Welcome to Retro Renovation® — your regular dose of mid century and vintage renovation and decorating resources… design inspiration… fun finds… and an archive of stories from an enthusiastic community of people all interested in cherishing their mid century and older homes.
Our focus here, first and foremost, is to help you find the products and sources you need to help remodel, renovate and decorate your house in authentic mid century style. We feature some sources for pre-war and post-modern homes as well. We’re here to help you get the job done — doing the research so you don’t have to.
Note: After 15 years — 3,000 stories! — this site has entered a new stage. Today, my focus is working to keep existing resource stories up to date so the site remains a solid reference. And, I want to continue to improve the site as an historical reference around things like steel kitchen cabinets, a longtime passion. To make time, I don’t blog as much, and comments are closed.
How can you make the most of the blog and its archive of 3,000+ stories about resources & inspiration:
- Dive into all our categories (in the navigation along the top of the page) and you will see, we have lots of research into all the products you might need to remodel and decorate. Along the way, we have lotsa other fun, too — always showing great gratitude and respect for the houses — and their owners — who came before us.
- And, important for anyone taking on an older home:
Renovating, remodeling and living in our midcentury and vintage homes can be gratifying, but please always remember, there can be safety and environmental hazards in the surfaces, layers, materials and products in our homes. Anything old, even New Old Stock, that you buy also may have issues. We all care very much about managing safety and environmental issues properly, so when moving into a home … when undertaking cleaning, repair, remodeling or restoration projects … or when adding old materials (salvaged, used, new old stock, etc.)… be sure to get with your own properly licensed professionals to determine what you are dealing with/working with so that you can make informed decisions how to handle, become familiar with and use recommended best practices, and also learn about the proper disposal of debris, etc. Read more: See our Be Safe / Renovate Safe page … the EPA hosts a website on lead paint in the home and a website on asbestos in the home, etc. Consult professionals regarding these materials, and also about the proper disposal of debris, etc.
<– I’m Pam Kueber. That’s me with my crazy wallpaper office … that’s my kitchen above — and this my blog, oh I luv it so. Doing all the research to find products to backdate my 1951 colonial-ranch house in Lenox, Mass., is what got me into this online escapade. In the course of my endless hunt to find products and design ideas sympathetic to my house’s undeniable mid-century bones, I got…. obsessed… I learned a lot… and I figured, why not share all my finds with other folks undertaking the same journey. And now – you have arrived!
This blog has lots about *modest, mid-century, middle-class* homes — ranches, Capes, Colonials, split-levels, contemporaries, bungalows. I also write about sleek *mid-century modern homes*… I love them all, but admit that I tend to worry more about the modest homes (themselves full of charm) being at more serious risk of being gutted, with regrets to follow later. Interestingly, both mid-century modern and mid-century modest homes shared many of the same technological features and design cues (like pink bathrooms) inside. For further info see my Mid-Century Modest Manifesto and my micro-site SaveThePinkBathrooms.com.
What’s covered here? Well: The design aesthetic of retro interiors, exteriors, culture, people, steel kitchen cabinets, colors, pink kitchens, pink bathrooms, hudee rings, pecky cypress, illustrations with people playing accordians, wallpaper, pinch pleat curtains, mint-in-box items — and readers’ fabulous jewel box houses, too. Get ready to be sucked into the retro vortex.
Above: As featured in the New York Times — yup, read all about our escapades in this 2,200-word feature story that appeared on p.1 of the Home & Garden section on Aug. 18, 2011.
Fast forward 10 years and another New York Times story called me “…the godmother of midcentury kitchens and baths, steering a new generation of homeowners to the four-inch square tiles that dominated homes for decades.” teehee
Oh, and here’s me showing off one of my office remodel. My friend Denise and I pasted about 200 squares of vintage wallpaper on the four walls, creating a crazy patchwork quilt (note: there is method in this madness) of 18 different designs of wallpaper. We celebrated by getting all Love American Style Gothic with the photo.
Hey, see me talkin’ about Mid Century Modest in this etsy.com video:
2018 … I kinda stopped keeping track
- Wall Street Journal: Big story on time capsule houses. I am the “subject matter expert.”
- Washington Post: Hey, we got a shout out!
- HGTV.com: In Defense of Pink Bathrooms — A Q&A with me
- Chronicle TV: Big story on my house and my kitchen and the Retro Renovation Revolution!
- Washington Post: The TV-watching public’s long love affair with tray tables
- The Times of London: Something is happening in smart bathrooms — Designers say pink is back after a long absence.
- WFMJ-TV: Effort to Bring Back 1948 Youngstown steel kitchen cabinets
- Ummm: I got out of the habit of updating press coverage of the blog…. I’ll work on it again at some point… maybe.
- New York Times: “When Blogging Becomes a Slog” (but not for me — I am the wise old owl)
- Huffington Post: The 10 Best Renovation Websites for Living out your Dream Home Fantasies.
- Der Standard newspaper profiled the blog. It was in German, so I’m not sure what it said. But I asked on Facebook, and a reader told me it said that, “You are now as loved as David Hasselhof in Germany.”
- Fixing to Die: Retro Renovation® and a reader remodel featured on the blog inspired the setting and story line for Elaine Viets’ “restoration comedy” murder mystery, Fixing to Die. The book debuted #9 on the Barnes & Noble paperback list.
- Yankee Magazine: Six-page story in Sept./Oct. issue — 1.7 million readers! — about the blog and my house. “Fifties and Fabulous.”
- Globe and Mail: Loud and proud 1970s chalet
- Columbus Post-Dispatch: Back to the bones: Restoring ’50s homes
- California Home + Design: Celebrating Midcentury Modest
- Ft. Lauderdale Magazine: Midcentury Modern Architecture Makes a Comeback
- Minneapolis Star-Tribune: Vintage Vibe
- Hamilton (Ont.) Spectator: Kitchens Cook Down Memory Lane
- msn.com: What we can learn from 1970s homess
- The Daily Mail (London) online: Give your Home the Mad Men Look! How one blogger inspires retro renovating tips.
- Blog Aids in Renovation of ‘Mid-Century Modest’ Homes. Nationally syndicated story appeared in newspapers including:
- Akron Beacon Journal
- Seattle Times
- Miami Herald
- Detroit Free Press (twice!)
- Palm Springs Desert Sun
- San Antonio Express
- Baltimore Sun
- Kansas City Star
- Toledo Blade
- Eau Claire Leader-Telegram
- Ogden (UT) Standard-Examiner
- …and more.
- New York Times 2,200-word profile about Retro Renovation and its readers: Restoring the Retro House
- St. Louis Post-Dispatch — Preserve the Pink (bathroom)
- msn.com — New Respect for the Ranch House
- Portland (Oregon) Monthly Magazine Online — Sofa Shopping
- The Oregonian/Oregon Live — The Retro Queen
- Minneapolis Star-Tribune: Bathrooms Still In the Pink
- Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: Name that Home Fad
- AP interviews Pam for story, Used Building Materials a Hit Among Home Owners, that runs in news outlets nationwide.
- Arizona Daily Star: That 50s Tile with Style
- Home is a Four-Letter Word: Penny Pinching with the Stars
- Home is a Four-Letter Word: Lovin’ the 50s
- Etsy.com video profile.
- Knoxville News – Maribeth’s 1970s retro renovation
- Finalist and 4th place winner in Apartment Therapy’s annual contest to name the best home design blog of 2009
- Eugene, Oregon Register-Guard on retro revival and home show talks
- Our tour of the St. Louis 1995 time capsule home covered by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
- Desert Living Magazine
Dec. 3, 2008
- Pam talks with the National Kitchen & Bath Association about retro kitchen design popularity
Sept. 29, 2008
- Pam’s kitchen on Apartment Therapy
November 8, 2007 — News Release, PRWeb
- More Homeowners Choosing ‘Retro Renovations’ — New Website Caters Exclusively to Increasing Number of Mid-century Remodels
Thanks and Credits: Many thanks to the many folks who have helped, and continue to help, make this blog possible. Including:
- The rockin’ readers who help feed the blog day in and day out with their tips and projects!
- All the advertisers who make doing this work fulltime possible.
- Margaret Roach, for all your support. AwayToGarden.com, Margaret Roach Media.
- Brad and all the Webdev and Maintainn team, for keeping the online bogeybots at bay. WebDevStudios.
- Erica Berger, for making me look good. Erica Berger Photography.
- Kit Latham, for helping me get into the dot.com world. KitLatham.com.
- Suzy Massey, for design support. PhoenixMassey Studio.
- WordPress, for a great blogging platform that has made it possible for so many new voices to find their communities. wordpress.com