Welcome, Kate! She’ll be blogging here Tuesdays and Thursdays

Well, howdy do, the blog is getting kinda big now,
so I have hired a real deal regular contributor.
A big, warm bear hug welcome to Kate, who will be
adding to the mid mod madness every Tuesday and Thursday. Following is her first story — an introduction, along with a peek into her lovely living room. – Pam

I’d like to give a big hello to all the Retro Renovation readers! My name is Kate and you may recognize me from my blog Retro Ranch Revamp where I chronicle my quest to fix up my 1962 ranch house in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

When Pam, the queen of all things retro, asked me if I might be interested in writing the occasional post for Retro Renovation (my all time favorite retro/home improvement blog!) I was thrilled!

Pam and I have a lot in common when it comes to our love of all things retro. Both of us are extremely passionate about our respective ranch homes and we both strive to fix them up to make them our own while still respecting the style and uniqueness of mid century architecture. We also both love to get our hands dirty, whether it be digging for treasure at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore or remodeling a room.

An overview shot of my living and dining room.

My love for all things retro started when I was attending college in Ohio. One of my favorite art professors got me interested in “neat old junk” which was mostly toys, furniture and house wares from the 1950s. She used many of these things as subject matter for her personal paintings, as well as in still life arrangements for drawing classes she taught. I vividly remember sitting in her cluttered office, talking to her and looking at the variety of stuff she had collected in awe and amazement thinking, “maybe someday I could have cool stuff like this!

Some of my favorite furniture lives in the dining room. My Broyhill Brasilia Hutch and Burke tulip table and chairs.

When I graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree (my major was fine art/graphic design with a minor in art history) in 2005, I decided to move to Wisconsin. I had family there and an uncle who would let me stay very inexpensively at his rental property until I was on my feet. Despite the tough economy (yes, even back then!) I landed a job as a graphic designer at a small publishing company in about six weeks. It wasn’t long before I was looking for a house to call my own. I bought my first house (an 1890 cape cod) in an eclectic neighborhood on the east side of Milwaukee. I spent all my spare time and money fixing up the house (with help from my parents) and buying retro furniture from yard sales, estate sales and craigslist. Soon my little 800 sq foot house was bulging at the seams…and adding a large dog and a new husband into the mix meant it was time to look for another, slightly larger house.

Can you tell orange is my favorite color?

I wouldn’t say my husband is obsessed with all things retro like I am, but he appreciates the style and trusts my vision for a space, even if the house needs some work. We searched many different neighborhoods just outside the city of Milwaukee and finally settled on one area with an abundance of 1950s and 1960s style ranch and split level homes that were also within our budget. It was harder than I thought, but we ended up finding a 1962 ranch house that was 95% original and untouched (only a few small upgrades had been made, all of which we could live with) that was everything we wanted and more.

I love the original details in my ranch...like the fabulous built in planter/divider

We’ve been living in our dream ranch for just under two years now and we couldn’t be happier. We still have a long way to go before we call our place “done” but I have enjoyed every project that I’ve tackled to date. All the furniture I had been collecting at my old house fit seamlessly into my new to me retro ranch. (At our housewarming party, some neighbors asked it we bought it furnished!) I’ve continued adding pieces here and there as I find them, as well as painting, decorating, fixing, doing yard work and making our house a home.

I’m a do it yourself type girl. I’ll try building, fixing or making just about anything at least once. I’d call my personal style retro/modern/colorful. I like to mix up my rooms with awesome retro pieces, a few modern conveniences and top it off with a bright wall color and accents.

I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts and Retro Renovating experiences with all of you!

— Kate


Thank you, Kate, I am so psyched! Kate already has a bundle of stories “in the can” — and they are good ones. I also have been following her blog, Retro Ranch Revamp, for quite a while, and I’ve been impressed by (1) the quality of her projects, (2) the quality and tenacity of her posts, and (3) as she says, her passion for the retro. Her favorite color is orange, same as me… she lives in Milwaukee, where I went to college… and heck, you gotta a woman with a Broyhill Brasilia china cabinet in her dining room. I’m really looking forward to having Kate’s help — to cover things I can’t always get to… to offer fresh new ideas and perspectives… and heck, I’m thrilled to be “creating” a job — albeit a part-time one — reflecting the continued growth in the blog. We’re gonna have some fun, Kate — welcome!

  1. MCM is Grand says:

    Welcome, Kate! To make your debut official, you’ll need to stage a photograph striking a militant pose with a drill or other DIY tool in an appropriately retro setting! 😉

    Seriously, congratulations and we look forward to reading your posts!

  2. ChrisH says:

    Kate, your house is beautiful. I have not really followed your blog, but I’ll have to now.

    One of my sisters studied fine arts, and ended up in WI (Wausau) .

  3. Susie says:

    Hi Kate! I’ve had your blog in my “to read” pile for a while now. Glad to finally catch up on it. Gotta love those wonderful Midcentury Modest Midwest ranches (it’s fun to say, too.)

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