Still Love Your Old Flame?

New CA-Modern story celebrates the art of restoring classic MCM ovens and cooktops
Fridays on the Homefront
'Old Burners Never Die..,' a story featured in the new Summer '17 issue of CA-Modern magazine, tells a tale of sacrifices, successes, and sometimes deadends, as people try to sustain mid-century ovens and cooktops for the sake of style. Pictured above: a Thermador double oven, a rare beauty indeed, but you can still find one cooking
away in the Eichler X-100.
Fridays on the Homefront
Foster City Eichler owner Nelson Au loves his Thermador original. Photo: Sabrina Huang
Fridays on the Homefront
Fridays on the Homefront
Thermador original cooktops still in action. Top: Thanks to Avril Couris. Above: Rachel Cross. Photos: Dave Weinstein

As with a classic model car, original equipment adds a critical measure of authenticity to a mid-century modern home.

And as with efforts to restore a classic car, availability—and sometimes price—of replacement parts for original equipment is frequently a homeowner's greatest challenge.

The story of that challenge for a handful of Northern California mid-century modern homeowners is explored through a feature in the new Summer 2017 issue of CA-Modern magazine. 'Old Burners Never Die...' tells a tale of sacrifices, successes, and sometimes deadends, as people try to sustain mid-century ovens and cooktops for the sake of style.

Avril Couris moved into her Eichler in Marin County in 1973, eyeing the Thermador electric range with skepticism.

"I thought the first thing I would do is replace it with gas, but now it's 44 years later," Couris said in the magazine story. "I actually like the original…You see people changing their kitchens all the time, and then in ten years it's obsolete and you have to change it again."

Or, you can show the confidence to stick with a classic, using ingenuity and flexibility to embrace and sustain it. That's certainly what it took for Rob and Lauren Sorokolit to succeed.

"A lot of people assumed the first thing we were going to do was replace the oven," Rob said of the Chambers oven and cooktop that is original to their custom Carter Sparks mid-century modern home in Sacramento. "After a couple of months, it just grew on us. It's so cool…Chambers stoves had a lot of really cool features that were the first of their kind in the '40s and '50s."

Their Chambers AR-9H was not without its shortcomings, however. The oven has a spinning rotisserie that they couldn't wait to use, but it didn't heat up enough to cook much of anything. Another key asset came with the house, though: the stove's manual.

Consulting the manual, Lauren said in our story, "We could figure out that the heating elements were the problem."

Fortunately, the Sorokolits found a business on eBay called Vintage Stove Parts, and the couple sent the company a picture of the faulty heating element.

"When we put in the heating elements, we were really holding our breath," admits Rob of the replacement parts. "It was perfect…The thing works as good as the day it was purchased."