Retro Gets a Revival in a Diner-Inspired Basement Remodel

In 1913, Jerry Mahoney established the first stationary diner in New Jersey. Similar to the horse-pulled lunch wagon (which the diner ultimately replaced), the idea was to offer a place for “your average Joe” to get a reasonably priced meal. By the 1920s, the term “diner” had become a well-known part of popular culture and you could find plenty of Americans seated on a colorful stool at a long counter or in a cozy booth enjoying a casual and filling meal.

In the 1930s, many diners began to feature aerodynamic shapes, curved silhouettes and bright chrome accents. These design elements were hallmarks of Art Deco’s “Streamline Moderne” style, which was inspired by the streamlined trains that were crisscrossing the country at the time.

Rosebud Diner – Somerville, MA

As 1950s car culture gained prominence, the diner lifestyle became even more widespread. Diners not only provided a convenient place where people traveling for work and recreation could recharge and get a quick and cheap bite to eat, but their ‘no fuss,’ laid back atmosphere made them an appealing gathering spot.

Fast forward 60 years or so and imagine how fun it would be to create your very own diner in your home. Well, Glenda Ervin and her husband did just that in their basement.

Glenda Ervin is a co-owner of Lehman’s, a store that was founded in 1955 by her father, Jay Lehman, to provide hardware for the Amish community. Located in Kidron, Ohio – in the heart of Amish country – the store has grown significantly over the years and now sells everything from old-fashioned treats and sodas to practical, non-electric goods that help people live a simpler life. In fact, it’s been voted “Ohio’s #1 Destination in the Amish Country” for three years in a row.

Lehman’s original storefront – Kidron, Ohio

The Ervin’s have always had a fondness for simpler times. For a number of years, they have been regularly hosting 50’s themed events – complete with costume contests – at the store. Says Glenda, “We’ve always enjoyed our 50s parties and our store carries so many authentically retro products. So we thought, ‘Why not update our basement and create an authentic diner?’ That way, we could enjoy the 50s and all of its nostalgia at home!”

Ervin basement – before

The Ervin’s decided to base their diner design on the year 1955, the year Lehman’s was founded. However, that made it challenging to find decor items specific to the time period. Notes Glenda, “My husband’s insistence on being authentic to 1955 limited our choices. There were so many cute diner decorations available, but it if wasn’t from the right era, we couldn’t use it.”

Ervin basement – after

The couple’s persistence paid off and they were able to adorn the diner with the perfect mix of mid-1950s style. “We were able to find many unique pieces during our travels,” says Glenda.

The star of the space is a Candy Red Northstar retro fridge from Elmira Stove Works. “The fridge looks so authentic and is so dramatic,” comments Glenda. “We knew the color scheme was going to be red, black and white, so the red refrigerator fit perfectly as an accent piece and really brings the space together. We love the chrome accents and bright, cheerful color.”

The diner also comes complete with a cotton candy machine, a bubble gum machine and a popcorn machine.

Glenda’s husband was a contractor who remodeled homes for a living and did all of the work in his spare time, completing the remodel in just under four months.

Says Glenda, “Not only is the diner theme nostalgic, but it is also a great conversation starter and creates a super fun place to entertain. We have hosted several 50s parties in the space, complete with costume contests! I actually own not one, but two, Poodle Skirts. Adds Glenda, “When guests visit for the first time, all of them have the same reaction, ‘Oh, how fun!’”

The Ervins couldn’t be happier with their retro diner. “At Lehman’s, we stand for a simpler life, which we believe is more fulfilling, more sustainable and more honest. It’s about relationships with companions, community and family. The diner embodies that philosophy and we love it!”

Want to create your own retro-inspired space? Learn more about Northstar retro appliances.

Bell Bottoms, Broncos & the Brady Bunch – a nostalgic trip into the past

No matter how tech-driven world our world becomes, our love for all things nostalgic continues to grow… and in a big way.

This is even more true now during the pandemic when most of us are unsure just exactly how that future will shape up. Feeling less anchored than usual, people are seeking a sense of comfort and a connection with simpler times. And, while we could choose any number of decades that bring back “the good old days,” we’re thought we’d take a moment to explore the 70s. In fact, one of the most popular trends at the moment is a return to the iconic looks of the 1970s. Bell-bottoms are making a(nother) comeback along with far out floral prints that evoke “flower power” and the Disco Decade.

Just take #TBT or “Throwback Thursday,” which has been one of the most widely used hashtags on social media since its creation in 2011. Typically used to share happy memories from the past, it serves as a great way for people to reminisce with their friends and family. We find comfort in being able to look back to bygone eras to draw inspiration and look for ideas that will help us to enjoy a better future.  

In mid-July, Ford Motor Company re-released its legendary Bronco, which will be available as early as June 2021 to the 3,500 consumers who were lucky enough to reserve the first vehicles off the assembly line. As Ford looks to further meet the growing demand for stylish, workhorse SUVs, the brand has equipped this throwback with the most advanced smart technology. Car enthusiasts can hardly wait to get their hands on the thoroughly updated version of a what has become a cult classic.

Image: S Alan
Image: OFL

Our blast from the past doesn’t end with cars and clothes. One cannot talk about the 70s without thinking about the television family that was synonymous with the era – The Brady Bunch. Thanks to HGTV, we got to see late last year how the fictional Brady home has fared over the years with a front row seat at the much anticipated Brady Bunch House Makeover

A spin-off show featuring “Jan Brady” (actress Eve Plumb) aired at the end of last year. Staying true to the decor of the period, the home featured a Northstar retro fridge and range in Buttercup Yellow – it was definitely like taking a step back in time. We think Marsha would be yellow with envy… “Jan, Jan, Jan!”.

But you don’t have to be a fan of the 70s to love colorful retro appliances. Our Northstar line brings vintage style, the perfect pop of color and a welcome touch of nostalgia to any kitchen. Buttercup Yellow not your thing? No worries at all – choose from seven other standard colors or opt for more than 1,200 custom colors.

Eve Plumb (“Jan Brady” of The Brady Bunch) standing next to her Northstar appliances

Pretty groovy, if we do say so ourselves!

When it comes to kitchen design, take it personally

It’s funny how people always seem to crave styles from the past – kitchens are no exception. People have been remodeling their kitchens for decades, and some of the most popular themed choices are 1950s retro as well as turn-of-the-century vintage. These themes have become an important staple in interior design. However, they’re more than simply retro or antique – they’re an expression of one’s unique personality and style.

During the past ten years, kitchen styles have expanded to encompass a multitude of design preferences: from subtle and understated to bold and colorful. Whatever the style, retro and antique style appliances won’t be pigeon-holed. In fact, these versatile appliances lend themselves to just about any kitchen design style that can be envisioned. Following are some of our favorite examples.

Traditional Style: A traditional kitchen offers a unique yet significant benefit – it’s timeless. In this kitchen style, the design relies upon classic elements that have withstood the test of time. The design typically incorporates lots of interesting details, such as arches, raised-panel cabinet fronts, decorative moldings and antique finishes. The kitchen above artfully combines an 1890’s inspired range paired with brickwork, wood paneling and flooring, a dramatic Tiffany light fixture, along with vintage style accessories and artwork to create a functional and distinctive space.

Transitional Style: The transitional kitchen style is defined by a mix of traditional and contemporary styles, with the use of eclectic additions to round out the design. Think a new take on an old classic, or a younger, more energetic version of traditional design. The retro style appliances in Mint Green are perfectly in place in this transitional kitchen, providing an unexpected and refreshing pop of color that complements the rustic-themed decor. Clean-lined countertops, retro style bar stools and weathered elements all come together in harmony to create a statement-making space.

Coastal Style: The coastal kitchen style takes us back psychologically to a quieter, safer time, serving up thoughts of the seaside and relaxation. While incorporating an antique style appliance isn’t the first thing that typically comes to mind when designing a coastal/nautical-themed kitchen, this approach works surprisingly well in the kitchen above. The juxtaposition of an 1890’s inspired range in bold Cayenne Pepper Red against the soft cream cabinetry provides a dramatic counterpoint and introduces a welcoming, whimsical feel.

Contemporary Style: Today’s contemporary kitchens utilize crisp, clean-lined surfaces, understated embellishments, unfussy fixtures and hardware, and lots of natural light to create a fresh, minimalist look that is soothing in its simplicity. Don’t let the streamlined appearance fool you though. A contemporary kitchen can be made just as warm and inviting as other kitchen styles through the introduction of color – witness how the blue subway tile backsplash and retro style fridge in Tropical Blue bring this cheerful kitchen to life.

Ready to add retro or antique elements to your kitchen to create your own signature design style? Get inspired by building your dream kitchen with Elmira’s Northstar and Antique appliance visualizers!

Bring On the Drama – 4 All-Star Kitchens in Film

The biggest night in film is always full of fun and fanfare! The 2018 Oscar nominees and winners featured a diverse selection of movies. In honor of the occasion, we thought we’d take a look back at previous nominees to count down a few of the best kitchens in film. From period dramas to adaptations of literary classics, here are some kitchen designs worthy of any home.

Ratatouille (2007)

There’s nothing like fine dining in France. Ratatouille follows young rat Remy, who has a gifted sense of taste and smell, on the pursuit of his lifelong dream – becoming a chef in Paris. Through a series of events, Remy ends up in the kitchen of Gusteau’s restaurant. A lot of work and detail went into bringing this restaurant kitchen to life for the big screen. The use of black with brass accents, tiled floor and copper pots created the perfect French kitchen, making it easy to see why this Pixar standout went on to win Best Animated Feature.

Julie & Julia (2009)

From a fictional chef to a real-life professional chef: in the film Julie & Julia, Julie Powell (Amy Adams) decides to add some joy to her life by cooking over the course of one year every recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking (1961) by Julia Child (Meryl Streep). The film is interwoven with flashbacks to Julia Child’s time in Paris in the 1950s, and the set was meticulously recreated based on pictures of her original kitchen. Meryl Streep garnered a Best Actress nod that year, but was edged out by Sandra Bullock for her performance as Leigh Anne Tuohy in The Blind Side.

The Help (2011)

Based on the best-selling book of the same name, The Help takes moviegoers on a journey through Mississippi in the 1960s. The retro style and pale hues of Skeeter Phelan’s (Emma Stone) childhood home would be perfectly complemented by mint green Northstar appliances. All of the elements – from the checkered vinyl floor to the Formica-and-chrome table complete with cherry red seating – provide the quintessential mid-century southern style needed to make this film pop. The critically-acclaimed movie was nominated for Best Picture, but lost out to The Artist.

The Great Gatsby (2013)

This film adaptation of the F. Scott Fitzgerald literary classic gave us a taste of the glitz and glam of the 1920s. The film, directed by Baz Luhrmann, included all of the elements of the roaring 20s yet still felt very modern. The movie used 42 individual sets, created both on location and on soundstages. It took the production team 14 weeks just to build, paint and decorate Gatsby’s mansion, which called for a grand ballroom, library, master bedroom, entrance hall, and terrace, as well as a garden. The meticulous attention to detail paid off, as the film earned an Oscar for Best Production Design.

Did your Oscar picks win this year? What was your favorite film from this list, or is there another film that you think had a great kitchen set?

Elmira Stove Works Goes Gray During National Kitchen & Bath Month

Design history has shown gray to be synonymous with cold, sterile, boring environments. Within recent years, the color gray’s reputation has made a complete turnaround in the realm of home design. Neutral gray can be seen in every room of the home, indoors and out, having been transformed from blasé to stunning and versatile, when accessorized appropriately.

In the spirit of October being National Kitchen & Bath month, Elmira Stove Works has on-trend gray products available for upcoming remodel and new construction projects.

Quicksilver and white

The Quicksilver finish pays the role of a subtle neutral in this airy kitchen.

Whether gray is the primary color or secondary accent, it can make a major impact. Our Northstar collection has various kitchen appliances available in nine standard colors, including the “stain-least” Quicksilver finish, as well as over 200 distinctive custom colors that can serve as complementary shades to a gray space. No matter the product, Elmira delivers on style, function and trend.

pink and slate

The Northstar collection in Flamingo Pink is the perfect accent color for the slate gray cabinetry. 

For more information about our kitchen appliances, visit www.elmirastoveworks.com.

 

Retro Kitchen Staples Making a 21st Century Comeback!

Retro kitchens and home decor trends are resurfacing in modern home design! [Although we know that they never really left]. Here are a few classic “comeback kids” of decades past. Which would you consider for your home?

Wood Paneling and Wallpaper

Wood paneling has been the nightmare of many homeowners and homebuyers. However, modern wood paneling has put an entirely new, contemporary spin on the trend. The simple switch from vertical to horizontal installation has made all the difference!

Rotary Phones

Remember your grandmother’s house phone with the seemingly endless, coiledphone cord? For that old sense of nostalgia, opt for a touch-tone, rotary-style phone for the kitchen. Not interested in the cord? There are cordless options as well as more contemporary styled models.

Wicker and Rattan Furniture

Outdoor living styles tend to spur from interior trends, but in the case of wicker and rattan furniture, they crept their way inside from the back patio door! Chair designs are limitless with these classic pieces, and are available in more modern styles as well.

Brass

What used to be a kitchen eyesore is now being used for kitchen glamour! Whether you prefer the subtle antiqued look or high-shine luxury, brass has made a resounding comeback in kitchen hardware.

Non-stainless Steel Appliances

For some reason, this trend resonates with us the most! For true retro authenticity, invest in vintage-style appliances with modern components. Our Northstar collection features kitchen appliances with 1950s curves and chrome accents in nine standard colors with custom colors upon request.

#ElmiraTBT: Kitchens of the Future…in the 1950s

From “The Jetsons” cartoon and “Star Trek” movies to “The Twilight Zone” TV show and the book “1984,” each of these works display mankind’s fascination with the future. We love the hope and optimism placed in the thought of the future with flying cars, teleportation, automatic everything (which we seem to be steadily approaching), among many other innovations.

Realtor.com recently shared a lost treasure in the form of a 1950s commercial that shows exactly how people thought kitchens of the future would be designed and equipped. Some of the features are closely related to the kitchen technology of today, while others may be a bit surprising. Do you wish your kitchen had any of these capabilities? Which trait was most surprising to you? Let us know!