Sunday, February 19, 2012

Our kitchen - then and now


When we moved into this house the kitchen still had the original cabinets and counter tops, but the wallpaper, flooring, stove and refrigerator all dated to the 1970s.  Harvest gold prevailed, but it didn't match the mint green gold-specked Formica which has a lot of wear and two burn marks.  We hated the updates, and they had to go fast.


The pull-down lamp in the kitchen is original and it was one of the things I MADE SURE would convey when we made the offer on the house.  The Nutone intercom system is original too.  You can also see the sputnik ceiling lamp I added in the dining room not long after we moved in.


I am not a big fan of wallpaper,and this pattern did not appear to be original so it was one of the first things we removed.  The immediate goal in the kitchen was to make it more usable since we didn't have the cash to redo it, and I didn't want to gut it anyway.


The 1970s harvest gold side-by-side refrigerator was one of the first things that went.  We've never liked side-by-sides. I was probably about three years ahead of when these would start to gain in popularity, so I had it hauled away when the new fridge was delivered.


A shot of the dinette I found on ebay about six years ago.  All of the seat cushions were trashed and I've since had the seats recovered with red cracked ice vinyl.  This shot shows the white walls after we had removed the wallpaper.  (The white is something I'd like to replace, but for now it's serviceable).


Next to go was the awful flooring.  Don't get me wrong, in a 1970s time capsule home it would be OK, but here, ugh.

At the time, I had been dying to find an old 1950s style dinette and do the kitchen in more of a complementary style, with black and white checkerboard composite tiles.  I got that done, but I'm already bored with the checkerboard floor and the dirt it shows.


Here's a more recent picture of the same area.


Next we debated about the cabinets.

Please don't shoot me, but I was dumb dumb dumb, and it didn't take me long to realize it.  I should have carefully sanded and refinished the worn cabinets (I'm guessing they were shellacked), but instead I made what I consider a really stupid decision.

Paint them white maybe?  No.  I opted instead to....

Paint them black.  Gloss black. Ugh.  I hated them from the moment I installed the last door and drawer.  The kitchen is as dark as a cave.  But this is what we've had to live with for several years now.  I'm a lot wiser, thanks mainly to Pam's Retrorenovation.com blog and website, and to a lot of reading other blogs and looking at a lot of photos of vintage kitchens.

Also since the "blackout", I picked up our Shasta camper.  And while researching how to repair the water-damaged birch paneling, I learned more about shellac.  The amber shellac I used in the Shasta has a really nice golden amber glow, and I'm thinking that is what I want to get our kitchen cabinets back to.






I really like the copper-colored original hinges and cabinet handles, so they will stay.  The handles are showing wear, but I can spray those with a copper metallic paint and then clear coat them and they should be as good as new.

So there you have it.  My deep dark, gloss black secret.

Ugh.

These things have a way of influencing other decisions and timing.  I've delayed trying to install and test the great Frigidaire Flair double oven because I need to make some decisions about the black paint and counter tops too, and the Flair is so battleship heavy I'm going to need  hire some guys to move it in before I can even test it, then I would have to be able to move the oven out of the way again to work on counter tops, backsplash, etc.

So I've been sort of paralyzed by thinking and by knowing what I'll be getting in to once I start.  Yesterday I took the plunge.  I pulled two top cabinet doors and started stripping off the black paint.  I'm going to do them one at a time, and then shellac those pieces.  Stripping the black from the cabinet fronts is going to really be a drag, but it will have to be done too.  And through all of this I'll have to keep the kitchen usable.

Next post I'll give a progress report on how the first doors are coming along.


22 comments:

  1. Oh yeah, kitchen resto! I wish I could re-do my kitchen floor. I rent and as much as I have begged the landlords to replace the dingy and torn linoleum in but they don't feel it is "necessary". It is the worst though and someday, if I can find some free or cheap lino in a cool pattern, I'll do it my darn self! I have an O'Keeffe and Merritt stove I'd love to bring upstairs too (talk about hiring guys!) but not till there is a new floor. At least you can tear into your without having to go through landlords!

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    1. You're right, I don't ever want to go back to renting.

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  2. I cracked up laughing when I saw your floor...I have the same linoleum in my kitchen! I've rented this home for many years and I have to say it has survived four boys growing up in it quite well. The kitchen floor has actually aged decently, but it is not my first choice either!

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    1. That seventies vinyl is hard to like, at least for me

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  3. I would focus on the cabinets first and then worry about the countertops and oven. If it's an option for you, can you run a 220 line directly from the electrical panel to test the Flair in place instead of moving it? I have my vintage stove project in my basement hooked up that way to test/work on it.

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    1. Hi Susie,
      That's a good suggestion for the Flair. I actually have another 220 connection in the basement, but getting the stove down there and then upstairs again would be a real pain.

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  4. Oh yeah, you can TOTALLY do this Uncle!!! It's going to look SO FAB once you are done, I can just picture it now. I know it is time consuming to strip it all down, but hey look on the bright side - you don't have to re-do an entire condo like I did! :D And don't beat yourself up about painting the cabs black either, we have all done things we wish we could take back.....I could name a few right off the top of my haed.....but I think I will keep my lips sealed for now! :D

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    1. Thanks Sara, you're right, I'm glad I don't have the whole house to do.

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  5. I am so excited you are taking this on as my lovely 40s kitchen had the original cabinets painted gloss black and I have been hedging about whether I should attempt removal...I want to know all the gory details :)

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    1. I'll have plenty of gore and gunk to share Scarlet, stay tuned!

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  6. Good to know about the flooring - we so definitely want to replace the unattractive and forever dirty looking vinyl flooring here at the Hacienda, so I'll make a mental note about not doing black and white checkerboards! It kinda gives me a headache anyways :-)

    best of luck with your cabinets - if there's anyone who can do a good job of it it's Uncle Atom! Mod Betty just doesn't have the skillz or the patience :-)

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    1. Thanks Mod Betty, it's going to take a lot of patience with these cabinets. Let me just say, dental picks are involved...

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  7. Im green with envey over your pull down lamp! I wish I could come across 4 of them for the new diningroom. (fat chance I know). Maybe you coudl replace the white tiles with another color? im also crazy about the shape of the door pulls.

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    1. Glad you like the door pulls Mick, they're one of the features that really attracted us to the house originally.

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  8. I would love to know what you are using to strip the cabinets. Zippy (our name for the former owner of our 1957 ranch) decided to put black latex over white enamel.

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    1. I'll have that info in my next post, thanks

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  9. I did a couple cosmetic renovations until I could afford to take a loan to do a complete renovation (14 years later) as there was so much that needed to be done including moving the water heater service to a new location. It took a lot of thought and research, I knew this would be it and I would likely live with it for the rest of my life. I choose blue glitter booths and counter high stools. Though the black and white floor was the true diner choice, I opted for "wheat" and "corn" colored tiles, the colors are warm and work well with the maple cabinets. It's been 12 years now and I have changed some things like paint and rugs, back splash, things i could do myself and I love it even more now. It's taken a LONG time! I finally have my dream dishes I've pieced together--Franciscan Starburst! Sorry for the long post, but I never get tired of seeing renovations!! So fun!

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  10. Good luck with the cabinet revamp... you've still made a lot of headway from the "before" pictures! Also, I can see why you would be very clear about that lighting fixture. It's F-A-N-T-A-S-T-I-C!

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  11. Your fridge looks just like one we had! What brand was yours?

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