Monday, June 27, 2011

A Turquoise Dream Realized

As I do, I was recently poking around online dreaming about vintage appliances. It's true - the romance is dead between me and my modern lackluster appliances. As luck would have it,  I came across a super cool video on YouTube by a gentleman named Paul Chaks. In it, Paul details how he made his dream of a beautiful vintage come true. I find it very inspiring and wow, it's I wanted to share it with you all! See now how one man's dream turned into a beautiful reality:

Glorious, no? I love everything about the new kitchen. The great details of the actual kitchen renovation/restoration as well as all of the beautiful and well-chosen vintage details all around the room. Every moment it was Kapow! Turquoise! Makes me all light headed and I think that I left my smelling salts on that beautiful center island.

I wonder if I could talk Paul into letting me come up to Canada to make a vintage casserole recipe in his wonderland of a kitchen? Baked Alaska? Probably not but hey, a girl can dream! Was I the only one gasping at the photos of the glorious GE All-In-One Kitchen Center and wall-mount refrigerator? Totally worth shipping thousands of miles and across an entire country! Here is an ad for the wall-mount refrigerator/freezer:

Gorgeous! She's thinking, "I'm the luckiest woman in the world!"

(Though, if her husband comes home and sees all of those doors standing wide open, she's bound to get a lecture about how they don't own shares in the electric company.)

General Electric touted it as the refrigerator that "Hangs on the wall like a picture!" The idea was that no longer would the cook have to stoop or bend. All of the cold groceries could now be right at eye level. It also allowed for more counter space. I love it and don't know why this idea isn't in production these days. I also love how they show it here in the ad, with a little desk under it.

And to make us all daydream even more, here is a vintage postcard collected by my Flickr friend Roadsidepictures:

So gorgeous. So streamlined. Yes, please!

But let's get back to the fellow who is lucky enough to have these treasures in his very own house! That Paul - not only is he a lucky bird... but talk about hard working and determined! I dropped him a note and asked him if he'd share some more details with us. He agreed and here is our conversation:

You show in the video that your quest for the amazing turquoise kitchen started after you brought home that sweet stove. Does your love for vintage things go back before that? What do you think that it is about vintage things that draw you to them?

My love of vintage things goes way back!  When I was youngster,  I would take apart old appliances to see how they worked.  My parents would sometimes have to lock me up on garbage day...  I think what drew me to vintage items was the style - furniture with rounded arms, lamps with those fibre material shades 'woven' on to a frame, chrome toasters with etched designs all had (and still have!) a huge visual appeal to me.  The designs are so simple, but elegant.

 I'm absolutely amazed to see all of the work that you've done on the vintage appliances. Do you work on appliances for a living or did you get into it after beginning the kitchen restoration? Can you tell me more about how you found the appliances?

Thank you!  I have surprised a few people with the kitchen project, including myself!  Although I am not a repair person, my early adventures with small appliances led me to try working on larger ones.  My folks had appliances that were considered 'old' at the time, but they'd be 'vintage' now - I found it pretty easy to work on them and keep them running and I guess that experience was what I drew on when I worked on the 1956 GE set.  You may not believe this, but I had never undertaken a complete restoration project before I tackled these appliances!   I was literally 'learning on the job'.

The entire set was found in Texas, near Port Arthur.  I belong to a group called and being a group of collectors, members often post entries on discussion boards about vintage appliances available in their area.  There seems to be an inverse relationship of where highly desirable items turn up and where a collector is actually based!   People did question my sanity when I said I was considering appliances that were thousands of miles away;  however, finding the items that I really wanted (and the fact that they had never been installed or used) was something I couldn't resist.   Just as aside, I learned a great deal about arranging for transport and dealing with imports getting these appliances to me in Canada, too.

 I'm learning more and more throughout the restoration of my own home that patience and perseverance go a long way. We can see from the video that your kitchen took nearly two years. Any words of wisdom and encouragement to those of us who are still in the trenches and feel like we still have so far to go?

Patience is definitely required!  I would say that keeping the image of the finished product in mind is a great way to get you over the inevitable bumps in the road to restoration.  Just thinking about how wonderful a restored vintage living room will look decorated for the holidays, for example.  Think about how wonderful having dinner in your 'new' dining room with your favourite people will be and never mind that pile of drywall that's still lurking at the bottom of the stairs.  LOL   Never be afraid to try something non-standard - a piece of pipe meant for a sink may just be the missing part to restore a chair leg!   Also, ask questions - there are discussion groups and forums on-line where folks who have been through restorations will be happy to offer advice and information. 

Such wonderful advice! I love the idea of using the power of visualization to get us through. I think that this would be a great time to look at some before and after shots of Paul's kitchen:



After Renovation & Restoration

Hello, gorgeous!

And while we're here, how about a quick video of the washer/dryer combo?:

Never has doing laundry been so lovely!

You mentioned at the end of the kitchen video that you could now work on "new projects". Can you tell us more? What do you have in the works?

Oh my...At the time when the video was completed,  I had a 1950 Westinghouse 'Laundromat' automatic washer sitting in the garage waiting for me!  I did get that going, though (and I have attached a couple of pictures!). 

Before Restoration

After Restoration


Okay, at this point I just have to insert the video that Paul took of that beautiful machine during a wash cycle. I could watch this all day.

Sweet, huh? If I lived at Paul's house, I wouldn't even need TV. I'd just watch laundry go 'round and 'round all day! But enough about my vintage appliance lust...Now back to Paul's story!

Shortly after that was completed, I acquired a 1953 Westinghouse matched washer and dryer set - that restoration is just about done now.  I got sidetracked from that project with partial restore of a 1961 Whirlpool dishwasher and a 1958 Frigidaire dishwasher.  I still have a few kinks to work out on these and once they are done, there's a 1950 or 1951 Youngstown Kitchens dishwasher waiting for me!

 I could watch the videos of your appliances all day long. Any tips for readers who want to bring home vintage appliances? Any safety tips?

For anyone interested in buying a vintage appliance, bear in mind that what may appear fine on the surface may be pretty scary inside!  I have had vintage refrigerators that worked fine and showed no signs of trouble but when I did some tinkering, I found the wiring for the interior light had dangerously brittle insulation (it crumbled in my hands!).   I would strongly recommend that any appliance be carefully inspected to see if there are any obvious problems and if there is any doubt,  it would be worth having the appliance inspected by an electrician or repair technician.  I only have experience with electrical appliances, but I would also recommend that any gas appliance be inspected for leaks or defective parts.  The good news is that most vintage appliances are not that complicated to do a basic inspection on.  The back panel of most vintage ranges for example is easily removed and the wiring can be seen clearly.  Look for signs of trouble like burnt or scorched components, broken wires, or splices.  Something I have done (especially on the vintage laundry machines) is to ensure they are properly grounded.  That can be a simple as replacing the power cord and attaching the green lead from the new cord to the frame of the machine.   I tend to err on the side of caution and thorougly test a new acqusition connected to a ground-fault protected outlet.  If the breaker pops right away or shortly after the appliance starts,  this could mean big trouble!

 Great tips! It's always a good idea to be safe and have electronic items inspected by the pros. Finally, since it's apparent that you believe in making your dreams come true, is there one item or project that you dream about for your home?

Don't laugh, but I would love to add a pond to the garden and surround it with native marsh plants!  That should keep me out the garage and away from the dishwashers for a while. LOL

Okay there any doubt after seeing how dogged Paul is that he'll make that pond and garden dream come true? And if his kitchen is any indication, it will be glorious! Though, I think that I'd find it hard to stop tinkering with those beautiful appliances or heck, to leave that kitchen and pretty dining nook surrounded by shiny bright percolators.

Thanks so much to Paul for letting me share his story. I think it's a great shot of adrenaline to those of us who are in the throes of restoration - as well as those who hope and plan to be one day. Figure out what makes your heart go pitter-pat...visualize...and realize!

If you want to see more of Paul's appliance restoration videos, go here. I'd be lying if I said that I haven't watched them all. And maybe twice.

Until next time (kitchen dreams can come can happen to you),
x's and o's,


Debbie (Dolly Mama) said...

OH Kelly!!
I wish we lived father in law worked for GE in Dishwashers and an engineer..and we had a turquoise and pink small dishwasher in our basement...well we did..even a few months ago..but we had to clean the house out...(mother in laws house)...If I had should have driven to LOu and got the Danish American furniture and the dw!! I am so sorry...but I love this video and it seems you have lots of lovely things now..and these guys really did a GREAT job!!

Barbara said...

I wanna know how much it all cost him!!

Anonymous said...

WOW! I hold such admiration for those who can see the true beauty and potential when restoring vintage homes and appliances. Every restoration is a piece of history saved! I tip my hat to your hard work Paul as your kitchen is truly a dream come true.

Kathlene said...

Seriously. How DOES he ever leave the kitchen? It's beautiful and the colors are so pretty!

spinsLPs said...

This must be Steven Keylon's Canadian twin brother.

cheshirecat666 said...

That was amazing! JEEZ,where do people find the energy/patience for this stuff?? My hat's off

yes,why don't they make wall fridges anymore? hello

And how about that Peanuts-esque music?

Amber Von Felts said...

Who even knew that such a thing as a Wall Mounted Refrigerator ever existed! How the heck did he even know to look for it! That resto is truly remarkable. I am in love with that kitchen. He is talented for sure but I wonder what he does with all these vintage washers once they are all done? I hope he adopts them out to needy vintage families!

Charm and Poise said...

Although I live in a 1947-era apartment, nothing in this place is vintage (give or take a brooch, knicknack, or cookbook or 20). So I do aspire one day to have my house life align more neatly with my inner desires, but I think Paul's advice about imagining the wonderful ways you will be enjoying your space in the future is applicable in so many areas of our lives! When you're down and troubled, imagine how different things WILL be if you keep your head down and just forge ahead. Inspirational!

I'm also super super into just watching laundry suds around in that washer all day. Forget about the future, let's park ourselves in Paul's kitchen and have a grand time!

Andrea said...

What a gorgeous resto! No vintage colour makes me swoon more than turquoise. Not to mention it gives me hope for putting the retro back into my kitchen (which was renovated in the 80s, and it's a slow process getting it back)

Sara In AZ said...

Amazing job Paul, your turquoise kitchen is absolutely gorgeous. What fun to see your video from start to finish. Great post Eartha!

Rae - Say It Aint So said...

oh my gosh that is amazing! that wall mounted fridge!! and now i am really regretting not buying a set of turquoise pans from an estate sale. what a great, inspiring post!

Becky said...

Gorgeous turquoise! I wonder why wall-mounted fridges never took off? Seems to me that they would be a lot less hassle than bending down and rooting around for where that rotten smell is coming from! Since I started reading your blog I've been searching for my dream/fantasy ranch home. Fun!

Betty Crafter said...

Um, wow. Ridiculous. I love how the cabinets he chose blend smoothly with the turquoise appliances and look like they could be original. But those appliances! Gah! You have killed me.
I saw a pink wall mount fridge like that at an estate sale recently. It was lovely. I hunt for a turquoise dishwasher and washer and dryer.

Club80 (Robever80) said...

All I can say is WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
So nice!

Lisa said...

Aaaaand I'm in love with that Laundromat. Oh my goodness. This guy is actually who I want to be when I grow up. Great interview/profile!

SusieQT said...

Oh. My. Goodness. Appliance porn...