“The kitchen is a Fifties nightmare, a horror show,” whispered the broker: It still had its turquoise cabinets, purple Formica, and scalloped trim—all part of a high-end remodel in this 1920s Storybook Tudor. But prospective owner Janna Ritz thought differently. An improbable survivor of another era, “the kitchen was the thing worth keeping,” she says.
Today, vintage Frankoma fondue pots sit happily on the vintage, deep-purple Formica countertop. The pale turquoise, 40″ Caloric Ultramatic range (not seen) still works perfectly. The Lucite and chrome cabinet pulls are original. The owners say you have to respect good design when you find it, regardless of the era. “People who ruin old kitchens are invariably people who don’t cook,” Janna adds.
1. COLOR NAILS IT
Some eras are all but defined by their palette. Turquoise cabinets are a mid-century staple; accompanied by purple laminate countertops, they define this postwar room. A vintage blue mixer and decorated canisters finish the look.
2. EDGED LAMINATE
Easy-care linoleum and then laminate (Formica, etc.) countertops were preferred during the 20th century. From the ’40s until the early ’70s, laminate countertops were edged with aluminum or stainless steel.
3. COOL HARDWARE
Style-compatible hardware is critical for evoking a period. Original hardware is a bonus. Here, the surviving Lucite (clear acrylic) and chrome knobs are eye-catching, as are the cylindrical, chrome-plated hinges.
4. VENTED CABINET DOORS
In the 1940s–50s, providing ventilation for the under-sink cabinet carried over from earlier days of plumbing. Cabinet doors were fitted with perforated aluminum or steel panels, or pressed cane webbing as used for chair seats.
Laminate countertops were edged in metal during the mid-century period. Outwater still distributes aluminum, stainless steel, and brass extruded angle mouldings and trims. outwater.com.
This traditional schoolhouse shade is an exact replica of a type used up into the 1950s. White opal glass is 14″ wide for a 6″ fitter, with hand-painted black pin striping. Shade is $108, shown with the ‘Newbury’ surface-mount fixture ($169). schoolhouse.com
Crisp, see-through Lucite disc knobs with chrome detail come in several sizes (2″ shown). Go to the Boutique at theparisapartment.com.
Elmira Stove Works’ Northstar collection offers ca. 1950 retro-style ranges, refrigerators, stove hoods, and more in such period colors as Buttercup Yellow, Candy Red, Mint Green (shown), and Robin’s Egg Blue (shown). Ranges are 30″ or 36″ wide and have a self-cleaning oven; prices start at $4,495. elmirastoveworks.com