Our 50s Kitchen Renovation - Christmas Week

In the beginning of this project, our goal was to have our kitchen done by Christmas.  The weather and a few extras added into the project caused us to be a bit further behind than we had hoped.  Since we knew a completely finished kitchen by Christmas wasn't possible, our next hope was that we would at least have a working one.  That meant that the sink would need to be installed and hooked up. Initially I wanted a white enamel sink to match those in the original Youngstown Kitchens magazine ads.  However, since we weren't installing an dishwasher, I also wanted a sink with a drainboard.  There seemed to be nobody making enameled sinks with drainboards anymore.  Vintage sinks are gettable, but very often are full of chips and scratches, which can contain lead and don't look very nice.  Chris wasn't entirely sold on the enamel sink, as he was afraid what a heavy pot dropped in the sink would do to the finish or what the sink would do to a drinking glass.  His vote was for a stainless steel sink.  We learned that Elkay made stainless sinks with double drainboards and I was completely sold when I learned that they carried a sink whose design is virtually unchanged since the 1920s.

This ad from the 50s shows a double sink version of the sink we bought. This sink also has an integrated backsplash which ours does not have.

The countertop holding our new sink had to be redone twice. The laminate chips quite easily, so it cracked a bit, when the sink was installed the first time.  Fortunately we had ordered double the amount of laminate we would need, so the guys were able to make a new one. This time it came out fine and we had a lovely new and working sink.  I was a bit afraid it was going to be too big and just a lot of metal, but once it was installed it looked perfect.  In the past, we've always purchased faucets from Home Depot or Lowe's, which ultimately turned out to be junk.  We decided to go with Chicago Faucets as they make faucets primarily for professional kitchens and doctor's offices and our hope was that this one would be made well and wouldn't start dripping after a month.  We are very happy with both the sink and faucet and even more happy that we now officially have a fully working kitchen.


Now that the countertops were in place, we were able to put the rest of the doors and drawers on the lower cabinets and load them up.  We initially had some troubles with the doors opening and closing.  Since these cabinets didn't come with instructions, the lazy susan cabinets were set back too far, causing the doors to interfere with some of the other cabinet doors and drawers.  Since we were working in an old house with vintage cabinets we expect this kind of thing to happen.  Fortunately, Jeremy and Norm figured out that by pushing one of the cabinets back a half and inch, lined things up properly and the doors once again worked.  Another little thing we had to deal with is the way the hinges worked on these cabinets.  They are very specific to these cabinets and there is very little adjusting that can be made to them.  Once the countertop was installed, there was going to be a few hinges that we would not longer have access to, so we had to install top the hinges on the lower cabinets before the substrate was attached.  We are fortunate to have figured that out, before everything was permanently fastened down.


One of the lazy susan corners, that gave us some trouble.


All the people that have been working on our kitchen have been great, but it was a bit frustrating that I wasn't able to fully decorate my house for Christmas as I usually do.  However, once I was able to move most of my stuff into the cabinets, it cleared out the rest of the rooms, so I could decorate for Christmas.   We had a number of guests this week, so they were able to see the progress of the kitchen. 


One of my vintage Christmas displays. The sign is one that my brother Tommy got for me. It is an old advertising sign, from a 1950s/1960s men's clothing store in North Carolina.  I wound LED lights behind the sign, to light up the Christmas bulbs.


As soon as all the workers cleared out, we started really using the kitchen.  Chris and I were pretty excited that the new layout of the kitchen allowed us to both be in there without getting in each others way.  We made and decorated lots of cookies and made a number of meals, including a roast beef Christmas dinner.  Even though there are little details that still need to be done, it is great to know that the kitchen will function exactly as we had hoped it would.  

Merry Christmas, from my retro kitchen!  

Merry Christmas, from my retro kitchen!  

Our Christmas treats made and decorated by Chris, his Mom and me

Our Christmas treats made and decorated by Chris, his Mom and me

Red and green cookies, in my red and green kitchen.