A woman who feels so stressful in a busy payroll department job decided to live like a 1950’s housewife.
Transforming her suburban home in Hillsborough, Oregon, into a working shrine to the era, Katrina Holte, 30, now loves taking care of her house and engineering manager husband, Lars, 28. She is enjoying cleaning, cooking and making dresses using 1950’s patterns.
Spinning vinyl discs by stars of the era like Doris Day, she flits about her business, making sure dinner is on the table when Lars gets in, saying: ‘I feel like I’m living how I always wanted to. It’s my dream life and my husband shares my vision.
‘It is a lot of work. I do tons of dishes, laundry, and ironing, but I love it and it’s helping to take care of my husband and that makes me happy.
‘My closet is full of 1950’s dresses I’ve made myself. I have 1940’s-style furniture in the living room and a traditional bedroom.
‘It’s not like it’s a museum but I do try and make it as close to the era as I can.
‘I can feel like I was born in the wrong decade, especially when I look at everything that is happening in the world now. I feel like I belong in a nicer, more old-fashioned time. But I know everything happens for a reason and it is God’s will that I’m here now.
‘I agree with old-fashioned values, like being a housewife, taking care of your family, nurturing the people in it and keeping your house in excellent condition, so everyone feels relaxed.’
After dinner, the couple relaxes, playing traditional board games like Scrabble together before watching old-fashioned shows like I Love Lucy and The Donna Reed Show.
A part-time seamstress for 10 years, Katrina, who sells her retro frocks across the world, said:
‘My new life started in September 2018, after I left my job, which was starting to wear me down. I was getting tired and I wasn’t living up to my expectations.’
‘I spoke to my husband and told him I want to be a housewife and he said that was fine with him.’
‘It was a fantastic feeling when I quit. I can do what I want to now and run my house as I want to run it. Now I’m a full-time homemaker.’
She wakes up at 6.30 am and sets out her husband’s clothes first. She prepares his breakfast and she packs lunch for him.
After having her breakfast she does 15 minutes of vintage exercises.
‘Exercise in the 1930’s to 1950’s was a lot gentler. There was a lot of stretching, warming up or ‘limbering up,’ as they would say back then,’ Katrina explained.
‘I have a vintage slant board, which is a small wooden ramp, to do core exercises like sit-ups. I do them for about 10 to 15 minutes a day and they keep me in shape to fit into my 1950’s dresses.
‘We have the idea today that we have to push our bodies to the limit, but in the 1950’s the attitude was simply that you had to take care of it.
‘After my exercises, I will go upstairs to take my shower and put on a full face of vintage makeup. I use vintage products like Pond’s cold cream and Revlon red lipstick and have well-drawn eyebrows, as well as using traditional hot rollers to curl my hair.
‘My entire wardrobe is the 1950’s, made up of dresses I have made myself from original patterns. I always try and look my best.
‘I feel most like myself when I’m wearing a vintage-style dress. They are so flattering and I love the colors and fabrics. I just feel happy when I put them on.
‘I will then spend a good hour doing the laundry, dusting and sweeping and making sure everything is clean and tidy. I make sure everything is kept in its place.
‘After lunch, when my house is tidy and smelling fresh, I will go upstairs and sew either for myself, for my customers or to try out new patterns.’
Katrina starts cooking the dinner at around 4 pm to 5 pm to make sure everything is ready when Lars returns from work.
‘I usually cook recipes from the era like pot roasts or chicken pies and make sure there are vegetables,’ she said. ‘In the 1950’s, housewives liked to make sure all the food groups were there.
‘When Lars gets home he likes to hang his own coat up, which I don’t mind. I read in a 1950’s book that if a man wants to hang his coat up, you should not feel like it makes you a bad housewife.
‘I give him a glass of water and if dinner is not quite ready, a plate of snacks like cheese, dried fruit or nuts.
‘After dinner, we play board games like Scrabble or watch our vintage shows like I Love Lucy or The Donna Reed Show. Sometimes we read. I like reading 1950’s cookbooks and vintage beauty and sewing magazines.’
Katrina continued: ‘My husband is very appreciative of what I do.
‘He grew up in a house where he helped his mother with the cooking and the cleaning, so he is not domineering in any way. He’s the most gentle person I have ever met.
‘If I did, heaven forbid, have dinner late, he would not make a fuss, but I can tell it means a lot to him that it’s normally on time.
‘He looks tired when he comes in from work, so when the table is set and decorated and the candles are lit he relaxes. He’s happy for the evening.
‘I think a man needs his wife to make him feel spoiled every once in a while.
‘He would never expect this from me, though, it was entirely my idea to live like this. It’s always been my dream since I was a little girl.
‘In a way, Lars is serving me, because he makes a lot more money than I do and he knows this is what I want to do in return.
‘He works very long hours and makes my dreams come true, so I try to make his come true, too. It’s an equal partnership.
‘I’m outspoken and I’m not a repressed woman.’
Far from feeling that women in the 1950’s were under the thumb, Katrina insists they were independent thinkers.
She continued: ‘I read some statistics from the era that said 30 percent of all married women had a job. They were not chained to the kitchen sink, they could go and do what they wanted to do.
‘I think we, as women, should support each other. If a woman says she wants to be a homemaker, we should not say that’s not right. What’s right for me might not be right for someone else. We all have to do what’s right for ourselves.
‘I met my husband at a dance, so it was quite an old-fashioned way of meeting. If I had lived in the 1950’s, that’s how I would have liked to have met someone.’
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