Thursday, November 1, 2012

Kitchen Makeover . . . Howard Johnson style

 Our bathroom makeover has been put on hold due to starting our kitchen makeover.  We felt we needed to get that moving and done then finish the bathroom.

The kitchen is very small.  It is mostly 1963 original.  We don't have a lot of money to spend sprucing it up but we put together a plan to increase some functionality as well as give it a nice 60's vibe on a budget.  We plan to use the 60's Howard Johnson's color palate of aqua, white and orange.  Perhaps a bit daring but I just love that color combination and I think it really says "Welcome to our swinging sixties kitchen".

The functionality part of the plan needed to take into account that the counter space is very limited and that we needed to find a place for the microwave so that it does not take up valuable counter space. 

To do this, we decided to go from the current configuration of a separate wall oven and cooktop (in photo below the big open hole is where the wall oven was) to just a range.  We decided to cutout below the cooktop so we would have a place for the range.  We would then create a space in the old wall oven area for the microwave.  

Enter our local handyman, he cutout the area below the cooktop.

He then had the great idea of taking the cabinet doors from where he did the cutout and move them to enclose part of the open area where the wall oven was.  I just loved this idea and it helped us address our concern of having the microwave in this cavernous hole.  It also gave us more storage area and who doesn't like more storage.  He cut the cabinet doors to fit and then installed a shelf so that we can put the microwave in there.  I feel like adding the shelf and doors really finishes off the area.

Looks like our dog Peanut approves!

We did a dry run with our free aqua range to make sure it fit and worked.  The good news is that it fit and the cooktop works.  The bad news is that the lower element in the oven does not work. 
So I will need to see if I can find a replacement.

Up next, find out what happens when you try to remove 4x4 ceramic tiles and formica that were installed in 1963!  Let's just say it ain't pretty!


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

What we will do for the love of a vintage floor

I am a fan of vintage flooring, especially anything that has gold sparkles in it.  I really wish we could find new flooring that had the flair of flooring in the 1950's and 1960's.

We have a half bath that had shag carpeting.  The time had come to get rid of that shag carpeting.

Our initial plan was to remove the carpeting and lay a new floor.  We had picked out a great 60's style flooring that was featured on Retro Renovation from Karndean.  It is a blue mosaic vinyl tile that worked well with our oddly colored blue 4 x4 tile that was on all 4 walls of the bathroom.

The shag carpet came up and we found at least three layers of gunk on the floor.  Perhaps some carpet adhesive, deteriorated carpet pad and some other unidentified mastic.  We felt we needed to remove this gunk so that we could lay the tile down correctly.  We didn't want to put down a new sub floor because we didn't think we could cut the sub floor to match the curve in one of the walls in the bathroom.

Well the gunk on the floor seemed pretty determined to stay there.  We used all sorts of cleaners to try to get it up with little luck.  Finally, we just had to start scraping it with the edge of a shovel.  As you can imagine, this was quite discouraging and seemed like this project was going to take forever.  As we scraped and scraped, we started to uncover the original vinyl floor.  The more we saw of the original floor, the more we liked it.  It was a nice mix of colors, matching the toilet and sink as well as the blue in our wall tile.  Most exciting was the small areas of gold sparkle in the floor that pulled it all together.

Once we had a small section almost completely clear of the gunk, we looked to see if the scraping with the shovel was damaging the original floor.  Much to our surprise, it was not.  So we kept scraping and checking and we started to get the idea that maybe we could salvage this great floor.  It was a calculated risk.  We didn't know if all of the floor was in good shape so could we be spending all this time scraping and end up finding sections that were in really bad shape.  We decided to just take the risk.  We needed to get this stuff up to lay  a new floor anyway, so let's invest the time to see if we can get it up with hopefully a reward of the original vinyl in good shape.

 Even with the reward of knowing we might have an beautiful vintage floor when we were done, the scraping was tedious and frustrating.  We continued to try to find cleaners that would help move the process along, even one that said it was 100% guaranteed but no luck.  During this process, we were having our basement VCT floor, we had just installed, sealed.  The guy doing the sealing of the floor looked at our bathroom floor.  He said he has some professional stripper that he thought might help.  

He dropped off the stripper a couple days later.  It was called Crowbar.  Even with such a strong sounding name, we didn't have much hope but were willing to try it.  We picked an area by the toilet in case it did something bad to the vinyl.  We put it down, full strength and miracles of miracles, it worked!!  We had to apply several coats with each coat taking off a little more of the gunk but were were making progress and this was much easier than scraping.

As you can see in the side by side comparison, the new stripper has helped us make progress and we have renewed hope that we will get this project done in a timely manner.  If we are able to salvage the floor, I will post pictures of the finished floor when we get done.

I know it might have been easier to just cover the floor up, but for the love of vintage, very cool flooring, we were willing to go the extra mile or two to see if we could bring it back to life.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Vintage Travel Trailer Lighting . . . Improving on the Original

We own a 1968 Ken Craft Travel Trailer named Aqua Betty.  I wrote about her in my first entry on this blog.    She is very original and usually I am a stickler to staying with the original elements if we can.  But in Betty's case, I really did not like the original ceiling lights in the kitchen and eating areas.  I am not sure you could find more vanilla or plain lights if you tried.  Also, the bottom glass disc would not stay straight in the metal enclosure.

So we set out to find some vintage lights that would fit the space. We needed lights that were very shallow and that were wide enough to cover the current spot as they did not stain the wood under the lights.  We needed two matching lights and of course we wanted to find a good value!

We try to hit the Restore stores when we go out thrifting.  I always look at the lighting section to see if they have any interesting lights.  In January, we went to the Restore Store in Baraboo, WI and imagine my excitement when I ran across a very large, shallow round light in excellent vintage condition.  Now if there was only a matching one . . . oh wait, there is . . . oh darn, it is missing the screw top to keep the glass piece in place.  So I looked around hoping the little screw top just fell off and I was right, it was laying on the shelf below the light.  So we had a matching pair, in the size and depth we needed, wiring was in excellent shape and they were a great value at $5 a piece.

So this past weekend, after our first camping outing of the season, we installed our new lights.  I just love them and they fit perfect and are just the right depth and width.

Before -  light over kitchen sink

After -  light over kitchen sink

Before - light over eating area

After - light over eating area

I usually don't mess with the original design of vintage things, but this was a good lesson for me that there are times you can improve on the original and be very happy with the results.


Friday, May 25, 2012

My Dreamboat . . . 6 feet tall and pink all over

In my personal treasure hunting, there are two things I would categorize as Holy Grails.  One is a ceramic mermaid by California Potter Hedi Schoop.  The other is a Pink Aluminum Christmas Tree.  I have only seen the Pink Aluminum Tree in person once and that was at a museum.  I have seen them on ebay but always going for big bucks.  So imagine my excitement when I ran across one last weekend.

We went to the big flea market in Elkhorn, WI.  About 10 minutes in, we ran across a couple who was in the beginning stages of selling their aluminum Christmas tree collection.  They said they had collected over 100 trees over many years.  I was digging through the boxes of trees and saw a PINK branch.  I just about fainted.  So I pulled it out and it was in AWESOME shape.  I am not sure it was displayed more than once or twice.  Really it was in mint condition.  So we haggled a little on the price but I knew I just had to have it.  I put it together right after we got home and it is just gorgeous.  I love it!!

It is six feet tall with 54 branches.  I was worried that with that few branches it might not look full.  But because of how the holes in the post are drilled it sort of tapers up and I think it looks full.  It is just 6 feet with the top branch in so a bit shorter looking than I would expect 6 feet to look.  The branches are in fantastic condition.

The foil on the post is immaculate.   I am not crazy about the stand, I wish it had the O ring to attach to like other ones do.

 It has the original box as well.  It was sent to Kachina Displays in NM.  Funny to think they just mailed these around.  You can see the word PINK lightly on the same side of the box directly above the two small tree.

We also picked up some other great Aluminum Tree decorations.  This is a center piece we got.  It is gold and silver and the middle branch sticks straight up.  It came with the original box.  I have never seen one of these.

We also got a door hanger.  It is like a 3-D version you can hang on the wall or on your door.  It is silver and gold as well.

It looks like we are set to have an Atomic Christmas.   I can't wait for Christmas and of course now I am on the hunt for things to decorate the Pink Christmas tree with.

Happy Hunting!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Have never seen one of these!

There was an estate sale in Madison last weekend. For some reason I didn't really get motivated to get there when it opened or near when it opened. I was out and about that afternoon and saw the Estate Sale sign and decided to go.

Within 2 minutes of being at the sale, I was kicking myself for not getting there sooner. I can only imagine what I missed based on what was left. This was a person that had things from the 50's and 60's that they seemed to just have packed away or kept very nice. Man . . . and the prices were very reasonable. The worst is when you see someone at the checkout buying things you would have scooped up. If I had only gotten there minutes earlier.

Despite my kicking myself all the way into next week, I continued to look around. Down in the basement I saw a box kind of tucked away. So as any good treasure hunter does, I peeked in. My heartbeat quickened and the excitement built as I see very small bullet planters. What could it be? Yikes it is a whole bunch of small bullet planters with a post and some metal rings. What in the world? (These kinds of finds are the ones that keep you coming back.)  I quickly counted the rings and the planters, 18 of each . . . SOLD!

Now my partner in crime was upstairs and I could not wait for him to come downstairs to see my bounty.
Though it was a bit heavy, I lugged that box around as I looked for more treasure and guarded it with my life. I was so excited I could barely stand it. He finally came downstairs (I am sure it was only 2-3 minutes but it felt like a lifetime) and I proudly showed him what I found. As expected, he was impressed. We headed to the check out and I just showed the checker the price on the box as I was sure if they saw what was inside they would charge me double maybe even triple and then we absconded with our find.

We of course had to run home and put it together immediately. Fingers crossed that all of the pieces were there. By golly they were and when we were done we were thrilled with our find. The best part was that there were two of them and we had the original box which we did not even realize.

So that is our big Totem Planter adventure. Nothing beats going out and finding such a cool item. I have never seen this type of planter. There was a hand written note on the box that said planter 1978. That seems late to me for such a planter but perhaps that is when they bought it or maybe when they packed it up. No matter, it is really very cool and will be a great piece to put out. I don't think I will put real plants in it as I don't want to damage the planters so maybe some fake plants will do the trick.

 A great find to keep me motivated to hit those sales and dig around in those basements!


Monday, April 2, 2012

Love these houses

I keep my camera in my purse when I am out and about which allows me to snap shots of any cool houses I might run across. Perhaps I could be considered a vintage house stalker. Please don't report me!

Recently, I found two really neat houses.

I am a sucker for a brick or stone house. This house caught my eye as I approached it from the back. I just knew it was going to be cool in the front. From what I could tell the house is very deep and if you look through the front window you can see through to the back, which I think is just great. You get lots of great light in the rooms. I really like the alternate color scheme on the garage door.

I was driving down a main street and just caught the smallest glimpse of this house but knew I needed to turn around and go see it. This house has lots of wow and pop. I love the design, the colors, just everything about it. Even the garage door design is cool. I wonder if it is as cool inside.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

New VCT Floor for basement

We are in the process of installing a new VCT floor in our basement. It has been quite an endeavor. The basement is 800 square feet so it has been a long process. The hardest part was taking up the old floor and dealing with "not the best concrete".

We are making progress though and it really brightens up the room. We went with a basic tanish tile to keep it neutral. I really wanted to go with an orange floor to do a groovey 60's theme but we thought that could be a detriment when we went to resell. Plus 800 sqaure feet of orange might have been a tad over the top.

We have had some issues with the tile edges coming up. That has been frustrating. Typically if we use the heat gun and warm the tile up and then apply pressure the edge stays down. We aren't sure if this is due to the floor, our methods or the fact that the floor is ice cold due to it being so cold out. Whatever the issue it does make the job slower and more frustrating.

I love how others do a pattern on their floor. We decided to keep it very simple and will let some rugs or furnishings add the wow factor.

As you can see in the shot below we are very close to being done with the main area. Now we have to do trim work and put the cove molding up. We are going to have a professional come in and seal and polish the floor. By doing it ourselves we saved about $1200 on installation. We also got the tile on sale for around $400 for 800 square feet. So we did pretty good. It has taken us awhile but will be worth it in the end.

We also would like to cover the cinder block around the basement fireplace. I am thinking a nice mosaic. Not sure of the colors. I think stone might be nice as well.

I can't wait for the "work" part to be done so we can decorate and enjoy. I look forward to sharing the final results!


Saturday, January 7, 2012

Neon Light Splendor

We were fortunate in 2011 to take several driving trips and when we do I am always on the lookout for old or cool neon signs. We saw some great ones this year culminating in a real gem for Zimmerman Ford in St. Charles, IL. (last photo)

On our trip to Ft. Lauderdale in February, we ran across these two great signs. We did a drive by the Tropical Acres and it had a great MCM exterior design.

We went to a vintage car show in Omro, WI in May. We snapped this shot along the main thoroughfare in Omro.

This awesome sign was in Jefferson, WI. It is for their drive-in theater. We watched a movie from our lawn chairs on a cool August evening. We even had the requisite old style speaker by our car. It was great fun.

To me the best time to take a picture of a neon sign is right around dusk. We ran across this sign just at the sun was setting in Rockford, IL.

Our Thanksgiving trip had us driving from Tulsa, OK to Duncan, OK. We pulled off for a bite to eat in Stroud, OK and came across this sign. It sits on old Route 66. The vertical nature of this sign is just fantastic. For the first time ever, I saw a small plaque at the bottom of the sign and it marked the maker of the sign, Tuny Monday. I did a quick search and found that Tuny Monday was a competitive body builder back in the day as well as a neon sign maker. He is now in his 80's but is still associated with neon as the owner of Electrical Displays in Oklahoma City.

We drove down the main drag of Stroud and came across this sign. I have never seen a neon sign for an ATM like this. I really wish we could have seen this one at night.

In September, we went to the Kane County Overnight Flea Market. On the drive through St. Charles, IL, we passed this sign for Zimmerman Ford. What a fantastic sign. I just love the starburst with the multi colored neon points. I am curious what the insignia is in the middle. If anyone knows, please let me know.

2011 was a great year to view some new neon signs, I look forward to seeing what 2012 brings!