Stepping into the home of Richard Remp-Morris is like walking back in time. His living space has been transformed into a vintage-era oasis. Mid-century modern furniture, record players and rotary phones are the norm in his household.
But you don’t even have to get inside the house to know it’s something special.
While all the other homes on 21st St. are red brick homes with white shutters, his is bright yellow, trimmed with turquoise touches and purple columns. The sidewalk steps leading into his front door read “welcome home.”
After moving to Owensboro in 2006 to take a job with the Red Cross, Remp-Morris found the little house — originally built in 1952 — and instantly fell in love.
Five years after signing the purchase papers, he really started designing and decorating his home with an older look.
“I’ve always been drawn to things from the 50s, 60, 70s and 80s — I think because of the sense of optimism, the uniqueness; I love how designers poured their hearts into things,” he said. “I’m sure that had to be a very depressing time after World War II, but designers took on a different type of creative edge.”
That creative edge is what he hopes makes his home unique, as well as a special place for himself.
Before coming to Owensboro, Remp-Morris was in the Navy, and lived in Florida. That’s where he really began collecting vintage items.
“I had some really prime pieces, and then I sold them for the move,” he said. “Sold a bunch of stuff thinking, ‘oh I will get that again,’ not realizing how hard it would be to replace stuff.”
For example, a four-piece set of Serendipity vintage kitchen pans took him five years to put together.
“It’s really hard to find,” he said. “Sometimes I will just Google phrases like ‘old pan,’ hoping someone will do something stupid and let go of something that they don’t know what they have.”
Naming one favorite piece in the house was hard – but his stove ranked near the top.
“I wanted this stove for 10 years, and one finally surfaced,” he said. “This is the same type of stove that was used in the TV series Bewitched. It’s a great era piece.”
Remp-Morris said appliance makers thought of everything in the 1960s and 70s. His stove covers pop out so they can be easily cleaned, and his refrigerator has a shelf that rotates like a lazy Susan so items on the back of the shelf are easily accessible.
Like most trends, what was old is now new again. Remp-Morris said he routinely searches Instagram hashtags like #AtomicKitchen and #colorfulkitchen to get ideas for his own home.
“There are now books being written about people who are addicted to Atomic,” he said. “The Atomic-era is what I am most drawn to – of the late 50s and early 60s. This is the period I am kind of obsessed with.”
While some would keep their collections for show, Remp-Morris is adamant about using everything in his home.
“I’m a real stickler that there is nothing here in the house that can’t be used, can’t be touched,” he said. “Everything here is used and loved. I want to really enjoy it. I love things from this time period – the creative energy, the uniqueness. I always tell people they should surround themselves with things that give them joy.”
Remp-Morris considers it a privilege to live in Owensboro.
“There are so many creatives and artistic people here,” he said. “You don’t have to look very far to see I’m not unique in that sense.”
While he said some pieces just speak to him when he is out thrifting, sometimes friends bring him objects that were in their family or that they find while shopping.
“It’s a privilege that people want to share their stuff with me,” Remp-Morris said.
Even with all that he has amassed over the years, he said the collecting is never done.
“I’m to the point now if I drag something in unless it’s something really special, my promise is something goes out,” Remp-Morris said. “I don’t want people to think I am a hoarder.”
Every room in the house is decorated to reflect Remp-Morris’ style.
The bathroom mirror is from the 80s, the ceiling in his hallway has records all over it, and not one detail has been left out.
Some of the funky items in his homes are rarities – like an aluminum plate that was only made for one year in the 1950s, and several of the kitchen appliances, which take years of searching to find.
“I think that this stuff, if you really stop to think about it, these were better days,” Remp-Morris said. “Neighbors knew neighbors, families were closer. I guess there is a small part of me that I am drawn to that. I want my house to be a reflection of those times.”