1970 Kitchen Facelift

curley6June 29, 2013

Help Please! I have been living with this 1970 kitchen for a year now. I can not afford a renovation at this time and after a long long kitchen renovation in my last home I would not have the stomach for it at this point anyway.

I am thinking of painting the cabinets and walls. Probably white. Possibly navy on the bottom cabs. I was also loving some pics online of brass hardware.

The cabinets are actually in good condition, the layout is fine. It is an eat in kitchnen. There is plenty of storage. Stove stays. Refrigerator was replaced with my double door freezer on the bottom stainless. Cant replace counters now but any and all makeover ideas would be welcome.

Thanks in advance!

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Leave the cabinets alone. They are charming. The counters changing would make the biggest impact in the space. With a simple L shape, replacing them with in stock laminate from one of the box stores would be an easy and inexpensive DIY job. I'd go dark, with as little pattern as possible.

Then find a simple 4x4 tile in a retro color and put it on the diagonal for the backsplash.

I personally love the floor, as retro 70's is a hot trend in home design, but if you can't stomach it, choosing one of the snap together or Allure type vinyl floors in a non wood look could be a good choice. The snap together could be re-used in a remodel down the road.

That minimal expenditure ought to hold you until you can afford a renovation that can address the functional issues of the space. And when you do that, I'd hope that you chose very similar cabinets to what exists. They suit the bones of the home very well.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2013 at 11:43AM
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I have to say that I actually like your cabinets. How about starting with different light fixture, paint, backsplash (is it just paint now?), and new hardware?
Also, what about the floor?
What kind of wood is this?

    Bookmark   June 29, 2013 at 11:48AM
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I'm personally not at all fond of those cabinets and would definitely paint them like you are thinking. I like the idea of the allure vinyl flooring. New cabinet and flooring colors would make a huge impact in your space!

    Bookmark   June 29, 2013 at 11:51AM
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Holly- Kay

I like the cabinets too. I agree that they fit the bones of the house. Brass hardware would look really great and I agree that a dark laminate counter top would add a lot of punch.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2013 at 12:11PM
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Thanks for the tips! I do like the cabinets too. The drawers are very deep. They really are functionally good. Here is a pic of the other side of the kitchen. The whole thing is paneling! There is also a decent size pantry. I kind of like the retro light fixtures. I like the retro look in general.

Portable dish washer is gone already.
I like the idea of a snap on floor. I am not sure I can stomach the green, though friends have come in and complimented it.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2013 at 12:18PM
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I have the exact same cabinets and i painted mine! Made a world of difference in modernizing the kitchen especially once i changed the hardware. You can do cup pulls on the drawers for a vintage or country look or modern bar pulls in brushed nickel for a modern look. A laminate countertop would look good. Theyve come a long way. I kind of like the idea of the navy cabinets but i would do them all that color and add a soft color to the backsplash with glass tile. Just be sure to prep the surfaces well and choose a quality enamel paint. Good luck.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2013 at 1:27PM
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Hi. I like what you have to work with, including the table space right there. Nice. What I also like a lot that your kitchen gives you the freedom to experiment and have fun. A real luxury so many don't feel they have these days (can't risk ruining the investment).

It seems like the first thing to decide is what you want the WHOLE room to look like, and then decide what to keep and build your look on. Start printing out pix of rooms that speak to you, any rooms, not just kitchens.

Already know the green-and-yellow's out? How about painting the floor navy? Or navy and cream stripes? Or? Rugs are very popular in kitchens now, BTW.

The counters? Definitely go buy a couple sheets of laminate and learn how to apply them by doing, right over the existing counter. Your favorite kitchen pictures will tell you if the color you choose should contrast with the cabinets its sitting on or match.

Since this is a budget redo, I'd stay away from fake materials like the plague. Unfortunately, there are far more fake-stone and fake-wood patterns in floor and counter options than otherwise, but just search more. The fact is, low budget does not preclude a great design, but obviously fake materials in a modest room do. (I'm assuming you're not going for the mobile home look.). Do a search for decorating on a budget, and you'll see for yourself. The, "Oh, wow!, I want to do something like that!" designs just don't do the "Well, I-can't-afford-the-real-thing" look. They are the real thing. Your current floor, for instance, is something somebody could build a really good design around precisely because there's nothing fake about it--it's the real thing.

Have fun. Nothing's permanent for you at this point.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2013 at 3:07PM
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Paint the paneling and the walls. replace the laminate with a different color. Replace the hardware (I agree with you about brass). I would replace the flooring, but if you like it, work around it.

I can't wait to see "after" photos!

    Bookmark   June 29, 2013 at 3:15PM
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Thanks for the additional tips! I agree that I am fortunate to have some freedom. We redid our last kitchen ourselves but I still went with what would be better for resale as opposed to what was really "me". I have so many kitchen pics I love on pinterest. I will have to look and see what's really calling to me.

The floor really never feels clean to me. White groves never become white again. I think it has to go. Painting is an interesting idea. Has anyone done that before?

    Bookmark   June 29, 2013 at 5:18PM
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We are owners of a 70's kitchen too, so here are my two cents:

- The cabinets look good in the photo. If the finish and hardware are in good condition, I'd leave them the way they are. Our dark wood cabinets were badly discolored. We painted them in two shades of green and cleaned the bronze hardware. The old pulls really popped against the freshly painted cabinets, and we loved the look. But after 7 years the paint is already coming off on some edges. I still have the paint, so I'm going to touch it up. A quality wood finish is less maintenance than paint;

- The yellow of the countertop, floor and backsplash doesn't work well with the wood on the cabinets in the photo. Our vintage butcherblock laminate countertop clashed with the dark wood cabinets. Now it works great with the green painted cabinets, and looks so much better! Perhaps you should look for colors for your countertop and backsplash that would enhance the wood tones in your kitchen?

- I agree with you on the old floor. We still have a vintage vinyl and it's a pain to clean with all the small grooves in it. I'm thinking of putting in a tile floor someday, but it isn't in the budget yet. The floor is mostly pale yellow. The color works fine with the cabinets and countertop and I'd want our new floor to be in similar yellow-beige tones;

- If your wood paneling is natural and of good quality (i.e. not cheap pine or something), it might be worth of preserving;

- I think if you change only a few big elements like the flooring, countertop and backsplash, it might enhance the whole space dramatically and make the wood cabinets and paneling shine. That's what I experienced when we painted our scary-looking cabinets. The hardware and countertop looked so much better instantly!

    Bookmark   June 29, 2013 at 6:03PM
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Yes, that floor is "real" -- real ugly! (Sorry to anyone that likes it!) I have heard of painting floor cloths, and of course wood and cement floors, but I don't know how durable paint on vinyl would be -- I think it takes a special paint to even stick.

I would for sure replace that, and paint the backsplash and paneling. The cabinets will look much better after that! (they are some of the more attractive from that era that I've seen).

    Bookmark   June 29, 2013 at 8:40PM
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It looks like your cabinets are in good condition. I think that with a new floor, counters and backsplash, they could get a new lease on life. I would paint or remove the paneling in the other room.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2013 at 9:11PM
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Thanks for the great advice! The pics are of the same room just the opposite side. The paneling is not high quality. I suppose I could try to do counters and floor first and then see if the paneling needs to be painted. I really would like a brighter space so I think it will.

I really like some of the retro formica patters. I am just unsure what color will work with those cabinets! I thought about tiling the back splash and counter but again not sure of color and such.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2013 at 9:48PM
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Oh my gosh, I have those same cabinets! We have a much smaller kitchen and it was installed in 1970. New floor vinyl would make a huge difference, as we have replaced ours over the last 9 years we have lived in this apartment, I can't wait to take everything out when we finally renovate.

I think flooring alone would really modernize it.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2013 at 10:07PM
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About the paneling: I installed paneling like that in the childrens' bedroom along about 1974, and un-installed it around 1998. You can paint it, but it might be better to just take it down - there's likely a real wall under there which could change the look of the whole room.

If you decide to leave the cabinets as is (I would), I recommend giving them a good clean-up. They look fine in the photo, but if they're looking grubby up close, a good scrub does wonders. Same for the hardware, or, alternatively, replace it with brass.

Counters and flooring: I would change out both just because the colors are killing me. Laminate counters, especially if you can use in-store off-the-shelf, is quite inexpensive. You can also go with inexpensive flooring that will do the job until you're ready to do something more serious. I would go with a vinyl as it complements the rest of the kitchen, just not lime green and burnt orange!

    Bookmark   June 29, 2013 at 10:18PM
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I am not sure what's under the paneling. It was installed when an addition was put on. A few feet of the kitchen is part of that.

The cabinets will get a good scrubbing for sure. I was thinking of painting the inside. The tops really don't have any back so it's just wall and it is not nice looking.

I've added a pic of some of images I like. Different rooms, patters, materials. None is exactly what I want but if I could pull something out of there that would work with the cabinets in their current state I would be happy.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2013 at 11:00PM
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I am not sure what's under the paneling. It was installed when an addition was put on. A few feet of the kitchen is part of that.

The cabinets will get a good scrubbing for sure. I was thinking of painting the inside. The tops really don't have any back so it's just wall and it is not nice looking.

I've added a pic of some of images I like. Different rooms, patters, materials. None is exactly what I want but if I could pull something out of there that would work with the cabinets in their current state I would be happy.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2013 at 11:05PM
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Here's some random thoughts if this were my kitchen--

1. Look at the Susan Susanka books ( esp., more not so big solutions for your home). Your library should have a few of her books. She designs homes using natural wood tones like your kitchen cabinets and sticks mainly with monochromatics.

2. Trim the wood valance over the sink so that the bottom edge is straight and the width is consistent with the area above the cabinet doors so that top area all flows.

3. Sell the black stove on CL and purchase a SS stove on CL. The change should not cost you much money.

4. Splurge to remove the window over the sink and enlarge the opening as much as possible.

5. Remove paneling, sheetrock, and then paint.

6. Ditto the snap in place wood floor idea.

Like others, I'll be looking forward to your reveal. The wood in your cabinets really looks lovely. Is it birch?

    Bookmark   June 30, 2013 at 12:20AM
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You've got a lot of blue in your inspiration file. What about doing a tone on tone blue checkerboard floor from VCT? r a different pattern? Or something random? It's about as cheap of a floor as can be done, and it can be stunning. If you did the random color pattern, you could work in some of the orange tones of the cabinets as the accent tiles with the various blues.

For the counter, ordering a custom fabricated laminate in the right color will be a bit more costly than DIYing one from slabs found at the box store, but it could be the element that brings the whole space back to life.

Formica Aqua Dotscreen

Formica Blueberry Halftone

Formica Endless Indigo (My choice as it reads solid from a distance but is interesting up close.)

    Bookmark   June 30, 2013 at 12:35AM
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And, with the Formica Endless Indigo you could add a black front trim piece which effectively hides the black seam.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2013 at 3:11AM
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I love those cabinets - I think you could paint them or leave them as is - but replace or cover the counter and either paint or BS the walls. The yellow/green walls make the cabinets look anemic.
I don't like the floors - regardless of retro - I would replace the floor.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2013 at 4:04PM
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What cool formica, GreenDesigns! I had no idea anything like that was available.

Curley6 when I looked at your kitchen I thought of the kitchen that Rachel Ray had on her first cooking show, and your inspiration pics seem to echo that, I get from your inspiration pics that you like not just blue, but even more, pale minty green/blue, and maybe pops of bright color. That will all work with your cabinets I think.
And you like a retro feel ? (which your cabs -- and exhaust fan!--are perfect for!) I like Greendesigns' suggestions for the flooring (checkerboard like your pics) and counters and maybe they are available in that paler color. I just wouldn't put checkerboard floors with a strong pattern on the counters.

Yellow can work with the cabs, just not the peeps yellow currently there -- more like a pale, soft tan-yellow.

My Family room circa 1950 is paneled in knotty pine which has aged to a deep orange-gold. A difficult tone to work with, but I have a sage green carpet that works well (at least I think so!)

    Bookmark   June 30, 2013 at 4:25PM
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You show a number of checked floors (set diagonally), which would be a terrific, relatively inexpensive way to add some real energy and style. Thin linoleum squares are available through the big box stores (no floor level issues), and Greendesigns shows some great ideas (all set and/or viewed diagonally). Armstrong isn't as inexpensive, but they have a very nice range of blues. I would pair with a patterned color, though, not bright white as every speck would show and I know I'd get tired of the shout-out contrast. That's extremely subjective, though..

That'd be a better idea than painting the floor for anyone but an enthusiast with an idea. :) Google "painted linoleum" and floor to see a bunch, but the materials and time to do a job that would stand up to kitchen wear decently would not be that inexpensive or quick. Still, talking about "freedom"...

After looking at your inspiration pictures, I think the most promising way of really pleasing yourself is to paint your cabinets. There aren't that many, and it'd really freshen and clean them up, too. As Raee noted, you do show a lot of blue, which would accentuate the yellow-orange of the existing finish.

As for durability of paint, LanaRoma's warning sounds more like an accolade to me. Seven years old in a hard-working room and finally needing to take some fine-grade sandpaper and matching paint to the edges? Excellent!

    Bookmark   June 30, 2013 at 5:24PM
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I don't know if the cabinets are birch but I also don't know how to tell : ) My paneling is not knotty pine. We looked at a house with beautiful knotty pin which isn't my style but seemed like the kind of thing you don't paint. Our paneling is thin, plain, noting special but taking it down is not an option since now.

I did live Rachel Ray's kitchen! I love the formica ideas and the checkerboard floor.

I am googling Susan Susanka right now. Our house is not so big for sure. We downsized when we moved. I have no regrets but sometimes miss the openness and many many large windows in my old home. The new home is a 1945, 3 bedroom ranch with a "finished" basement. It has some character. Actually I love my blue tile bathroom, the toilet and tub are white so it's not an all blue overwhelming thing. I like the retro feel.

If I could get those retro appliances I would probably take the kitchen too far! Though I winder if a stainless stove with a retro look would be possible someday...
Lots of thoughts. Thanks for the ideas and direction!

I think my husband might even like some of that formica!!!!

    Bookmark   June 30, 2013 at 5:30PM
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You really should check out RetroRenovation! I could see your beautiful kitchen with either blue/aqua or perhaps red formica. You could either get the checkerboard floor in B&W or else red & white.

Our cabinets had been previously painted, but we had these blue tile floors installed by PO's. Would love the B&W



Here is a link that might be useful: RetroRenovation Red Counters

    Bookmark   June 30, 2013 at 8:35PM
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I love Retro Renovation. I wrote to Pam for advice but I guess my situation may have stumped her. I wonder if she would have been a green floor advocate ; )

Your counter and backsplash really do set off your kitchen. I love the refrigerator too!

Here's one reason I love my cabinets. In my remodeled kitchen I had a spice pantry pull out that was really expensive but my favorite thing. In this kitchen I fit my spices in a drawer. If actually feels way more convenient.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2013 at 9:33PM
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Oh, I could see that you don't have knotty pine, just was referring to the similarity in the colors, somewhat orangey golden, and suggesting sage green as color that can work.

I would paint the paneling on the walls for sure. But, the cabinet finish, I think it is fine. If you like it.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 1:08AM
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I would start with painting the walls and the paneling. I love painted paneling bc it gives somes interest texture. After you do that sit back and think about the flooring and what you would like to see with the new painted walls.

I would definitely get new counters. There are so many affordable choices out there. As for the cabs, I like the idea of white and navy. Then you can step back and see what backsplash calls to you.

Great space you have and so many options!!!

Cannot wait for the progress and after pics!

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 7:17AM
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Taking down the builder-grade paneling on an accent wall in our 1964 living room turned out to be daunting and expensive because of the wall beneath. So we painted the same paneling in the adjacent family room BM Antique White, and it transformed the room. As Aktillery said, it gives a nice texture to the walls.

We had that same vent fan in that house, too. I kind of liked it. It sure worked well!

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 9:53AM
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Curley, I have my spices, in all their various original jars and tins, in drawers too, and it's like opening a culinary treasure chest.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 3:40PM
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I am going to pain the paneling and repost when I do. Thanks for the awesome advice!!! I keep rereading it and I feel much better about the space. Sometimes it takes seeing it through someone else's eyes.

Here is a pic of my "old" kitchen with I began about 4 years ago with lots of great advice from this forum. It never got totally done so I never posted it.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 5:06PM
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