Welcome to Retro Renovation®!

Photo by Erica Berger

Welcome to Retro Renovation® — your regular dose of mid century and vintage renovation and decorating resources… design inspiration… fun finds… and a growing 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. Increasingly, we  feature 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. How can you make the most of the blog?:

  • 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:

Be-Safe-graphic2.3

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.

retro-renovation-kitchen
Photo by Kit Latham
retro renovation kitchen copyright
Photo by Kit Latham
We have fun here. Photo credit: Erica Berger

<– 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 do we gab about 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.

More info:
Restoring the Retro House in the New York Times Aug. 18 2011Above: 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.

Note: I usually publish three times a week (4:30 a.m.Eastern) Monday through Wednesday, usually not on holidays, and 24/7/365 if there if we spot important Breaking News in Retro Design World. In July and August, I post more sporadically; blame Summer.

retro dresses
Kate worked for the blog for four years, so you will see her name on many stories. Here we are at the big Kitchen and Bath Show in Las Vegas in 2016 introducing our new line of Retro Renovation(TM) by Wilsonart boomerang laminates!
Photo by Erica Berger.

Oh, and here’s me showing off one of a recent project — my office remodel. My friend Denise and I pasted about 200 squares of vintage wallpaper on the four walls, creating a crazy patchwork quilt 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:

If you need ideas — or just love the era — be sure to check in for daily updates on new products to recreate that retro style…design tips…vintage finds…history…and more. To email me, click here.

Press Coverage

2018 … I kinda stopped keeping track

2017

2015-2016…

  • 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.

2014

  • 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.”

2013

  • 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

2012

Summer 2011

Feb 2011

Jan 2011

December 2010

October 2010

August 2010

  • 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

April 2010

March 2010

February 2010

  • Etsy.com video profile.

January 2010

  • 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

June 2009

April 2009

March 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

March 2008

Winter 2008

Fall 2007

November 8, 2007 — News Release, PRWeb

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

  1. anne smail says:

    Hi I want to get replacement pieces for my kitchen counter tops. I have metal cabinets and the counter tops are in bad shape. I dont’ know what the material is. It feels like hard rubber, not formica. the color is black. previous owner put something hot down on one area and burnt it. also, I think I need new rollers for my metal cabinet drawers. can you help?

  2. Pam Kueber says:

    Oh and also, remember that old materials and their layers may contain vintage nastiness. You won’t know what you are working with unless you test it. Get with properly licensed pros to assess what you are dealing with so that you can make informed decisions how to handle. Renovate Safe! https://retrorenovation.com/renovate-safe

  3. Jean Benfante says:

    Hello!! I’m eyeing up my next project and want to add an original detail to my Weyerhaueser #4144 1950’s home. In the original plan there were 4 white square posts in a row on the front landing that reached to under the overhang of the slanted roof. Here’s where you can see my house compared to the original ad for the house plans.
    https://www.pinterest.com/pin/268175352793201107/
    I’ve seen white posts on other MCM homes (non-load bearing) and usually they are set on a diagonal. Any thoughts from readers on how to get those posts? They most certainly are extra long and with no base or crown. Just thought I’d throw it out there. Thanks for any direction!

  4. Margo says:

    Hello. I own a clock made in Michigan by Zeeland. I believe it is a type of clock that you collect. It is made of ceramic. It looks a mid like a mod sunflower. It is gray black and yellow in color. I am wondering how to value it. I see one only on Ebay and it is listed for $1800. Do you know how to find appraisal? Thanks so muc.

  5. Pam Kueber says:

    Hi Margo, I don’t collect clocks, you are probably referring to a story I wrote about some…. I don’t know where to point you for an appraisal, as this is something I’m not expert on.

  6. Julia B says:

    It’s probably a Herman Miller made in Zeeland, MI. A local pro is probably your best bet on the appraisal, or maybe your nearest big city.

  7. Mary-Catherine says:

    I have a question about vintage Bark Cloth….I have several pairs of genuine bark cloth curtains, that belonged to my aunt, I’m pretty sure she made them.
    Anyway. I’m sure they need to be cleaned….do I have to get them dry cleaned, (which will be pricey), or can I wash them on a gentle setting, with cold water and mild detergent??? Then hang to dry?
    Thanks for any suggestions/help you can offer

  8. Erika Rogers says:

    Does anyone know of a resource for drawer slides for Scheirich kitchen cabinets? Everything I see online is a different shape or attaches differently. TIA!

Comments are closed.