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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Retro Renovation

A few years ago in Lenox, Mass., a lady by the name of Pam Kueber bought a 1951 colonial ranch house that needed some renovations. She had already renovated a Victorian house in period detail, so she set out to do the same thing in her new home. Hmm. Where do you go to find either vintage or vintage reproduction items? And what are we talking about when we talk about the 1950’s? Pink bathrooms? Flamingos? Steel kitchen cabinets?

Pam spent a lot of time researching fifties design, and to her surprise she found a lot of nice vintage items on the market. She also found companies that reproduce fifties wall and floor covering and other items.

Realizing that a lot of people lived in similar homes, Pam started a blog called Retro Renovation and told about her renovation experience. People sat up and started to take notice. Readers sent pictures and their own renovation stories. Suddenly, people realized that a retro renovation was exactly what their own homes needed. Some shed tears that back in the day they ripped out some features they’d kill for now.

Her blog has lots about modest, mid-century, middle-class homes as well as the ‘mid- century modern’ designs that usually make the pages of sleek design magazines. Pam even added a forum where people can buy and sell mid-century items.

I came across the blog by accident when I was playing around on the computer. You know how one click leads to another… Anyway, the first time I saw the blog I was fascinated. I remembered some of those things she had pictured. They were in my mother’s house when I was a child.

I didn’t plan on going back, but next day there I was reading the new post and looking at pictures. Did the same thing the next day too. And most every day since then because my own home fits right in. I live in a 1962 split level which has a few original features but not many because I ripped them out. What did I rip out? Oh, some wallpaper, bathroom tile, one bathroom, a brown kitchen (I think they called it copper.), and a light fixture that people would kill to have. On the positive side, I kept the original bathroom fixtures and kitchen cabinets as well as some of the light fixtures.

My kitchen is up for a remodel this summer. I had a modern design in mind, but you know what? It really wouldn’t match my home’s style. I’m thinking now that I’ll check out some of those resources on Pam’s blog and do a retro renovation myself.

Last Friday Pam spoke at the Charlotte Southern Spring Home and Garden Show. Charlotte’s only two hours from where I live so my husband and I drove up to listen to her. A lot of her fans did the same thing. One lady came from Charleston, SC; two more from Atlanta, and one even drove from Philadelphia! Pam was so gracious and so much fun. We all had our picture made with her and went back home inspired to chase those retro decorating gods until our homes looked as wonderful as they did the day they were completed.

Pam’s blog is located at She also has a companion blog called Save the Pink Bathroom which you can access from the retrorenovation site. (At Charlotte the audience stood up and took a pledge to save pink bathrooms. Not a problem for me. I love pink bathrooms and put pink tile in my powder room years ago. Do check out her blog, and tell her Elaine sent you.


tom said...

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Toronto Basement Renovations

Elaine Cantrell said...

Thank you so much! I'll look forward to your visits.