Monday, July 6, 2015

Retro Kitchen Remodel

When we first moved into our old house, the kitchen was, in a word, GROSS! But we made some quick changes and cleaned it up.

Still, it was cramped and oddly arranged. Overall it was not user friendly. So after living with it for about a year, we decided it was time for a complete overhaul.

Before we bought this house, the kitchen had seen some hard days, and a lot of college parties. But, I love a good project!

Before Photos:

Original "cold storage"; Before

Now, I am aware that some people wouldn't walk into this space and think "Oh my GOODNESS it's my dream house!", but... I did!

I knew that hidden under all of this grime was a charming beach bungalow (originally built in 1928). I couldn't wait to bring it back to it's former glory!

When it was time to remodel and rearrange I set up a temporary "make-shift" kitchen in the laundry room, and we went to work.

The first step was the really fun part. We broke out the sledgehammer, sawzall and chisel. Because it was time for:


This a blast! Take out your frustrations, give a cabinet a good whack with a sledgehammer!
We even found a way to re-purpose some of these old cabinets into a playhouse for our children! For details on that project, see this post.

A note about old houses and with lath and plaster walls (as seen in these photos). This stuff crumbles! Once you start chipping away at it, the whole thing just starts to crumble away. So unless you have to remove it because of water damage, it's best to chip with care. Or, better yet, just leave it alone whenever you can!

We went over the old linoleum floor with simple peel and stick vinyl tiles. I found the best price for these colors on ebay. They are super easy to install, and easy to replace if an individual one gets too worn.

*Note: We installed the floor about a year before the actual remodel. But, I had purchased extra tiles. So, it was easy to fill in any gaps later, after we removed the original cabinets.

We purchased an old classic range from Craigslist, and I spent an entire day scrubbing the grossness out of it (see photo below).

I have no idea what that gelatinous gunk was, but I was able to get it out! For more details on this range, and before and after photos, please see this post.

Here are the products that I had the best success with while tackling the grossness:

And, for brightening dingy chrome surfaces, it works well to scrub them with dry steelwool. 

To really get in all the nooks and under the edges of this stove, I literally used dental tools to scrap out all of the gunk! They were great for the detail work!

I have a friend who's a hygienist, and she gave them to me. But, it looks like you can buy anything on Amazon these days! I've been surprised how any times it's been handy to have these little gadgets:

Finally it was time to order new cabinets (prefab white vinyl from Home Depot). We took careful measurements and a salesperson there helped us with the best possible configuration. They delivered them, and we installed them ourselves.
Then... countertops. Oh, how I wanted the clean smooth finish of granite counters! But, it simply wasn't in the budget. Enter, 12" granite tiles!

Designed for floors or walls, these tiles also work well on a countertop! All we had to do was take the edge pieces to a local stone/ marble shop to have put a "bullnose" (rounded edge) put on them. Then we simply installed them like we would have with any other tile.

I had a lovely granite counter, for a fraction of the cost of a slab! A small strip of white corner trim under the tiles completed the look.

We moved some plumbing and relocated the sink, so that it looked out over my garden (instead of the parking lot next door), added a small dishwasher, and reused the cabinet hardware I'd found on sale at Restoration Hardware. Soon, we had an entirely different kitchen!


We did our best to stay with a style that would reflect the age of the house, and the in which it was era built. But, we did this while simultaneously adding in modern conveniences. Little things like the classic subway tile backsplash (see link below for product info), a black and white pallet and red accents helped with this. It was such a relief to have a shiny, new, and functional kitchen!

For more about this little beach bungalow, and the changes we made there, please see these posts:

Thanks for stopping by!

Linking up to these fun parties!


  1. I love how you kept it retro! We are about to start remodeling our kitchen tomorrow so this was a great read for me! Thanks for sharing :o)

  2. omg, could your kitchen BE more charming?!? i love the retro feel of it, i always wanted a retro kitchen. that will not work with my cherry cabinets, so the hubs let me do the basement like that. we used black and white tiles, and love it!

  3. Your hard work paid off! Your kitchen looks great.

  4. Fabulous makeover and it turned out super cute! Featuring this at Wow this week!

  5. What a lot of hard work with wonderful results! :)

  6. What a gorgeous redo - LOVE that stove !
    We bought a fixer upper also - and we went with black and white stick on tiles too - but wish I'd known about where you bought yours because I've had problems with mine ( from Wayfair )
    You did a beautiful, beautiful job !!!

    1. Thanks! As for the floor tiles... I found them on ebay, but I'm sorry I don't remember the seller :(

  7. You did a fabulous job with this!! Love it! Thanks for sharing at Home Sweet Home!

  8. What a transformation! You did a fantastic job!

  9. You guys did an awesome job! doing it yourselves is a triumph!

  10. I will feature this week at Home Sweet Home!

  11. As a new participant in your blog, I just want to say that all the information you have given here is awesome. Thank you
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  12. Wonderful job! I am especially inspired because we just bought a house with those floors. The house was built in the early 1900's, but the kitchen was added in the 1980's. We don't have the budget to do a complete remodel and I considered painting the floors, but you managed to pull it all together and it looks fresh and clean! I'm glad that you shared the scary before pics too. It reminds me that this is all doable! Thanks for sharing! ~Eleanor

  13. What a very drastic change from what your kitchen looked like before! I can’t imagine how much time and hard work you put through in order to finish the makeover, but your kitchen truly looks magnificent. It’s quite a genius idea that instead of buying granite slabs, you resorted to buying granite tiles that surprisingly cost a lot less than the slabs, and it looks amazing too! Thanks for sharing the kitchen makeover!

    Debra Newman @ Unique Stone Concepts

  14. I love how you kept the look going in this kitchen. I am redoing my kitchen and its going to look so much better. I'm having do it and I love the work they do.

  15. I love how it went from gross to great, Hayley! I’m loving the classic kitchen look, but those gelatinous stains you previously had scare me. Well, it’s a good thing you’ve found a much sturdier and easier to clean countertop; I don’t think they need that much scrubbing. Cheers!

    Agustin Holiday @ Cutting Edge Stone

  16. Cheers! You have really allured me; I have no words to explain my feelings about your post. Kitchen remodel Lakeville

  17. Now that's a clean-up in every respect, in terms of actual grease and stains, as well as the clutter and its former lack of visual direction. I guess it makes sense that you go with a retro look, as that's the best way that you can make something out of the layout that you've got. It's pretty constraining, but at least it appears to be more sensible now, not to mention accessible. The floor is an absolute marvel, by the way.

    Arthur Bryant @ Contractor Express

  18. Thank you so very much for sharing your thoughts with us your experience has helped me a lot!

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  22. Hey Dear,

    Loved that you keep the retro style of your kitchen, Before pictures are really depressing. You have done marvelous job, But I'm little curious that do you take help from a professional or do it your own?

    Looking forward to your reply! And, thanks for sharing before and after pictures of kitchen remodel.

    1. Thanks! We had help with a few things, like moving the gas line and reframing a wall (where we added the pass through area). But other than that we just figured it out as we went along!

  23. Keep the ball rolling you have done the great job here.

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