Kitchen Restoration

Project Scope: Kitchen
Year home built: early 1900s

reflection on red tin
Peinl Refrig

1900's Kitchen

Karen has a lovely early 1900s home, but the kitchen suffered from a 1970s low-budget renovation using cabinets with a dark veneer. Lighting was a florescent tube fixture in the middle of the room, and the overall effect was a depressing room.

THE CHALLENGE — Karen had a strict budget, which forced her to be creative during the renovation. She found a set of salvage cabinets and hoped that she could incorporate them into her kitchen remodel. Unfortunately, her budget and materials weren’t a good fit for most contractors.

She lost all hope, and was convinced that remodeling her kitchen was simply beyond her. She contacted Karla see if she was interested in buying the vintage cabinets, now stacked in her garage.

Karla was able to look at the cabinets and determine that they were well built cabinets from the 1940s. Karla convinced Karen to use the cabinets and move forward with the kitchen renovation.

The Vision

Karla educated Karen about a 1940s kitchen, using reference books and vintage advertising images. The client fell in love with the image of a sunny yellow kitchen with a cherry red linoleum floor.

Karen and her brother did their own demolition of the 70’s kitchen, and Karla partnered with carpenter and contractor Mike Edeen, who creatively salvaged the cabinets. He found appropriate placements for what Karen had, and then created a sink cabinet to match the salvage ones.

In the 1940s it was not uncommon to use linoleum on the countertops.  Karen was open to following that period tradition used scraps of the red flooring on her counters. It made the kitchen glow with color!

Karla suggested that she use a reproduction period style wallpaper on one wall to really enhance the period look. Initially, Karen was hesitant, but once it was up she loved it.


The Results

The stove was a white 1940s Chambers stove with a low back, which fit neatly under the kitchen window. Due to budgetary constraints, Karen needed to work with the 70’s window opening that was there. Mike was able to wrap the window in period style wood trim that helped soften it and make it blend in with the rest of the home.

Karla found red 1940s hardware that was perfect against the yellow paint of the cabinetry. It helped pull in the red of the floor and the counter tops.

In the end, Karen was thrilled with budget kitchen. It was chosen to be included on a local home tour, and was published in Old House Journal. It is Karla’s greatest joy to help clients recapture a home’s original soul; and working with like-minded tradespeople helps her marry form and function for a knockout result.

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