or what my husband calls my “props”.  The Britannica encylopedias and Reader’s digest books on the bookshelf, avocado and orange rotary phones, retro alarm clocks and ashtrays- even though we don’t smoke.  I want it to feel completely authentic.

Pepe's pad

Even our parrotlet Pepe perches on a playhouse made from a 1950’s TV stand.  I must have had some subconscious love of the 1970’s even before we bought the house because, in unpacking, I was amazed at how much avocado and burnt orange bake ware and bowls I had accumulated over the years.  Several years ago, I lived in a 1972 Airstream Sovereign (a literal time capsule) and I had kept most of my tiki paraphernalia from it which is scattered around the house.

iron away

We are in the process of transforming the plain concrete slab in the backyard and hope to have it done by the spring.  It will feature a low sitting wall and 5×7 pool with a 3 foot tiki fountain all backed by a wall of bamboo.  I’m stumped on the type of patio furniture to use, though, so I am hoping to get some advice from you and your readers when the time comes to furnish it.

vita mixin 2
Re the Sputnik, which replaces a boxy fluorescent: “The kitchen had a big fluorescent light that was removed and the hole patched and the sputnik was hung in the center. I was concerned that it would not be enough light but it has been more than enough. We have it on a dimmer.”

Anyway, that is the story of our flat roofed, so-ugly-its-kinda-not, late seventies ranch house.  I hope your readers enjoy looking at it and I am looking forward to seeing the feedback.  Helpful hints and advice is always appreciated!

Thanks again!

Maribeth, your house is such an inspiration — there is no question, you have a great touch. And what a lovely, memorable environment you are creating for your daughter to grow up.  Patio furniture? Vintage Woodward, of course. Now that you have the vibes out, the retro decorating gods will send some your way, for sure. Tiny Cinderella tub — it’s of the variety here (these were made by a number of manufacturers, not just Kohler, and small, too.) And you have a Cinderella to go in it! Also, don’t let any magazines come after you for your story, okay? I’m going to pitch it, if that’s all right with you. Your home is picture perfect, a great story. Many thanks.

Meanwhile, readers, you can see a few more photos over on Maribeths flickr stream here.

  1. Barclay says:

    Oh, I love brady bunch 70’s ranch houses; just like I grew up in back up in Oregon. They are actually very hard to find in the Bay Area where I live now, so many houses are older going back to Victorians. We finally found a small 1940’s “ranch bungalow” and I do love it, but I’m still jealous when I see those wide open floor plans and huge expanses of uninterrupted floor and rock walls!

  2. John Taylor says:

    Mary Beth!

    I love your kitchen. I had a fettish with Avocado Green as well. My Kitchen is still that color. I love vintage Kitchens of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. I think that I am gonna redo mine in the next couple of months to a Turquoise. I also love Pink too.

    Thank you for sharing. I adore people that have the talent to do such things.


  3. Sherri says:

    Love your house , the entry way alone is to die for. I never thought anybody could make avocado work either ,kudos there & love your style!

  4. Jerry says:

    MariBeth, I love your style.

    On design shows, I see that they are ripping out 70s stuff by the boatload, which dismays me, because the era—and its furnishings— is like comfort food for me. 70s decor is warm and cozy from my point of view.

    I hope you are starting a trend.

  5. Angela says:

    Your house is great! It is so refreshing to see young people who appreciate all the good qualities of a vintage home. Way to go!

  6. Joe says:

    Totally groovy kitchen! The only things missing to complete the “feel” would be a set of “merry mushroom” canisters and some Corning “Spice Of Life” cookware (tons are available on Ebay). You never know, you may even be able to find a mint condition avocado green CrockPot on Ebay also (EVERY kitchen back then had one).

  7. Maribeth:

    Love the house. You probably love (if you’ve seen the show) the set design on Madmen.

    Really had to e-mail you because you call the house your Brady Bunch Ranch House.

    Robert Reed, the father on Brady Bunch, was a dear friend of mine and my moms. We live in Pasadena, CA as did he and much of the show (exteriors) was filmed here.

    Just some trivia for your files.

    Cheers and enjoy,

  8. Stephanie says:

    maribeth —
    I was 18 in 1970, and avocado is not really my thang (too many bad memories), but I do think you did a great job and obviously stayed focused! Now, for Christmas what you need is a huge artificially overflocked tree, or maybe…one made out of aluminum!

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