Kitschy Kitchen

By Karen Parr-Moody


To easily add flair to any kitchen, whether it's a modern kitchen or a more traditional style, simply add some items from the retro kitchens of days gone by. Somesans of the fabulous '50s  choose to go all out, right down to the vintage reproduction Smeg refrigerators from England, with their fabulous shades of pink, aqua and yellow. For others, just the hint of a postwar kitchen works, so that add some retro wall art, period gadgets, vintage Dansk or FireKing cookware, and oilcloth tablecloths. Whatever the taste, GasLamp is full of kitchen goodies that remind us of the "Leave It To Beaver" era. 


Antique dealer Anna Haferman's booth, The Mom and Pop Culture Shop, is a vintage kitchen paradise. She offers everything from Japanese ceramics to Russel Wright coffee cups to the perfect salt and pepper shakers. These retro number mugs, above right, while vintage actually represent a mini-trend that has been happening in modern home goods for a couple of years now (8 mugs, $40; B-2015). The use of bold numbers and letters, printed on everything from pillows to wall art to paper goods, is a movement that has been quickly gathering speed. These fonts and types are not just the garden variety Times New Roman, however. They have specific personalities that put out whatever the vibe is. For a typoholic, these mugs, with their cheery colors and numbers, definitely hits the spot. (These make for a quirky housewarming or wedding gift for a graphic designer). 




Vintage clothing dealer Aria Cavaliere has a darling booth full of finds. She also adds in the occasional statement piece for the home, which is definitely the case with this Syroco gold Sunburst clock at left; it is a delightful slice of Americana ($45; Booth B-172). This is just one of many clocks made by the Syracuse Ornamental Company, which was founded in the late 1890s by an Austrian woodcarver named Adolph Holstein. By 1953, Syroco had concocted a process for creating the faux gold-leaf finish seen on this clock's; it was called "metalgold." The frame is molded hard plastic meant to look like wood, which the company called "Syroco Wood." What an addition this would make for a hip kitchen. With its heavy ornamentation, it would be the perfect foil for the Danish Modern pieces of the same era, such as gleaming barware, stainless steel accessories, or molded wood kitchen chairs. 




When it comes to chairs, a quick visit to the booth Chair-isma yields fabulous results, as seen in the photo at right. There is always some fun chair or other that has been refinished, repainted, or recovered ... or all three. Fans of the cottage style of decorating, where a relaxed look is right at home, will find the chairs there a swell deal indeed. Their mix-and-match potential is a fun option for cottage decorating. Four of the chairs in this photo are the same silhouette, while their paint job and upholstery is different. The other chairs, four harp-backed silhouettes (only two are shown here), are in a beautiful robin's egg blue paint with a twill upholstery (all four, $225; Booth B-306). The four blue chairs would look cute around a small table, or, conversely, the yellow and green chairs would work as well (two yellow chairs, $125; two green chairs, $125; Booth B-306). Or, for a truly eclectic look, one could purchase a large farmhouse table and put all eight chairs around it. What fun! 






No vintage kitchen is complete without a charming scale, as seen in the photo at left ($65; Booth B-2025). They were popular in homes before standardized labels became the norm for food. They were also important because "back then" many families were still butchering their meat and growing their vegetables. Several different scale companies manufactured what were called "American Family" scales from the late 1800s through the 1960s. This one is by the Hanson Brothers Scale Company of Chicago, which gave the American Cutlery company the rights to put their name on the scales.   











Every retro kitchen needs a Lazy Susan. The one in the photo, right, is made of ceramic set on a wooden wheel, and with its bright aqua-and-white color scheme, it simply oozes vintage charm ($29.95; Booth B-210). While the device known as a "Lazy Susan" has been around since the 18th century, the term wasn't actually coined until one appeared in an advertisement in the magazine "Vanity Fair" in 1917. The device called a dumbwaiter, which is a small elevator for transporting food, was a forerunner of the Lazy Susan. 


Yet another idea for vintage decorators is to create a display of colorful aprons from the 40's and 50's. At The Mom and Pop Culture Shop, there's always a nice little cache of these in her booth, as seen in the photo, left (from $10 to $12 each). A great way to display a few of these is to get a coat rack that hangs on the wall (also found at GasLamp), then tie a few of these on the hooks. A bakers rack could also act as a display possibility; just tie a few aprons on hooks at eye level. 

The list of decorating possibilities for a kitschy kitchen is almost limitless. And at GasLamp, it just happens that finds can be found in almost every booth, such is the popularity of vintage kitchen style. More ideas of items to look for include: enameled pots, vintage cookbooks, terry cloth towels with crocheted handles that attach to drawer knobs, grain bags were printed with patterns so women would have access to fabric they could use. Often bags were sewn from these to keep dry goods in the pantry. Beans, rice, pasta were stored in these homemade bags made from the grain bag fabric. Since many women canned in those times and many gave their specialties as gifts, jar toppers were also made from these bags. Many of these grain bags, cookie jars, salt and pepper shakers, Fiestaware, and even butter molds and wire egg baskets. So get your shopping list filled out and start shopping for kitchen goodies!  


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