Kathy makes a custom dishwasher panel from a vintage Betty Crocker cookbook cover

I featured part of Kathy’s kitchen recently — spotlighting how she found resources to fix her vintage GE oven and electric range top here on the blog. But golly, I saved more wowza from her delightful kitchen for this second story: Kathy crafted her own decorative dishwasher panel — using an enlargement she made from the cover of her grandmother’s vintage Betty Crocker cookbook. The dishwasher panel not only suits her kitchen design to a tee, but it reflects the kitchen’s historic connection with Betty Crocker, too. Read on to see how Kathy completed this easy DIY, and for a peek at the other side of her perfect wood-yellow-red kitchen.

Kathy writes:

The dishwasher was a recent project of mine. My dishwasher works fine but it is 20 years old, and I wanted to do something to make it fit in more with the retro look. Having a budget of next to nothing I had to get my creative juices going. I thought about spray painting it yellow to match the oven/stove, but I didn’t want to chance the mess or doing it badly. Then I thought of those huge magnets for sale in the country magazines that decorate the front of dishwashers for $55. None of their decorator designs really satisfied the retro look I was looking for. But, it gave me the idea of covering the front panel with a picture of something retro.  I thought about what would be fun and chose to pay homage to my grandma with a poster that I had made from her 1950’s Betty Crocker cookbook, which I still use today.

From the previous story, we learned that Kathy’s kitchen also has a wonderful connection to Betty Crocker. She told us:

…the original owner was a professional cook in the Betty Crocker test kitchens in Golden Valley, Minnesota at General Mills near my home.

This was also why Kathy wanted to rescue the stove — she wanted to retain that fascinating connection to Betty Crocker history. How cool — and what a great idea to carry the Betty Crocker homage to the dishwasher panel! Kathy continues with her DIY steps:

First, I had the cookbook scanned and made into a poster. Before cutting it to put on the dishwasher, I made a pattern first. To do this, I measured the dishwasher panels… I did the math to add the two panels together as one piece, so that my pattern could be split without losing some of the design… and then, I made a plain paper pattern.

Second, I laid the pattern on top of the poster to gauge where I wanted to cut my design… traced around the pattern with a pencil… cut out the pattern… and made sure to cut it a tiny bit smaller so it would stay within the edges of my dishwasher. Then I cut the poster into two pieces, one for each panel.

Third, I had the two pieces laminated at the local copy/office supply store, where the laminating is a little thicker and sturdier than normal office/school laminating. This made the new panels a little sturdier.  I had them leave a 1/4 inch of laminate all around the edges of each piece when they cut it for me.  The laminating was around about $10 for my project, but they charge by the size of your piece of paper so yours might be different.

Then last, I took the poster pieces home and had intended on attaching them with double stick tape since my original dishwasher panel is not magnetic.

But then, I discovered that my older style dishwasher’s panels have an edge over-lapping the panels — and my newly laminated pieces could slip under the metal edges without the use of any tape. A much better solution since there would be no gaps where water/mess could get under the new panel.  I used the end of a flat blade screwdriver to help slip the laminated poster under the metal edges.

I stepped back to admire my new retro look and was pleased at the kitsch I had created! I think this method could be used for posters, old wallpaper, children’s artwork, or even enlarge an old family photo to poster size at the warehouse club for cheap — and put grandma herself on your dishwasher!

Thank you, Kathy. What a fabulous project, and you know I love love love the Betty Crocker history. Also, your sense of design is awesome, in terms of color and scale, the decorative panel “works” perfectly in your kitchen!

Note: Before running this story, I checked with the PR folks at General Mills, owners of Betty Crocker, to make sure they thought that making an enlargement from their cookbook for a personal project like this was okay. They responded that they thought it was a fun project and gave me the green light. Thanks for the luv, General Mills!

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  1. laura says

    Sooo cute.

    I’m wondering if that ‘privacy film’ that they sell at home improvement stores would work too. You know that stuff meant to be put over windows where you need to obscure the view from outside but still allow light to come through? I just was looking at those yesterday and wishing i had a need for it somewhere in the house…

  2. Joe Felice says

    You probably could have unscrewed the metal edges on the sides to make installation of the custom panel easier. Older-style dishwashers usually had interchangeable panels, and they slid in that way. Some even came with different-colored panels tucked inside under the existing panel. I once installed a custom-cut piece of laminate in my parents’ dishwasher to change the look. But today’s taller, one-piece doors don’t have these tracks, and the edges are rounded, so I don’t think a custom panel would work very well. Double-stick tape? I think the heat from the appliance would cause the adhesive to loosen, but, at any rate, I don’t think a piece of anything laminated would look that good on the door’s rounded edges. I wish this were different, as I have often wanted to change the look of my panel to match the kitchen, and make the appliance “disappear.” I suppose one could take the door off and paint it, but I don’t think we’d be able to achieve this clever custom look. And to think: You can change it whenever you want!

  3. Lady Velour says

    WOW!!!!!!! I am THRILLED with this photo and I can’t wait to do this to my dishwasher!!!! I have a vintage inspired kitchen and this will be the crown jewel! Thanks for sharing! :)

  4. Gerry says

    The brand new Spring 2013 issue of Atomic Ranch has a cool dishwasher hack. Page 56 and 57. The homeowners repurposed their old KitchenAid dishwasher front onto a new “frontless” Whirpool dishwasher. Very clever and it looks great.

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