Baby boomers create their retirement dream house — a colorful retro remodel — 25 photos

We really wanted color and vowed the one question
we would not ask ourselves was:
“What will this do to the resale value?”

baby boomer retirement house

JoAnn and MarkWhen we saw JoAnn’s photo of her vintage stove in a recent uploader, we knew there was something special going on in this  house. Sure enough, we reached out — and JoAnn sent us 25 photos of her remodeled ranch house. She and her husband Mark are retired baby boomers, and with this renovation, they took special care to address issue that would ensure safe mobility as they aged. In addition, they threw the idea of remodeling for resale value to the wind — and designed the interior that would make them happy. Golly, it makes me pretty happy, too!  JoAnn and Mark mixed relatively inexpensive vintage — Homart steel kitchen cabinets and Heywood Wakefield furniture… with more spendy new and modern — for example, George Nelson bubble lamps and Barbara Barry bathroom tiles. Clearly, this remodel was a personal creative endeavor that gave JoAnn — who has a background in fashion — the opportunity to create the jewel box house of her dreams — which, like almost all the Retro Renovations we see, usually meant doing things “the hard way”. Read on for the full story and 25 photos from JoAnn and Mark’s remodel.

JoAnn writes:


I love your blog and read it every day. I’ve learned a lot from reading the posts.

mid-century-modern-house-exteriorexterior-mid-century-ranchWe bought our house two years ago and knew we had some remodeling to do, mainly in the kitchen/family room. The house was originally built in the 1930’s. It had a major remodel in about 1955-56.. As far as what attracted us to this era of house, before we started looking for a new house, Mark bought a vintage 1959 Airstream and was working on restoring it. That started the research into the 1950’s and we really liked what we saw, the products we could choose, like Marmoleum, and, particularly, the quality of the vintage pieces like metal cabinets and solid wood furniture.

red-and-aqua-dining-roomred-glass-tile-fireplaceretro-modern-fireplaceEntry-Hall-retro-modernCigar-Lamp-retro-modernUpdates to suit retired boomers

In the 1950s remodel, the garage was turned into a family room and added on to. The kitchen was very small and the family room very large. You stepped down (3 steps) into the family room from the kitchen and the front hall. We are retired boomers, and I knew the steps were unsafe, an accident waiting to happen. The family room was not insulated, and freezing in the winter. It was ending up being used as a huge storage closet.

So, we insulated and raised the family room floor so it was the same level as the kitchen. I say “we”, but, we did not do our own work-only the painting and some ripping out and adding insulation. We really wanted color and vowed the one question we would not ask ourselves was: “What will this do to the resale value?”


white-red-aqua-retro-modern-kitchenvintage stoveThe streamline modern kitchen

The kitchen consists of two parts — the cooking area with the stove and the clean-up area with the Homarts. I’m the person who found the first set of aluminum cabinets that you wrote about. I didn’t end up using them and sold them to someone who did. We ended up with Homarts — the curves on the Homarts are more in the streamline style that we wanted.

The only way we could get a larger kitchen was to push into the family room. We did not want to change an outside wall. So the kitchen is an elongated ‘L’. I know you really like soffits. I decided that the Homart wall wouldn’t get a soffit because of the size of the room and I wanted more tile showing. However, a soffit would have made all the cabinets easier to reach.

haywood-wakefield-kitchentambourHeywood Wakefield style custom vanity

Creating custom cabinets in Heywood Wakefield style

About the time we bought this house, we starting collecting Heywood Wakefield furniture from Craigslist. We knew the credenza would go into the remodeled space and, with the help of a great woodworker, we copied the credenza style for the island and cooking area cabinets. I searched everywhere for metal cabinets and ended up with way too many and still had trouble finding the right size cabinets for the space. In the photo of the Heywood credenza, you can see four white doors with Homart pulls. These are really wood that our woodworker made to match the Homarts.

The tile in the kitchen/family room is glass. There was an existing fireplace in the family room. The floor is Marmoleum in the kitchen and hardwood in the dining area. The sectional is a Heywood Wakefield with original upholstery from Craigslist. The beige shag rug is one I bought in the 1960’s and stored for many years. The pendant light fixtures are from Rejuvenation.

The turquoise cabinettes are from the fellow in Texas who listed them on the Retro Renovation forum. That’s what started the turquoise theme.

We sent the original Homart sink to Custom Coatings in Illinois that I learned about from you. Even with the freight, it was less expensive than a new sink and I’m not even sure there is a sink made today that would have fit that cabinet. Besides, I love the drain boards. We used tambour in places and, hopefully, someday I will find one of the Heywood pieces with tambour.

We had the Homarts electrostatic painted and are pleased with the result. We drove across two states and back to get these cabinets.

turquiose-tile-bathroom-ann-sacksAnn-Sacks-Starburst-tileHeywood Wakefield style custom vanity

Master bathroom remodel using Ann Sack tile including fab starbursts

The turquoise shower is the master bath. The old bathroom was not salvageable. The same woodworker made the vanity to look like Heywood Wakefield. We used the starburst tiles from Ann Sacks.

pink bathroom Pink-Bathroom-retroPink-Bath-FloorThe pink bathroom

The pink bathroom was in better shape and there was no way I was ripping out the old vinyl. It’s pink with gold metallic spots in it. I found the pink sink at a salvage yard and painted the cabinet. The original tile in the shower is a very pale pink. I sent a sample to Chippy at World of Tile, but they couldn’t match it. So, we used white on the counter and you can’t tell the difference.



The guest bathroom

The guest bathroom is art deco. I found the mirror in a second hand store and the cabinet is a dresser from a second hand store that I repainted. It’s such a small room, it’s difficult to photo. The floor is terrazzo from Daltile.

mid-century-ranch-house-exteriorThe exterior design

In the 1955-56 remodel, they added the garage that sticks out. The family room is behind it. The corrugated iron is another salvage yard find that we used for a fence. My major activity is gardening. One of the first things I did was tear out the grass in the front and plant ornamental grasses, which require a whole lot less maintenance. The grasses are one year old.

JoAnn’s flair for fashion – plus help from a professional

I really don’t have a design background, just a love for decorating. I worked for many years for department stores — the old-fashioned kind, in the fashion areas. We were lucky enough at the start of this project to connect with Dan, who previously was the Creative Director at Rejuvenation. Dan gets the big picture and was able to keep me on track. I can get buried in the details. When I would come up with an idea, he could immediately tell me whether it fit the era we were trying to capture. He was also a mediator when my husband and I disagreed on something. For example, I wanted to paint the Homarts turquoise to match the cabinettes, and I compromised on that one. But, my husband Mark agreed to the solid turquoise tile in the master bath instead of white with turquoise trim. So, Dan kept us moving in the right direction. I spent uncountable hours on the internet, at vintage stores, researching, and physically going to suppliers.

For example, I really wanted terrazzo from seeing it in books & magazines on retro houses. I found it on Daltile’s website before they had a sample in the showroom and we ended up waiting for two months to get it. The turquoise and red colors happened because of the vintage stove and the turquoise cabinettes. They were the first items we purchased for the project. Then, the hunt was on for matching laminate, tile and flooring.

vintage stoveBy the way, I bought the stove from Antique Appliance Co, aka Eagle Rock Appliance in LA, and Peter was great.

JoAnn and Mark

We love our house. In fact, I’ve been known to walk around inside the house saying: “I love this house!” I’m glad you like it, too.


Resource list

Creative consultant:  Dan Huckestein
Custom kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanity: Robert Carr
White metal cabinets: Vintage Homart, found via Craigslist
Repainting metal cabinets: Electrostatic repainting by Precision Electro Coat, Portland, OR
Turquoise cabinettes: NOS found via the Retro Renovation Forum
Kitchen countertops, red: Abet Laminati-431 SEI
Kitchen countertops, aqua: Abet Laminati-486 SEI
Kitchen backsplash tile: Metro from Ann Sacks: 2×2 comes on mesh 1 ft. squares. You tell them the % of each color: 45% Aquatic Glossy, 45% Snowcap Glossy, 10% Poinsettia Glossy
Re-enameling of vintage drainboard sink: Custom Coatings
Vintage stove: Antique Appliance Co, aka Eagle Rock Appliance in LA
Kitchen floor: Marmoleum — main center is Prisma ‘Pool Party’, the red is Real ‘Scarlet’, the edging is Prisma ‘Bahamian Sea’
Tambour:-Woodwaves, Inc. Vista, CA-‘Round, Maple’
Red tile fireplace surround in family room: Metro from Ann Sacks, 12×12 Poinsettia Glossy
Aqua tile backsplash around stove: Metro from Ann Sacks, 8×8 Aquatic Glossy
Brown tile surround: Glass tile ‘Profile’ from Ann Sacks-it’s iridescent and each tile is convex, so you get lots of color reflections. The hearth is original to the house.
George Nelson cigar lamp: ylighting.com
George Nelson bubble lamp: ylighting.com
Gas fireplace inserts: Family room is Scan 65i, living room is Avalon 31 DVL
Kitchen pendant lighting: Rejuvenation Orbis-recently discontinued
Master bathroom sconces: Rejuvenation Glide
Turquoise bathroom tile: Barbara Barry by Ann Sacks
Guest room floor tile: Terrazzo tiles from Daltile
Master bathroom sinks and faucets: Kohler ‘Vox’ vessels lavatory; Grohe faucets; Hansgrohe shower head
Guest room sink and faucet: Kohler sink & Grohe faucet
Front door: Crestview Doors, already in place when house was purchased

JoAnn and Mark’s colorful and creative retirement playhouse

JoAnn and Mark, what a wonderful renovation. My favorite parts: Your Heywood Wakefield inspired bathroom vanity… Your guest room vanity — gorgeous!… and your entire kitchen, with its mix of vintage Homart, Hey-wake style blond cabinetry and knobs and its cheerful red and turquoise color palette. This is an amazing, sunny, creative house. So inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing your story — and all these amazing photos. xoxo

See JoAnn and Mark’s home on my video:

Kate and I are experimenting with videos. You can also see JoAnn and Mark’s new house on this little video, toe tappin’ fun 🙂

  1. Richard Douglass says:


    Wonderful renovations. I cannot imagine the amount of work to get it to look that good.

    Might you tell me what kind of stove that is? The red handles and knobs really make it pop out.


    1. JoAnn says:

      Hi Richard-
      The stove is an O’Keefe & Merritt from about 1949. The knobs are original. I bought it from a stove restoration place in Los Angeles. The stoves were manufactured there, so there are still quite a few around. It’s like a tank and cooks great.

  2. gsciencechick says:

    Somehow I missed the original post. The house is fabulous! I love everything but my special favorite is the H-W double vanity. It’s just awesome!

  3. What a great house. And I love the careful selection of accessories. I think what makes this work so well, apart from the colors and wonderful furniture, is that it is not full of “stuff”, but is clean and crisp. I think a lot of people could take a lesson from this lovely home.

  4. Joe Felice says:

    Love it! I’m not a fan of red, but that’s just me; I know it’s true to the period. I mixed aqua, turquoise & canary yellow in my home.

  5. SD Amy says:

    I would love to know more about the brown tile on the fireplace.

    It is gorgeous! I’ve been trying to find roman brick to do mine, but that is nearly impossible to find. Seeing yours has given me some new ideas!

    Once again – fantastic place!!!

Comments are closed.