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.

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Featured in Atomic Ranch Magazine!

I am so excited to be featured in one of my favorite magazines everrrr — Atomic Ranch! Atomic Ranch Spring 2018The Spring 2018 issue is all about Palm Springs and I’m honored to be included with the other beautiful mid-century homes featured.

So happy to be featured in Atomic Ranch magazine!.jpg

The 11 page spread features my own photography and styling with a lovely write up by Leslie Thompson. Atomic Ranch.jpg

Be sure to pick up a copy to see all the midcentury eye candy!

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Huge thank you to Atomic Ranch for this opportunity!

Xx

 

Mid-Century Inspired Custom Dyed Dining Room Accessories| Rit’s 100 Year Celebration

If you’ve been following the blog over the years you will know that I LOOOOVE to use dye to transform home decor. I’ve dyed curtains, rugs, bedding, and even my sofa! My go-to dye has always been Rit because it’s inexpensive and easily accessible. Luckily Rit heard about what a fan I am and asked me to be one of this year’s brand ambassadors so stay tuned for more projects!

This year is special because it’s Rit’s 100 year anniversary! To celebrate we teamed up to recreate one of their adorable vintage ads from 1962. This project was especially fun for me since I’m obsessed with mid-century advertisements and even keep a collection of them for inspiration.RitDye62

I picked this one because the dining room set up reminded me a lot of my own, particularly the top right corner version. I already planned on dyeing curtains to match my artwork, so I went all-in and dyed a tablecloth and cloth napkins as well. Mid-century Inpired Dye Projects.jpg

For the vibrant pink tablecloth and curtain I used a 50/50 mix of Rose Quartz and Petal Pink, and for the orange napkins I used a 50/50 mixture of Tangerine and Golden Yellow. Custom dyed tablecloth and napkins with Rit products.jpgI just mixed those up with hot water and a little dish soap right in my sink basin. I then soaked them in Rit’s dye fixative and rinsed with cold water. Easy peasy!

Mid-century inspired dining room accessores custom dyed with Rit dyesI love how everything ties together with the artwork and my vintage Burke chair pads. Now I just need to throw a little dinner party with a Jell-o salad and few cocktails ;).

 

 

Melodrama’s 2017 Holiday Gift Guide

OK, this gift guide is totally last minute, like my shopping. My gifts always arrive late, but to me that just extends Christmas a little more and you end up with a little New Years gift. Right??? I am who I am.

If you’re like me and still need gift ideas for the hip and happening people in your life here’s a list of some of my favorites!

Cone Vase by Baigelman Glass

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Flamingo Tiki Glasses by Love and Victory

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Hand Painted Plaques from Everyday is a Holiday

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Bad Girls Throughout History by Ann ChenBadGirlsThroughoutHistory3DCover_large.jpg

Subscription to Atomic Ranch Magazinear_win17_us_c1.jpg

Betty Boomerang Subscription Box0a65c9667aff446fbb3447e4d2d45a6c_600.png

Eliot Sunglasses from Hello Holiday5D3_6177_49acd2ab-58aa-4193-893c-7f1f6e58f3da_2048x2048

 

Ban.do Rose 17 Month Agendabando-il-agenda-17_month_medium-rose_parade-02_1024x1024For the kids…

Melissa & Doug Deluxe Star Diner Restaurant

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For the pet lover…

Modern Pet Feeder by modernmews il_570xN.371960753_iki5.jpg

The splurge…

Roccbox Portable Pizza Oven

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What’s on your list? Tell me some of your favorite things in the comments below!

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.

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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!

Vintage Inspired Road Trip Outfits for Spring and Summer

Last month we went on a three week long road trip from LA to Florida and back and since I got some questions about my clothes on Instagram I thought it would be fun to share a few of the outfits I wore on the trip!

Welcome to Florida Pinup Style

Skirt: Pinup Girl Clothing; Sweater: Tatyana Clothing

I love vintage clothing from the 40s-60s and am usually dressed in some sort of vintage inspired look 99% of the time, and our road trip was no exception! Most people think sitting in a car for 6+ hours in a dress and petticoat would be uncomfortable, but the outfits I’m about to show you are from some of my favorite vintage inspired brands which have all the charm of vintage, but are made with modern fabrics and materials that make them a little more comfortable.

Pinup Girl Clothing DressThis blue dress that I wore in Arizona is from Pinup Girl Clothing and is easily one of my favorite dresses ever. It’s a cotton sateen with a slight stretch so it’s perfect for running around in hot desert weather. Find it here.Pinup Girl Clothing Tiki Vera DressThis tiki print dress from Pinup Girl Clothing is another favorite for warm weather. I love this dress because it has a stitched bust design which eliminates the need for a bra and a built-in in underskirt which adds volume without the need of a heavy petticoat. Find it herePinup Girl ClothingAnnnnd another from Pinup Girl Clothing. I wore this look on Valentine’s Day! Funnily enough I ended up matching our hotel room. This outfit is two pieces – a gathered skirt and a super comfy stretchy top. Find the skirt here and the top here!Tatyana Clothing Alika Dress in White

I didn’t get a chance to visit the real Graceland on this trip, but I did find the replica in Orlando! I wore this beautiful white Alika dress from Tatyana for the occassion! This dress has a beautiful texture and a subtle shimmer, but is so light weight and super comfortable and fun to wear. It also comes in a variety of other colors. Find it here.

Unique Vintage Novelty Skirt

I love fun novelty skirts and this one from Unique Vintage has the most adorable beauty parlor print. I paired it with a peasant top from Pinup Girl Clothing and a little cardigan. Find the top here and the skirt hereUnique Vintage Skirt and CardiganHere’s a head to toe Unique Vintage ensemble. This cropped, three quarter sleeve, cherry print cardigan has such an adorable vintage feeling I try to wear it as much as possible. I love the length of the skirt and the high waist makes it very figure flattering. It’s also light weight and has POCKETS. Definitely one of my favorite every day looks. Find the skirt here and the cardigan hereVooDooVixen Dress and CardiganThis floral sleeveless shirt dress and cardigan are both from Voodoo Vixen. The dress is made from stretch cotton that was perfect for frolicking around Savannah. I actually wore it a couple more times during the trip as well, that’s just how great it feels to wear! I paired it with an embroidered floral cardigan when I got a little chilly. You can find the dress here and the cardigan here!

 

There you go! A few of my favorite pieces from my favorite brands. Follow along on Instagram for more outfits!

Checking In: Hotel Valley Ho – Scottsdale, Arizona

Warning: This is a very image heavy post, but I just can’t help myself.

Last month we had the pleasure of staying at Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale, Arizona. It was the first stop on our three week long road trip to Florida and boy oh boy was it a good way to start off the trip.

Hotel Valley Ho Scottsdale AZ (1).jpgHotel Valley Ho has a very interesting history, so let me lay some on you real quick.

Designed by Edward L. Varney (a student of Frank Lloyd Wright), Valley Ho opened its doors in 1956 and was an impressive example of what we now know as mid-century modern architecture and design. Upon opening it quickly gained popularity with numerous celebrities and trendsetters of the time. Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood even celebrated their wedding reception at the hotel in 1957.Unfortunately, during the 70s the hotel was bought and was stripped of its design and fell into disrepair until it finally closed in 2001. Plans to demolish the structure were considered until architecture and history enthusiasts rallied to save it. Thanks to those efforts it’s now a registered historic landmark.

Hotel Valley Ho Scottsdale AZ (3)In 2002, the hotel was bought by Westroc Hotels & Resorts and underwent renovations by Allen+Philp, an architecture and interior design group from Phoenix. In 1958, Edward L. Varney proposed building a tower above the lobby, but it never came to fruition, until 2002  when it was built under Westroc’s owenership. The years long renovations were a success and stayed true to the spirit of the original style and era, and thus the Valley Ho we know today opened in 2005 on December 20th, exactly 49 years after its grand opening.

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The lobby immediately feels like a time warp with its glass walls, cast and poured concrete details, and natural stone walls. All perfect examples of mid-century desert style. Hotel Valley Ho Scottsdale AZ (6).jpg

Retro style furnishings, including large curved sectionals, shag carpet, and woven textiles surround a space-age fireplace.

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The high glass walls flood the room with light and give you a sense of being within the desert landscape.

This is a great place to grab drink by the bar, or just hang out and mingle with other guests if you want to escape your room for a bit. Rumor has it that sometimes late at night Jimmy Durante would play the piano in the lounge for the other sleepless guests.

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We had the pleasure of staying in a King Tower Suite for the night. Scottsdale's Hotel Valley Ho King Suite (3).jpg

The suite is definitely impressive and features a living space, adjacent bedroom, expansive bathroom equipped with a washer and dryer, a large patio over looking the pool, and a fully stocked kitchen. It’s decked out with mid-century modern furniture and plenty of modern conveniences.Scottsdale's Hotel Valley Ho King Suite (1)Scottsdale's Hotel Valley Ho King Suite (2)Scottsdale's Hotel Valley Ho King Suite (4)Scottsdale's Hotel Valley Ho King Suite (5)Scottsdale's Hotel Valley Ho King Suite (6)Scottsdale's Hotel Valley Ho King Suite (9)

The bedroom area has a comfortable king sized bed, chaise lounge, and a light fixture that gets honorable mention because I need it in my life ASAP.

Scottsdale's Hotel Valley Ho King Suite (10)Scottsdale's Hotel Valley Ho King Suite (12)Did I mention the hotel is also extremely dog friendly? Well it is! Pandora definitely enjoyed it.Scottsdale's Hotel Valley Ho King Suite (11)

The expansive bathroom is a little on the dim side, but is equipped with a walk in closet, laundry, double sinks, and an amaaaazing shower. Scottsdale's Hotel Valley Ho King Suite (7)Scottsdale's Hotel Valley Ho King Suite (8)

The room overlooks the main pool area and has gorgeous views of the sunset which you can watch while lounging on the patio furniture.Scottsdale's Hotel Valley Ho King Suite (13)Scottsdale's Hotel Valley Ho King Suite (14)Outside, the lush property is nothing short of break taking. Hotel Valley Ho Scottsdale AZ (9).jpg

The property features two pools – The “OHasis” Pool, a relaxing lap pool.Hotel Valley Ho Scottsdale AZ (10)And the OH Pool – the more lively hot spot with private cabanas, a hot tub, cocktail bar, and live music.Hotel Valley Ho Scottsdale AZ (11)

Can we talk about all of this color?? Serious heart eyes.Hotel Valley Ho Scottsdale AZ (12)Hotel Valley Ho Scottsdale AZ (13)

The hotel also features delicious on-site dining at Zuzu. Cafe Zuzu at the Hotel Valley Ho (1)Here you’ll find seasonal American food and stylish mid-century design including a curved diner-style counter, stone walls, globe lights, and round booths.  Cafe Zuzu at the Hotel Valley Ho (3) Cafe Zuzu at the Hotel Valley Ho (4)We had dinner there and were not left disappointed. I wish I was able to take pictures, but it was dark and I didn’t want to be the annoying person photographing all of their food. Cafe Zuzu at the Hotel Valley Ho (2)We dined in a cozy booth and I can honestly tell you that everything we ordered was great, especially the drinks. Our server, MJ, was very helpful with his suggestions and helping us navigate the menu. We started off with the roasted tomato and goat cheese casserole and a round of their seasonal cocktails. For our meal, I had the seared salmon in a tomato broth and my husband had the short ribs that came with the most amazing green chile grits. I stole them. Delish.Cafe Zuzu at the Hotel Valley Ho (5)The next morning we ate breakfast on the patio at Zuzu before hitting the road and it hit the spotttt! We shared stuffed french toast (yessss), eggs, bacon, the works. They even brought out eggies and a water bowl for the dogs. Two thumbs way up.Cafe Zuzu at the Hotel Valley Ho (6)

Hotel Valley Ho Scottsdale AZ (4)I can’t get over what a great experience we had during our stay here. From check-in to check-out everything was exceptional. One night definitely wasn’t enough and I hope to go back again soon. If you’re planning a visit to the Scottsdale/Phoenix area, I highly recommend paying a visit to Hotel Valley Ho. Especially if you’re a fan of mid-century architecture and design. It’s well worth it!

Big thanks to Hotel Valley Ho for a wonderful stay.