Amber’s 1961 knotty pine kitchen before and after Retro Renovation

Wilsonart-boomerang-laminateknotty pine kitchenRemember Amber’s pink toilet trafficking antics during her quest to retain the vintage charm in her retro pink bathroom while also meeting current day water usage requirements?  Well, she’s been at it again — this time in her knotty pine kitchen, which had received a sad 1980s partial “update” from the previous owners. Thankfully, the knotty pine cabinets were intact, so Amber turned her attention to finding flooring, countertops, lighting, decor and even a vintage yellow sink to complement the wood and return the retro feel to her kitchen. No interstate fixture trafficking this time — but the story — and results — are just as happy.

before-and-after-knotty-pine-kitchenAmber writes:

We bought our house about a year ago. This is our forever home. We knew we wanted a well-maintained midcentury home, as “time capsuley” as possible. After a lot of looking and some disappointments, we finally found it — a single-owner home built in 1961, in great condition, with many original features. We’ve had quite a few projects over the past year (like my pink toilet adventure!) and have been taking things slowly, making changes as time and money allow.

knotty-pine-kitchen-beforeIn the kitchen, the original knotty pine cabinetry and paneling was a big selling feature for us! There had been some unfortunate “updates” done in the 80s or 90s, though, including really cheap, unremarkable laminate countertops and a really gross vinyl floor.

knotty-pine-kitchen5352-armstrong linoleumWith a new baby on the way we wanted to get the kitchen done, and we could not be happier with the results. There were some surprises along the way – such as a full four layers of flooring, the original of which appears to be the coveted Armstrong 5352 embossed inlaid linoleum. I work in historic preservation, and if there had been any way I could have saved that floor, I would have! But unfortunately, at some point there had been water damage in the area of the dishwasher and a large portion was cut out down to the subfloor. We love the look of the VCT, though.

We love our home and have some more projects planned for down the road, but the kitchen was the biggest hurdle and we are so happy it is done. Baby #2 will be arriving in about a month, and my husband and I are thrilled to raise our two boys in a beautiful home that one family loved for 50 years. Our 3-year-old can already school people on ranch houses, VCT, and laminate, so we must be doing something right!

Resource list to renovate a knotty pine kitchen:






vintage-knotty-pine-cabinetsknotty-pine-kitchen-cabinets-retroEventually we would like to replace the range hood, fridge, and dishwasher, but since all are working well, that’s not a priority right now.

Amber, you’ve done a fantastic job with your kitchen. I love the way the yellow in the sink, countertops and wall complement the warm glow of the Knotty Pine cabinets. What a cheery space you have created. As always, Pam and I are huge fans of your spunk, energy and willingness to go above and beyond to get the job done. While we are bummed that your Armstrong 5352 linoleum floor couldn’t be saved, the VCT you chose is an excellent option and adds a lightness to the kitchen. Kudos to you on a job well done — and thanks again, so much, for chronicling your renovation journey for all to share.

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  1. Agatha says

    Love the fact that your historic preservation background kept the kitchen looking updated yet still definitely vintage! Very inspiring…

  2. Kathryn says

    Was the kitchen in my home the only one where that metal banding around the Formica edges had a space for a colored plastic (?) design detail (which eventually popped out)? That red plastic was the line of color for the kitchen!

  3. says

    This kitchen is nearly identical to the house I grew up in. My family still owns it. My father just passed, and we spent last weekend cleaning it out. It is in Atlanta, and I am now in Baltimore, but I really thought about gutting it and taking all of the cabinets with me to redo my kitchen, including the beautiful avocado wall oven, range and sink! The house is in pretty bad shape otherwise, so I feel like whoever bus it will simply tear the whole thing down and rebuild. Should I try and salvage the mid century goodness in that house?

    • Mary Elizabeth says

      C’mon, Kacey! You know exactly what everyone on this site will tell you–go for it!

      Is the house capable of being repaired for resale, or is it structurally unsound? Ask the real estate agent to advise you about whether or not to spend money replacing the Atlanta kitchen once you pull out the cabinets.

  4. Annette says

    Funny the things we remember, my Mom had that same Armstrong linoleum installed in our kitchen sometime in the mid ’70s.

  5. Jan says

    Also have the knotty pine cabinets but in a more rustic design. They have the exact same door handles. One day I went to Home Depot to look for new ones an old one with me. The guy at Home Depot talked me out of it, said to keep them or I would regret it later. So I did. Funny thing is I later found a box of them in an old garage, held on to them too.

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