How I Fixed Up My 1950s Refrigerator

A couple of months ago I found a busted down vintage GE refrigerator freezer combination with original ice tray online for about $100. The owner told me it didn’t work but that it should be an easy fix, so I took the risk and drove a couple of hours to San Diego to pick it up. It was in muchhhh filthier condition than the pictures lead on, and had some old wires sticking out of the back, but I figured I’d already invested the time and money to rent a pickup truck and drive out, I might as well just lug it home and see if I could bring it back to life. It’s hard to find the right sized vintage appliances to fit apartment kitchens, and this one was the PERFECT size for mine so I didn’t want to give up. I should note I also drove to Newport Beach, another couple of hours from San Diego, on the same day to pick up a 1950s gas stove that didn’t end up fitting my kitchen. More on that later, but I was extra determined to make the fridge work after that defeat.

Here’s what I was working with.

1950s GE refrigerator Refurb before

Rust, scratches, dirt, grime, and slightly corroded chrome. Not terrible.

But inside was much worse. Rust, mildew, a weird smell, so much grime. What did I get myself into?

1950s refrigerator before

Since this was going to be the place I stored our food I wanted to be cautious about what I used to clean the inside. I didn’t want to use anything that would leave a lingering chemical smell or residue so I turned to the following products and methods, and used A LOT of elbow grease.

First, I removed all of the shelves and drawers and soaked them in my sink and scrubbed the hell out of them. Then I did a whole general scrub down with Simply Green and let it air out with the doors open. I did this a total of four or five times until it was clean enough to move on to the rust and mildew.

For the mildew and rust I used a mixture of good old baking soda and vinegar, a Scrub Daddy sponge, and a toothbrush. The gaskets were still supple and the seal on the doors were good (test with a sheet of paper, if it slides out get new gaskets), so I just I applied the baking soda and vinegar paste and scrubbed over and over until the mildew was completely gone. Some of the rust spots corroded the paint, but I was able to use extra-fine sandpaper to buff it smooth and applied appliance touchup paint over the smaller chipped spots as needed. On the bottom the rust was too extreme so I used a couple of coats of white automotive spray paint. I wouldn’t recommend painting the whole thing that way, but it worked for this small part.

1950s refrigerator Refurb After inside

Now onto the outside! The original paint was mostly in ok condition, so I just wanted to fill in a couple of scratches and bring some lustre and shine back to it. For this I used automotive detailing supplies. I applied several layers of a buffing cream and car wax with an electric orbital buffer. Just as you would detail an old car. I used a chrome polish and superfine steel wool to bring as much shine to the chrome as possible. 1950s Refrigerator Refurb After

And there it is! The only thing was it still had a lingering smell. Not a horrible smell, just that general old freezer smell. The only thing that worked was these miracle Arm and Hammer Fridge-n-Freezer Packs. They’re super cheap so we replaced them every couple days until the smell was completely gone. That took about a week and now we replace it as needed.

The last thing I needed to tackle was the mechanics. After all of that cleaning the damn thing didn’t work. I consulted a few vintage message boards, and spoke to a repair shop, and was confident it just needed a new relay. The problem is the replacement relay for this model is long gone so I had to rewire it with a new universal relay. This was way easier than it sounds, you literally just follow the directions on the package. Definitely consult with a repair shop or the manufacturer if you have questions though.

As soon as I plugged it in the compressor kicked on and I jumped up and down and ran around in circles because WOW WHAT A PAY OFF! IT WORKS!

I know old refrigerators have a reputation of being energy suckers, but our bill and usage hasn’t gone up at all compared to our modern fridge. From my understanding the high energy consumption comes from older models that incorporate an automatic defrost system. This model needs to be defrosted every couple of months, but I simply use a blow dryer and old towel and it takes me about 15 minutes. Another issue of concern for some people is size. It is smaller inside than a modern refrigerator, but we don’t store very much food at once, so that hasn’t been a problem for us.

Here it is living happily in our kitchen! Perfect fit. I love it.

1950s GE refrigerator in modernized kitchen.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

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Our Pink, Gold, and Green Atomic Meets Glam Inspired Bedroom Reveal

I finaallllyyyy get to show you guys our bedroom before and after reveal! Yay!

I didn’t think it would turn out to be my favorite room in our apartment, but I think it totally is. I was inspired by mid-century atomic and glam styles, and used green, pinks, and lots of gold elements as my palette.

Here’s what it looked like before:

1960s bedroom before1960s bedroom vanity (before)

Here’s after!

Mid-century Bedroom with bed from Joybird.jpgPutting a bed in front of a window like this can look a little awkward, so the first thing I did was hung wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling shimmery coral-pink curtains and sheers from Target to frame the bed and disguise the window, while still letting tons of light in.

Vintage vanity with sputnik light from Lucent Light ShopI used a fabric in a similar color to do a wall treatment in the vanity nook. I changed the built-in’s hardware to a vintage 1950/60s set that I found on Etsy and also changed the light to a beautiful brass Sputnik from Lucent Lightshop. The vanity chair is from Nate Berkus for Target. Vintage Pink and gold Bedroom

Gold geometric wallpaper from Tempaper.jpgI installed a beautiful metallic gold and white wallpaper from Tempaper (the same brand I used in my bathroom)! It’s so easy to work with and adds a lot of shine and pattern to the room, but isn’t overwhelming.Mid-century lampLamps are a vintage find from Etsy! Shades are from the Project 62 line at Target. Mid-century style bedOur bed frame is from Joybird. You know I love me some Joybird. DIY Renter Friendly Closet Idea.jpgWe had our tv mounted in front of the bed for our viewing pleasure. To jazz up the boring closet doors I used metallic gold tape and changed the knobs out to starburst ones from Etsy. The oval starburst mirror is also from Joybird.

And there it is! Can’t wait to show you more rooms soon.

Make sure you’re following on Instagram and search the hashtag #Melodramaville to see more!

 

How to Restore Vintage Brass Fixtures

Have you ever found a vintage piece and hesitated to buy it because the brass or metal looks scratched, discolored, or tarnished? We all have! But don’t hesitate. Cleaning vintage metals is actually fairly easy, and totally worth it. In fact, you can save a lot of money by buying the more junky pieces and restoring them yourself at home.

I’ve seen some people just take a can of spray paint to pieces, and that’s fine if your metal is beyond repair but you still cant live without it, but most of the time that isn’t the case. Besides, you’ll never get a true shine like you would with real metal. Instead of reaching for the spray paint, reach for a rag and some polish and see what you reveal.

I got this set of 50s drawer pulls on Etsy for a really great price. At first glance they’re junk, but if you’ve ever restored metals you’d see the treasure underneath that tarnish and “scratches” immediately.

IMG_0200

What you need is a metal polish product, like Brasso, and an old rag or two. Oh and some gloves.

How to Restore Vintage Brass Drawer PullsCover the brass in metal polish and rub into the metal.

How to Restore Vintage Brass Drawer PullsThen use a soft cloth to buff and massage the metal, you’ll notice black and green residue coming off on your cloth. That’s the tarnish! Keep going.How to Restore Vintage Brass Drawer PullsKeep polishing until there is no more residue coming off on to your cloth and the metal is sparkling new. Reapply more product if needed. This can take awhile depending on how tarnished your pieces are, but be patient.

How to Restore Vintage Brass Drawer PullsOnce all the tarnish is removed, give it a nice little polish with a clean cloth to remove any remaining residue or product.

How to Restore Vintage Brass Drawer PullsTada!! Good as new. Now put down the paint and pick up the polish!

Mid-Century Inspired Refrigerator Makeover with Peel & Stick Wallpaper

The only thing that really bothered me about my new kitchen was the way the refrigerator looked in the space.

Use peel and stick wallpaper to cover a refrigerator (before) (2)

Now don’t get me wrong it’s a nice brand new refrigerator, but the way the side of it created a big black rectangle in in the middle of everything bothered me.

I bought a peel and stick wallpaper a couple of years ago with the intention of covering my old refrigerator, but never got around to it. Luckily I found the paper when I was unpacking and since I’m still renting I decided to put it to use!Use peel and stick wallpaper to cover a refrigerator

I like the shape of the refrigerator door and I don’t mind the stainless, so I decided to only apply the wall paper to the sides and top to cover all the black. I was also inspired by the two-toned refrigerators that were popular back in the day.

The paper I used is a light minty blue with a metallic silver cross-hatch pattern. It looks very vintage to me and reminds me of mid-century upholstery fabric. I knew it would work perfectly for what I wanted to attempt.

All I had to do was pull out the refrigerator and apply the peel and stick the paper, carefully matching the seams and making sure to smooth out any air bubbles. This type of paper is very easy to work with and made the job extremely simple.Use peel and stick wallpaper to cover a refrigerator (before) (3)Use peel and stick wallpaper to cover a refrigerator (1)

To finish off the edges I used a thin washi tape in the same color and similar pattern. This gave it a more finished look and helped make sure all of my edges were properly secured.Use peel and stick wallpaper to cover a refrigerator 1.jpg

Use peel and stick wallpaper to cover a refrigerator 3.jpgWhat an improvement! The refrigerator no longer stands out like a sore thumb and adds a nice subtle color and more retro flair to the space. It also gives it a nice smooth texture which makes it way easier to clean than the bumpy texture that it had before. I love it!Use peel and stick wallpaper to cover a refrigerator 2.jpg

Now I’m going to use a different peel and stick wallpaper to cover that back wall as well. Stay tuned!

 

Home Decor: Mid-Century Design Inspo from Chairish

Whenever I’m thinking about a new design concept for a room, I always make an inspiration board. I go online and save images of pieces I like, and then I see how I can put them together in a room. I do this either by using Pinterest or collage tools like Polyvore. Once I have an initial concept, I can go back and see where my favorite items are from, or I can keep a look out for similar pieces at thrift stores and flea markets.

One of my new favorite decor websites is Chairish. It’s a site where you can buy and sell all kinds of furniture and decor. They have a huge selection of unique vintage and mid-century modern items, from sofas to barware. This makes it easy to go through and pick and piece your favorite items. Then you can mix and match and see what sticks. Here are a few room concepts that I’ve been playing around with.

Hollywood Regency Midcentury Style – This is my kind of style. Mixing clean modern lines with opulent pieces is my favorite. Pops of color with gold, always! I’d put a fur rug down under that amazing table and immediately invite my friends over for cocktails and fondue.

Midcentury inspired living roomEntry Way Decor – Entry ways need to have welcoming style and function. It’s also the first impression you get when entering your home. Here you see I added good storage with this green cabinet, a nice lamp for light, a comfortable chair to sit and put shoes on, and a lucite coat hanger.

Entry Way

Colorful Eclectic Living Room – With a great rug and some cool tchotchkes to pull it together, this would make a super fun and comfortable room to hang out in. Mis-matching color is the perfect way to add a lot of style in a small room and on a small budget. This color palette has super retro vibes.

Colorful Apartment

All of these items are available from Chairish. I want them allllll, especially those green chairs. See! Told you they have some good stuff. Hope this helps with your vision board needs like it has with mine!

Home Decor: Spray Paint Makes A Big Difference

DIY Lamp Makeover - Spray paint makes a huge difference!

These made-over lamps are my new favorite things.

I was shopping for lamps for my living room and couldn’t find anything in the right size or price. This was around the time I decided to get a new sofa and was on a serious budget to finish off the rest of the room. I desperately needed end tables and lamps to frame said sofa, and didn’t want to go broke over it, so I was determined to find something great for as little investment as possible. I shopped and shopped, until I stumbled into a random Ross and checked out their home decor section. Ross is pretty awesome for budget pieces and it’s a great place to find things to fix up or hack.

I found lamps. Well, the size and the $15 price tag were right, and I liked the artichoke shape, but the finish and the shade were a big NO for me. Easy fix though! I bought them, and then stopped at the hardware store for a couple of cans of gloss white spray paint. I also snagged new shades at Ross for $4.

$15 Lamps from Ross - Before and After - What a difference spray paint makes!

Look at what a difference a little spray paint made. They’re so chic now. Totally Jonathan Adler or something, and they go with my living room PERFECTLY. I don’t think I could have found anything more perfect, especially for under $20 per lamp.

My #1 budget decorating tip is to take a look at what you do like and try to figure out how to change what you don’t like. It can be as easy as a can of spray paint.

Quick Christmas Wrapping Ideas and Tutorial

It’s Christmas Eve Eve! You’re probably doing last minute shopping and wrapping your gifts as fast as you can. Since I’m doing the same, I figured I’d put up this last minute wrapping tutorial and idea. I kept it simple this year with vintage looking paper from Rifle Paper Co., twine, and some cute holly toppers I made with left over felt from my felt tree tutorial.

Rifle Paper Co has these great wrapping paper sheets that I adore. They’re heavy duty and the perfect size for medium sized packages.

Rifle Paper Co.

I like to use only 3 pieces of tape (1 on bottom, 1 on each side) for a perfectly wrapped package that is easy to open. Everyone asks how I  wrap so neatly. Well, here’s how I do it.

WrappingTutorialOne piece of tape on the bottom to hold the paper close. Then I fold the sides in. Then fold the flaps down and tape closed. If your package is flatter just fold the pointy parts in like so.

WrappingI used twine to embellish with a simple bow.

wrapping tutorialFor a little something extra I used left over felt to make holly. I just used pinking sheers to cut leaf shapes and red felt balls. Glued them together with hot glue and stuck them to my packages with double sided tape.

DIY felt Christmas holly

Christmas Wrapping

Wrapping Tutorial with DIY Holly topperAlright, guys. This HOHOHO is ready for Christmas!