Kachelofen! Gesundheit. Glamorous Ceramic Stoves

This past Saturday night, my friend Michael suggested we go see a double feature at the Jersey City Lowes – Notorious and The Third Man. The Jersey City Lowes is an elaborate movie palace built in 1929, but more about that in another post. The films were wonderful, as usual, of course, but one thing has stuck with me since Saturday. The ceramic stove in Anna Schmidt’s apartment.
It was a bit of a mini obsession for me so I spent some time on Sunday exploring the Internet for them. Thanks to the design/lifestyle blog An Aesthete’s Lament, where I learned a little more about them, I now know they originated (not surprisingly) in northern Europe and are called a kachelofen in German, a kakkelovin in Swedish and a poêle en faïence in French.
The seeds of my obsession were planted when I was quite young. One of these glamorous stoves was used in a film that was a big influence during my formative years: Auntie Mame.
It’s heavily featured in one of the raciest incarnations of Mame’s Beekman Place apartment – part of the “only collection of its kind in the Universe” assembled by the fictional designer Yul Ulu. It’s especially interesting to see them used in such different films – the bleak, crumbling post war Austrian setting is so completely foreign to the frothy Technicolor interior of Mame’s apartment.
I think what fascinates me about the examples found in those films and the pictures I’ve assembled here is their quality of whimsy. They’re like tchotchkas on steroids. It’s as if someone super sized a salt shaker and it appeals to my desire for design touches on a grand scale – something I think every room should have at least one of.

Now these delightful little accessories (which I’ve heard are extremely efficient heaters) will set you back quite a pretty penny. I would imagine the examples here would run in the area of $100,000 now, if you could even find them. But they’re wonderful inspiration for an eclectic room. Create their effect with French provincial furniture accented with gay colored paint touches or upholstery and contrast it with sleek modern glass and steel and you’ll have a room to remember!