1970s ballroom in Michelle’s Minnesota time capsule house

Our first midcentury house with a ballroom. Yes, a ballroom! I’ll say it again: A ballroom! Minnesota Michelle writes:

Dear Pam,

My husband and I weren’t even looking for a new house. We were quite happy with our 1956 Marvin Anderson Rambler. There was only one problem: My husband’s menagerie of vintage pinball machines and jukeboxes was taking over the 2,300 sq. ft. One day his best friend was browsing the MLS for homes comparable to his own and found this beauty for us. The home was bank owned and had been vacant for a few years. We were sold on it when we found out it had a ballroom as DH and I met ballroom dancing. After speaking with the original neighbors we were told that an Iranian family had custom designed the home to be a “mini palace.” It was certainly an adjustment going from 50s mod to 70s opulence, but we’ve grown to love it!

How did Michelle find RetroRenovation.com, I asked?  I’m always curious. She answers:

I’ve been searching for online pictures of retro kitchens and baths to determine if there is any value in keeping these original or not. It seems that there are a lot of people interested in restoring theirs to original 50s glory, but the 70s is still too recent for people to be reminiscent about. Your website is perhaps the only one that features pictures from this era without knocking it or joking about it.

We have actually been in the house a little over a year now. It took us a lot longer to sell our old house than we anticipated so very little has changed. I am redoing the kitchen, but I’m trying to stay true to the style of the home with chocolate cherry cabinets and Carrera marble countertops which will match the existing floors in the dining room and the foyer. We knocked down the cabinets above the island almost right away to make the kitchen more open. If you stand at the island and look out from the kitchen you see the fireplace in the family room.

While having a time capsule kitchen is kind of kitsch, there are a lot of major downfalls. I do a lot of cooking so we want higher end appliances (steam wall ovens, induction cooktop, etc.) which requires a major reconstruction. The existing cabinets may look nice, but they have no bearings in the drawers so you hear a loud crunching noise when they are opened, there aren’t any backs to the cabinets inside so you just see the sheetrock, the hinges are not adjustable, they were stained in place along with the rest of the woodwork and the inside of the cabinets are really sloppy and the soffits are completely unnecessary and take up storage space. We will replace the existing gas grill (old pilot light style) with a new gas grill, but we are totally keeping the hammered brass Thermador hood above it.

Hurray for wallpaper! Just so’s everyone knows, anything with foil or flocked is THE most collectible. NOS rolls of vintage wallpaper like this can go for $200!

I like the wallpaper in the hallway upstairs, but the master bath is a little too much so eventually we will redo that. The toilets weren’t anything special (just plain old white) so we replaced those with tall, elongated bowls. We love the chandeliers, though and I will always keep those. I also don’t want to modify any of the bricks around the fireplaces much to my husband’s chagrin.

We had to rip out all of the carpet in the basement and some of the sheetrock (including the wallpaper) due to major water damage that had occurred. We plan on replacing the ballroom’s old blue carpet with new blue carpet to match the remaining wallpaper and window treatment. When I redo the window treatments off the kitchen and family room, I’m going to stay with pinch pleat curtains on a track to keep with the style of the house. We are also not going to touch any of the woodwork or the Amerock carriage house hardware in antique brass.

One of the biggest pluses to this house was the really large deck off of the kitchen which overlooks about a 1/2 acre lot with mature oak, maple, cottonwood, river birch, and box elder trees which abuts a small park. You just can’t find a new house on such a prime lot.

Oh, and here’s a picture of his 1978 Lincoln Mark V Diamond Jubilee Edition, however. Enjoy!


Woah. I have some very serious lust going on. Suddenly living small doesn’t seem so exciting – not when faced with the possibility of living in a house with a ballroom. Thanks so much for sharing, Michelle — and let us see your kitchen “after”. Your vision of adding modern functionality while still preserving and respecting your home’s original — and absolutely fabulous — design aesthetic, is, in my mind, spot-on.

  1. Kip says:

    Love your house! Tell your husband that Lincoln produced an all gold Diamond Jubilee Mark V in 78 also. Would match your interior perfectly!!

  2. gsciencechick says:

    Wow, love the house with the exception of the kitchen. The ballroom is amazing. Pam, you need to contact them for an update.

  3. Deborah McKinney says:

    In the 70’s my parent’s homes went from having gold and green carpets in the living area and bedrooms to having macrame’ (sp.?) hangings with those fake flowers inside the basket hanging from a corner of the ceilings! Those wooden saloon doors hung between the kitchen & dining room. Wagonwheel light fixtures in living room. Then they put burnt orange carpet in the living/gameroom of a new house built. Foil wallpaper with slender mirrored pieces hung above a blue bathtub with blue shag carpeting coming up the steps and all around the sides of the tub. Blue sinks. Flocked wallpaper in dining room – heavy drapes. Bay windows were the rage! Linoleum in the kitchen like resembled fake bricks they chose for 1st house & then same again for 2nd house! Sunken den, of course, several steps down from a brick planter dividing the gameroom/den areas. I remember the copper-toned (painted at a local car paint shop) refrigerator, washer, dryer put into the kitchen. The era of avocado and gold appliances was going by the wayside. Coppertone was in! Dishwasher sat in the corner & had to be rolled to the sink to plug up to be used. It even did double-duty as a wooden cutting board on top. ha….. Oh, the memories!!!

  4. Jen says:

    Although I too am more of a 50’s gal than a 70’s (although I was born in the 70’s), I love this house! I adore any house that still has so much of its original decor that you can imagine people walking around in all that gaudy 70’s attire. The ballroom, of course, is to die for.

    The foil wallpaper made me recall a long-buried memory of looking at wallpaper books in the very early 80’s — books that still contained foil wallpaper. It was so pretty, I thought, but my mom wanted nothing to do with it. I still got to enjoy the groovy stuff whenever I visited my dentist, who continued to have foil wallpaper until the mid 80’s.

    Awesome house!

  5. Tera says:

    I LOVE this house! Reminds me a lot of the huge 70’s Spanish Gothic homes I saw along the Texas-Mexican border.

  6. Chris says:

    Me, I’m a 30s and 40s kinda girl. Also grew up in the 70s and have some scary memories. (You need to get some Shaun Cassidy and Leif Garrett posters!)

    I second Happy Daze’s comment — you MUST have a house warming party with a 70s theme!!!!!!

    And you know, although I say I don’t really do 70s anymore, I am liking the color of the rust carpet. I just bought some fiesta ware for fall in the new color — Paprika (aka rust.)

    Love the house, love the space — VERY funky! It’s great that you are keeping it true to its time!!!!!!

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