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Ideas to decorate Alan’s vintage green tile kitchen – Vitralite ooh la la!

midcentury-kitchen-BEFOREretro design“We have been told that the kitchen is a cross between ‘Betty Crocker’ and a morgue,” reader Alan says, adding a “haha” in his email to us. But maybe… not so funny. So today, a Retro Design Dilemma: Let’s help Alan with ideas to make his 1953 kitchen more homey, less clinical. Ooo la la: Lookie all the Vitralite glass wall tile — this one will be fun!

1950s Vitralite tile kitchenAlan writes:

Help! We have an original 1953 kitchen featuring Apple Green Vitralite glass tile. The tile is in almost perfect condition — but we’re at a loss as to what to do with it. Part of me says “gut” and start over, but many tell us to “save the Vitralite.”

vitralite wall tile
(This shot above is from before they closed on the house.)

1950s Vitralite tile kitchen

We’ve been in the house for five years and have been stumped for five years as to what to do with this kitchen! The green Vitralite is so overwhelming — even though we’re used to it. We have been told that the kitchen is a cross between “Betty Crocker” and a morgue.  haha.


vitralite wall tile
Above: Adjacent laundry room, with more of the tile, and some black trim.

Nom nom, we adore that vintage Vitralite! Hmmm… We spy a very interesting-looking clock in the initial photos that Alan sends and ask him for some closeup. Oh my word, look at this stunner:

vitralite kitchen tile Alan replies:

And yes, the clock in the soffit… omg, it’s wild. At 12, 3, 6, and 9, it shows pictures of what families in the 1950s should be doing!  3 p.m. is playtime… 6 p.m. is dinner… 9 p.m. is dancing… and 12 p.m. is sleep!

vitralite kitchen tile

I’d love you to help update this kitchen by giving us some ideas about countertops and floors! Currently, the counter tops are a Formica that is probably late 70’s — off white and a mess. The floors are a “plastic” laminate – trying to look like hardwood.

1950s Vitralite tile kitchen

Our thought is to replace/upgrade the counters with stone (but we can’t figure out what that would go with the green vitralite), replace the cabinet hardware, remove the original light fixtures and install can lighting, replace the gold dishwasher for stainless, replace the white stove for stainless and call it a day! We just cant figure out what to do with countertops and the floor.

Vitrolite bathroom!

vintage glass tile bathroom
Ooooh, check out this creamy ivory-yellow and green trim Vitrolite bathroom. From our story about this Time Capsule House. Photo: WiSign Photo — Lynn Darnieder, owner

Readers, let’s hear your ideas for this Retro Design Dilemma:

  • Okay, readers: Let’s hear your ideas for this dilemma! We will be back tomorrow morning with our design board and analysis.

  1. Ken says:

    This may sound crazy but put some pink in there to compliment the green. You could also go with another pastel primary color to play off the green like buttercup yellow, pink or turquoise–think Luray Dishes. I’d go for a pink or yellow formica countertop–creamy pastel-like; keep the cabinets as is and make the appliances white, or if you paint the cabinets white make the appliances pastel–you can paint them. Accessorize with stainless steel or white. I’m updating my kitchen and I’m painting my black refrigerator a buttercup yellow to go with my pink oven and turquoise dishwasher. The sink could be white or stainless. Floor tile should be a black and white checkerboard. The key would be to make the green stand out since you have so much of it and downplay everything else. It’s so beautiful.

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