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September 27, 2012

Sara’s Horrendously Long ‘Retro’ House Hunt Continues……..With Some Crazy Results!

By Sara In AZ

Yep, that’s right………Mike and I are still looking for our dream time capsule house!


I tell you what, it’s hard here in Phoenix…..where apparently the lovers of time capsule homes are few and far between. It is also hard because we are searching for a home with at least 2000 sq feet (which we REALLY need here because there are virtually no basements) and a garage – and then take into account that we want a vintage 1950s time capsule……in our price range. Well, it’s like searching for a needle in a haystack.

We also don’t want to move just for the sake of moving. We want it to be a really special house that we can live in and enjoy for years to come.

My real estate agent sends me new listings each and every day for houses built between 1945 and 1965. I scour them carefully, but am usually disappointed in what I see………….which more often than not is a vintage house that has been gutted.

I thought it would be fun for y’all to see some of the more, shall we say, “interesting” listings that I have seen lately. Oh, and if you are a lover of vintage you’d better cover your eyes now!

First up, I was kind of excited when I saw this listing come through from HomeSmart. It was built in 1958 and looks like a super cute ranch doesn’t it! Then I realized there is not even a car port to park under, which you desperately need here in the HOT AZ summers.


And here is the inside of the above ranch. ugh. Bland as bland can be. Acres upon acres of huge ceramic tile…………and seriously if I had a dollar for every 50s house I’ve seen “updated” with granite counters and cherry cabinets JUST like this house – well, I’d probably be a millionaire by now!  Is there some law out there that states every vintage house MUST be updated and have a kitchen like this??? Lord have mercy, it sure does seem like it doesn’t it. eek!


I see a lot of homes like this one offered from Realty One Group. Flippers get a house but are lazy about what they re-model. So here you have a new toilet and vanity…..and there is that pesky large ceramic tile again….along with the vintage tub and tile.


This home, offered from American Realty Brokers, was a vintage house that had been totally gutted. But I actually just wanted to show y’all a picture of the bathroom, because seriously……wouldn’t you want to pick up just a little bit more when you know the real estate agent is coming over to take pictures?!? geez!


I thought this sweet little 1945 home, offered by HomeSmart, had real possibilities……until I saw the kitchen.


Is this kitchen not the craziest mish-mash of stuff you have ever seen in your entire life??? The listing states the kitchen was “custom designed” for this house. Wow, really ??? Ok, then. I’m not completely sure what exact look the flippers were going for with the more high-end stainless appliances mixed with the Victorian trim along the ceiling and the crazy half mosaic-ish pillars encasing the stove??? Victorian Modern…is that a look now???


I had to show y’all this bathroom offered by Arizona Buyers Realty, well because I just have no idea what is going on up in here. I feel like I just walked into a Fun House Mirror Maze and I’m having trouble getting out!!!! help!



And last but not least, in this home offered by West USA Realty, probably the saddest thing I have ever seen done by a flipper to a vintage bathroom.

They gutted out everything………..


but the turquoise bathtub.

Just take a look a that little forlorn turquoise tub…..I feel SO bad for it! I’m sure the tub is wondering what happened to all of it’s turquoise friends, like the toilet and the tile.

Seriously though, I cannot even imagine in a million years who they are going to market this house to with a half-baked bathroom like this. Anyone like me, who wants an all vintage bathroom, will pass because of the updates……….and anyone who wants an updated bathroom will pass because they will hate that turquoise tub to death. So anyone buying this house will probably rip everything out and re-do it on account of that tub not matching anything at all now, when the flippers probably should have just left the entire bathroom alone in the first place and let someone else decide. Grrrrrrrrrr!!!!!!!


uggghhhhhhh. House Flippers……………the bane of my existence.

If it’s possible house flippers, just leave one house behind for me! Please!!!

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37 Responses to Sara’s Horrendously Long ‘Retro’ House Hunt Continues……..With Some Crazy Results!

  1. Abigail Grotke Reply

    September 27, 2012 at 8:14 am

    Wow, that is so depressing! Some of those renovations are just amazingly horrible. I can’t stop staring at the mosaic-columned kitchen. Ewwww.

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      September 27, 2012 at 3:22 pm

      I know, it IS depressing Abigail. I cannot even imagine what they were thinking when the filppers went in to gut some of these homes. 🙁 I’m holding out hope that something will eventually pan out though!

  2. Queen of Fifty Cents Reply

    September 27, 2012 at 9:15 am

    Oh, that kitchen! I am about to fall off my chair laughing. I have never seen anything like it – and certainly hope I never do again. I thought some of the Southwestern decor inflicted on my MCM house was awful, but that takes the cake.

    Just remember this wise saying in your search: You have to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince.

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      September 27, 2012 at 3:31 pm

      Queen – I don’t even want to think about how adorable the kitchen in that 40s house probably was before they gutted it. 🙁 You just have to wonder…..what were these people thinking????

      Oh my gosh, I think we are about at our limit of kissing the ugly fogs, as we’ve been looking for a couple of years now…..we are ready for our “prince” to come save the day! 🙂

  3. Desirae Reply

    September 27, 2012 at 9:49 am

    This breaks my heart.

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      September 27, 2012 at 3:34 pm

      It’s just about the saddest thing ever isn’t it Desirae. 🙁

  4. Crystal Reply

    September 27, 2012 at 10:02 am

    It’s just too bad that house flippers don’t understand the value of a retro home. A lot of people think that everyone wants something brand new…why would anyone want anything “vintage” anymore. I wish you were looking in the Midwest, we have a lot of beautiful untouched homes here, though they would need some TLC.

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      September 27, 2012 at 3:39 pm

      Believe me Crystal, I WISH we were looking in the Midwest too……I know that would make our house search a whole lot easier and we probably would have found a place by now! We definitely don’t mind giving a house some TLC, as we did tons of work on Mom’s time capsule condo. Sadly though, the Phoenix area is where we must be, for now anyway.

  5. Eartha Kitsch Reply

    September 27, 2012 at 10:46 am

    Oh hon…people folk are CRAZY. That one with the tiled mosaic Victorian-esque pillars is SO YOU though. I don’ know what you’re thinking by not jumping on that.

    Those vintage tubs look like they’re being held hostage in those updated mish-moshes. In that hall of mirrors bathroom, what is that crazy plastic and chain thing hanging from the ceiling?

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      September 27, 2012 at 3:44 pm

      I know, seriously…….I think we must be K-RAZY to pass on that Victorian-esqe kitchen. It is SO us and I’m sure we are going to completely regret it one day! 😉

      And yeah, that is an awesome way to put it…..those vintage tubs are being held hostage!

      I was wondering the exact same thing too – what is that plastic chain thing??? Anyone??? Anyone???

  6. Andrea Reply

    September 27, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    Oh Sara, I feel your pain! We’d like to move so that Darren can have less of a commute, but I am pretty sure we’ll never find the right house, either! If I had a dollar for every house with a flipped kitchen like that first one I saw, well, I could probably build my own MCM dream home, LOL. However, that “Victorian Modern” kitchen might be the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen! And I think that house of mirrors bathroom is going to suck in and trap anyone who comes to look at it, hah!

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      September 27, 2012 at 3:51 pm

      Oh gosh, I hate to hear that you are going through the same horrible house hunting experience as us Andrea. That really is no fun. I hear you on ALWAYS seeing those flipped kitchens, 99% of the 50s houses here have them too. Don’t give up hope, I’m trying not to……I know it’s hard though, but you never know what house will pop up for sale!

  7. John Bachman Reply

    September 27, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    Thanks for the amusing tour. I did find a 50’s ranch house in Richmond Va. that was not updated beyond recognition. Good luck in your search, please show us additional houses when you can.

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      September 27, 2012 at 3:54 pm

      Glad you enjoyed it John! 🙂

      I’m so happy you found a home that was still pretty much original, that is awesome!

      Thanks on you well wishes for our home search and I will definitely post about more houses soon!

  8. Maureen Reply

    September 27, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    I do not see the appeal of stainless steel appliances, at all. Yet in every Househunter show I watch, that is the first thing people talk about wanting. I’m so sorry you are having such a rough time finding the home you want, that must be so frustrating!

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      September 27, 2012 at 3:58 pm

      Maureen…… when you figure out what is up with this absolute obsession over Stainless appliances please let me know! 😉

      I have high hopes that eventually all this patience and waiting will lead us to a dream house that is more awesome than we ever could have hoped for!!! *fingers crossed*

  9. Diane Reply

    September 27, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    Dear Sara,
    Keep your chin up my dear. We searched long and hard for our ’68 cooolonial. It was aaaalot of work getting her livable. The filth in the closets was enough to grow sunflowers in. I think we got it because most buyers looked at her and thought “I don’t have that much life left in me to fix this mess”. So my words of wisdom for your search would be, tell your realtor to look for the fixer uppers – if you have the moxie to go for it. I know our realtor wanted to show us newer homes. Ugh – the day we found this house they also took us to a 1980s house with Subzero fridge and pool in a fancy subdiv. I went for the 1968 ranch without any appliances. I know they thought we were nuts. But we are deliriously happy 1 year later. Good Luck Doll.

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      September 27, 2012 at 6:46 pm

      Thanks so much for you kind words Diane, I appreciate that! We definitely are not scared of fixer-uppers….not after all the work Mike and I did to Mom’s condo! 🙂 Our Realtor is actually really great and totally “gets” what we are looking for….. a real true 1950s time capsule, it’s just the finding it (in our price range and the size we need) that has been the biggest obstacle. I am hopeful that one day soon our dream house will show up, and yeah, I don’t care if it has any appliances at all!!!

  10. Elizabeth Reply

    September 27, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    Even though I’m searching for an apartment, not a house, I can really relate to your post. I’ve been searching the city of Chicago for a time capsule rental and am having absolutely no luck. Like you, realtors send me links to vintage buildings that have been totally gutted. It’s so depressing, and I really feel for you. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that you find your dream home, and in the meantime, I’m just glad that there’s someone else who feels as strongly about living in a mid-century dwelling as I do. And I feel so bad for those poor pink and turquoise bathtubs! Don’t know what those people were thinking, and wish there was some way to rescue the tubs!

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      September 30, 2012 at 7:39 pm

      Oh my gosh Elizabeth, I am SO sorry to hear you are pretty much going through the same thing as I am…..only searching for a rental instead. 🙁

      Yes, I completely feel for you too – I know all to well what it’s like to go through those listings each and every day only to come up empty yet again. It is SO depressing!

      I know – I thought the same thing “Is there any way to rescue those poor tubs???” 🙂

      Thanks for the well wishes Elizabeth, I will definitely keep my fingers crossed for you too. Don’t you think something should eventually pop up for us!!!! I sure hope so!

  11. Cedar Reply

    September 27, 2012 at 11:14 pm

    All these ‘updates’ on already amazing homes makes me feel sick to my stomach, really. That tub though is amazing. I would buy just the tub.

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      September 27, 2012 at 11:20 pm

      I know Cedar, I feel sick to my stomach too and I LOVE that tub as well……I feel like that poor thing needs to be rescued!

  12. Barb in Arizona Reply

    September 27, 2012 at 11:34 pm

    Sara..take a look at this one..it’s a free standing condo, but it might be worth a look…

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      September 29, 2012 at 11:04 am

      OMG! That place is awesome Barb!!! I cannot believe it has more sq footage than my house!!!! Crazy! However, I know there is no way that my husband could get over the $554 a month HOA fees…..we’ve actually passed on other homes because of association fees – because my husband hates them that much!

      • Barb in Arizona Reply

        September 29, 2012 at 9:50 pm

        I hate these HOA fees…some are just so ridiculous!!! I’ll keep my eyes open..but I thought it was awesome and so you!! 🙂

        • Sara In AZ Reply

          September 30, 2012 at 1:43 pm

          It was really awesome Barb, thanks for thinking of me! 🙂

  13. Susan D Reply

    September 28, 2012 at 11:50 am

    I love this blog! And I understand how upset you get when people with more money than taste ‘improve’ a house. I get that feeling when I see a cool looking 18th century house only to see a minimalist interior redesign. I mean, why not just get a new house?!

    I love looking at all these old interiors – reminds me of my parents house a bit and those of my relatives. I’m sure some of their houses still look the same as it did when I last visited them in the 60s.

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      September 29, 2012 at 11:07 am

      Thanks so much Susan, I am so happy to hear you enjoy the blog! 🙂

      And I could not agree more……why don’t those people who want such a minimalist interior just simply get a new house and leave the vintage behind for us!!!!

  14. John Bachman Reply

    September 28, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    I spend some time with Atomic Ranch magazine and books to get my fix. Check out their website.

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      September 29, 2012 at 11:08 am

      I super love Atomic Ranch John!!!! 🙂

  15. Barb in Arizona Reply

    September 29, 2012 at 10:35 pm

    Here’s another one..even the car in the garage is retro..LOL!! Doesn’t look like any HOA..check out the oven in the kitchen..and it’s in Mesa..


    • Sara In AZ Reply

      September 30, 2012 at 1:49 pm

      Oh, I love that area Barb! They have some really cool houses in there…..some even have a tiki look to them, and that is also where the “Bonanza” house is that I posted about a while ago. Unfortunately most of the homes in there seem to be only 2 bedroom (as is the case with the house you found) and we really need 4. I won’t give up hope yet though………….something has got to come up for sale sometime that will work!!!!!!

  16. Diane Reply

    September 30, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    I feel your pain. We were lucky enough to find our dream home almost untouched. I still keep up with the homes going on the market in our area. It is the last one not to be priced in ozone. So imagine my horror when I see original homes get sold and a few months later go back on the market gutted. Our next door neighbor is living in his mother’s home since she passed and mentioned to us that he is fixing it up. Mr G almost had to pick me up off the ground when he said he was painting all the cabinets and built ins.

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      September 30, 2012 at 7:30 pm

      SO glad you were able to find your very own time capsule Diane! I wonder if your home was pried lower because it was original??? It’s almost comical that people sometimes price original homes lower (yet they have far superior finishes) and “upgraded” homes higher (yet they have the junky newer stuff)….go figure! And lord have mercy, I shudder to think of your next door neighbor “upgrading” his Mother’s home by painting everything in sight. That just makes me sad. 🙁

      Yeah, it’s been a real struggle finding the right combination of price, sq footage, bedrooms, location, and originality. I’m hopeful everyday that something will eventually come up for sale!

  17. Barb in Arizona Reply

    October 4, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    Sara…my husband and I just decided to put the house we just bought last year up for sale and move up to Mesa/Tempe…if we find anything in our house hunt I’ll let you know. Being in San Tan away from civilization is driving me nuts!! 🙂

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      October 4, 2012 at 4:46 pm

      Barb! That is great news! Maybe we can finally meet up one day!

      Let me know if you ever find anything interesting!!!

  18. Michelle Evans Reply

    January 21, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    I feel the same way. Every real estate hunting show on HGTV gets me mad. Every buyer that takes a tour of a vintage home wants to tear everything out because they think it’s not them or terrible. All the money the previous home owners put into the original decorating is now wasted. I can fully understand about the mirror bathroom!! I cleaned houses and buisnessres with a lady and we had a client who had a bathroom like this. The fixtures in that room were black and the faucets were brass. Took me a while to clean all those ceiling to floor mirrors. It definately was a late 70’s/80’s look 🙂 I definately hope you can find that house you have in mind. Flippers should be banished for life!! Leave stuff alone and let the buyer decide..jeesh!!

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