Katrina Holte is not a modern woman.
After three years of happy marriage, and getting stressed out by her job in a busy payroll department, she decided in 2018 to turn back time — and live like a 1950s housewife.
That’s when Holte, 30, transformed her Hillsboro, Oregon, home into a suburban shrine to the pre-ERA era, busying herself cleaning, making dresses using vintage patterns — and getting dinner on the table by the time her husband, Lars, 28, gets home from his job 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 as a vinyl Doris Day soundtrack plays in the background. “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.”
Yes, her closet is full of “flattering” frocks she sewed herself, and the home’s decor is retro as all get-out, but it’s not “like it’s a museum,” Holte tells PA Real Life.
“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.”
But of course the part-time seamstress of 10 years, who sells her handmade garments online, asked for Lars’ permission before leaving the workforce.
“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.”
A day in the retro life
Holte’s typical day starts at 6:30 a.m., when she wakes up and lays out Lars’ clothes before preparing his breakfast and packing his lunch. After feeding herself, she does 15 minutes of “gentler” exercises from yesteryear.
“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 says. “I have a vintage slant board, which is a small wooden ramp, to do core exercises like situps. 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 workout, she heads upstairs for a shower and “full face of vintage makeup,” complete with Pond’s cold cream and Revlon red lipstick, with “well-drawn eyebrows” and “traditional hot rollers to curl my hair.”
When she looks her best, it’s time to get to her 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 matter-of-factly. “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.”
Holte starts supper around 4 p.m. to ensure everything is ready when Lars arrives 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.”