Reinventing the 50s

One of the decisions we tackled once our remodeling project became a reality was countertops. Currently we have the ugliness known as tiled countertops — cream-colored tile countertops whose grout is dissolving around the sink, and whose nooks and crannies harbor bacteria I don’t even want to think about. (I tend to just aim the Clorox spray, turn my head, and pray that all the little critters are obliterated upon contact.)

At first, I thought I wanted just a plain old Formica. I even flirted with the possibility of getting one of those fun retro boomerang Formicas, or the virr varr pattern. Then I came to my senses are realized that unless we were planning on staying in this house until we died, it probably wasn’t the wisest choice to go all-out retro. Gotta think about resale possibilities, after all.

How many mottled brown varieties of Formica can possibly exist? (A lot, it turns out.) I just sat and stared at all the gobs of samples on chains, realizing that I had absolutely no starting point. I had no colors picked out yet, so I couldn’t even narrow down the choices.

By the Formica display, however, was a beautiful, sparkly little gem: a sample of Silestone called Stellar Night. The online sample doesn’t do it justice, but here’s a shot I took of the sample at home:

Try to ignore the computer glare an think of a — well, stellar night. Black sky with little white/silver stars. That’s what this baby looks like. No matter how many samples I browsed through (Formica, marble, granite, etc), I kept coming back to this. It struck me as being a nice contract between 50s style and modern.

As I was soon to find out, however, having a black countertop severely limited my options for flooring … especially when I was planning on plunking down a red chrome table in the midst of said flooring.


A question of cabinet hardware …

The cabinet hardware we currently have has always struck me as ugly. It almost looked like something that came from a 70s or 80s obsession with everything cowboy.

I tried to imagine how they would look once the kitchen was redone, for we will be having kind of a black and white theme going on, and these cabinets (original to the house) will be painted white. Sure, I’d love to get new cabinets. But, ah, there’s a little bit of a price issue there.

So the other day I was browsing through my new bible — a 1957 Sears catalog that I snagged off eBay, and lo and behold, I find this:

Turns out that the ugly arrows are original to the house. Argh! How I wanted to get rid of them and replace them with chrome, but now I’m rethinking it. (Just for the record, we do NOT have the hinges with the straps. Thank god for that; it would be entirely too much.) No surprise, these are “Early American” style — back when people weren’t sure whether to decorate with a modern flair or cling to the days of yore, so they tended to do a little bit of both.


Taking the plunge (in more ways than one)

Everything has to start somewhere, along with this chronicle of our journey to restoring our 1953 ranch home to its former glory. When Jason and I bought this house 9 years ago, we were childless and anxious to just live in our own place for once. We overlooked a lot of stuff — made some stupid “first time home buyer” mistakes, but we’re stuck with it, and we’re OK with that. We’ve been making improvements through the years, and we realize how that we’re kind of hooked on this place. Not for the horrible interior (decorating gaffes of the former owners), but we love the location of this house. High on a hill, surrounded by 6 or so other houses, all with huge yards, lots of trees, privacy, and quiet. We could do without the barking dogs all around us, but we’re tolerating it.

We are now at the point where we are ready to renovate this 50s house, and since I love the quirky style of the Fifties, it wasn’t hard to nail down a general look. I really wanted to find a style that was in between genuine Fifties (which bordered on ugly at times) and modern cool, but without the coldness. You could say that my inspiration came from a 1956 Chevy or something along those lines: colors, chrome, and style.

A year or so ago, I found a place that sells retro chrome tables, complete with custom made chairs. I’ve had my eye on a table with red cracked ice laminate, but there’s one problem: our 1953 ranch home apparently wasn’t built for people who liked to sit down while they ate. Sure, there’s a small space where one can eat on a small table, but we currently have a family of four, and it just isn’t working. For all of us to fit around the table, we have to pull it out from against the wall, and everyone squeezes into their chairs. It’s getting old, let me tell you.

This fall, we plan on making it all right. We’re going to knock the wall down between the kitchen and an adjacent bedroom, and that will become our dining room. We have some other stuff on the docket too, but this dining room is the priority before winter hits. I refuse to spend another winter cooped up in this house without a nice place to relax and eat with my family.

I have learned a lot from reading other people’s blogs regarding 50s renovations, so I created this blog to hopefully help others in their renovation quests as well. I’m not expert, but I’m in the trenches now too. 😉