Nancy’s back to the future pool house — built in 2012, rockin’ 1955 — 16 photos

mid-century-kitchenHop into the DeLorean and buckle up, because here’s one of our most retro-fabulous design dream houses yet: Nancy’s pool house — all new, from the ground up — but designed to looked like it’s always been there, since, say, 1955.  The kitchen, above, is just the start. This family gathering space also includes a great room and bathroom… it’s sparkling with vintage furniture… and it taps a number of the new, retro-style products researched and spotlighted here on Retro Renovation. What’s most impressive, though, is how Nancy has woven the entire design together in such a happy, harmonious way. Clearly, she has great eye — along with the love for and the courage to embrace color, color, and more color. 15 more photos, activate the flux capacitor –>

mid-century-retro-dining-roomNow this is what I call a “great room.” Look at all that wonderful space — and more importantly — how Nancy filled it up. As you can start to see, the architectural style of the pool house is decidedly midcentury modern. It echoes the design of the main house.

coral-metal-retro-kitchen-cabinets Nancy set out to add a pool and accompanying pool house to her property about two years ago. She was intent on making sure the new building did not look like an afterthought. Above: Her beautiful coral-orange metal kitchen cabinets are topped off with some of the last surviving stock of aqua boomerang laminate and wrapped with shiny metal edging.


retro-kitchen-with-big-chill-fridgeI asked Nancy a few questions about some of the choices she made in her pool house:

youngstown kitchen cabinets from catalog
One of Nancy’s inspiration photos — a vintage Youngstown kitchen illustration, from Pam’s collection

Q. How did you choose the color palette for your pool house? 

Orange has really been growing on me. Pam had a retro Youngstown kitchen catalog  posted one day, and I fell in love with the orange/teal mix of image #9. We live on the Chesapeake Bay, and I thought the colors would be great for this 50’s pool house!

red-big-chill-fridgeQ. I noticed your dishwasher front matches the cabinets — did you have the cabinets custom painted that lovely coral color as well as the dishwasher front? 

I copied the kitchen from the post and then a local auto body shop stripped and matched the color from the printout.

Note: Nancy chose a Big Chill refrigerator for her kitchen. See my complete retro refrigerator buying guide here — 7 ideas for options!

pool house fun roomQ. What is your favorite part of your pool house? (If you can pick!)

You know, I can’t say a particular part is my favorite. It just all came together as a “little 50’s gift box”, and I enjoy it as a whole.  There is nothing serious about it. My goal was 50’s and fun.

decorating a pool house
vintage burke tulip table set with six chairs
retro pool houseQ. What was the most challenging part of your remodel? 

Well, we are transplanted Native Texans living on the Eastern Shore. We learned that things didn’t happen on our schedule but on Eastern Shore Time. Also, Kris our builder was great about trying to make all of my 50’s things fit. I bought all these Youngstown cabinets at Community Forklift & then trying to make them fit in our space.  He wasn’t familiar with a Dishmaster, but I told him that was essential. Of course a drawer had to be shortened for the Nutone Center…The 50’s bathroom wallpaper had to be used where it would get less wear since it was paper and couldn’t get wet… But, I guess when you take on a project like this, the biggest challenge is being true to the 50’s (or as close as you can) and really trying to bring out the essence of the time period.

retro-modern-house-flamingo-rugNancy added:

This project would not have been possible without Pam!  I can’t tell you how valuable the blog is! There is information there that you don’t even know is there. How do you always know when we need to finish off cabinets, choose a flooring…?  It seemed as the project went along, the posts would be one step ahead of me, and I took notes on all of them!!  We have just walked our daughter down the aisle (or yard) from the pool house (where we spent all day getting ready for the wedding)!  That is a great start to the many memories our family will make in this very happy place!

vintage-fish-planterWow, Nancy, this entire space is such a wonderful accomplishment — your family must have been giddy. You’ve done your homework and it shows — big time. Thank you so much for inviting us into your pool house — so inspiring!

Resource list for Nancy’s retro pool house interior design:

  • Kitchen faucet: Dishmaster
  • Refrigerator: Big Chill
  • Laminate: Formica boomerang in aqua, now discontinued
  • Counter top edging: New York Metal
  • Kitchen cabinets: Vintage Youngstown, salvaged from Community Forklift, stripped and repainted by auto body shop. (Remember readers, when working with old materials Be Safe / Renovate Safe.)
  • Kitchen pendant lighting above sink: Astron Tri from Rejuvenation
  • Kitchen globe light: Rejuvenation Sfera 16
  • Nutone food center: craigslist
  • Kitchen curtains: Goodwill
  • Bathroom curtains: made from Nancy’s barkcloth collection
  • Living room curtains: new fabric-can’t remember but think Etsy
  • Paint colors: We made the colors up as we went-teal color from over sink light, bathroom color to match toilet…
  • Fan: CasaBlanca – Community Forklift
  • Toilet and sink: Toilet: Standard; Sink: Maddock (made of Durock), both from Community Forklift (Edmonston, Md)
  • Bathroom sink faucet: Mississippi faucets by Strom Plumbing/Sign of the Crab
  • Bathroom wallpaper: vintage paper I bought for a previous home (ebay)
  • Bathroom tile: Crisp Linen Dal tile (left over from the yellow bathroom redo)
  • Fish Plates: vintage Vera (love her!) found on Ebay
  • Fish glasses: vintage Ebay
  • Exterior lights: (they are an almost identical match to those on the main house from 1957) Primelite Manufacturing Corp. Cat #4670
  • Bar stools: Frederick Weinberg
  • Vintage furniture and collectibles: as you might imagine, not a lot of mid century modern furniture on the Eastern Shore of Md. But, I would like to say Adam Henderson of  Dead 50’s Modern in Lewes Beach, Delaware is incredible!!!  He has a shop in the Antique Mall in Lewes, Delaware. This is his facebook page.
  • Pink plastic flower arrangement: Everything Vintage Co.,  Toano, VA & on Facebook
  • Orange lockers: Community Forklift  stripped & painted with auto paint (color from child’s orange construction paper)
  • Chest: $35 from resale store, stripped & painted same colors as island (don’t know if you can tell but each side of the island is a different color (teal, orange, yellow, & the side facing cabinets is a Youngstown cabinet the same color as others)
  • The rug came from ebay (affiliate link in widget below). It’s new, from the U.K., shipping costs were a bit painful to the U.S., but Nancy said it came tout suite:

Nancy also wants to add — all furniture is vintage except the 2 teal ottomans & the fan from community forklift.

This isn’t Nancy’s first time Retro Renovation — she’s a longtime fan and reader, one of Pam’s first pen pals. 🙂

  1. pamela says:


    Your remodel is awesome! Your coral cabinets are amazing and beautiful. I also have Youngstown kitchen cabinets but they have been painted over many times and we need to have them stripped and repainted. How did they strip them? Sand, beads or soda? Could you please discuss?

    Awesome bathroom too! LOVE the wallpaper!

  2. Marta says:

    I’m just . . . flabbergasted. Putting aside the face that I could easily and happily LIVE in the pool house, it’s impossible to pick a favorite thing. Each item I look at makes me squeal “Oh, I want THAT!”

  3. Diane in CO says:

    I forgot to mention the Campbell Soup cans! When I read the article yesterday, one of the first things that popped (no pun intended) out at me in the stove close-up were the Warhol-esque soup cans that Kate wrote about recently. Nice touch! Those, and the Catherineholm Lotus pot on the stove.
    I collect those pieces too. They’re very iconic to me; my modern-loving mother had Catherineholm when I was growing up. (Those, and a Nelson platform bench, tangerine sectional sofa and pale turquoise walls!) 🙂

  4. Linda says:

    Hi Nancy,

    Wow! Great job! Sure brings back memories–we had orange cabinets in our finished basement back in the 60s. I think Don Draper would feel right at home!

    Question–there looks to be an air conditioner or other HVAC unit high on the wall of the living room. If that’s correct, could you please tell me what kind it is? I’m doing an addition to my house and can’t decide what type of heating/air to use.

    Thanks, and congrats on a fabulous job!

  5. Joe Felice says:

    What a happy space to have, even in a main house; just beckons and makes you want to spend time there. I wonder if it would create the same feeling for a person who didn’t actually live at the time. Orange and aqua–Who knew? Yellow & aqua were standards, as were yellow & orange, but I just never thought of all 3 together, but it sure does work! Not sure about the red fridge, tho. Doesn’t Big Chill have an orange one? Or yellow. Some of the stuff in the main room is more ’60s, but hey–the ’50s just morphed into the ’60s, so it works, too. Love the flamingo rug. I just imagined how good it would look in front of my Turner flamingo mirror. And the bathroom curtains are the bomb! The best part: I did recognize many of the components from the site and from my own shopping! It almost makes me feel like I am a part of it all. I’ll bet Nancy had a blast shopping for the furnishings & accents. For me, looking for (and finding) those things is half the fun, and makes the entire process more personal, and therefore, more meaningful

    I also never thought of using laminate for the backsplash. I know that was done back then. I, too used the Formica Aqua Boomerang (for my breakfast bar & dining table) with metal edging, but chose glass tiles for 2 walls and imitation copper panels from Outwater (online) behind the stove. Readers should check out the catalog. There are a lot of things for us to use in our retro decor.

    And just think, Nancy, new space with instant memories and appeal that just pulls you back to the time when . . . Many times, amid today’s hatefulness, contention, anger and hurry-up offense, I keep praying for someone to wake me up and tell me it’s 1955 again, and that this is all a bad dream. This wanting to go back in time is exactly what propels me to create the memories in my own space. To me, it’s just good-feeling feng shui. Sometimes, I can almost feel the Siamese cats and the poodle underfoot, then I recall the happy times with family, and a nostalgic wave washes over my being. I suspect, like me, many of my fellow devotees feel like their souls are stuck in the ’50s. Couldn’t be any better. Thanks, Nancy (and Pam for sharing)!

  6. Dianne says:

    Love the bold colors! I wish I were that brave. I am very curious about the tulip dining table, usually I just seem them round and under 48″ or oval and over 72″ and this one looks smaller, is it? I would love one 60″ long, any info? Thanks for sharing.

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