Renovation Creates a Cool, Retro 1950’s Kitchen

 

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Democrat & Chronicle: Retro Kitchen in Pittsford

Laurie Hunt leads a colorful life.

As a fiber artist with a musical flair, she enjoys being surrounded by bold colors and styles in her family’s Cape Cod­style home built in 1956. When it came time to remodel the kitchen, she decided to go bold, using bright cherry red with a vintage style that evokes cool, retro chic.

Hunt was inspired by the retro kitchens she saw on houzz.com (http://www.houzz.com/)and thought the 1950s look would complement the architectural era of her Pittsford home. She liked the Big

Chill line of retro appliances for its authenticity and drove to Saratoga Springs with her husband, Laurence Sugarman, to the nearest dealer to get an up­close look at the line.

“Once we committed to the retro appliances in this screaming red, we had the challenge of figuring out how to create a kitchen that would complement them,” Hunt says.

Hunt readily admits that she is a renovator at heart, having grown up in the family business: Hunt’s Hardware. But this level of kitchen renovation was a huge project not meant for the casual DIY enthusiast.

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So she worked with Norbut Renovations on the design of the kitchen to enhance its function. The original kitchen was not only dated, but it was not functional for Sugarman, who loves to cook and host parties, Hunt says. Since flow and function were important to them, a center island was designed with a leather granite countertop.

Hunt had wanted tile for a countertop but decided it would be too much work to clean. Tiles became part of the backsplash design. Hunt fell in love with funky bubble tiles from Mercury Mosaics and incorporated them as wall art.

With the eye of an artist, Hunt carefully selected colors that would work well with the red appliances, selecting muted yellow for the cabinetry and green for the walls. The result is a new twist on an old­fashioned look. No 1950s kitchen ever possessed such an eclectic mix of colors. The big splurge for Hunt was the refrigerator at $5,500. It was something she had eyed for a while. To save money, she purchased just the oven doors from the Big Chill line and had them installed over a less ­expensive brand. Renovations started in early November and took six weeks.

“My husband and I lived like campers,” Hunt jokes. The retro look is very much in vogue in home design. But Hunt combined her own artistic touches to make the vintage style her own. There are ways to incorporate the retro look without going overboard, says Ric Thomann, designer and owner of Webster Interiors. Contrasting retro with classic design delivers a great combination that adds flair to classic design, and framed prints are an easy way to add a little retro splash to any room.

Some popular artwork for the retro look include vintage prints depicting rotary dial telephones, manual typewriters and vintage cola bottles that pair easily with the existing furniture in a given room, Thomann says. He also likes to use accessory items such as toys from the past such as large jacks, dice and board ­game accessories that conjure memories from a simpler time.

“The fun part of this look is that, if your furnishings and accessory items are chosen wisely, you can achieve a look all your own, and the style can live on for years to come,” Thomann says. Hunt is enjoying her new kitchen, especially the nook where she reads and looks out the window. And the better use of space allows her husband to indulge in his passion for baking bread. “It’s a comfortable space, just meant to be right for us,” Hunt says.