Monday, October 08, 2007

My first: 'Flashback design tips'!

As a regular new feature, I'll be deconstructing vintage kitchens - usually from vintage ads. I think there's a lot to learn about design from these 50s examples -- given the era, people were obsessed with design so incredible thought went into it!

This kitchen is a favorite, and led to some of my kitchen's features. Let's get to it, starting from the left:

1. Notice how the stainless steel storage cube is built into the wall. You can see it to the right of the curtained window as well. Great use of recessed wall space, but don't overdo it or you could end up with a very cluttered feel.

2. The soffit comes out just a tad beyond the wall cabinet. This is helpful, too, if your room is not square. If you're wallpapering, the pattern should run level on the bottom of the soffit, not the top.

3. Really cool how they raised the soffit above the sink. It creates a nice cozy 'nook' feeling in this much-used work area and moreover, allows for maximum picture window space.

4. Classic window treatments: Pinch pleats over a blind. Embrace your inner traverse rod! Also notice how they've mixed patterns - the fabric drapes are a vertical stripe, contrasted with the geometric wallpaper. Fabric really softens the coldness of steel cabinets BTW.

5. Picture window sets as low as possible. You'll get water on it from the sink, but light reins.

6. Super cool windows below the wall cabinets - if you can do it!

7. Warning: These cabinets hang too low, given the cooking surface below.

8. Warning: Put your HVAC at ground level, not in the soffit.

9. Very nice how the soffit comes out with the oven unit. You can do this above a fridge, too, if you don't have cabinets that work. I did this above my Sub-Zero and it looks great.

10. And of course: The wallpaper treatment. You can see how this clearly adds a sense of height to what appears to be an 8.5' ceiling.

Tuesday eBay pick: 8 barkcloth drape panels

One of the problem with my new eBay picks feature, is that I'm posting things I will probably want to buy - only driving up the price!

Case in point: These great barkcloth panels. You have 8 to work with, which is really hard to find. If you're using them for a bedroom and have, say, only 2 windows, use the other four panels to make pillow shams or even the center part of two twin bedspreads.

The pattern on these drapes is also fantastic - oriental, but homey. And the colors -- chartreuse, red, light and dark grey -- awesome! These are a great find!

Here's the eBay url:

Olympia Tile - the colors are the best for retro renos!

I've moved: Please see my dramatically improved site:

I wanted to do a more complete posting on Olympia tile colors - and 50s tile colors in general - after reading something over the weekend.
On an eBay listing that I featured - the Manchu Yellow bathroom suite - the lister mentioned that Kohler had recently reissued some vintage colors. I went online to look, and must say I don't think much of them at all, they are not true 50s hues. I also went and took a look at the American Olean site, to see if they had anything new to suit retro reno bathrooms; nope. I suspect that Waterworks has some great colors -- that that is really expensive tile.
That brings me back to Olympia. I was fortunate enough to run into this company because I lived in metro Toronto a few years ago. When I was reno'ing my three bathrooms, I located a distributor nearby in the states. They sent me the board of colors - which I've photographed for you, above. Unfortunately, the company does not have any marketing materials -- no brochures, no photos on their website, nothing. Seems like they really only market directly through independent tile stores.
It is well worth the hassle to pursue these tiles, in my experience. The picture shown is our "Heron Blue" bathroom. This bathroom, like my others, was originally plastic tile, which had rotted out the shower walls altogether. I had true 50s color schemes originally - pink/green, green/beige. As you can see I toned the original exuberant 50s look down a little by choosing a blue and white scheme. I replicate the original with use of the contrasting 2x6s, and by tiling up to the original height. The wallpaper is from a now-discontinued Waverly line, Kitchen Kitsch. I hope you agree it all comes together in a perfectly acceptable, cheerful and functional retro reno look.
Finally, the Olympia tile was very reasonably priced. This is not high end. But then, neither were these original 50s bathrooms!
Here's the link to Olympia's site - which includes locations of the retail locations where you can order their tile:

Monday eBay pick: Beatle Bobble Head dolls

SOLD: For $1019.

Okay, so this isn't about renovation and restoration. But how can you not love Beatle Bobble Head dolls? My single regret in life is that I had a set, which I sold at a garage sale when I was 12. I liked The Monkees better. Alas. Fortunately, I don't think I had the tall ones, like this auction. Let's all watch and see how high they go! Love love me do!

Link to eBay listing: