DIY Resolutions: Making Over a 1950′s Kitchen

Happy New Year! It’s the first winter I’m spending in our new house, a 1950′s ranch with boatloads of potential awesomeness. I’ve been stuck indoors for a few months now with a newborn, and that has given me a lot of time to consider all of the things I want to gradually change about this place, both for aesthetics and pure functionality in a modern era.

Many of the rooms were well preserved from the original construction (like the fabulous maroon tiled bathroom with a square bathtub), but the kitchen had been one room to receive modest renovations by the previous owners, and the upgrades they chose simply weren’t that great. The space is plenty usable now, and we have no intention of gutting it and making it our dream kitchen until we have solid plans and the means to do so, but still, I have a long list of kitchen facelifts I’d like to make to the space this year, a little resolution to me.

Making plans to upgrade a 1950's kitchen.

In no particular order:

  • Paint cabinets: Wooden cabinets are pretty au natural, but I wish they had left the base cabinets natural too. The contrasting beige paint and wooden cabinets just isn’t my cup o’ tea, and I think unifying the look will do a lot for the whole room. I’m planning to work with the existing countertop and flooring, which should make for an interesting challenge when it comes to color. And for those wondering, the big round knobs are absolutely staying. They are classically huge, and I adore them. Plus, it would cost a small fortune to replace all of them.
  • Line drawers and shelves: The paint they used on the insides of drawers and on the shelves where we store our cups and plates is tacky, as in literally sticky to the touch, as if it’s the perfect combination of too glossy + old, and no cleaning agent will overpower it. It needs to be remedied, pronto, and drawer liners are one way to do this.
  • New fan: The current one has been dubbed “The Ugliest Fan Ever,” and maybe it deserves to be retired and replaced with a pretty pendant.
  • Wall paint: The whole room is covered in a grassy, textured wallpaper, and maybe I’ll change my mind before I actually do it, but my current intention is to paint right on over it with white paint to match the rest of our house. Doing so will require a little prep work, making sure all of the edges of the wallpaper are glued in place, but it shouldn’t be too challenging.
  • New backsplash: What you’re seeing there is actually a plastic backsplash that extends from the countertop to beneath the cabinets. I’m not sure if it can be painted easily, or what kind of drywall mess it may leave if I tear it out, but I think something needs to be done to it.
  • New sink, updated faucet: The sink has three basins, and the faucet only barely reaches into any of the three. This makes doing dishes and filling pots considerably un-enjoyable. I actually have a fancy faucet that I took with me from my last house, and I think it’ll suit the bill here, and if I can find a drop-in sink to fit the hole left by the current sink, it would make a big difference in the functionality of the room.
  • New range hood/fan: The current one doesn’t work.

Follow the changes here over the course of the year, as I conquer them one at a time as part of my New Year’s resolution. In the meantime, here are some of the remodels I’m using for inspiration.

A built-in banquette is a great way to integrate some 1950′s diner style into a modern kitchen. I like how it is done here:

Someday I’d really love to bump out the ceiling of our kitchen like this one, so this photo is one I want to keep in my back pocket for reference. The brightly colored accents are great too – those chairs would work great in our soon-to-be white-walled kitchen.

The window above the sink is really what catches my eye in this contemporary renovation below. The white paint trim really brightens it up, and I hope painting the trim on our similar window achieves the same effect.

I really love the cabinetry here, and though we’re years away from a full blown renovation, the colors used in this kitchen would also work really well in ours, considering the tan countertop and flooring. (Also, sweet oven!)

If I painted the cabinets a light shade of tan, would they magically look as great as these?

For more kitchen inspiration, see before and after makeovers on a budget.

7 Responses

  1. Salma says:

    Wow, wonderful Kitchen makeover.

  2. I truly adore the cabinetry here, and however we are years from an all out redesign, the hues utilized as a part of this kitchen would likewise work truly well in our own, considering the tan ledge and ground surface.

  3. If you are fed up of the old leaky faucet, and have planned to replace it soon, then you should not forget to have a look at the large varieties of faucets online, read their features, compare the prices, and then choose the best one for your kitchen.

  4. Amber Evans says:

    The 2nd image up there looks like Sephia tone retro look.

  5. [...] After living with our 1950′s kitchen for 7 months and identifying many of its little quirks, I finally put my pen to the paper and started listing what it was that I wanted to get done. We’re still years away from a major renovation, but from paint to fixtures to removing the gross, sticky shelf liners, the gradual transformation of the kitchen would appear to be a good one, on the surface at least. It might take me all year, but I’m on it. You can read all about those goals in this post on DIY Network. [...]

  6. Liz_HGTV says:

    Emily, I used some of the same inspiration images when I posted about my space over on Design Happens! I think we have the same dream kitchen…

  7. Katherine Utter says:

    Very nice this is what i need in my house trailer. My kitchen is bad no counterspace or drawers.


About Emily Fazio 


I caught the home improvement bug at an early age, and now I'm a full-time DIYer living in Rochester, NY. The projects I cover on my blog Merrypad range ...

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