Cook Up a Cool Kitchen with a Dash of Retro Style!
When is it okay to have a percolator that perks no more? When you’re decorating with fabulous vintage kitchenalia! And we’re not talking coffee mug trees, crocheted potholders, and kitchen witches. So clear your counters and get to the flea market. You’ll need an antique kitchen scale, a chrome Mixmaster, and your mother’s copy of The Joy of Cooking. Then toss in an eye-catching collection of Bakelite, milk glass, or SUGAR, FLOUR, and TEA canisters. And for dessert? A great big chocolate Easter Bunny mold!
Looking for off-the-wall art for your kitchen? Skip the salmon mousse mold and seek out antique chocolate bunny molds. Designed in the early 19th century, these molds were often manufactured in Germany and were used by chocolatiers to make Easter bunnies. Complete hinged molds are rare and can cost an arm and a leg (and an ear if you’re a bunny!), but you only need half a mold to hang on a wall. You can find these unusual candy molds in other shapes like chicks, eggs, and lambs, but the bunny is the most nostalgic––and the sweetest!
Cook up a little retro color in your kitchen with a dazzling display of red-handled Bakelite utensils. This durable plastic was developed in 1907 and gained popularity in the 30s and 40s as a way to add color to the kitchen. Bakelite forks are the most common, but keep an eye out for rare pieces like eggbeaters and cookie cutters. Display these wares handle-side out in an old red and white Everfresh coffee tin. If you’re just starting to collect, don’t be afraid to mix bona fide Bakelite pieces with red, wood-handled utensils. Until you have several pieces, you can call it your Half-Baked Bakelite Collection!
Got Milk Glass?
Milk glass makes a classy collection that goes with any kitchen. Available in shapes ranging from soufflés to vases, the milky-white glassware is affordable and good looking! Although translucent milk glass from the 1840s can cost a pretty penny, most flea markets have items from the 30s, 40s, and 50s that are highly collectible but still within reach. To start a collection, simplify your search by choosing a pattern like Fenton’s Hobnail or Hazel-Atlas’ Colonial Block. Or just collect the pieces you like. Since they are all milky white, they all automatically go together!
What A Betty!
Vintage cookbooks are a hoot and can often be found for just a few dollars apiece at the flea market. Look for classics like Betty Crocker’s Picture Cookbook from 1950 and Better Homes and Gardens’ red and white checkered “New” Cook Book from 1953. Then display your favorite on a plate stand left open to an old-fashioned recipe (that probably starts with lard). Or frame a few pages that have especially fun photographs of Jell-O molds, complicated casseroles, or tomato terrines. Yum!
Grease Is The Word
Kitchen canisters are one of the great vintage collectibles that you can truly use. These countertop regulars have been popular since the days when the general store sold sugar, flour, and coffee in bulk. The sets can be found in plastic, wood, and ceramic, but nothing says retro like a spun aluminum set from the 50s. In addition to FLOUR, SUGAR, and COFFEE, complete your set with a pair of salt and pepper shakers. Find matching spice jars and you won’t be able to contain yourself!
To test the authenticity of a Bakelite utensil, dampen a Q-tip with Formula 409 and dab it onto the back of your item. If the piece is truly Bakelite, the cotton swab will turn yellow. Since you can’t exactly wander around the flea market with a bottle of 409, try handling the Bakelite and use your senses. Real Bakelite will feel much heavier than regular plastic, and it will make a distinct clunking sound when two pieces are tapped together. With just a little experience, you’ll be able to tell the difference between Bakelite and Fakelite!