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Restoring & Updating a Vintage 1950s Kitchen


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Despite claims to the contrary, I've also seen knives become magnetized from spending time on a mag strip.

I was a photocopier technician for years, and I would store my stainless steel long Snap-On screwdriver in my tool box with the shaft stuck on a strip of magnet - and it was always magnetized, even through stainless steel is not supposed to be magnetic. Therefore, I'm sure knives could be magnetized too.

Sorry for the derail. As you were!

Love the kitchen. Make me jealous in my tiny shoebox! If I were you, I would try to hang on to those lovely old ovens, they look great and I love old quality items that are soo well built that they still go after 50+ years. Then again, as a ex-electronics technician, I could service an oven like that myself without having to pay someone.

As for the lighting over that counter, personally I would just install some flush mounted halogens. Not period correct, but nice warm light, they are cheap to buy and install, and if they were flush mounted, they would have almost no effect on the look of the room.

Edited by harrysnapperorgans (log)
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It's hard to move into a house in this shape and then proceed to blow out a wall to accommodate a Rational Combi or Cadco. The cost, the design issues.... It makes the head spin.

You know, we have this "three seasons room" just off the kitchen. And those professional items are nearly all free-standing.....

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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  • 2 weeks later...

I don't know whether you've sorted out the logistics of your kitchen lighting issues by now, but if you haven't, I venture to suggest that your best bet is going to be lighting mounted below eye level (e.g. mounted to the underside of one or more cabinets, even though I know this is something you prefer to avoid), since you do demand utility of your kitchen.

I've moved more times than I'm able to count, have cooked in over a dozen different kitchens, and one thing I can say for sure: Having the fixtures installed so light falls directly on what you are working – so your head and upper body don't block the light – is probably worth the sacrifice of 100% strict period accuracy. Besides, if you get small halogens (ones with pivoting heads, or gooseneck models, sort of like these), they can be pretty much tucked out of sight, and you can use whatever attractive period fixtures you prefer for the rest of the room/time.

We have a part-vintage 1953 kitchen in our flat (floors, tile walls, and cabinets are original, but the counter was raised and uglified by previous owners, and we installed a Gaggenau oven and stovetop, since the originals units were long gone), and haven't sorted the lighting in it, but it looks like we're going to end up with low-mounted track lighting over the counter (no cabinets on that side of the kitchen, so under-cabinet lighting is not an option for us). We looked at some more period-appropriate options, since we liked what remains of the original kitchen, but the cost was insane (prices run high in Denmark, even without the 25% sales tax), and I really didn't want to go back to overhead lighting, since our last place pretty much converted me to the low-mounted alternative.

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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  • 4 months later...

So I think we're heading into a new project, namely, pulling up these asbestos tiles:

4377357424_286e04be40_o.jpg

"Pulling up" is a bit of an overstatement; "allowing them to finish popping off the floor in toto" is more accurate. Because the flooring is all standard size, we think that this is a pretty straightforward fix.

So, two thoughts. Any ideas on where one can get truly excellent tiles in a midcentury style? And does anyone want to disabuse me of the naive notion that it's a "pretty straightforward fix"?

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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If it were me, and I wanted a tile floor that was consistent with the original decor, I'd go with real linoleum. There's a few companies that still make it (Armstrong, Forbo, Johnsonite) in various colors and styles.

"I think it's a matter of principle that one should always try to avoid eating one's friends."--Doctor Dolittle

blog: The Institute for Impure Science

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Yes, that was the plan -- and I was one of those who thought linoleum and vinyl were the same for years. That's wrong.

"It's amazing," says Frank O'Neill, publisher of Floor Focus magazine. "Even dealers you'd think would know better use vinyl and linoleum interchangeably." In truth, the two couldn't be more different. Where vinyl flooring is a synthetic product made of chlorinated petrochemicals, linoleum is produced from all-natural ingredients. Where vinyl will melt if a lighted match or cigarette lands on it, linoleum can't. And where most vinyl patterns are printed into the surface, linoleum's colors go all the way through. "As linoleum wears, different layers of color are gradually revealed," says Duo Dickinson, an architect in Madison, Connecticut, who has also used the material on backsplashes and countertops. "It can be quite beautiful." Durability is another of linoleum's attributes; some floors have survived 30 to 40 years in tough commercial environments. "It seems to last forever," Dickinson says.

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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"pulling up asbestos." How safe is that? In our buildings, we are renovating our hallways. The old tiles were non-friable asbestos, and the effort to remove them safely is staggering, to say the least.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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We're old hands at that, Mitch, believe me: the old house had both linoleum and lead issues. But these tiles, literally, are popping off the floor right now bc the adhesive has hardened to brittle and we've been walking on it. We know how to play it safe, but these are probably going to be pretty easy to get up.

Question: marmoleum?

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I remember jgarner's kitchen remodel thread and she seemed very pleased with the marmoleum they used. I think it would be a great choice for your mid-century kitchen.

"The main thing to remember about Italian food is that when you put your groceries in the car, the quality of your dinner has already been decided." – Mario Batali
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My understanding is that asbestos fully enveloped in a solid mass poses wayyy less hazard than loose fibers from, say, asbestos insulation used around furnaces in the past. It's the ability of loose fibers to be inhaled and their minute size that combine to create danger to the lungs. Inhalation is the only health issue. Asbestos tiles are benign as long as the fibers are contained within the tile.

Of course, in the unlikely event that a material is so degraded that fibers are being released then it's time to consult with specialists. But with old flooring where the tiles are intact and only pulling up from the underlayment, you're fine. Just don't release the fibers into the air, i.e. do not run power saws etc. through them. Dispose of them responsibly. You'll be fine.

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My understanding is that asbestos fully enveloped in a solid mass poses wayyy less hazard than loose fibers from, say, asbestos insulation used around furnaces in the past. It's the ability of loose fibers to be inhaled and their minute size that combine to create danger to the lungs. Inhalation is the only health issue. Asbestos tiles are benign as long as the fibers are contained within the tile.

That's my understanding as well. We had asbestos shingles on the previous house and had to learn the whole drill: damage, removal, disposal.

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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