Our 1954 Home: Kitchen

You’ve seen the kitchen here and there on the blog, in the background of various posts and in my Cooking with Vincent series, but today we are finally giving it a proper post all its own because we recently did a (partial) kitchen redo!

Looking into our kitchen from the dining room. Cream and pink tile counter sits atop cream cabinets with copper hardware. Upper cabinets, also cream, sit against green walls. Text overlay reads "Our 1954 Home Kitchen"

Our kitchen is directly behind our fireplace, which sits in the center of the house, and accessible from the dining room, or from the hallway near the guest room and guest bathroom. A bar with a built-in china hutch juts out from the fireplace into the kitchen, which creates an interesting, almost Z shape to our kitchen.

Despite the odd shape, I really loved the kitchen, as it was pretty much all original. Seeing original elements was beginning to feel like a rare gem in sea of either awful 80s/90s redos or contemporary overhauls in 50s and 60s homes as we hunted. I especially loved the tile counter and trim along the bottom of the cabinets. When we moved in the walls were white with pale cream cabinets, featuring new, black handles, as you can see in these listing photos, as I am awful at taking “Before” images.

Before photos of our kitchen. Cream cabinets rest against white walls. The counter is made of cream and pink tiles. The floor is faux grey marble.

You can also see the faux marble flooring, which was one of the first things to go when we moved in. You can read about our flooring experience here. I knew I wanted to add more color to the kitchen, but just what color and where was the debate. We thought about painting just the cabinet doors, maybe doing one color on top, a different one on bottom, but ultimately decided to go with a shade of green from the flooring and paint just the walls. This really made the cabinets pop, as well as the valance I added to the window above the sink.

Direct view toward the sink. On either side of the window above the sink are small shelves which have various vintage orange and California souvenirs on them.

A look at another shelf near the sink, on it sits a small orange shaped container, a vintage can for Sunkist concentrated California orange juice, and a souvenir plate of LA, featuring LAX, Chinatown, Griffith Observatory, Farmer's Market, and Olvera Street.

A view toward the stove, which is tucked under cream cabinets and against a green wall. Above the stove hangs a vintage fruit crate label that has an orange streaking across the sky like a comet, and above it reads "Orbit" in large white letters. Hanging on the handle of the stove is a white towel with an orange with a face o it.

Two mental cans, one for Shields Date Sugar, the other for Shields Date Crystals, one pink and one green, sit on our counter, they house various kitchen utensils.

View toward the sink, which sits under a window. The window has a valance featuring cowboys near a campfire, roping steer, and yucca plants. The color scheme of the fabric is pink, green, and brown. A green Kitchenaid mixer sits in the corner.

A white stove sits to the left of the fridge, just pas the fridge is a hallway with a doorway, next to the door a brick wall that has a Coca-Cola menu hanging on it. A bar with built in china hutch juts out from the right side.

Various vintage Disneyland plates hang above three doorways.

Hanging on a brick wall are a large fishtail Coca-Cola sign, and a fishtail Coca-Cola menu board which has various menu options written on chalkboard slats. Under the menu, on the floor sits a cork mat shaped like a cat head, where the eyes are are two bowls, one for water, the other for food. The floor is checkerboard of cream fleck and green fleck tiles.

When it came to painting the walls, we actively chose to leave three walls white. These three walls have hardly any “wall” to them, as they are really just three doorways. One doorway is open, from the hall, the other two have doors, and are closet spaces, one housing the hot water heater, the other originally housed the heater for the home, however when we installed AC we had it moved into the crawlspace. This space we plan to renovate into a pantry in the future.

Our laundry room is located off of the kitchen, tucked behind this pink curtain seen below. You can check it out here.

Three wood crate sides hang on a green wall to the left of a doorway that has a pink curtain. Text on the crates reads "Sunkist Best for Juice - and Every Use"

A red microwave rests on cream and pink tile counter. To the left and above the microwave are two circular pieces of art, cut wood cowboy and cowgirl that are mounted on cork.

Close-up of one shelf near the sink. An orange shaped trivet leans in the corner, a glass sits next to it featuring a scene of an orange grove, and a small planter of a donkey pulling a cart.

Direct view of sink. Outside the window is a green hedge. Above the window is a cream valance with images of cowboys roping steer, riding horses, and around a campfire. The fabric design is made up of pinks, browns, and greens, similar in shade to the walls.

Close-up of one shelf near the sink. Orange shaped salt and pepper shakers, which read "California" in green script across them, a framed postcard features a crate of oranges, on the side of the crate reads "Sunkist Oranges - the box I promised you from California," and a tile featuring Grauman's Chinese Theatre, a mission, palm trees, and LA City Hall.

You’ll notice we don’t have a dishwasher, we toyed with the idea of getting one, but ultimately decided we needed the variety of cabinet space, and did not want to give anything up. During a Charles Phoenix slide show we spied an amazing vintage faucet that featured a brush wand. He then said that the facets were still being made new! And we instantly knew that is what we wanted. Because if we had to do dishes by hand, why not make it extra stylish?

Close-up of our facet, a chrome rectangle features a faceplate of cream, with a gold burst coming from a small black crown. Black text reads "Dishmaster" across the top.

We opted for the Dishmaster M76 Imperial Four, in chrome with the Gold Sunburst faceplate. It was a bit pricey, and was the home’s “Christmas present” a couple years ago. Then last year I spied it as Rick Dalton’s faucet in Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood! The only difference was that his is the “XL” option with the wand that sits to the side as oppose to atop the faucet. We just didn’t want to drill a hole in our sink.

Rick's stunt double, Cliff, shields his eyes from the light he just turned on. The sink like ours sits to the right on screen.

One of the biggest, and smallest changes was the hardware in the kitchen. While hardware is small, the change we made I think was rather large. The hinges had been painted over, and new, vintage looking, black metal drawer handles of a similar spade style to the hinges had been put on the doors and drawers. After seeing so many 1950s and 60s homes during our house hunting, I was 100 percent certain that the hinges were copper under all of that paint, so we scrapped a little paint off and discovered warm copper underneath.  We spent a good chunk of time stripping and polishing the hardware. Then it came time to tackle the handles. We chose to hunt down vintage copper handles, which we found on Etsy. We polished them to the same level as the hinges. Then, to prevent further tarnishing we gave them a clear coat of lacquer.

Close-up of our hinges, now free of paint, shining in warm copper.

Since we painted the walls and then had copper hardware, we decided to change our light switches and plates as well. We opted for a look that is much older than the house, push button. We purchased these switches and plates new from Kyle Switch Plates. Push button switches were out of vogue by the time our home was built in 1954, but I really love their look.

Close-up of our push button light switches, which are surrounded by a copper colored plate.

I grew up with parents who were Coca-Cola collectors, and it made an impression on me, the “Fishtail” or, as it is technically called, the Arciform, style being my favorite time period in Coca-Cola design. Additionally, the fishtail design was often paired with green, making it perfect for the kitchen. The larger sign at the top was found by my dad, and the menu board was found at one of the antique malls in Orange. We thought it would make a great meal planning board. Originally, the menu board would have had offerings along with their prices that slid in and out, however with those missing, we chose to spray paint strips of wood with chalkboard paint, allowing us to change items easily. However we are giving serious thought to commissioning a sign painter to make some for us in the original style but with our most often made dishes.

Hanging on a brick wall are a large fishtail Coca-Cola sign, and a fishtail Coca-Cola menu board which has various menu options written on chalkboard slats.

Now, I called this a “partial” redo, and that is because you’ll notice we don’t have vintage or retro appliances. As I originally said in the flooring post, the biggest tip when it comes to buying a home is to pace yourself with projects and budget. We did not have enough money to do the flooring and buy the exact appliances we wanted at the time of move in. During that time we opted to purchase the exact washer and dryer I wanted (because seriously, a good washer and dryer is an investment in your clothing), a middle-of-the-road stove, and the cheapest fridge possible, both of which would be replaced with either refurbished appliances (probably from Vintage 55), or new, retro style ones. Additionally I want to change the ceiling lights. I just haven’t decided what exactly I want. I’m thinking something recessed, perhaps with a copper-tone frame around. Of course appliances and larger lighting projects are expensive, so these are down the road projects. But once done I’ll be sure to give the kitchen an updated blog post.

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