The Retro Kitchen Renovation Begins


I know I know! I did not think we would live here 4 years before we got started on the kitchen renovation. But we have begun!

For those who may be purists, who might think that anything original (no matter the condition) must be used, you might want to scroll on by.

When we closed on the house, all that remained of the 1952 kitchen were the too small/ dirty/ poorly painted wood cabinets, the exhaust fan and the attached knotty pine mud room.

knotty pine 008

Unfortunately the cabinets had been painted (many times) without removing the hinges, gooey food gunk or scotch tape. Other issues include the fact that they were built on site and the shelves were not adjustable and they were so small that I could not fit a cereal box or bottle of cooking oil in them.

The floor, counters and back splash were recent upgrades by the last owners, sloppily installed for re-sale. There were no original light fixtures, hardware or counter tops.

We did find what we think was part of the original counter tops in the basement. It had been used as a top on a hand-made work bench. It was gray laminate with metal edging. All that remained was a small L shaped piece.

new stuff 156

Here is the side view of one drawer in the kitchen cabinets. You can see the quality of work that was done in the kitchen. I just love that the paint was allowed to run down the side and that a nail was left sticking out. That glob of turquoise paint was the color that was under the black paint.

paint 021

Ever optimists, we made do with what was in place in this room. We cleaned it within an inch of its life, painted it a cheery aqua, added some NOS cabinet hardware found on eBay and a few vintage light fixtures from garage sales. We already had an early 50’s 40″ Universal range which fit perfectly in the space.


But, no matter how much we tried to make it LOOK good, the room was still poorly finished, not very functional and worn out.

The dishwasher died right before the closing, so we were left with a gaping hole next to the sink. I tried to hide it with a skirt.

Try to bear with me, as my next several posts will seem disjointed. We are gutting the kitchen and starting over in there, moving a door, opening up a wall to the living room, moving the washer and dryer out of the mud room, revamping the cabinets and vanity in the hall bath, and upgrading the 3/4 bath off of the kitchen. While we have the mess, we have plumbing, air conditioning and electrical work to do.

All at the SAME TIME.

My town does not have a Habitat Re-Store or re-use center. We don’t even have a Goodwill. The closest Craigslist area is 50 miles away. The resources are just not here to buy vintage and recycle. We have tried to leave what was original (and still functional) to stay true to the style and period of the home. Sadly, some things just could not be saved.

Never fear though, that knotty pine will stay put! Wait till you see what we found hiding in the hall bath.

I have spent endless hours online, looking at retro laminate for counter tops and back splash, Sputnik style lighting and Armstrong VCT flooring. My UPS man is probably wondering how I could possibly need so many samples.

Please check back as all this is happening RIGHT NOW.


2 responses »

  1. Hi there,

    I am sure you have been however JUST IN CASE check out the website as she is a priceless resource for all. Maybe there are merchants online available to help!

    Good luck!


    • Thank you Leslie. Yes I have been a faithful reader of her blog since becoming a mid-century home owner 4 years ago! In fact, my flooring and counter top choices for the new kitchen are ones that she featured šŸ™‚ I check her site every morning after checking my emails!

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