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Colorful, Creative UK With Retro-Style Plywood Kitchen


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Name: Jo, James, Bella, Annie and Ronnie and Rosa the dog
Location: Cheshire, England
Size:  1270 square feet
Type of Home: 4-bedroom detached house
Years Lived In: 14 years, owned

We moved into our house to be closer to my sister as we were both pregnant with our first child at the same time. Unfortunately, timing didn’t work out and we ended up moving house two days after I’d given birth! It was easy for me, though, as was still in hospital, so I left it all up to James to sort the move out. It was just a bit chaotic coming home to a different house I’d left before giving birth, having a lot of boxes to unpack and a newborn baby. But thankfully we survived!

I was a primary school teacher, but gave that career up after my third child as childcare was so expensive. My husband later set up his own medical writing company, which I help out with. I’ve recently started my own jewelry business selling fiber jewelry (see my Instagram @retrojo5, or retrojo5 on Etsy).

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Which time periods/decades inspired your home’s design the most? My biggest love is of mid-century furniture. I just adore the sleek styles that still look modern to this day. This love then extended to our kitchen design. I wanted a retro-looking kitchen and decided it had to be plywood. We found the amazing company Plykea and they very kindly agreed to make the retro-looking cupboards I’d designed. It gives the kitchen a perfect retro look.

Following on from my kitchen design, I became passionate about color. During lockdown I started adding color-blocking features to every wall I could. I love a light, bright feel with some intense colors. Color definitely affects my mood and keeps me happy.

I love a ’70s vibe with strong colorful patterns, but also like a modern feel to rooms by mixing retro and contemporary styles.

Favorite Element: This has to be the colorful kitchen. Makes me smile every day! I love that I designed it myself and we chose the colors to remind us of the beach.

Biggest Challenge: Basically money! So hard keeping costs down. No advice — just be prepared to spend money.

Proudest DIY: We went for a plywood floor. Our builder was fab and researched how best to do this for us (including making grooves in the edges to slot pieces together). Then, to save some money I sanded, sealed, and varnished it all. Nearly finished me off, but again, it was totally worth it! Love it!

Biggest Indulgence: Probably doing up the garden. I wanted an industrial feel to it and opted for a concrete patio thinking it would also save us some money (my dad laid his own concrete patio in the ’70s! How hard could it be?). But I was so wrong. It ended up costing us a fortune. Worth it though; I love our concrete patio.

Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? So after moving our kitchen to the back of the house, we ran out of money to convert our old kitchen into a utility and downstairs bathroom. Instead, I gave it all a lick of paint and it’s now used as utility, storage, and a crafting space for my jewelry business and as a gym (which I have to confess only my husband uses). We also have a dining table that is also a pool table! Perfect for parties.

Where are your favorite places to buy or find vintage home decor? Have to say my favorite places to find a vintage or retro bargain would have to be Facebook Marketplace and eBay. Definitely takes time and a lot of continuous searching, but you can find a bargain in the end. There are some fab antiques stores nearby to find little treasures, but there’s nothing like winning a bargain eBay find!

Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? Best advice is to go for what you like! I tried the dark interiors trend in my hallway a few years back. I love looking at dark interiors so I thought I’d give it a go, but I know in my heart I’m all about the light and bright. Lived with it for a few years, but in the end, had to change it.  Now I make sure I always go with my gut and decorate how I want. Doesn’t matter if it’s not popular — as long as you love it that’s all that matters (and means you won’t want to change it so often).

This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.

This piece is part of Throwback Month, where we’re revisiting vintage styles, homes, and all kinds of groovy, retro home ideas. Boogie on over here to read more!


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