Creating a New Kitchen in an Old House. Part Three.

A few years ago Travis purchased a matching set of lights from me for his 1931 tudor-esque style home in St. Louis. It so happened that I was soon driving from Kansas to New York, so offered to drop the set off in person.

Because I am, well, a beast, upon arriving I asked Travis if if could get a grand tour of his home. He hesitated, but the beast in me persisted (this is what beasts do, and, you know, the house looked so cool!) and Travis agreed. I sensed that his reluctance was due more to worry (is this guy some crazed ax murderer?) rather than privacy issues.

As things would prove, I am glad of the beast, because the tour was memorable and enlightening.

I have an affection for homes built in the late 1920s and 1930s. They have a particular quality which I cannot define but is instantly recognizable; such homes hint at the moderne. Homes of the era are also built of quality materials and designed to last for the ages. A far cry from homes built today.

While the house was a thrill, what really captured my special attention was a heretofore unknown discovery: Travis had an obsession. And I am a man who knows obsession.

In the garage was the most extraordinary collection filling the space, and more in the abasement, and more in most of the rooms in the house.

You see, Travis is obsessed with vintage appliances and radios and TV sets and fans, you name it. If it plugs into a wall, and is before, say, 1960, Travis either has it or wants it.

I was awestruck.

He lovingly, reverently showed me a huge cabinet, about 4-feet high. 1940s? But what was it? One door opened to reveal a tiny TV screen. Ahhhhh, a very early TV console! The other door opened to reveal a pull-out phonograph player. It did not look like it was ever used, and contained all the operating manuals in mint condition. Indeed, the whole cabinet was mint. In its day such a fixture would have cost a fortune but today is considered of little value…save to a connoisseur like Travis.

I watched Travis as he gently closed the cabinet door. The man was in love. I smiled.

Later, Travis emailed me images of his new baby:



A circa-1929 General Electric monitor top refrigerator. We have all seen images of this iconic style refrigerator, or seen them abandoned in antique shops dirty and bruised, but I have never seen one looking brand new. Wow. WOW! That is one of my sconces to the right.


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A thing of great beauty. Both fascinating and gorgeous. An icing unit!!!!!!!!



A 1928 kitchen.


Travis’s refrigerator is actually composed of two appliances. Travis owned the 2-door unit but it was missing the monitor. He also had a 3-door unit with monitor (which would not fit into his kitchen), so he moved its monitor over to the 2-door (which originally would have had an identical monitor).

When all was done, and the newly restored GE in place, Travis wrote me: “I can’t tell you how happy I am to stand by it and listen to it run.”

A man after my own heart.



UPDATE: Travis has a friend with the 3-door model. Wow. Travis has really cool friends!


  1. amyheavilin on July 8, 2015 at 7:05 pm

    I hope this is a teaser that you will, in fact, grace your kitchen with one of these!

  2. Travis on July 8, 2015 at 7:29 pm

    My friend Garrett, who owns the 3-door model, would want to say, ignore the new refrigerator in the picture. He was replacing door gaskets on the monitor top at the time.

    The 2-door and larger models are somewhat rare. The first generation DR models are very rare. Those are the ones with open coils. They are fun to touch.

    I am envious of the Cross house. So many extra rooms to collect stuff! I could have the carriage house filled in no time!

  3. Melody on July 8, 2015 at 9:43 pm

    I think I like Travis and his friends.

    Cool stuff. All I collect/restore (right now) is cast iron cookware. My oldest pieces could date back to the mid 1800’s.

    • Marjorie Davis on July 9, 2015 at 9:42 pm

      That three door is simply amazing. It even fits in the kitchen. I must confess I love crown molding and farm sinks, but that three door refrigeratorjust blew me away.

  4. Victoria on July 11, 2015 at 11:48 am

    I’m coming into emporia today and part of tomorrow. Do you have a number I can contact you at so I can get the 4 curtains I have to you?

    • Ross on July 11, 2015 at 12:15 pm

      Whoee! I will send my cell number to your email address.

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