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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Vintage Voice: My Favorite Vintage Kitchens and More...Part 1

My interest in the Victorian Era actually started with an interest in the Civil War period, when I was in my teens. It evolved into an interest for the whole 19th century,with a special love for the Victorian period; the furniture, the styles, the clothes! I was fascinated and enamored. Later in life, I also developed a fondness for vintage dishes, linens and aprons from the 1930s,1940s and 1950s. If you're a follower of my blog, you have probably already seen some of my collections of dishes, glasses and linens from different time periods.

My interest in the Victorian period probably started when I was about nineteen and it was right about that time in my life when I saw the movie Driving Miss Daisy, a movie based on Alfred Uhry's Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name. The movie starred Jessica Tandy, Morgan Freeman, Esther Rolle, Dan Akroyd and Patti LuPone; a great ensemble cast. The music was done by Hans Zimmer, who has done many beautiful movie scores over the years, and it was directed by Bruce Beresford. It won an Academy Award for Best Picture, and two Oscars.

I loved the house used in the movie; the set designers did an excellent job as well; every detail is correct. I haven't been able to find out much about the actual house where the movie was filmed. Apparently it's a private residence, the address is 822 Lullwater Road, in an Atlanta neighborhood called Druid Hills. I don't know what year the house was built or how much of the interior was changed or not changed for the movie, or whether any of the furniture and decor inside belonged to the owners or was brought in for the movie.

In any case, the kitchen in this movie is one of my favorites; I always call it 'Idella's kitchen' in my mind, because it was Idella, the housemaid's, domain for all the years she was with Miss Daisy.

822 Lullwater Road, Druid Hills.

Apparently, the movie story begins in 1947 or 1948, which surprised me. I had always thought it started in the early or mid-1940s.

Idella in her kitchen. This is early in the movie, when Hoke (Morgan Freeman) first arrives.

. I love the white subway tile on the walls, with a black tile border. The tin pitcher has an array of cooking utensils in it; I can pick out a muffin/cookie scoop and a potato masher. I've been trying to figure out what that metal thing mounted on the window frame is, but I can't tell what it is. Maybe a can opener?

Here you can glimpse the kitchen's glass fronted cabinets. I LOVE these cabinets. Some day when I re-do my kitchen I'm going to have some like these! (Note: sorry for the slightly weird quality of these pictures; I could not find hardly any pictures from the movie, so I did my own screenshots using my own DVD copy of the movie.)

In this photo, again early in the movie, Boolie (Dan Akroyd) is having lunch at his mother's house. He sits at the kitchen table and behind him is a large built-in against the wall. I suppose that this might have been sort of like a butler's pantry originally, but here it's used to store what appears to be dry goods, jams and other kitchen goods, including some dishes. Before Erik and I married and bought our house, I lived in a duplex (c.1920s) that had one of these in a small room off the kitchen. It sure came in handy, considering there were few cabinets! In the movie, there is an adjoining room that Miss Daisy calls her "pantry", which has an old fashioned washing machine/wringer and an icebox in it, as well as more shelves for canned goods.

In this scene, you can glimpse the stove. I love this stove!! And apparently, it's quite large. Here you can also see the white subway tile and the black tile trim. I've tried to read the name brand of the stove, but I haven't been able to read it. In most of the scenes, you only catch a glimpse of the stove.

In this scene, it's later in the movie; May, 1962 to be exact. You can see that for the most part the kitchen looks the same, except for the radio on the counter has been replaced by a small TV. The wood table with pressed back wood chairs (which I couldn't get a good shot of because they are seen so briefly) has been replaced with a Formica topped table and chairs with white vinyl pads. This scene reminds me so much of the kitchens in my grandmother's homes.....I suppose that's why I love this kitchen. Do you see the metal cake carrier on the table? My mother-in-law has one just like it! I think it's awesome that even the curtains are the same ones. That's how it was in both of my grandmother's kitchens; nothing changed!

Towards the end of the movie, Idella is now passed away, so Hoke has his dinner alone in the kitchen. In this scene you can get a pretty good view of that awesome stove, and the refrigerator! I had noticed that Hoke's dinner was served on a Blue Willow plate, probably either Johnson Brothers or Wedgewood. Like I said; every detail was perfect!

That fantastic stove again!

The sink; I love the sink!  I guess it's good that I love this kind of look, considering what my kitchen currently looks like. Most people might be horrified to have an old sink like this, or circa 1940 steel cabinets, like my kitchen does. (Yes, we have totally vintage 1940 steel cabinets in the kitchen). I think most people with their modern tastes would have been horrified to have a kitchen like mine. I certainly don't mind it, actually, but I do wish I had more cabinet space, more counter space, and more electrical outlets! When we re-do our kitchen (when we can afford it) I want to keep as much of the vintage charm as I can, whilst making it functional for modern life.

Some other shots of other rooms:

Miss Daisy's bedroom. I love the rug and her feminine chairs.

Miss Daisy's sun room; full of white wicker and soft florals. To the far right you can glimpse her white wicker covered Philco radio! (It's more visible in another scene as she sits sewing and listening to opera, specifically, "Song to the Moon" from  Dvorak's Rusalka, a fave of mine as well!)

The dining room is only glimpsed in a few scenes, but it appears to have a heavy gold brocade wallpaper. I love this beautiful mirror and bureau below it. I think I can see two beautiful glass sconces with crystal bobeche, and some jadeite figurines on top.

The sideboard with a mirror above it in the dining room.

In this scene, there's a good shot through a door into what Miss Daisy called her "pantry" and there's a good view of the ice box. I'm not sure if this was a second refirgerator (there is one in the kitchen) or if this was actually a freezer. I love to come across these at antique stores, and wish I had one, though in good working condition they are usually too expensive for me to buy!

Most of the scenes that show the formal parlour don't really show the whole room, but I did get this shot where you can see the firescreen, fireplace mantel and the lovely chandeliers that I adore.
I notice that in many of the scenes, there are blue brocade slipcovers over the chairs and the sofa in this room and sometimes they have the slipcovers off in other scenes.  In this picture you can see the chair has a slipcover on. Miss Daisy has some men come to "do her floors" in one scene and they are also taking off the slipcovers and folding them up, as if to put them away. I had heard that in some parts of the South people "summerized" their homes for the hot weather; they put away heavy dusty rugs and changed them out for woven mats on the floors, put slipcovers on furniture with lighter fabric and lighter colors and in the days before windows had screens, covered their light fixtures and chandeliers with gauzy, net "bags" that slipped over the light fixture and tied at the top, to protect them from flies and other bugs making them dirty.

Most of the downstairs hallway and upstairs hallway is wallpapered in this green and cream colored wallpaper that looks similar to toile. Here's a great picture of the front door and entry hall. There is also a gorgeous, huge Palladian window on the stair landing, but I was never able to get a good view of it to take a screen shot.

Towards the very end of the movie, the house is being sold and Hoke and Boolie meet to take a drive up to the nursing home to visit Miss Daisy. All the furniture is gone, but this a nice picture that shows the lovely floral wallpaper in the formal parlour and all the beautiful wood work. I love the arched doorways with their wood frames!
Gene Shalit had said of this movie; "Close to perfection. To see it once is to remember it forever." I think that is exactly the sentiment I always had for this movie, even though I was nineteen at the time of it's release in 1989 and probably not considered it's "target audience."

Thanks for stopping by! I'll be doing another post, Part 2, sharing some more vintage kitchen scenes from another beloved movie of mine, Fried Green Tomatoes.



Pam said...

I really loved that house too! I do think that is a can opener on the windowsill. And I remember the last scene where they are in the empty house. The house always reminded me of the rich people's houses at our local country club. They were along the same lines as that house.

Heather said...

It was a great movie! I had fun reading this post!

Pam of Eastlake Victorian said...

I loved that movie, too! Now I want to watch it again. It was a great story. But I don't think the kitchen is my taste, because it's too much like my kitchen growing up! We had metal cabinets and a long porcelain sink, but it was small and dark, and not a good floor plan. I love the way you did the screen captures! :-)


Anonymous said...

The object of your stove envy looks to me like a Chambers. Just compare that to a Wolf of today with it's big, bulky, red knobs and see what conclusions can be drawn about the change in American psyche!