oh-myyy-ribbon

Stressed out by her job in a busy payroll department, when a happily married woman turned her back on the rat race she also turned back time – deciding to live like a 1950s housewife.


Transforming her suburban home in Hillsboro, Oregon into a working shrine to the era, Katrina Holte, 30, now loves keeping house for her engineering manager husband, Lars, 28 – cleaning, cooking and making dresses using 1950s 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."

She continued:

“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."
“My closet is full of 1950s dresses I've made myself. I have 1940s-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."

Katrina (PA REAL LIFE/COLLECT)

“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."

Katrina explained:

“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."

Knowing her house is spic and span when Lars comes home, after dinner, the couple relax, playing traditional board games like Scrabble together before watching old-fashioned shows like I Love Lucy and The Donna Reed Show.

Katrina's home (PA REAL LIFE/COLLECT)

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 own 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."

Katrina at home (PA REAL LIFE/COLLECT)

Her day starts at 6.30am when she wakes and sets out her husband's clothes, ready for the day ahead, before preparing his breakfast and making him a packed lunch.

After her own breakfast she does 15 minutes of vintage exercises.

“Exercise in the 1930s to 1950s was a lot gentler. There was a lot of stretching, warming up or 'limbering up,' as they would say back then."

Katrina and Lars (PA REAL LIFE/NOAH HOLTE)

Katrina continued:

“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."
“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."
“After my exercises I will go upstairs to take my shower and put on a full face of vintage make up. 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."

Katrina (PA REAL LIFE/COLLECT)

“My entire wardrobe is 1950s, 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 colours 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."

Katrina (PA REAL LIFE/COLLECT)

She explained:

“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 4pm to 5pm 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. In the 1950s, housewives liked to make sure all the food groups were there."

She explained:

“When Lars gets home he likes to hang his own coat up, which I don't mind. I read in a 1950s book that if a man wants to hang his own 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 1950s cookbooks and vintage beauty and sewing magazines."

Katrina (PA REAL LIFE/COLLECT)

Shunning modern music and television, Katrina listens to classical music or artists like Frank Sinatra and Doris Day on her vintage record player.

When not in use, the television is hidden away, so as not to mess up the vintage look of the room and the couple do not watch cable or streaming channels.

Katrina continued:

“My husband is very appreciative of what I do."

Katrina and Lars (PA REAL LIFE/NOAH HOLTE)

She explained:

“He grew up in a house where he helped his mum 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."

Katrina's wardrobe (PA REAL LIFE/COLLECT)

Katrina said:

“I think a man needs his wife to make him feel spoilt 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 definitely not a repressed woman."

Far from feeling that women in the 1950s were under the thumb, Katrina insists they were independent thinkers.

Katrina and Lars at their wedding (PA REAL LIFE/KAMI COUCH)

She continued:

“I read some statistics from the era that said 30 per cent 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 1950s, that's how I would have liked to have met someone."

A record Katrina listens to when doing her exercises (PA REAL LIFE/COLLECT)

At their wedding at The Academy Chapel and Ballroom, Vancouver, Washington, in July 17, 2015, the couple's first dance was to "Laendler," as performed by Julie Andrews and Christopher Plumber in The Sound of Music.

She added:

“I used to watch that film every day when I was a teenager. I can recite the whole thing from start to finish. Although I only watch it a few times a year now, I still make dresses based on the costumes."

While she admits the era was far from perfect, 1950s values really appeal to Katrina.

She explained:

“The golden rule then was to do to others what you want them to do to you."
“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."
“People today have forgotten how to talk to people they don't agree with and they have lost all their manners. They are always in a rush, they don't remember to say please and thank you. Nowadays people are looking out for themselves and not thinking about the people around them."

Katrina's dinner table (PA REAL LIFE/COLLECT)

“All the stories I've read are about women borrowing dishes or butter from each other, and the neighborhood kids all playing together. You find now neighbors will go from the car to the garage to the house and won't speak to each other."

Now looking forward to starting a family, Katrina said she would like four children.

She said:

“I'm not sure I'll be able to keep my house in perfect order but we would love to have a big family."

Katrina at their wedding (PA REAL LIFE/KAMI COUCH)

She added:

“I definitely plan to put my little girls in vintage dresses, petticoats and hats, but when they get older they can make their own choices."

Visit Katrina's blog here or follow her on Instagram @katrinaariana

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One time I was asking students their birthdays. One boy told me that his birthday was September 31st. I tried to explain that this was not possible, but he insisted. Later, I looked it up. I then informed him that his birthday was November 17th.

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