Whiskey barrel a Go Go: Inside Trixi and Jon’s retro genius midcentury modest house

midcentury modest houseretro basement barAfter lavishing loads of time-consuming TLC on their adorable midcentury modest ranchalow, two of our favorite Retro Renovators have put their house on the market. Trixi and Jon love their 1962 home, but that’s they way the cookie crumbles, they need a bit more space. The real estate photos are fabulous — the perfect opportunity to showcase all their retro genius interior design done on a budget: Removing 1980s layers… getting creative fun with paint… wallpaper fragments… atomic stencils… and yowza, a rockin’ 1970s barrel furniture basement bar! (hehe, Interior Desecrations!) Before it’s too late, let’s take the grand tour of their colorful and creative home.

avocado green kitchen

avocado green kitchen“An archeological dig in the kitchen”

Longtime readers will remember our numerous stories about Jon and Trixi removing shoddy 1980s layers from their kitchen — to reveal vintage Formica Mayflower countertops – and Armstrong #5352 flooring — our luscious shades of lime and aqua. What a fabulous, cohesive, happy space!

For this story, we asked for their reflections on the entire project.

Trixi: Renovating the house has been such a labor of love for both of us. We inherited the house from Jon’s previous marriage, and really wanted to make it ‘ours’. What started as a hastily updated flip became a swingin’ throwback to it’s former 60/70s self. It was like an archeological dig in the kitchen, where all of the original flooring and countertops were buried below the surface. And once we completed that, we thought we have to retro the rest of the house.

nutone kitchen center
The kitchen features a Nutone Kitchen Center.

avocado green kitchen

Jon: And the kitchen is definitely a favorite element. I grew up with the ideal of the “Brady kitchen” so besides the archaeology of making it happen, adding everybody’s favorite forbidden color, avocado, was one of my favorite things. I love that color — second place, Harvest Gold — so being able to actually make our kitchen have lots of it felt kind of vindicating if that makes sense.

Dig our stories driven by Jon and Trixi’s archeological digs — golly!:

The retro-sexy master bedroom with inspired use of vintage wallpaper:

vintage wallpaperOkay. So back to the house and the other part. Pam was immediately wowed by the wallpaper accent wall in their master bedroom — what a great idea to take wavy paper and cut it into strips — no matching required!

Trixi elaborated: My favorite elements are the bits and pieces that we found out in the wild. For example, the vinyl wallpaper in the MBR was a funky find from a salvage yard in the woods of Wisconsin. A place that has been around for decades and is chock-a-block full of random things from old theater costumes, to roles of textiles to new old stock furniture from the 50s – 70s.

vintage wallpaper

The paper is date stamped 1975, manufactured by Dunridge Industries. We wanted to use it for an accent wall, but because we only had the one roll we decided to use the olive color in the pattern as our base color, then hung evenly spaced panels of the wallpaper across.

vintage wallpaper

Because of the black in the pattern and the fact that the rest of the decor was going to be framed vintage psychedelic posters (and the teen-me always wanted a black bedroom), we chose black to paint the rest of the room. Because black is so heavy we wanted a lot of reflection from the surfaces and chose a high gloss.

And underneath pirate-themed paint — a pink bathroom!:


Jon: My other favorite bit has been the bathroom. The old version of the room had literally zero character — I think when we first moved in it was pirate themed, but even that didn’t feel fun because everything in there was tan or grey. When Trixi figured out that part of the tub had some pink showing, she went hog-wild in there. Soon the tub was uncovered, there was vintage wallpaper on the wall that she found online, and she’d made stencils to give the thing an atomic feel. And the character came back!

Yup, Trixi’s stencils made it into yet another story:

The pièce de résistance: Whiskey Barrel furniture basement bar with “Book of Awesome” arrow-stripe walls:

retro rec roomAnd then there is that amazing basement living space that has it all — vintage barrel furniture including a barrel bar… and a groovy arrow wall mural. We need to know more, Jon and Trixi!

wall mural

Trixi: For the basement rec room we wanted to go more fun and mod. The visual inspiration actually came from a page in the book Interior Desecrations by James Lileks.

retro rec room

It’s a book of what is considered ‘bad 70s interior design’ but what we call ‘the book of awesome’. We wanted to pull out some of the colors from the JC Penney Whiskey Barrel/naugahyde furniture that I was lucky enough to find via craigslist, and thus the arrows were born.

wall mural

What’s next for  J&T?

Trixi explained the reason for leaving this groove pad: With a toddler, and both our teen daughter and Jon needing rehearsal space for their rock music, we just need more room.
Our dream would be to find a time-capsule split level. We’ve accumulated a lot of vintage materials (i.e. avocado dishwasher, a 60’s mural and some wallpaper, etc), which we cant wait to apply to the next home. We’d love to do more early 70s with the next one too.

Golly, we can’t wait!

Jon and Trixi’s home is especially appealing to Kate because her own retro ranch house was built in the same fantastic year, 1962 — and she too, loves, loves, loves to decorate with loads of color. Trixi and she had a short email conversation about how much they love to have colorful, happy homes, and when Kate expressed her sadness about the current ‘trend’ towards using only neutrals in home decor, Trixi replied:

We think that the real estate bubble of 2005 warped people’s minds into thinking that bland/neutral landscapes were desirable. So many houses were getting flipped using materials in neutral colors that people started confusing ‘easy to sell’ with ‘design aesthetic’. If I heard once, I heard a thousand times ‘I don’t know how you’re going to sell you house with that room painted X-Y or X’. It’s weird. I mean, if you’re decorating your house based on ‘sellabilty’, then you’re not really living in your house. You’re just visiting it.

Amen, you two! We also love the fact that you took design inspiration from a book written by a guy who was mocking the interior design of the 70s. Way to “Love the House You’re In!”

Mega thanks to Jon and Trixi for sharing their home with us — nicely played! Thanks also to realtor Shawn Korby for supplying us with listing information … and to J Fuerst Real Estate Photography for all the fabulous photos that truly capture the creative spirit of this home.

Buy this house:

From the property listing:

  • Price: $169,900
  • Year built: 1962
  • Square footage: 1,720
  • Bedrooms: 4
  • Bathrooms: 1 full 1 three-quarter

Super cool retro-renovation back to 1960s mid-century modest! 4BR 2BA 2Car home blcks from Theo Wirth Park and close to everything. Solid home with 3br on one level! Finished basement w/ guest suite. Great landscaping, hardwood flrs. Must see!

Link Love:

Tips to view slide show: Click on first image… it will enlarge and you can also read my captions… click anywhere to move forward and look for previous and next buttons within photo to move back or forth… you can start or stop at any image:

  1. Trixi says:

    Hey all! For anyone that was following our story, I just wanted to check-in and say ‘We sold our house!’ Sorry it took so long for us to update, but we’ve been busy selling/buying/moving/redecorating (moderately). We found our Time-Capsule dream home and moved in September. A custom rambler that was built in ’59. Purchased from the living trust of the widow of the original owner/builder. So much of it untouched – Mid-Century perfection! 🙂 We’re very happy, and have even added a few more pieces to our treasures. Yay! Thanks for the interest, excitement and for following us on our journey from loving one place we live to another!

  2. Brigitta says:

    Make sure you mix up some Rusty Nails to drink in that awesome cool groove pad!

    Thanks for spilling the beans on that secret treasure trove in Wisconsin. I will check it out.

  3. Joe Felice says:

    Interesting mixture of ’60s & ’70s. If this house were in Denver, it would list for $400,000. Prices here are crazy, and MCM homes are extremely popular and in demand. And because there is a shortage of “affordable” housing, anything under $200,000.00 is sold in minutes.

  4. Amy says:

    Thanks so much! I just looked at it – enlarged it – I am in passionate love with that Formica pattern!

  5. Amy says:

    Anyone know more about that kitchen countertop? I googled Formica Mayflower but nothing came up. Does anyone know the pattern name, or could I see a better/close up picture of it?

  6. Lisanne Freese says:

    “from a salvage yard in the woods of Wisconsin.” Can you please tell us what town in Wisconsin?

      1. MissTrixi says:

        You can see more details in the comments above. A place outside of Cumberland. And there I’ve gone and spilled about one of our best kept secrets 😉

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