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:
(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:
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 Automaticwasher.org 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:
And while we're here, how about a quick video of the washer/dryer combo?:
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!).
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 readers...is 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 true...it can happen to you),
x's and o's,