ANATEVKA GIRL ON ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN: Where My Heart Is

BY VALERIE BELDEN WILDER  I  West Valley City, Utah  I  Thursday, 6 October 2016

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The kitchen is the heart of the home.

I’m so pleased to announce I’m relocating My Copper Kitchen to a beautiful RED kitchen! A kitchen with a red Formica counter and a vintage stainless steel cooktop and matching wall oven. A kitchen with cheerful red scalloped valances over two windows which overlook a wide expanse of green lawn, with deer who visit, a giant forsythia bush, a driveway with bunnies who frolic, and cars that crunch up the gravel, bringing friends!

It’s been a long time since I’ve had a kitchen which wasn’t cookie-cutter-boring, beige-and-white, built in the bland 90s, absolutely devoid of any personality. In fact, three apartments in a row, I had the exact same sheet linoleum, off white with beige diamonds. What are the odds of that? It must have been cheap, cheap, cheap. So, it’ll be nice to have a kitchen with some built-in personality.

I’m looking forward to moving into my new red kitchen, decorating and remodeling. There will be much to do.

I have an absolute ton of dishes and there’s not a lot of cupboards. There’s not a big counter either. It’s an old house in the country, and I’ll need to figure out how to store food so the little critters don’t get into it. Where will I put the microwave without ruining the vintage look? And so on and so on…

There are some puzzling things about the kitchen. The dark brown ceramic sink isn’t original to the kitchen, and neither is the cabinetry housing it, nor is the white-with-gold-fleck Formica counter on either side of the sink. No one seems to remember how it got this way, even though my family has owned the house for nearly 50 years, since I was a six-month-old baby.

I know my father must have moved that dark brown sink there, because I’m positive it came from Anatevka, the old center hall Colonial which used to be next door, and I have the photos to prove it.

I hope someday, after I’m settled, I can put in a white ceramic sink like the one downstairs, some red Formica like the rest of the counters, and silver cabinet handles to match the other cupboards. Oh! And I’m convinced the sink’s backsplash should be silver. Think 50s diner!

Then, there’s the matter of flooring. Growing up, I remember it was square linoleum tiles, some green, some blue, with no method to the madness. I always thought it was a bit strange, what with the red valances and countertop, but since there are some non-matching things going on in the downstairs kitchen, too, I chalked it up to the original owners not having a real flair for design, or maybe not a lot of money during the throes of the Great Depression, when the house was built. 1930, to be exact.

Now, since the adjacent bathroom has been remodeled and shifted a few feet towards the west, the tile is irrevocably marred and has been covered up with blue low-pile carpet. Carpet in a kitchen? Not my favorite idea.

But this past summer, when I was visiting, I solved the mystery, the mystery of the original kitchen flooring!

I was digging around under the sink, looking for a bucket. That’s when I made an amazing discovery and started acting like a lunatic!

It. Was. Red.

Under the sink was the original linoleum tile, and it was red, red and beige! I got super excited when I saw it, since I’d always known the blue and green tile just wasn’t right. Suddenly, things started to make sense and seem cohesive. I grabbed a sponge, wiped down the small area under the sink cabinet, and started taking pictures. It makes me so happy to know the floor was originally red.

In this new old kitchen, there will be just enough space between the two windows for my little table for two, the one I bought at Best and first had in the Clark Apartment. The matching chairs are broken and gone, a shameful story, but I’m a fan of mix-and-match and unexpected combinations, anyways. I’ll either get some stools which will slide under the table, or use the cute little fold-up Chippendale-inspired chairs I got at a yard sale this past summer for $1.25 each. Yup, you heard me right, $1.25!

Over the table, between the windows, there’s a small shelf with silver trim and fab pink Formica, and I’m debating which cute knickknacks to display, as the focal point of the kitchen. I have an old flour sifter with a pattern of red tulips, some new-ish Jonathan Adler red tulip bookends to hold my vintage cookbooks, a red Pennsylvania Dutch tin, and a red clock. Hmmm, we’ll see what works when I get there…

It’s going to be such a fun journey, fixing up the red kitchen and making it the heart of my new home. Would you like to tag along?