Vintage vibe

  • Article by: LYNN UNDERWOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 20, 2012 - 12:06 PM

What's old is cool. A new generation of nesters are embracing and restoring their homes' retro features - avocado kitchens, pink bathrooms and all.

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Jon Hunt was intrigued by the avocado-green squares peeking out from under the peeling vinyl floor in his 1960s kitchen.

"Go for it," encouraged his wife, Trixi. So he pulled back the vinyl and revealed what Trixi called "a midcentury treasure." Under the vanilla vinyl, which was installed in 2004, was the original green brick-patterned floor that looked straight out of an Armstrong ad, circa 1963.

It took the Hunts about two months to peel up the vinyl, section by section, and scrape off the glue. This discovery turned into a mission to bring their kitchen back to its authentic midcentury glory -- with avocado the guiding hue.

"We got so excited," said Trixi. "The kitchen went from 'greige' to a world of color. It was beautiful." The couple installed a retro NuTone food center in the Formica countertop, which was uncovered beneath gray tile. The finishing touch is a 1968 avocado-green Frigidaire refrigerator they found on Craigslist.

The Hunts are passionate about "loving the house you're in," said Jon. "People rip out and replace everything. So much of this era has been underappreciated. But now the TV show 'Mad Men' is making it trendy."

Trixi and Jon have posted details of their projects at Retro Renovation (www.retrorenovation.com), a website offering vintage resources, tips and ideas to help retro enthusiasts preserve their home's midcentury modern aesthetic.

"There's plenty about these houses to love. They have character and style," said Retro Renovation founder Pam Kueber, referring to the postwar home-building boom. "A whole new generation of old and young homeowners are moving into ranch houses, split-levels and Cape Cods. They appreciate the innate charms of these homes."

The Hunts have continued the retro revival in their modest Robbinsdale bungalow by also restoring its pink bathroom and furnishing their living room with vintage finds. This fall, they plan to remodel the basement rec room.

"People say our kitchen reminds them of their grandma's house, with the same sink and the same floor," said Trixi. "We consider that a compliment."

Lynn Underwood • 612-673-7619

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