Ben Sander transforms a blah 1980s kitchen and bathroom — back to the 1970s!

retro mod decorYesterday we took a look at two rockin’ 1970s-style bedrooms that Ben Sander designed for a client. Today: The apartment kitchen and bathroom, equally amazingly transformed — and glory be: using World of Tile tile scooped up before WOT closed. I repeat (and forewarn): “Statement interiors” are not for the faint of design heart, so prepare your eyeballs for some eye-popping style.

From 1980s blah to 1970s fabulous — the kitchen before and after

Photos courtesy of Ben Sander (before) and Everett Short Photography (after).

Photos courtesy of Ben Sander (before) and Everett Short Photography (after).

Ben Sander describes the project:

My client didn’t want to spend as much on the kitchen. To keep costs down, we reused the melamine cabinets, which were in perfectly good shape. We removed them, pulled up the old tile floor and put down sale tile from World of Tile. I found an amazing deal on enough vintage wallpaper to do over the entire room on Craigslist, then got the idea to paper the ceiling as well in a gingham pattern vinyl found on eBay. We put it up on the diagonal. The stove and dishwasher are the GE Artistry line that I discovered right here on RR. When we reinstalled the cabinets, we painted the honey colored oak edge pulls in a green enamel to match the laminate counters, which are Decotone Surfaces Verde Acido.

A granitized 80s bathroom — gone disco

retro bathroom

Photos courtesy of Ben Sander.

Ben tells all:

The master bath was the single most expensive room in the remodel. It’s totally tricked out in World of Tile, top to toe. Chippy helped us collect the wall tiles and all the associated trim pieces for windows, bull nose, soap dishes and toothbrush holders, as well as the beautiful floor tiles that look like the inside of a blast furnace. I had the vanity custom made and clad in glossy laminate, with a top in the suede texture. We kept the existing bath tub to save money, but put in all new fixtures from Vola. The original bath faucet was designed in 1968 by Arne Jacobsen, and the line has subsequently been expanded to include both bath and kitchen fixtures in a variety of colors. That original faucet has been copied endlessly and is now somewhat ubiquitous in chrome. What makes the fixtures we used special is the color. You’ll notice we also used the black and white Chevron wallpaper in here.


Ben Sander, photo by his dad

We love the amazing creativity and design daring — thank you, Ben, for sharing!

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  1. Joe Felice says

    I could totally see myself having that kitchen, sans the wallpaper. the bath is gorgeous, but black tile in the bathtub/shower would make me nervous because it’s so hard to keep clean.

    • says

      When my parents built a new house in 1976, they put a huge black Kohler tub in our bathroom. Surprisingly, it wasn’t bad to keep clean. They also had a water softener. These days, a Magic Eraser would do the trick.

  2. Kathy says

    I have long thought that 80’s cabinets could be easily updated with some paint to the tired wood trim and it is nice to see some examples here. I like a kitchen with some color to it, and one advantage of a traditional closed kitchen is that it doesn’t have to blend in with the rest of the decor!

  3. Richard says

    Love love love this design! Ben you are extrely talented! The 70s have always been my fav era for decor. We purchased a 1971 tri-level in Denver last year and are retrofitting it room by room… Very mid-late 70s sexy. When is done you and Pam are invited for drinks at our swanky bar (circa ’76)!
    Harvey Wallbanger, anyone? So much fun! Thanks for being an inspiration for or dream home.

  4. says

    I didn’t think I would like this and I was right; I LOVE this! The kitchen takes me back to my 70s childhood in a good way, just missing the brick laminate on the floor. And I totally dig the Studio 54 bathroom- so fun!

  5. Linda says

    Well done, Ben! You showed us how to have to have some design fun without spending a fortune.

    That green kitchen is fabulous! Painting those horizontal cabinet strips green was a stroke of genius. And that bathroom is brilliant in more ways than one.

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