My kitchen, unveiled. Finally.

by Sarah on July 8, 2013

old kitchen collage med size

Look, I’m diving right back into this.  I dithered and dathered, hemmed and hawed about the right way to show you guys all these pictures, and before you know it, it’s been almost a year since I promised them to you.  Totally lame. Ok, so above is what our kitchen looked like.  Remember that coral Formica? Yeah, it was cool and I loved it.  Laugh if you want, but Formica is affordable and long lasting–this lasted 60 years!  One thing I want you all to remember is that my little house was built in 1950–I wanted to keep my kitchen as close to 1950 as possible, just in better condition.

kitchen deconstruction

Here is what things were looking like as we were taking it apart.  A little gruesome, a little exciting and a lot of “oh shit”.

kitchen reconstruction

Here is the beginnings of putting things back together, bit by tiny bit.  Our fabulous contractor did the hard stuff, and I tried to help with the easy stuff, like sanding, priming and painting.  See that coral paint?  It was matched to my old Formica color, using a chip from the old counter.  I had to keep one piece of the old place, especially a piece that I really liked.  The globe lights are period perfect–Nana had some at her house too.  The window got a little makeover too–it was made a little bigger and got a sash window that opens from both the top and bottom.  Now if I open the window while cooking, the breeze doesn’t blow out the flame on the stove.  Really, it’s the little things.

kitchen finishing touches

Last steps are bringing in the heavy things and putting in the finishing touches. OMG we bought more Formica.  Really it’s turquoise Wilson Art laminate, and it looks fantastic.  The counters were fabricated locally–super locally, about half a mile from here–and they installed the awesome aluminum edging and everything.  There are LOTS of photos below, taken by a real photographer so they actually look nice.  I hope you will enjoy it’s kooky charm as much as I do.

Come on in!

Here’s the first peek.  What do you think?  It’s my dream kitchen. Let me show you around.  Floors are VCT, black from Home Depot with a couple of white and turquoise tossed in.  I got the turquoise tiles at the Re-Use store, leftovers from someone else’s project.  So affordable!  Durable!  Also, if one gets screwed up you can just pry it up and glue another one on there.  Victory Garden of Tomorrow posters by Joe Wirtheim, check them out.

Workspace!  You know that at one time there was none. I am seriously in heaven. That’s the same dirty old stove that we had before.  At least I got to give it a good scrub when it was pulled out.

A new refrigerator was really important.  The one we had, while a top-quality fridge, was just too big for my tiny house.  Yes, we downsized, but it also fits. I’ve got a backup fridge in the garage for drinks and whatnot.  It’s a Samsung and was pretty affordable.  Also:  CUPBOARDS.  Before all this there was restaurant shelving there, and that’s it.  Everything would get all dusty and I didn’t have a workspace next to the stove.

In 1950, when this house was new, this cabinet held an ironing board.  At some point before we moved in, some kind soul installed little shelves.  Perfect for spices, of which I have tons of.  Thanks people!

George Nelson ball clock.  Love.  Mine is a replica, because the real ones are kind of pricy.  It’s a pretty good replica though.

Bunny and carrot paper towel holder made by Alessi.  Fantastic.

Way too many tools, but what are ya gonna do?  They live in that cute metal mug thing, which used to hold similar utensils at my dad’s house.  Till I swiped it.

Another shot of my NEW WORKSPACE.  Adore.  Butcher block top, Kitchenaid mixer (my college graduation present) and vintage Osterizer beehive blender.

1950-era curved shelves, just like the originals.  Holding Nana’s teapot collection.

Apothecary jars living on the counter.  Hand-me-downs from my cool dad.

Inexpensive Calphalon pot rack, filled with fancy All-Clad pans and vintage Descoware.

Necessity.  Magnetic knife rack.

Aw yeah, vintage Norelco 12.  Quite possibly the only attractive coffeemaker ever.

Hidden long drawer for all those tools that don’t really fit anywhere.  Nifty.

It lives in the skinny little cupboard with the butcher block cutting boards.  We got that dishwasher a couple of years ago, still works and looks great.  It’s a Maytag.  Like the blue cheese.

Original window to the back yard.  It opens now, after lots of paint scraping.   At some point, the previous owners added a rumpus room onto the back of the house.  A lot of the homes in our neighborhood have add-ons for family rooms or whatnot. In ours, there is another bank of these cabinets and a countertop about three feet long.  Handy for when we entertain.  In the room portion, there is a bar, a sofa, the hi-fi and records.  It’s pretty groovy.  When people come over, we can open the window for talking or so we can hear the record player from down in there.

I don’t know if you recall, but I often griped about not having an exhaust fan. Everything, and I mean everything, got grease on it and then got dusty.  It really didn’t matter how much I cleaned, stuff still got grimy.  This is a vintage fan from our local Re-Use Store.  Often in the 50’s and 60’s, exhaust fans were placed on the wall like this.

Is this glorious or what?  The cupboards are vintage and were salvaged from Beale Air Force Base.  Those are the original handles and everything.  All I had to do is sand them a tiny tiny bit with steel wool and treat them with Howard Feed-n-Wax.  I lined them with cute strawberry contact paper too.  Oh yeah, check out the solar tube!  More natural light!  Also, there are electric lights inside for when you need a little extra light.

This amazing number is called a Dishmaster.  It is a new/old product. Originally manufactured in 1948, the faucets are now made new by a company called SilverStream.  I learned about them from Pam at Retro Renovation.  Thanks Pam!

I read recently on Retro Renovation that Dishmaster had a limited number of original faceplates, which, of course, I had to get.  Isn’t it cool?    Sorry about the photo, it’s from my phone.

And here’s Nana, back in the kitchen where she belongs.



So that’s it!  I hope you enjoyed your tour.  Stay tuned, I will have Nana at your service this Wednesday.

P.S.  I got a new dog, her name is Schatzi.  She says ‘hi’.

Many thanks to our contractor, Mr. John Foster.  If you are in Sacramento, and are interested in speaking to him about a project, you can contact him.  John Foster:

Thanks also to my friend Chantel, who took the ‘after’ photos, (except the crappy phone one).  She can be contacted at Elder and Eleakis Photography

Gratitude also to Pam at Retro Renovation, for all the inspiration and resources.  Check out her great website!


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