6 cheap, cheerful and colorful decorating ideas from Jon & Trixi’s house

colorful retro decorJon and Trixi have provided this blog with a wealth of content over the years — from their bathroom stencil treatment to tipping us off to hudee-central Vance Industries. Now that we’ve seen their entire fun, colorful retro home from top to bottom, we can get even more fantastic ideas — six to be exact — from this dynamic decorating duo. 

avocado green kitchen1. 1970s style two-tone kitchen cabinets

midcentury green kitchenAfter Jon and Trixi painstakingly uncovered their home’s Armstrong embossed inlaid linoleum flooring and Formica Mayflower countertops to bring out the room’s colorful retro character — they then used custom-tinted Rustoleum Transformations to reinforce the 1970s-era color scheme: Avocado paint for the base cabinets, a medium warm woodtone for the wall cabinets. Red contrast decor pumps up the volume.

2. Wallpaper + starburst stencils = wow

vintage-pink-bathroomPeeling back more remuddling, the couple uncovered an original pink bathroom hiding under a layer of paint. Choosing to enhance the pink, Trixi installed and ‘framed’ a precious single role of vintage wallpaper in a sort of tall stripe on the long wall as the main focal point behind the mirror… she then covered the rest of the wall with pink paint and gold stenciled starbursts, creating her own inexpensive ‘wallpaper.’

3. Wallpaper accent stripses

vintage wallpaperIn the master bedroom, the couple created an accent wall with a just one roll of found vintage wallpaper. They painted the wall first with a greenish gold color — picked straight from the wallpaper pattern — then cut the wallpaper along its wavy design edges to create wallpaper stripes.

flocked wallpaper

So easy to replicate this idea — but first, you must find the right wallpaper. Pam spotted this groovalicious wavy FLOCKED (!) wallpaper, above, on ebay — about $50 including shipping from seller barnswallospirit. We’d start and end this paper with the orange wavys — very carefully trimming to include the leaves on the edge — “some therapy” but would be so worth it!

4. Make an arrow mural

wall muralYou don’t have to be an artist to paint a decorative wall mural in your home. Jon and Trixi repeated accent colors from their retro barrel furniture on the wall in their basement rec room to create a geometric arrow mural — adding movement, color and interest to the space.

5. Use a bold color for an entryway accent wall

retro accent wallThe couple’s entryway is connected to their main living room. Instead of painting it to blend with the blue on the other walls in the room, they chose to paint it a complementary color — orange — turning the small area into a purposeful alcove. midcentury living roomRepeating orange again throughout the living room — with the chair and ottoman, pillows and decor pieces — helps make this color choice cohesive with the adjacent living area.

6. Don’t forget the exterior

retro garage doorJon and Trixi very inexpensively gave their otherwise plain Jane garage a little sparkle by adding a trio of painted starburst stencils to the door. Brilliant!

Bonus tip: Careful use of color

Jon and Trixi’s taste in colorful decor is very similar to how I inject bright colors into my own home. By studying Jon and Trixi’s house and following a few key rules, you too can achieve a similar look:

  • Keep each room to a maximum of three colors — choosing a main color and two accents — any more than that starts to look a little crazy.
  • Color combinations are pleasing when you work off the color wheel — choose complementary colors like red and green (opposites on the wheel), or analogous colors (neighbors on the wheel) like blue and green.
  • Be sure to repeat the colors throughout the room a minimum of three times — through textiles, artwork and furniture to create a cohesive, intentional feeling.
  • Keep clutter at a minimum. Let the colors be the wow factor, not the stuff.

Mega thanks to Jon and Trixi for sharing their home with us!

Link Love: 

  1. Alicia Damron says:

    I love this house and am using their den as inspiration for my bonus room. Does anyone know the blue color of the walls in their den?

    1. MissTrixi says:

      Thank you!
      Jon actually outlined the mural freehand. We’re going to do something similar in our next home (if we ever get there 😉 )

  2. Nina462 says:

    I noticed your bathroom lights – the ones with the glass cover. So, I broke one of mine the other day, and hopped down to Menards to get a new one (the have them from Patriot lighting)…but the young girl checking me out kept saying how she remembered her Grandma’s house having those lights. She went on & on…. I just smiled and said “everything old is new again!” It was sweet of her to notice –

    1. pam kueber says:

      Bowtie glass shades light mine — from Patriot Lighting? I don’t see them. Can you point me to a link?

  3. MissTrixi says:

    I remember when we painted a ’76 flag on my parents garage door the spring of that year to commemorate the bicentennial. It was a big year for patriotic decor, and it was a fun, family project. That flag remained until I went off to college, and became a landmark for the neighborhood. ‘We’re 3 houses down from the house with the ’76 flag on their garage’.
    We couldn’t afford to get a new door, and we wanted to keep the retro look going for the exterior, so Jon google image searched ’60s garage doors’ and came up with that template.
    Oh, and regarding the orange in our entryway – we painted the exterior of our front door to match. Then, when our door is open on pleasant days, it blends in. Looks pretty sharp with the grey contrast on the exterior too (at least WE think so 😉 )
    Thanks again, Pam! And for the support in our Retro-Reno fun, everyone! I hope we find a buyer that loves it just as much. We’re gonna miss our Retro Ranchelow *sniffle*

    1. Gus says:

      Question – what material is your garage door made out of (metal/wood)? Did you have to get a special type of paint? Does it wear off/fade/peel easily? I’m looking into painting accents on my metal garage door and was worried about it peeling.

      1. MissTrixi says:

        Sorry it took so long to answer this. Having a 1 year old into EVERYTHING with a house on the market has kept us pretty busy 🙂
        It’s a fiberboard(?) door. We used standard exterior paint. Not sure what to use for metal, but I know there are exterior paints out there for that 🙂
        If you’re talking about the green sectional, we got that at FindFurnish – a vintage dealer in Northeast Minneapolis. The orange sofa is a Dapha piece (not vintage, but the frame is one they’ve done since the 50s), and the Whiskey Barrel is good ol’ JC Penny from the late 60s/early 70s (and Ebay find) 😀
        Thanks for the kudos!

    2. Lisa says:

      Trixi, this says “After Jon and Trixi painstakingly uncovered their home’s Armstrong embossed inlaid linoleum flooring….”

      Can you please explain what the situation was, and how you went about uncovering the linoleum? I’m not sure it’ll directly apply to my situation, but it’s worth a shot. I have a 1930 bungalow which has original(?) linoleum underneath ceramic tile in the kitchen. I’d love to uncover and salvage it, if I can.

      Thank you.

        1. Lisa says:

          Thanks, Pam. No, I don’t plan on doing that part of the work myself. The pros tell me the linoleum can’t be salvaged so when I see that someone has successfully saved theirs, I want details!

  4. J D Log says:

    I agree with Mary Elizabeth the old colourful garage doors are fast disappearing they were a great feature for a house when I was a kid, I remember back in the early 70’s my father drove by his first house he built in 1958 and the owners had a painted a mural of Alice Cooper on the garage door my father was so angry but my brother and I thought it was so cool. It was still there when I last drove by there 10 years alas very faded

    1. Steve H says:

      That reminds me of an old episode of The Partridge Family when an artist friend painted a rather risque picture of a lady on their garage door. I agree that’s a shame that people don’t paint garage doors (or front doors for that matter) in a more interesting and colorful fashion. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that most doors now are steel with a factory applied white finish that you don’t have to paint, but that’s really no excuse not to add a little color and style.

  5. Mary Elizabeth says:

    Happy Friday from snowy New England, folks! I do love what Trixi and Jon have done throughout their home, and I hope the new buyers fall in love with it, too. I want to talk about that garage door to everyone I know. Driving around my area in all this white (much more snow than shown on the ground in Trixi and Jon’s photo) I am even more conscious than usual of those boring white garage doors on midcentury houses, most of them replacement doors. I just want to get out and ring their doorbells and show them photos of inspirational garage doors like T & J’s and mine (done by the former owner and touched up by me, so I can’t take credit), and other garage doors featured on this site. Where was it decreed that all garage doors in the 21st century must be solid white just because they come that way? Or is it just me going snow blind and wanting a bit of color?

    1. Nina462 says:

      I have noticed several garage doors in the neighbor hood that already have a star pattern on them. And they are the original doors – I never noticed them as a child, but sure do now!

  6. midmichigan says:

    All great ideas that you can add or subtract from. I Love the swags too! They really set the rooms off; be careful when hanging them. Precautionary Pam may attest to this.

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