• 1953 Formica pink kitchen – today’s kitchen flashback design

    It’s been a while since I did a Tuesday flashback kitchen design – only because I had so many other posts lined up. But I’m reviving them, because they are so much fun.

    Holey moley, look at this pink Formica kitchen. I have to admit, I wanted a pink kitchen, not aquamarine. My husband won, and anyway, it was meant to be, because that’s the kitchen that found us. Even so, there is a super soft spot in my heart for this kitchen and others like this. Here are some flashback observations, starting at 10 o’clock:

    1953-pink-formica-kitchen-flashback.jpg

    1. If you have the space, built-in pantries are ideal. Notice how the soffit extends to enclose them. And how the pantries themselves create an enclosure of sorts for the washer and dryer. Fitted=50s.
    2. On the orange accent color: With such a dynamic cabinet color, the accent has to be strong, too, or it will disappear.
    3. I love this light fixture – very very modern, like the chairs and lamp. The “appliance white” repeats in the chairs, the lamp, the tile, and the appliances.
    4. I haven’t seen a lot of photos from this period featuring subway tile (vs. 4″x4″ tile). Here, the horizontality (word?) of the subway tiles contrast nicely with the verticality of the pantries. Also in this space, see the washer and dryer. There certainly was a move to convince women to do their laundry in the kitchen …. it didn’t work. Finally, this whole block of appliances is treated as one working “white space” and is a part of what keeps your eye moving around the kitchen.
    5. Notice the second light above the two sinks, same idea as the one above the pantries.
    6. The designer used the soffits throughout the room as a design element. This can be very important in kitchens. I’ll do more on soffits sometime soon.
    7. Notice the cabinet pulls. Is there a word for this style? They are awesome.
    8. Monotone countertops. Considering the strong orange and green accents, it works.
    9. Shell chairs are cool. Get authentic repro’s from modernica.net.
    10. George Nelson bubble lamp. Also from modernica.
    11. Green carpet – exact opposite of orange, on the color wheel. In fact, when you put together the pink, orange, green and white blocks, this kitchen takes on a Mondrian-esque color block feel.

    One more interesting note. As the 50s progressed, we really saw kitchens opening up to the other spaces, rather than remaining a separate room. “…a definite trend toward making Mother a member of the family again,” as the Formic ad says. Of course, the open concept kitchen is a trend that continues strong to this day. And mom not only made it back into the family, she is in the Board room, too!

    Vintage 1953 pink Formica kitchen

     

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    Comments

    1. Hello Pam & retro all!
      A well deserved congrats on your kitchen spot !
      In regards to the pink kitchen cabinet pulls .. an ebay pick with some close runner-ups:
      http://tinyurl.com/399nov
      pricey? hmmm – very cool – yes!

    2. As usual, Pam, you’ve given me fresh ideas for my own restoration. The kitchen in my “new” place has the stainless steel wall oven similar to the one seen in this posting, as well as a matching stainless countertop range, the built in pantry, the metal cabinets, etc. I have been planning to do it in pink, and now I have a good direction for accent colors. As for the cabinet pulls or knobs, my current place, also built in the 1950s, has them in the kitchen and bathroom and on the hall cabinets. Dozens of round chrome pulls! I have not thought much of them until you mentioned the style here. Maybe I should take them out when I move……

    3. —> Thanks, DigRetro for the ebay spotting. Interestingly, I was just about to do a post on Liz’s Antique Hardware – which I love. Tomorrow!

    4. –> Hey Palm Springs, oh yeah, take those pulls with you, especially if you think the new owners will not appreciate them!

    5. Sumac Sue says:

      I do want to hear what you have to say on soffits. (Well, Wayne says the whole thing is a bulkhead and just the underneath side is the soffit, or something like that.) I think they can be a strong architectural feature, as in the picture above.

      When we took out our grubby old cabinets, we debated about taking out the soffit thing. But we aren’t sure of our final plans for that part of the kitchen. We might put up cabinets. Or, we might put in a door on that side of the kitchen that goes to the back yard. Until we decide, the soffit will just stay. Meanwhile, we put up cabinets on the other side of the kitchen, where there is no soffit. So, we have a soffit with no cabinets, and cabinets with no soffit. Sort of weird.

      For the time being, I am going to regard the soffit/bulkhead thing as a display spot, and hang up something, such as pinky aluminum jello molds in the shape of hearts and fish and four-leaf clovers.

    6. Sue,
      Many 50s and 60s kitchens don’t have the bulkheads (my husband who is a construction superintendent says that’s the word, not soffit, which is the underside). Mine don’t and I use the space above the cabinets to display my ball pitcher collection (despite Pam’s recommendation to limit collections to three items!). ;>

    7. Sumac Sue says:

      Femme1, my husband is in the construction industry, as a project manager for an engineering/architecture firm. If 50sPam’s husband also is in some aspect of construction, just as we ladies have all been in writing/editing, that will be very interesting indeed!

      What is a ball pitcher? When I googled it, I just got references to baseball and whiffle ball. I know what Ball jars are, but not ball pitchers — unless it’s a baseball pitcher. So does this pitcher throw or pour?

    8. Hi guys. OMG, controversy (finally)!

      On collections: In my last house, I had a pitcher collection on top of the cabinets, too. And aside from the fact that they got disgustingly dirty/sticky, they looked great. If you have lots of items, they can make for a fabulous display. My only point the other day was that sometimes it’s also good to try breaking them up and mixing with other categories of items, especially in terms of scale e.g. tall fat flat. I have a photo to illustrate this that I will try to dig up. I have built in bookshelves in my LR and for 5 years, kept all Stangl decorative pottery there. It looked okay but…. when I took everything out and mixed selected fewer pieces with other things like framed photos and books and even little oriental statuettes – it looked even better – much much better. Regarding pitchers on cabinets if you are going to do this, I would think one thing to consider is mixing and matching scale and also, not spacing them too far apart. Clusters better. But — when all is said and done — this is an art and not a very serious one at that, so have fun and do what you love, what makes you Happy!

      On soffits: I have not scientifically measured this, but my vintage marketing material, I am pretty sure, shows a mix of: no soffits, soffits aligned with the cabinets, and soffits extending beyond the cabinets-in this case, often housing can lights. I am going to call them soffits not bulkheads.

      I have had all three in my life. I definitely prefer soffits aligned with cabinets, for reasons that I will try to illustrate/articulate soon. That said, getting all readers to put in these kinds of soffits is not my MISSION, I assure you. Getting you’all to wallpaper, though….. :)

    9. First off, I definitely like the word soffit better than bulkhead, so I’m glad to use that word to describe the whole thing.

      And how about this option: I once had an early 50s house with soffits that sported little doors on hinges. You could open them up and look inside the soffit. The cabinets in that kitchen appeared homemade, and I guess the carpenter got carried away. They were impractical, but cute.

    10. No controversy here! Decorating is so subjective, it’s all just opinions, and each individual puts their own decorating stamp on the place where they live. Actually, those pitchers are the only place in my entire house where things are lined up!

      (Oh, Sue, ball pitchers are those that are shaped like a ball—think the old Kool-Ade advertisements). Or look here: http://www.trocadero.com/gleem/items/159628/item159628store.html

      The editor in me balks at using “soffit” instead of “bulkhead” (hee), but I admit I’m a little anal about precise terminology, because I’ve worked as a science editor for a long time. My husband gets rather annoyed with this.

    11. Ok. I’ll say bulkhead. For you, Femme 1!

    12. Joe Felice says:

      Pink was a popular color, but mostly for fixtures and appliances. Aqua metal cabinets were more popular, as I recall. Yellow was another popular color. Also, pink was preferred in the bathrooms. I guess the idea was to wake us up in the morning! Never heard the term “bulkhead.” Sounds like something left over from WWII. But the soffits (and I don’t think we called them that back then, either) were never closed in, except that lots of folks built custom cupboards up there with paneled doors. It was very popular to store things up there (especially our newly-invented electrical appliances), and also to have display dioramas — cats were popular, but you could display almost any knick-knacks you had.

    13. One of the most unique features of this kitchen is the sink placement. Not a double sink, but single sinks used on separate sides of the counter. Get Daddy to help with the dishes? Most likely a “bar” sink.

      Love it, thanks for sharing.

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