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70's ranch style houses

Posted by binsd (My Page) on
Wed, Feb 24, 10 at 1:00

I haven't been around for a few years but spent a LOT of time here when DH & I owned a 1929 Spanish Revival in San Diego. LOVED that house & had fun painting & trying to stay true to the style with decor, furniture, etc...and loved the great sharing of ideas & feedback with so many here who also had houses in the Spanish/Mediterranean architecture.

We're now in Houston in a 1970s red brick ranch and I'm pretty stumped with what to do with it.

Here are shots of the house before we moved in (previous owner's furniture):

The house - trim paint color suggestions?

Front gated patio

Entry with dining room to right of photo & back of brick FP to left

dining room - I am bent on painting this an orange but my choices keep looking like Texas Longhorn orange (which my Longhorn brother is thrilled with)

We use this room as our family room (tv & play area) although it is the room at the front of the house. It has no windows as you can see from both this photo & the front exterior photo above. Eventually would like to put in windows).

The behemoth fireplace in the family room. Suggestions to update this thing?

The living room & family room are only separated by an "open" hallway with vertical columns. Both ceilings are vaulted.

Living room with windows/door to back yard; this room also has 4 skylights so it gets bright when the sun is high


Yuck - the master bathroom with green terrazzo tile EVERYWHERE & poopy brown walls - we've since painted them a neutral color (Behr Riviera Sand)

Outdated kitchen with baltic brown granite; will be painting it Valspar Slice; just started in the eat-in area & already it's brightened up from the putty color. Just trying to decide on an accent color.

Our furniture fit just fine in our 1400sf 1929 house but it's dwarfed in almost 3000sf of house now. And the style? LOL - a bit out of place. Everything we own "decor"-wise is appropriate for a 1929 Spanish Colonial - not a 1970s ranch. Oh, well.

We have twin 2 yr olds so we're not really in any rush to furnish with "adult" furniture, but I would love to see ideas of how anyone has updated their circa 1970s ranches - exterior & interior. I am so stuck on Spanish/Mexican style that I'm having a hard time envisioning what to do with this new house. I'm thinking of going for more of a modern Balinese look eventually with earth tones, warm woods and simple lines.

Thanks!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: 70's ranch style houses

I don't have a 70's ranch, but we moved to this 1969 split-foyer last year after 12 years in old Philadelphia homes, so I can empathize with your culture shock. I took my moldings and French doors and 20-inch windowsills for granted, and now I'm in another world without them :-)

The biggest challenge for me has been choosing light fixtures. The existing fixtures aren't original, and neither are they my taste. But the styles I've always liked don't really fit the style of this house, so I'm still searching.

Your new ranch is very attractive. It seems quite sunny and spacious, and I bet once you get some of the colors you love in there, it will start to shine.


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Yours is a better 1970s ranch than many: decent bones and some interesting spaces, it looks like.

I think you may need to "un-update" some of the previous owner's touches, to let the design of the house be a bit more pure, regardless of how you furnish it. I would remove the victoriana on the fireplace and change the front door to one that is more suitable to the house.

I think you may just need to go with the flow in that master bath and choose a color that works with the terrazo: trying to fight it will be a losing battle.

My parents still have those double ovens:)

I think your furniture will work: one of the influences of the modern "ranch" style was California spanish architecture.


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I actually like those green terrazzo tiles.

My house is a 1970 rambler (sort of a ranch, but two stories, walk out basement). Anyway...the architecture on mine is more traditional, I don't think it was ever intended to be the cool contemporary ranch. So I'm not sure how helpful it will be, but you can find pictures of my place on the thread linked below.

For what it's worth, with those ceilings and all that open glass, I am LOVING your Balinese idea.

Here is a link that might be useful: 1970's era, sort of ranch....


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Aaaah, be still my beating heart! Your house reminds me so much of the one I left in Florida two years ago. I think that bringing it into a more modern place simply by cleaning things up, as Pal suggests, would be a great place to start.

Do you need to repaint the exterior? If not, I would change out the lighting and work on the landscape. Maybe take down whatever that decorative stuff is by the entry. You should get rid of the white light pole, replace or repaint, so it doesn't stick out like a sore thumb. The brass/glass in the entryway is almost exactly what I took down in FL.

I happen to love the terrazzo, but I like the look and I love green. Maybe it will grow on you? I had flat almond colored tile and off-white carpet in my house. We pulled it all and put in bamboo. I don't think I'd do bamboo again and with kids, you might be better off with tile.

Your spaces are far more interesting than mine were. I had low ceilings and ordinary rooms. I had to work to make the garden views a big part of what was nice about my home. Not a problem...I love to garden. I used a lot of color on the walls and even though I tried to lean contemporary, my inner decorator is traditional, I guess. The spaces ended up being transitional. Traditional furniture, contemporary lighting, lots of art.

For doors, I went with plain, single light french and single doors. Had I stayed, I would have done the same thing at the front door, with frosted glass. I am going to organize some virtual tour pics from the MLS so you can see what I did. So many people have seen my house that I am embarrassed to post pics here. :-)


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You do have some nice features: tile laid on diagonal, vaulted ceilings, nice back porch/patio, and (to me) the green terrazzo in master bath.

While the side lights are pretty, the oval in front door seems unsuitable to the house - I would prefer single pane of glass or solid door. Gated front patio looks pretty in your photo, but is the gated part wrought iron painted white? If it is, I would replace with a simple wood, or woven, or obscured glass gate, more in keeping with the house's simple lines. For trim color, I would suggest a medium to dark taupe-ish color. Depending on interior layout, a low shed dormer with transom window might be nice, located on roof to the right of the chimney. I'd install big, loose grasses instead of the green hedge around house perimeter.

On the inside, the narrow trim on those columns bothers me - I'd trim the columns to look monolithic. Adding wooden planks or wood veneer panels for ceilings in some of the rooms might get you part of the way to Bali.

What is the room with a partial wall, that is to the right of dining room in photo?


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This thread is interesting to me as I too own a ranch style house that I am about to start updating. I have few helpful suggestions on your project yet binsd, but a few quick comments.

I really like the look of your ranch but I have never before seen one without front facing windows! For me adding a window would be a priority. The entry area looks interesting and is an ideal canvas for creative ideas to make a very welcoming entry to your home.
You describe the windowless room to the right of the entry door as the 'family room', yet I think most would call this the 'living room' and the light filled area, that is open to the kitchen and looks out on to the back yard, the 'family room'.
I see your windowless room has a step down from the foyer area. My living room does too. I am thinking of raising the floor level in there to get rid of the step that to me is simply a hazard. If I raise the floor the living room will have only an 8' high flat ceiling whereas you have a nice pitched ceiling to give height to your room should you raise the floor.
I too would replace the front entry door. It does not suit the style of any ranch home IMHO.

On the subject of style I would be very interested to read views (Palimpsest?) on what features define binsd's home as a 1970's ranch. Are those features worthy of preservation? Because of those features should binsd try to incorporate the decorative style of the 70's or simply update to the 21st century? My 1990's ranch looks similar to binsd's and has similar features like the exposed beams, stepped down living room, ceiling height (stone) fireplace, there appears to me to be nothing to anchor either ranch to a particular date or prevent them from being updated to the 21st century if we wish. Am I wrong?

Ranch homes are generally considered to be the step child of 'real' architecture but you seem to have a really good blank canvas there binsd. It is going to be very interesting to see how it develops.

Ranch homes are very easy to live in, to raise a family in or for empty nesters. They are easy to maintain, and to decorate individually. They connect the indoors and outdoors beautifully yet offer privacy and security. Initially I must admit I wrote ranches off as bland and boring but I see now that there are many good reasons, other than economy, that the style has endured!


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I agree with Pal, and others, about embracing the actual style of the house, and scrubbing the frou-frou. Your existing furniture will probably work fine, once the faux-Victorian stuff is gone. Think modern Mexican architecture not Ramona Ranchero Romantic.

I've linked to a pretty extreme Flickr group.

Here is a link that might be useful: Modern Mexican


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Cliff May is considered the father of the modern ranch, and if you look at his houses you will see beamed and vaulted ceilings, a relationship of the inside to the outside particularly on one aspect of the house, and porches, colonades, and patios that relate the interior and exterior parts of the houses.

This particular house takes these same elements but reinterprets them with a lot of traditional details. Americans seem to like a traditional house, but they also like a modern floorplan. So, you will see a lot of midcentury houses that have the vaulted ceilings, colonnaded walkways, window walls etc. like a Cliff May house, but it may also have a vaguely 'colonial', 'french', 'spanish' or 'mediterranean' flavor superimposed on it.

This particular house also takes an interior space, a hallway, and gives it an atrium-like or colonnade-like feel by leaving it open to the interior rooms. Strip this house of its traditional elements and it has a very midcentury form. Take a look at this gallery:

Here is a link that might be useful: Rancho Style Cliff May Gallery


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Ooops meant to say I also like the terrazzo and I would love to see your photos Amy!


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Hi binsd, i'm from SD also~been in Austin for a year and love it! How are *you* liking Houston? Isn't it great to have all that square footage without spending an arm and a leg?

You've been given some great ideas! The very first thing I would delete is the plastic 'light fixture' in the kitchen~I had the same fixture in SD. Are you going to keep the beams/ceiling white? I love the wood as well as the exposed brick walls. I don't see the kitchen as horribly outdated , just more traditional in style. Someone made a comment re:the double ovens~I build a year ago, and installed double ovens. I didn't realize they were 'dated'. You might want to change it out to SS, as I see you have stainless sink/cooktop.

For the most part, your house has very good bones~lots of light, space, and a good lay-out can't be beat! I don't see the terrazzo floors as unatractive, and i'm not a lover of green. Paint and good decorating will solve a lot of your problems, which is not as difficult as completing gutting a house. Just be patient, and let *your* visions of the house flow. ;o)


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Here's a link to pics from the MLS for my old house.

Here is a link that might be useful: Let me know if this works


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We have a similar house in TX (go Horns!), but ours is from the 50's. Similar issues, though. And no, I would never paint a room in my house orange, even though I love it, because of the connection with the Horns. It is what it is. I stick with green & blue instead.

You've gotten great suggestions, I think it comes down to stripping it down to something more modern. Those taupe/beige tile floors are doing you no favors. I'd pull em all out, along with the popcorn ceiling. Cork flooring or hardwoods would be better. Or porcelain tile that is more monochromatic.

I love the green in the bath, I'd get in there with a Magic Eraser and see what I could accomplish. Then pull out the brass, paint a gray white on the walls, and see how you feel.

The front door is definitely not fitting with the house, and that ironwork outside needs to go. I'd consider putting windows in that front wall...what a difference that would make. But then, you're looking out on the driveway, so maybe not? Or maybe clerestory windows?

Fireplace = plaster coat or Austin stone.

I'd start with a lot of white paint (my personal fav is White Dove), then add color in once you've been there a while. See how you live there first...get a real sense of where your eyes go in each room, how you read the rooms from each other.

I think it's a peach!

Deb


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Amy - that was a gorgeous house - especially the artwork! I remember some of the art (I think I even inquired about artist), but not the house -- must have been photo from your new house.


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I love the terazzo. I'd keep it. I'm with everyone else...de-faux it and embrace the clean lines of the 70's...that house is early 70's...more "mid-century modern" than "Brady Bunch".

I'd ditch the brass and go with brushed nickel and/or chrome...that's what my 1966 mid-century ranch has. Luckily the PO's never updated the doors. I love my slab doors...

From fall photos and pink bathroom


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LOVE the house amysrq!


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Pal - useful comments, thanks.
Amy thank you for posting photos of your former home, being in Florida it is very similar to my ranch house. Bamboo seems to be a logical choice for flooring in a ranch - what problems did you find with it?


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RE: 70's ranch style houses

WOW! Amazing! Thank you so much for your feedback, ideas, links & photos! Your comments truly make me feel better about the house we're in now and the potential that it has to be something we can really be proud of and enjoy over time.

leafy02 - I can imagine your culture shock, too! How is it going with your 1969 split-foyer? The charm of old east coast architecture is something else, isn't it?

I can understand your dilemma around light fixtures. Ours are a mish-mash of styles; probably what was cheapest & on sale with a nod towards pretend Victorian. ;) I think the hardest thing is determining exactly what style I'm going for. Once I do that, I can narrow choices down. These 60s/70s houses don't always present an obvious style the way other houses do (like our 1929 Spanish and probably the houses you had in Philly).

palimpsest - good call on modern "ranch" style in CA having some influences from Spanish architecture. Definitely need to remove the curlique mantel from the fireplace and find a way to live with the brick. I've been reading threads here about painting vs leaving it as is but perking it up.

As far as the bathroom, we've got a lot of work to do in there because we actually have to make it wheelchair accessible for my husband who has MS and is in a powered chair. In our SD house, we gutted our bathroom & had a wonderful setup that worked great for him and made me happy, too. :) We talked about how we would have a losing battle trying to fight the tile. What I didn't post were what truly overwhelmed us - the walls. This is how all the bathrooms were painted:


(one side of the jack n jill bathroom shared between nursery & 3rd bdrm)

We're keeping the terrazzo; just going to have it cleaned & polished once we have the bench & shower floor put in for DH. Right now, we've painted it a neutral cream but plan to pick up some of the caramel from the terrazzo which will hopefully neutralize all the green between those tiles as well as the avocado-like subway tiles.

pirula - I LOVE your house. Thank you for sharing your link. I would never have guessed what your house looked like inside from the traditional 70s exterior. Your kitchen is wonderful - so bright, warm yet modern. I love your masterbath - makes me long for the bathroom we did in our San Diego house. Did you do all the work on updating your house or was it already like that?

amysrq - thank you so much for the link to your photos. Beautiful!!

We don't necessarily need to repaint the outside; that is at the bottom of the priority list. The white light pole has to go but not sure how we would go about that as it has a gas-line. It's an old gas lamp! In fact, when we moved in, there was a gas leak there! EEK. We may just repaint it so that it's not stark white. Any advice on what color would best make it "disappear"? Landscaping is on our shorter list; the previous owner left it completely overgrown (5 yrs of no trimming!). We had the backyard which faces a golf course finally cut back & people across the fairway actually came across to thank us. LOL There is still a lot to be done.

...I hear a toddler screaming (we're fighting so-called night terrors right now with one of our twins...*sigh*). Will be back!

Thank you again! I hope all the shared comments help others in my position, too!


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ugh. night terrors suck. i'm sorry. remember, your sweeting won't even remember it. it's really only bad for you. that's a comfort in a twisted logic parenty way.

We did the entire remodel ourselves, total gut job except for the dining room corner cupboards and the bookshelves in the living room. We replaced windows/trim etc. Everything in there was very cheap colonial originally. But for those built ins, which the original owner built himself. No way we were getting rid of those, and they were the jumping off point. The house is a definite mish mash, which works for me since it never really had that way cool "real" ranch architecture that you have, or we'd have followed it. Here in Virginia, most everything is so traditional. The windows are all new except for the living room original 1970 special. I actually kind of like it. But it needs to be replaced soon because it is a sieve. We left the original fireplace alone too. It felt right to do so.


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Binsd - you've gotten some good suggestions above. I just wanted to say I love your brick, and the terrazzo tile I would keep also.

We are the new owners of an old 1960 brick ranch house where very little has been changed from the original (pink/black tile bath, pink toilet; robin's egg blue and peach tile, blue toilet). Ours is done in the more traditional style, not modern, but I will be following this thread with interest. I must say I love the flow of our ranch style house, and it offers lots of light, yet privacy at the same time.

wanted to quickly add also, Pirula your kitchen is TDF! and amy I didn't make it thru all your photos yet but the outside gardens are gorgeous.


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thanks jenny from the block~

You know what? that's another thing that's so unfair, and made me guiltless about tearing it all out. Why couldn't MY 1970 special have cool pink or mint green or terrazo tile??? No. I had chocolate milk shake brown, and urine yellow. WHY. Oh and the avocado wall oven. Yeah. Well, at least there was no guilt. LOL.


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Welcome to TX! For the white lights - I'd paint them a brownish black. I'm sure you could find a finish in a spray can to work, but if not I'd paint them black and then dry brush brown on top of that to let some black show through.

I really like the brick on the fireplace. I think it could easily be made better with a different mantel and doing something instead of the black top that is on it too. The contrast is too sharp for me.

The kitchen looks good to me, I like the old ovens. Actually I had to look at it twice to find the outdated parts.

I would definitely start with putting some windows in on the front and replace the front door. It would do so much for the curb-appeal and the room that doesn't have windows.

Do you have any pics with your furniture in the house? It would help in giving more ideas on how to make it work. I can't picture what your furniture looks like unfortunately.


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I like the green terrazo tiles, too! I think that with other changes in that bathroom they could be fabulous.


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Love your house!!! The only thing I dislike about it is the front door, which looks so out of place with the overall style of the house.


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Wow...what a gorgeous home, looks like you will have many great opportunities to decorate since it has good bones. I love the terazzo and good choice of wall color. If I were you, I would do some serious research on the Ranch Style home. There is lots of literature available that will help guide you in making the right changes to your home that will preserve the style.

I am a member of a small International Tiki enthusiasts group. In a nutshell, it is about Polynesian art and Tikis and the 50's cocktail revolution, Trader Vics/Don the Beach Comber...yada yada yada. One thing we do on a regular basis is Home Tiki Bar Crawls...in that a group of us offer up our homes (and Tiki Bars) to tour, we serve appetizers and cocktails, exotica music and we all have a great time. The best houses are always the ones that have been preserved and decorated in its era. The favorite is usually the Eichler mid-century modern homes...some folks have done a fabulous job of staying with the style. We are lucky to have a fairly large group of Eichlers in California and many Tiki enthusiaists that have purchased that style.

If you wish to preserve, often times there are local groups you can join and also, if you see other homes like yours listed for sale try to catch the open house so you can see what those homes look like. I think you are going to have a blast decorating that house, you already know what previous changes don't fit.

Here is a link that might be useful: this is a great coffee table book


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This one is very good also...

Here is a link that might be useful: Ranch Style


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Thanks for the compliments on the house Pirula, gwbr, sis3 and binsd. Lately, I've been missing that house.

Sis3, in answer to your question about bamboo, I found it to be pretty soft. For example, we had a kid visiting and she jumped onto a chaise and it left huge tracks on the floor. It didn't bother me day-to-day, but when we had the house on the market and I was keeping it hyper-clean, I did notice all the dings while mopping and wiping (on my knees sometimes!)

I also was under the impression back in 2002 that bamboo was "green." I now consider footprint and prefer to find things locally sourced. Even if bamboo does regrow quickly, it comes all the way from China. I know there are no clear answers about green-ness -- if you get one plus, it comes with a minus -- but I just don;t feel like I would go with bamboo again.

The last issue and perhaps the biggest is that the natural bamboo I chose was yellow. Yeah, it was pretty, but it had a major impact on the colors I chose for the walls. I had never selected flooring before and just kind of thought of wood as being neutral. It was anything but neutral! In the end, I found colors to work with it, but it was more of a factor than I would have predicted. I also become much more obsessive about paint and color in the years that followed than I ever would have imagined.


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Binsd--The Ranch Style lives! Love this thread because I too am the proud(?) owner as of last Feb of a 1960s ranch home. I got all the cool stuff from the 60s and 70s: avocado appliances, gold flocked wallpaper, pink tile, gold colored accents. Oh yeah! Immediately took the house down to the studs to turn it into a Modern Farmhouse.

I took inspiration from these:
Walker-Warner Sonoma Farmhouse (http://www.walker-warner.com/indexf.html#POR-GRC-001)
Christine Lane, Boston, MA (http://christinelaneinteriors.com/)

I think ranchers are particularly suited to blend styles. They were a bit funky then and they can still be. Yet, if you want to lean slightly more traditional, they can sustain the transitional. I think they are way more flexible than many styles.

Your home in particular has some good bones! The raised ceilings and open one-story floorplan are great for toddlers since you can see them from most rooms. If you can mix some of your Spanish furniture with some more contemporary pieces, I think it will have that California Spanish casual style--with a cleaner look. Love it!

In the green bathroom, take out the brass and replace with frameless glass. It will immediately look more contemporary. A glass company should be able to make the shower enclosure (this one's traditional, but you get the picture):

From Misc photos

If you want to embrace the modern look, peruse: Atomic Ranch (http://www.atomic-ranch.com/). I think they have more Eichlers than Ranch, but it gives you an idea of that style.

Here's my old house and the old stuff that was in it, then here are two exterior shots of what it looks like now:

From Menlo Farmhouse

From Menlo Farmhouse

From Menlo Farmhouse

From Menlo Farmhouse

From Menlo Farmhouse

I wish I could cite all of the great pics I have seen in magazines where they have remodeled a ranch. Each had their own flavor: slightly more modern, slightly less modern, more funky, somewhat traditional, etc. Search: mid-century, modern, ranch home.

Have fun! I think your house is a great choice!!


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Just wanted to pop in quickly to say thank you again for all the great ideas...especially for reminding me about Cliff May. For crying out loud - there are so many examples of Cliff May in my old neighborhood in SD not to mention we have a friend who is a landscape designer in SD with a great affinity for mid-century modern style. In reading up again on Cliff May (I spent more time researching Requa back then), I saw indeed that the California ranch has many roots in Spanish ranch styles.

As I mentioned in my OP, our furniture is absolutely dwarfed to the point that the house looks empty...so we'll essentially be starting from scratch come the time to start shopping again. A link below is to photos of both our house in SD (Casa de Sampaguita) with the furniture that fit in there just fine :) plus my boss's old home (Rancho Colores) in Santa Barbara county. They lovingly restored a run-down (and I mean run-down...I thought they were crazy!) 1930s adobe only to end up selling to move out of the country. I LOVED the house - crazy colors & all! The photos I have don't show half of what they did with that house. Hope the link works.

Anyway, I definitely feel more confident that I can take some of what I am inherently drawn to in Spanish-California ranch revival style into this rancher down in Texas.

I am so pressed for time trying to finish painting (will post pics at some point) to beautify before a baby shower I am hosting for my brother & SIL in a few weeks. We may not have any furniture or artwork but at least I can dazzle them with my painted walls! :D I squeeze in my internet & painting time during naps & evenings after we put the kids down but I do want to take the time to respond to you all as I do have some questions & comments about your great homes that you've shared with me.

Here is a link that might be useful: Spanish Influence


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Also forgot to mention that Palm Springs is a mid-century mecca! Some of the decor there has a Spanish flavor too. I'll bet you can find some images of Palm Springs Remodels that will give you inspiration.


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Firsthouse! What a great house. Would love to see more!

Binsd, I love your San Diego place. Very well done. Given what you said about "crazy colors" at Rancho, I had a chuckle because your house is very colorful. Then, I looked at those pics. Wow! Over the top, but really well done. I have to go find AuntJen!

Yo, Fence Depot....Spamalot?


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I tried to find AuntJen's pics as well, then found that she had changed her name. Couldn't find ANY pics at all. I know Binsd would love to see them. Can anyone help?


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amysrq - I think AuntJen saw those photos of my boss's place when I first posted them a few years ago. We had pretty active Spanish/Med threads for a couple of years. :)

Yes...colorful, no? I did my kitchen after visiting my boss's place, LOL. Didn't have the funds to do anything other than paint after spending $$$ on the bathroom reno to make it wheelchair accessible.

firsthouse - agreed...what a great house & I would love to see more, too!


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Oh yes, yes, yes! I adore those Spanish-influenced homes, and remember them from our thread awhile back! It's wonderful to see that eye candy again though, and I'm further inspired. I want to paint my old built-in bathroom cabinet as was done with that brightly striped piece in the pics of the second house!

Wantoretire_did - I had my pics on Picturetrail for quite awhile, but removed them to make way for some vacation photos instead. I need to get them back online, and hope to do that soon.

LOVE your new ranch, binsd, and cannot wait to see what you do with it! :-)


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Had another thought...there's a show on HGTV about renovating a mid-century split level...some of the principles should apply to your house as well. Take a look at Sarah's House linked below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Sarah's House


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Hi binsd! I am also in a brick ranch (well it's a walk-out lower level) and I love it. Mine was built in the 80's and even though it's got the Golden Oak throughout I get a lot of compliments on my house. Count me in as someone who likes your terrazzo in the bathroom.


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I love the Sarah's House episodes! I am so inspired by the walkout she did. I plan on doing that this summer.

Amy, love the house but really, really love the outdoor landscape.

Firsthouse, love your reno!


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