More Homeowners Choosing 'Retro Renovations' -- New Weblog Caters Exclusively to Increasing Number of Mid-century Remodels

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For decades many homeowners have been ripping out their postwar 40s, 50s and 60s decor in disgust. Now though, interest is reigniting in restoring these homes in retro style, true to their mid century roots. To serve this fast-growing trend, one design enthusiast has launched a new weblog, RetroRenovation.com.

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A new generation of homebuyers is rediscovering their charms. There was a wonderful spirit of adventure, style and love of life in these homes that, 50 years later, is much easier to see and want to celebrate.

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For decades many homeowners have been ripping out their postwar 40s, 50s and 60s decor in disgust. Now though, interest is reigniting in restoring these homes in retro style, true to their mid century roots. To serve this fast-growing trend, one design enthusiast has launched a new weblog, RetroRenovation.com.

"The time is now for homes built in the 40s, 50s and 60s, especially for the millions of affordable houses designed for the booming middle class," says Pam Kueber, creator of the blog. "A new generation of homebuyers is rediscovering their charms. There was a wonderful spirit of adventure, style and love of life in these homes that, 50 years later, is much easier to see and want to celebrate."

Kueber and her husband David Fisher spent the past six years remodeling their 1951 'colonial ranch' house in Massachusetts. "The original plastic-tiled bathrooms were falling apart, and the circa-1975 kitchen desperately needed a makeover." Their goal, she said, was to remake the rooms in a style compatible with the overall, mid-century feel of the rest of the house tapping both vintage and new products available. "The kitchen, in particular, turned out great," she said. "It features 1963 aquamarine Geneva steel kitchen cabinets, which we removed from a cooking school. But we also were able to find new materials, like laminate countertops and the right style of flooring, to fit the look. It was an epic search, but it was definitely worth it."

Kueber turned her growing interest and knowledge into RetroRenovation.com, the blog that she shares with other retro-minded homeowners. Already loaded with more than 100 posts, the site is updated every day with retro kitchen and bathroom styling tips, sources for wallpaper, countertop materials, flooring, lighting and furniture, and cultural inspiration from advertising, books and exhibits. It also features her online auction "pick of the day," usually mint-in-box items that can be plopped right into a retro renovation as if they were always there. She also plans to start featuring other homeowners' retro renovation success stories.

A new line of 'atomic wallpaper' just introduced last month by Bradbury & Bradbury is one of the products that will be spotlighted this week. Long known for its art wallpapers for Victorian and Arts & Crafts homes, the company has recognized that there is now a growing market in mid century retro renovations.

"Many Arts & Crafts homes have been restored, appreciation -- and prices -- for prime bungalows have risen sharply, and now, at least I believe, people are looking for more affordable homes to restore," says Stephen J. Bauer, artistic director and owner of Bradbury & Bradbury. "There is this huge inventory of post-WWII homes that still seem relatively 'undiscovered' and full of charm and architectural features unique to those particular decades."

"Today, the resources to do a retro renovation are still limited, but they are growing fast, because the interest is there," Kueber says. "So many of these homes are jewels, they just need a little polishing."

Facts about postwar homes built from 1945-1960:

  • 20 million new homes were built during the baby boom years - most of them in the suburbs, and many with the help of the GI Bill.
  • While many people associate ranch homes with this period, Colonial and Cape styles also were very popular, and split levels started to appear. Most often, homes were a mix and match of styles both inside and out.
  • Postwar homes were typically just 1,100-1,700 s.f. in size. While small by today's standards, their more compact footprint is also more 'green,' taking less fuel to heat, less material to renovate, and even fewer chemicals to clean!

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