In which I am convinced that turquoise and red can work

turquoise and red kitchen from

I love the floor, I love the kitchen, but most of all I love the look of those vintage red chairs in that turquoise-and-white kitchen. Don’t you? (Photo by Brian McHugh by way of Retro Renovation,, posts here and here.)

Happy Valentine’s Day, dear readers! And hey, what could be better for a Valentine’s Day post than one about decorating with the colour red? Well, I’ll tell you what could be better than that: a post about decorating with the colour red and the colour turquoise!

Longtime readers will know that turquoise looms large in our plans for the renovation of the kitchen of the Manse, mainly – actually, solely – because underneath the godawful “wood” panelling that was installed when my own family lived in the house back in the 1970s lie restorable plaster walls painted turquoise. Those turquoise walls were just a fond memory from my early childhood – I was four years old when my dad, mum, sister and brother and I moved to Queensborough and the Manse – until, as you can watch in a little video in this post, they were partially uncovered by my brother John. You can tell from the video how thrilled I was to see them again after all those years.

That discovery, or recovery, or whatever you want to call it, also led to my passion for turquoise, which I’ve since written about several times, including here and here and here. The Manse’s kitchen is flooded with light thanks to all the big windows in it, and once it has turquoise walls, bright-white restored wainscotting, and a white tin ceiling (all of which is currently still in the dream stage), it will look amazing. I promise you’ll see many photos!

But as I confessed quite some time ago in a post here, much as I adore turquoise and want it for my kitchen, my true favourite colour is…red. And I’ve wondered off and on about whether one can mix red and turquoise in the kitchen of one’s dreams. I ventured into that territory most notably in posts here and here, in which I showed you the refrigerator of my dreams, a retro-styled red beauty that I discovered in the window of Bush Furniture of Tweed. (If you live in the Queensborough-Madoc-Tweed area you will already know that Bush Furniture is a great, longtime-family-owned business, with outlets in both Tweed and Madoc, where you can find good furniture, quality appliances, and excellent, friendly service. If you don’t live in our area – well, Bush Furniture is worth a trip!)

My Madoc friend Brenda was the first to assure me that turquoise and red could mix beautifully in a kitchen, and even brought me a photo to prove it. It was a photo of the kitchen from her own childhood featuring just that colour mix, and I stupidly failed to dash upstairs to my printer and scan it when she showed it to me. However, thanks to a post I’ve just discovered at Retro Renovation, my new favourite website/blog (I’ve already mentioned it a couple of times, like here and here), I now have gorgeous proof for you.

You’ve seen the photo at the top of this post, so you know what I’m talking about. The photo was used most recently at Retro Renovation to illustrate a piece (which is here) on vintage-style flooring, linoleum and otherwise, with which you can achieve that wondrous midcentury look. As a fan and advocate of linoleum (which I’ve written about here and here), I was of course most interested in that post; but what really made me sit up and take notice was its picture of the turquoise-and-red mix in the Nashville kitchen of Brian and Keri, which you can read a full entry about here. (Which you should do, because they did a great midcentury kitchen renovation for only $7,000.)

Everything about Brian and Keri’s kitchen is, in my midcentury view, to die for; but the absolute best part of it is the mix of bright-turquoise walls and a classic dinette set featuring the most gorgeous red chairs ever. Here’s another view:


The dinette set in Brian and Keri’s kitchen. (Photo by Brian McHugh by way of a post at Retro Renovation,

Now, the Manse kitchen’s walls are not, and will not be, anywhere near that bright a shade of turquoise; while I love it in the photos of Brian and Keri’s kitchen, it’s a little too bright for me. But I am just thrilled at how that splash of red in their kitchen looks so great against the aqua blue of the walls and the white of everything else in the kitchen.

I think the prospects for that red refrigerator ending up at the Manse are getting brighter all the time.

From Kirkcaldy, Scotland, to the Manse kitchen, it’s – linoleum!

Forbo linoelum tile, yellow and white

Is that a happy kitchen floor or what? This is linoleum flooring made by Forbo (a company with an interesting distant connection to us, as you’ll see if you read on), and I think it would look lovely in the Manse’s kitchen. Or maybe in turquoise instead of yellow… (Photo from Forbo Flooring Systems)

You know, it’s been far too long since I wrote on the subject of linoleum. But I am inspired to do so this evening by the very recent discovery that a friend of ours from the church we attended in Montreal grew up in the Scottish town that was – and perhaps still is – the world capital of linoleum manufacturing. (She shared this information having read some of my earlier posts, like here, about the vintage linoleum “carpets” that grace the bedrooms of the Manse, which I think are quite beautiful. I also wrote here about how much I’d like to re-create the turquoise-and-white linoleum floor that was in the Manse’s kitchen in my early childhood.)

The town in question has the lovely name Kirkcaldy, and you can read more about it (and its connection to linoleum manufacturing) here and here.

But here’s what our friend wrote, from her own memories:

“There were two companies in town by the railway station. The smell (linseed oil I think) inspired a famous poem about a boy on a train, that ends with “I ken mysel’ by the queer like smell the next stops Kirkcaldy”!  It’s posted as a piece of art in the station today.”

Indeed it would have been linseed oil – a key ingredient of linoleum, as I discovered in my research on the subject (reported here). That research also led to the discovery that even though linoleum is very retro, it is extremely environmentally friendly and, perhaps for that reason, is coming back into vogue after being displaced for all those late-20th-century years by wall-to-wall carpeting. So all the more reason for hanging onto our vintage linoleum carpets – and also, I hope, installing a linoleum floor in our renovated Manse kitchen!

And thanks to the tip from our friend, I think I have a line on that, and some cool ideas.

(Oh: were you wondering about the poem about the boy on the train? Never fear – I’ll get to that.)

I did a bit more poking around on the internet, looking up the company based in Kirkcaldy that is still making linoleum and, according to this BBC site, is one of only three producers in the world. It is called Forbo-Nairn (one Michael Nairn having been the founder of the operation in Kirkcaldy), but it’s mostly just shortened to Forbo in its marketing efforts, as far as I can see.

And this company has lovely linoleum flooring. Look!

Ah, this gives me ideas. And then there’s this one, which isn’t tiles at all but a deep red (my favourite colour) with a very nice decorative trim:

red linoleum with decorative trim

This feels so 1950s and so modern at the same time. Love it! (Photos from Forbo Flooring Systems)

But back to The Boy in the Train, because isn’t a little poem always a good way to finish a post? This is how the site introduces it: “This poem by M.C. [Mary Campbell] Smith is full of the anticipation – and questioning – of an excited child on his way to see his Gran in Kirkcaldy – which is known more for the smell from the linoleum factories than as a tourist destination!” You will have to figure out (or look up) some of the Scottishisms, but it’s very sweet:

The Boy in the Train

Whit wey does the engine say ‘Toot-toot’?
Is it feart to gang in the tunnel?
Whit wey is the furnace no pit oot
When the rain gangs doon the funnel?
What’ll I hae for my tea the nicht?
A herrin’, or maybe a haddie?
Has Gran’ma gotten electric licht?
Is the next stop Kirkcaddy?

There’s a hoodie-craw on yon turnip-raw!
An’ seagulls! – sax or seeven.
I’ll no fa’ oot o’ the windae, Maw,
Its sneckit, as sure as I’m leevin’.
We’re into the tunnel! we’re a’ in the dark!
But dinna be frichtit, Daddy,
We’ll sune be comin’ to Beveridge Park,
And the next stop’s Kirkcaddy!

Is yon the mune I see in the sky?
It’s awfu’ wee an’ curly,
See! there’s a coo and a cauf ootbye,
An’ a lassie pu’in’ a hurly!
He’s chackit the tickets and gien them back,
Sae gie me my ain yin, Daddy.
Lift doon the bag frae the luggage rack,
For the next stop’s Kirkcaddy!

There’s a gey wheen boats at the harbour mou’,
And eh! dae ya see the cruisers?
The cinnamon drop I was sookin’ the noo
Has tummelt an’ stuck tae ma troosers. . .
I’ll sune be ringin’ ma Gran’ma’s bell,
She’ll cry, ‘Come ben, my laddie’,
For I ken mysel’ by the queer-like smell
That the next stop’s Kirkcaddy!

Linoleum-floor ideas photos and a Scottish poem: thank you, Elizabeth!

What the world was like, a century or so ago

Menus for Isolated Places, Ladies' Home Journal

“Menus for Isolated Places,” Ladies’ Home Journal, April 1910. My question is this: how “isolated” do you have to be to actually want to eat Corn Pudding and Stewed Raisins for supper?

Our friend and neighbour Ed recently passed on to us some very interesting reading material that he had found in a very interesting place: the attic of his well-preserved well-over-a-century-old home here in “downtown” Queensborough. They were a bit musty and dusty, but turned out to be three magazines – or maybe “periodicals” was more the word back in the day – from the early part of the last century.

One is The Canadian Messenger of the Sacred Heart from July 1924; one is Detective Story Magazine from Aug. 24, 1920; and one is the venerable Ladies’ Home Journal, this issue for April 1910. Wow!

The Canadian Messenger of the Sacred Heart is, as you might guess, a Roman Catholic publication. Most of the articles are a little dull – they’re about things like the benefits of taking part in a religious retreat, not really my cup of tea – but the ads are fascinating. (And in fact, I have to say that the ads are pretty much the highlight of all three publications.)

This one in particular caught my eye:

Dominion Linoleum Rugs

Why? Because here in our 1888 Manse we still have linoleum rugs that may well have been put in around the time of this ad, in 1924. (You can read about them, and see photos, here.) Clearly they were the economical choice (something that would have appealed to the Manse Committee, the church group that always oversaw renovations etc. for the Manse), but, like the ad says, they are also “always in good taste.” Which I happen to believe; I have grown to love our linoleum rugs, beaten up and scarred a bit by the years as they are. I especially love them because linoleum is coming back into its own as an extremely environmentally friendly product.

Other entertaining ads included this one; who knew babies could have quite so many gross ailments (all of which could apparently be cured by Fletcher’s Castoria)?

Fletcher's Castoria

And this one, which was one of several in the Messenger for treatments for corns and bunions. There were a lot of foot problems in that era, apparently. Why? Bad shoes? Anyway, nothing that a corn-salve fairy can’t fix, apparently:

McGale's Corn Salve

I will confess I did not read any of the detective stories in Detective Story Magazine, figuring life was a little too short. But there was a section at the end that was quite fascinating to leaf through. It was headed simply MISSING. Here are a couple of about a hundred entries:

Tinsley, Mrs. Clemmie – She was born in Bourbon County, Kentucky, in 1882 and was last heard of in Louisville in 1912. Her only sister would greatly appreciate any news that would lead to her present whereabouts. Mrs. Cora S. Flowers, 801 Downey Road, Los Angeles, California.

Bilderback, Mrs. Ruie – She was last heard of in Kansas ten years ago. She has dark brown hair and eyes, is about five feet three inches tall and is 45 years of age. She may be known now as Mrs. J.E. Moore. Any news of her will be very welcome to loving daughter, Dimple. Mrs. D.F. Sutherland, RR#4 c/o E.R. Hornby, Evansville, Indiana.

Of course there are missing men in the listings too, but I find the “missing” women more interesting. Why did Ruie Bilderback leave behind her daughter Dimple, perhaps to take up with Mr. J.E. Moore, in Kansas? What happened in Louisville to make Clemmie Tinsley disappear from her family’s life? I suspect the stories behind these women’s lives might make for better reading than the made-up detective stories that are the magazine’s bread and butter.

And then there was the Ladies’ Home Journal, looking a lot different than today’s glossy colour product (though kudos to the LHJ for still being around all these years later). It’s in black and white, for one thing; it’s huge (the pages are about 12″ by 18″) – and I have to tell you, the articles are a mix of dull beyond belief and weird beyond belief.

Take, for example, the full-page spread on “Menus for Isolated Places” – a portion of it is shown in the photo at the top of this post. The writer, one Mrs. S.T. Rorer, introduces it by telling us that her menus were inspired by her recent visit to “the deserts of Arizona and New Mexico.” But really, the menus she puts together are kind of nuts:

More Menus for Isolated Places“Hot canned tongue with tomato sauce”? “Thin slices of nut sausage”? Who would eat that stuff, unless in a place so isolated – say, a desert island – that life depended on it?

And then there’s the one headlined “How Two Boys Got Well”:

How Two Boys Got Well, Ladies'  Home Journal 1910

In it, a mother of two formerly sickly sons tells about how she and her husband cured them by having them sleep in what was essentially an unheated shack in the back yard all year round. I mean, I’m all for fresh air, but “in zero weather,” as Mrs. Fall puts it (and we’re talking Fahrenheit)? Yikes!

Ah, but the ads make all this boring and/or weird text worthwhile. There are several for companies that are still around today, including one of my favourites (since I’m married to someone who was born Franco-American, and also because that company made the tinned ravioli that was a highlight of my childhood – or, wait a minute, maybe that was Chef Boy-Ar-Dee…):

old Franco-American ad

How about the many joys and benefits of Puffed Wheat and Puffed Rice, courtesy of the Quaker Oats Company?

old Quaker Oats ad for Puffed Wheat and Puffed Rice

And then there’s the machine that truly makes ironing look easy! Where can I get me one of these?

Ironing made easy with the Simplex Ironer

But the best – well, actually, “best” is the wrong word; “most alarming” is more like it – is this one, telling us how utterly wonderful lead-based paint is:

old advertisement for lead paint

All I can say to that is: I hope the readers of the Ladies’ Home Journal in April 1910 knew not to believe or trust every word they read…

Floor tiles, wall tiles… I like tiles.

beautiful vintage green and white ceramic tile

I think this green and white ceramic wall tile – which I spotted in the entranceway of a c. 1920s building in Montreal, and which I expect is original to the building – is absolutely gorgeous. There has to be a place for something like this at the Manse.

Regular readers will probably have figured out by now that I am no – well, I was going to throw in the name of a famous home-design guru, but you know what? I don’t even know the names of any famous home-design gurus. Which is even more proof that I am not one of them.

So when it comes to thinking about the renovations that Raymond and I ought to be doing at the Manse in Queensborough, I am kind of at sea. Of course (as regular readers will also know) I do like midcentury modern furniture (probably primarily because it reminds me of the era of my childhood at the Manse, though I am convinced it was a golden age for design). And white-painted wainscotting. And turquoise plaster walls. But planning for the overall decor for a 21st-century renovation of a rural 19th-century rectory? People, I am all at sea.

But I think there need to be tiles. I like tiles. I like subway tile on walls, for instance; I think it would be awesome in the bathroom of my dreams, which, just for the record (I’ve shown this photo before) looks like this:

Bathroom in the home of Pilar Guzman

The bathroom of my dreams, in the Brooklyn home of Pilar Guzman, the editor in chief of Martha Stewart Living. And yes, I realize we’d probably want window blinds. (Photo from

And speaking of the bathroom of my dreams: I adore those small hexagonal black-and-white tiles that I remember from the floor of the bathroom in my maternal grandparents’ handsome early-20th-century home in Toronto’s Leaside neighbourhood. I found a floor that reminded me of that when Raymond and I took in a show at the venerable Ogunquit Playhouse on our summer vacation in Maine this year, and here it is:

hexagonal black-and-white bathroom floor tiles

Do you remember this style of bathroom floor? I do, and with great fondness. It’s time for a comeback. Or maybe (come to think of it) it never went away.

Also, on the very first day of that same vacation, we were in a restaurant whose floor tiles –  vinyl, I suppose – reminded me of the turquoise-and-white linoleum floor that was in the Manse’s kitchen in my family’s very earliest days there. Seeing this floor gave me hope that we might find something along the same lines for the Manse:

green and white square linoleum tiles

Boy, this floor sure did remind me of our old turquoise-and-white kitchen floor at the Manse, c. 1965. This is in a restaurant – as I suppose you might guess, given the stray French fry.

And then in a hospital corridor (of all places) I recently spotted this variation on the square-tiled floor, another nice colour combination:

red an white floor tiles

I think this tile floor is a happy colour combination. Of course, red is my favourite colour.

Retro look, doubtless very sturdy (hey, it’s a hospital corridor!), and I bet it’s not even all that expensive.

Home-design gurus, eat your heart out!

A bowl haircut, and what you can see in the background

Me (age 6, maybe?) getting the standard haircut by my Didi – my grandmother Reta Keay – in the kitchen of the Manse. And not looking to be enjoying the experience all that much. Note the turquoise-and-white (okay, the photo’s in black and white so you can’t see the turquoise, but perhaps you get the picture) linoleum tile floor that I’ve cited many times before, and that I long for today. (Photo by my grandfather, J.A.S. Keay)

When I was a little kid growing up at the Manse, I wanted to have long hair so desperately. Princesses and hippies and Laurie Partridge and Joan Baez all had long hair; why couldn’t I? Even Nancy Drew and her friends (save for “tomboy” George, who I believe wore it in a short bob) had hair of a certain length. Titian hair, in Nancy’s case. Whatever that is. (As my own cousin Nancy recently noted.)

Anyway, it was decided early on that my sister, Melanie, and I would have short hair, doubtless because it’s much more practical. And when we were little it was my grandmother, my Didi, who cut it. While I’ve called them bowl haircuts, they really weren’t. But they also weren’t the most flattering cuts a fashion-savvy Queensborough girl could have.

As with any old photo taken at the Manse, I scoured the one at the top of this post for telltale vestiges of what once was. There’s the turquoise-and-white linoleum flooring in the kitchen, and the rather fancier pattern of the linoleum in the adjoining dining room that you can just barely make out.

The vintage arborite kitchen table that Raymond and I have today in Montreal. Why do you suppose I wanted that kind of table?

There’s our old arborite kitchen table with the grey top (you know the kind I mean); ever since my childhood at the Manse I have harboured a love for those tables. The matching grey plastic-covered chairs that came with that one clearly had, by the time the photo was taken, bitten the dust; they were cheap and very unresilient faced with a bunch of little kids who could do all sorts of ripping-type damage. But I’d forgotten all about the wooden chairs that we used in their stead. I wonder where those chairs are now.

You can also see the late lamented white wainscotting along the kitchen wall, covered over six or seven years after this photo was taken with then-trendy wood panelling, but not before the chair rail had been ripped off and tossed out. (It pains me to recount this, as you can imagine.)

And finally you can just get a glimpse through the doorway into the dining room of the edge of a piece of furniture that came with the Manse and that we called the buffet – a dark and (as I recall) ugly old thing in which the good china was stored. But just seeing that little corner of it brings back to mind the not-unpleasant old woody smell that would emanate from it when you opened one of its doors to bring out the good china when company was coming for dinner. (Company – in the form of parishioners from my dad’s churches – came for dinner pretty much every Sunday at the Manse.) Also, our used-every-year advent calendar sat perched atop the “buffet” every December, and every year we had the same fun opening the little windows and seeing what was behind them. No candies, you understand: just pictures related to the Christian Christmas story, which we kids found delightful. I have still not got over the befuddlement I experienced the first time I heard that some advent calendars have candies or chocolates in them. That is over the top, if you ask me.

Anyway: you can see a lot in an old photo taken at the Manse! If you’re me and grew up there, that is.

My sister, Melanie, looking on. Hard to tell whether she’s next in line for the haircut or has already undergone the ordeal herself. (Photo by J.A.S. Keay)

As a very small child I gave my grandmother the name Didi, probably my attempt to pronounce her given name, Reta. My grandfather J.A.S. Keay was known as Buh, I expect the best I could do when it came to Grandpa. Buh and Didi – who lived in Leaside, the very pleasant Toronto suburb where my mother, Lorna, grew up – visited us a lot when we lived at the Manse; Buh took lots of photos, and it is thanks to him that I have all these great old images of my childhood and the house I grew up in. Didi was an eminently capable woman in very many ways: cooking, sewing (she made most of the clothes that my sister, Melanie, and I wore in those days), knitting and, apparently, haircutting. What I realize now but probably couldn’t have known at the time was that she did this to help out financially, since a minister’s salary was then – as it is now – pitiful.

Anyway, we loved to see Buh and Didi; they were kind and good people, and we four kids – their only grandchildren; my mother was their only child – were very special to them. They were awfully good to us.

Although truth be told I could have done without the hair-cutting.

The “makeunder”: inspiration, or bad idea?

If you look very closely, you can see at top left some cracks in the otherwise nicely preserved plaster walls and ceiling of the Manse’s master bedroom. Should we just leave them be?

A couple of weeks ago the Sunday New York Times T Magazine had a photo feature on a “nonrenovation renovation” of an 1850s building in Manhattan‘s East Village by its owner, the designer John Derian. “The Makeunder,” read the headline: “When it comes to renovation, John Derian believes that less is more.” The article – whose text and, more importantly, great photos you can see in a slideshow here – goes on to explain that this style maven has preserved as much as he can of the “patina” of the place, which had a bohemian past. While he spruced up the scary bathroom and kitchen quite a bit, he turned the original sub-floor into the real floor and refused to expunge the colour left on the walls by the smoking habits of former residents. “Think of it as an exquisite, exceedingly subtle face-lift,” writer Lynn Yaeger says, “only instead of jowls and droopy lids, Derian intends to preserve a plank floor that creaks with the wisdom of the ages and patch a tin ceiling contemporaneous with the Tin Woodsman.” Have a look at the photos and see what you think: I find some of it a little off-putting, but much of it quite beautiful.

Could this be a recipe for the Manse? (I already know Raymond’s answer: NO!)

A closer look at those cracks in the plaster in the bedroom. Should we fill them in or leave them there? Do they add to the charm of the room?

But I wonder if a “makeunder light” might be just the ticket. For instance: while my brother John was waxing on during a recent visit about how it would be “fun” to fill in some cracks in the plaster in the Manse’s main bedroom, I was thinking to myself, “That is not my definition of fun.” Now, inspired by John Derian’s place, I’m thinking maybe we want to just leave those cracks be. The plaster in general in that room is in great shape; one could say that the cracks just add a bit of character.

As longtime readers will know, I am very fond of the vintage linoleum mats that adorn the bedroom floors. Yes, they’re a little worn and rough, but perhaps that’s part of the charm. This is a detail of the one on the Manse’s master bedroom. I love the subtle colours and the pattern.

Likewise, while the wooden floors throughout the upstairs would probably look beautiful and shiny and newish with refinishing, is there something to be said for retaining the various paint jobs that have been done on them through the years? Not to mention the linoleum mats dating from the early middle of the 20th century; those mats were what was on those floors in my childhood at the Manse, and they were still there when we peeled off the bad 1970s carpeting several months ago. I have to say I have grown quite attached to that linoleum and would be very sorry to see it go.

The mid-1970s exercise of nailing wooden slats into the plaster ceiling of the kitchen, so that acoustic tiles could in turn be attached to them, caused probably-irreparable damage to the plaster. This is a small section where we pulled off the acoustic tiles.

Unfortunately, though, there are lots of places where the damage caused by the installation of “newer” (we’re talking the mid-1970s here, mind you, so not all that new) finishes, like wood panelling and acoustic-tile ceiling, is severe enough that the original “patina” is going to need some major repairs, if not outright replacement. For instance, we pulled off a few of those ceiling tiles in the kitchen, and it looks like the process of nailing in the wooden slats to which the tiles could be attached has absolutely trashed the original plaster ceiling.

You can see where the chair rail was pulled off the wainscotting (a tragedy) and how the wainscotting is now full of nail holes. “Patina” to be left alone? Or a necessary repair or replacement? (You can also see what rough shape the plaster wall is in.)

The chair rail of the wainscotting in the kitchen was yanked off so wood panelling could be installed, and we would most certainly want to replace that. And the wainscotting itself – not to mention the plaster walls above it – is full of nail holes thanks to that ghastly panelling. (Which, I must add, was installed at the behest of my family; in the early 1970s we were quite thrilled to get wood panelling, which was considered just the thing in those days.)

Anyway, it’s interesting to think about what parts of the Manse could be left alone in the renovation to come, even though they might not look like they belong in Canadian House and Home. Because, let’s face it: tastes change, and sooner or later everything old is new (and stylish) again. Just ask John Derian.

Or, for that matter, Leonard Cohen, who wrote the ultimate tribute to imperfections – and cracks:

“There is a crack, a crack in everything –
That’s how the light gets in.”

Let’s give Leonard a listen, shall we?

Floor archeology (II)

Yippee! My little brother John (a few days over one year old, in March 1965) is clearly happy about the tile floor at the Manse kitchen, and so would I be if I were able to magically restore it. Notice in the background a corner of our Findlay wood stove. (Photo by my grandfather, J.A.S. Keay)

The current kitchen floor, in a photo taken very early in our Manse ownership. You can see why I’m kind of eager to replace it.

Yesterday’s post was about what lay beneath the current worn-out vinyl flooring in the dining room of the Manse. Today it’s on to the kitchen, and I shall wax nostalgic about the old turquoise-and-white linoleum that was there in the 1960s.

As faithful readers will remember, I have become very fond of turquoise, due in no small part, I imagine, to its presence at the Manse in those long-ago golden days of my youth.

The kitchen walls were turquoise (above white wainscotting, and don’t even get me started on how much I love wainscotting), and the floor was, as I recall, a nice match. Mind you, it was all very worn, and the floor thoroughly scuffed. While the excavations that Raymond and grown-up John carried out showed that the old turquoise-and-white floor is still there underneath many layers, I harbour no hope whatsoever of if being salvageable.

The result of the kitchen-floor excavation: underneath all the layers of linoleum and vinyl are narrow wooden floorboards, like what you’d find in an old general store. At left you can see a tiny trace of the 1960s turquoise-and-white linoleum.

What I do want to do, though – and we haven’t got around to it yet – is pull up enough of the other layers to get a better fix on what shade of turquoise that floor was, and then see if there’s any way of finding something similar.

As I have reported before, old-fashioned linoleum is kind of coming back into its own. Not only is it funky, but it’s environmentally friendly and it’s not expensive. But I don’t think all that many people can be buying it, because the choices that I’ve found online are pretty limited. That is, I haven’t found any linoleum flooring with a pattern of turquoise-and-white squares, or even individual turquoise tiles – though white tiles are no problem. Does anyone know any good sources for linoleum?

While there is an original wooden floor under all the other layers, I don’t think that’s what I want in the finished kitchen. To me a wooden kitchen floor has kind of a late ’70s/early ’80s vibe to it – you know, the era when everyone had (or wanted) an old butcher-block table in their kitchen. I have moved on from all that woodiness.

Actually, I guess it’s more accurate to say that I’ve moved back.