Posted on: November 5, 2019 at 8:24 pm
Last updated: July 28, 2020 at 4:52 pm

Many people who like classic old films have witnessed the seemingly glamorous life of the 1950s. In Leave It To Beaver, the Honeymooners, Father Knows Best, and the iconic I Love Lucy, family life was depicted as immaculately. The homes are always beautiful, children are well-behaved, the mother wears the prettiest dresses, and the home seems to run on gold-lined clockwork. They were perfect nuclear families.  

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‘It’s a shame regular life can’t be as perfect,’ most people think during these shows. However, one woman decided to make the 50s dream home a reality.

A Woman Who Dreamed of Being a 50s Housewife

Katrina Holte is a modern woman in the most untraditionally modern way. She was happily married for three years but was less happy in her stressful job in a payroll department. When enough was enough, she quit to begin pursuing her dream of living like a 1950s housewife. 

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Thirty-year old Holte transformed her home in Hillsboro, Oregon, into the classic suburban household with vintage furniture and décor. It’s designed according to her taste, and less “like it’s a museum,” she explains.

But being a housewife means more than wearing A-line skirts and red lipstick. Holte is busy everyday cleaning, sewing 50s-style dresses, and cooking dinner, to be served when Lars, her husband, comes home from working as an engineering manager. 

“I feel like I’m living how I always wanted to. It’s my dream life and my husband shares my vision,” she says. “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 really happy.”

Her wardrobe is full of color and distinct prints. All the dresses and skirts were homemade. Holte runs a part-time business selling her vintage clothes online. She has been sewing clothes for 10 years now.

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Holte admits to being an old soul. “When I look at everything that is happening in the world now, I feel like I belong in a nicer, more old-fashioned time,” she says. “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.”

Fortunately, Lars was on board with the retreat into the twentieth century. 

“I spoke to my husband and told him I want to be a housewife and he said that was fine with him,” Holte says. “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 looks forward to raising a big family, and is aware that children would change her utopic domesticity. Although she plans to dress her daughter in cute petticoats and hats, she will allow them to choose their own path when they get older. [1]

A Day in the Life of Katrina Holte

An average day for Holte begins at 6:30 a.m. She wakes up and prepares Lars’s clothes for him; then she cooks his breakfast and packs his lunch. After she eats, she does 15 minutes of gentle exercises.

“We have the idea today that we have to push our bodies to the limit, but in the 1950s, the attitude was simply that you had to take care of it,” she explains. “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 1950s dresses.”

After her exercises, Holte showers, dresses, applies a “full face of vintage makeup,” including the iconic red lip, and curls her hair with traditional hot rollers. Then she’s ready to tackle the chores.

“I will then spend a good hour doing the laundry, dusting and sweeping. I make sure everything is kept in its place,” she says. “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.”

At around four in the afternoon, Holte begins to cook dinner to be ready for Lars when he comes home from work. 

“I usually cook recipes from the era like pot roasts or chicken pies and make sure there are vegetables,” she says. “In the 1950s, housewives liked to make sure all the food groups were there.”

When Lars arrives, he hangs up his coat and his wife serves him water and a plate of snacks like cheese, dried fruit or nuts to munch on while she puts the final touches on their entrees.

After dinner, they play board games like Scrabble, watch old TV shows like the Donna Reed Show and I Love Lucy, or they read. “I like reading 1950s cookbooks and vintage beauty and sewing magazines,” says Holte. Sometimes they’ll play Doris Day or Frank Sinatra, on vinyl, of course.

The only crack in the perfect 50s vibe is their TV, which they keep hidden when it’s not in use to avoid ruining the rest of the house’s aesthetic. Fear not though, they don’t have cable or use streaming channels. [2]

50s Housewife Controversy 

Many people show support for Holte; she should live however makes her happy. However, others dislike her glamorizing a time where many women didn’t have much choice but to be housewives, and their husbands were often controlling. Fortunately, the latter doesn’t seem to apply to Lars.

“He grew up in a house where he helped his mom with the cooking and the cleaning, so he is not domineering in any way,” she says. “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.”

She is fully aware of the issues in the 50s, but that doesn’t mean she can’t admire some aspects from that time. For example, she misses how neighborly people used to be, going back and forth borrowing eggs and sugar, and their children playing together. Nowadays, most people don’t make much effort to meet their neighbors.

“No decade is perfect, definitely we had big social problems in the ’50s, but the people I talk to who lived through the era say it was a time when you could leave your door unlocked and you didn’t need to worry about people breaking in,” she says. “People today have forgotten how to talk to people they don’t agree with and they have lost all their manners.” 

In reply to those who think of her as ‘anti-feminist,’ Holte states that she doesn’t feel repressed by this arrangement. In fact, she views it as an equal partnership.

“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.” [3]

  1. Zoe Forsey and Harriet Whitehead. Mirror. Woman quits job to look after husband because ‘men should be spoilt by their wives’ https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/weird-news/woman-quits-job-look-after-20313520 September 27, 2019
  2. Charlie Cocksedge. UNILAD. Woman Quits Job To Become ’50s Housewife’ Because She Thinks ‘Husbands Should Be Spoiled’ https://www.unilad.co.uk/life/woman-quits-job-to-become-50s-housewife-because-she-thinks-husbands-should-be-spoiled/ September 27, 2019
  3. Rob Bailey-Millado. New York Post. Woman quits job to ‘spoil husband’ like a 1950s housewife https://nypost.com/2019/09/30/woman-quits-job-to-spoil-husband-like-a-1950s-housewife/ September 30, 2019
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Sarah Schafer
Founder of The Creative Palate
Sarah is a baker, cook, author, and blogger living in Toronto. She believes that food is the best method of healing and a classic way of bringing people together. In her spare time, Sarah does yoga, reads cookbooks, writes stories, and finds ways to make any type of food in her blender. Her blog The Creative Palate shares the nutrition and imagination of her recipes for others embarking on their journey to wellbeing.

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