The Hard Way — Kitchen nominees

the hard way kitchens

Hard-way-award-kitchen-20152015 was a good year for kitchens! Kate and I looked back and found eight great retro renovators who chose to take the path less traveled and do their renovation “The Hard Way.” Now we need your help to choose the 2015 winner. Voting is open through Jan. 3, and we’ll announce the winner the next week. 

1. Sam’s kitchen: Polished powder coat

vintage steel kitchen cabinetsWhen Sam’s soon-to-be 1950 ranch house kitchen flooded three days before closing due to a burst pipe, she knew a gut remodel would be job #1. But instead of taking the easy route and starting over with all new cabinets, Sam chose to do it “The Hard Way” — keeping the original vintage steel Geneva cabinets. She did research and found a local company to powder coat the cabinets in white and aqua to make them look like new, and combined the vintage cabinets with modern elements to create a polished midcentury modern kitchen.

2. Kara Vallow’s kitchens: Bicentennial Chic

vintage kitchenKara Vallow — producer, animator, artist and writer known for her work on “Family Guy,” “American Dad” and “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey,” — wanted to recreate her warm fuzzy childhood memories of growing up in the 1970s during America’s Bicentennial fever in Philadelphia. Kara says, “I am just not a cocktail chic girl, nor am I a spare and stark Dwell dweller at heart. I’m more hokey pokey than Swingers, and I find perverse comfort and nostalgia in the anachronistic, 1960s does 1780’s design style…” We give her kudos for going outside the norm and creating her beautiful Bicentennial Chic kitchen.

3. Frances and Doug’s kitchen: Warm 1950s wood

midcentury vintage kitchenFrances and Doug — caretakers of a 1950s time capsule house — loved the vintage style of their kitchen, but it was feeling tired and in need of a refresh. On a tiny budget, the couple looked to thrifty vintage finds and solutions — a vintage dinette set, Armstrong VCT flooring, and pom poms — to restore their kitchen affordably, making a huge difference. This kitchen is ready for another 60 years of happy service!

4. Carolyn and Dennis’ kitchen: 1940s style with yellow and maroon tile

vintage yellow kitchenCarolyn and Dennis loved their original 1947 kitchen, but it was worn beyond repair. Wanting desperately to recreate the original look of the space, the couple contacted us for help. We shared our ideas and a mood board, then Carolyn and Dennis took it from there. The pair created a gorgeous 1940s kitchen using yellow tile and maroon trim, vintage sizzle strips found on Ebay, and custom cabinets in a vintage style — all which work together to show off Carolyn’s fabulous vintage stove and Fiestaware collection.

5. Margie Grace’s kitchen: Colorful 1940s space

vintage kitchenMargie Grace — an internationally-renowned landscape designer and co-owner of a successful design and build firm — used her skills and appreciation for midcentury modest design to create an adorable 1940s colorful kitchen in her home. Over her 30-year career, Margie Grace has lived in and renovated many historic homes, each time respecting the original architectural style. For this kitchen, she lived in the home for 20 years before making changes which include new cabinet doors, laminate counters with metal edging, a Big Chill refrigerator and the showpiece of the room — that Armstrong VCT “rug” that Margie laid herself! What we love most of all is Margie Grace’s ability to edit the overall design of the room to let the one key design feature — in this case that VCT floor — shine. In her words “There can be only one bride — the rest are bridesmaids.”

6. Thomas’ kitchen: Genius blend of old and new

retro modern kitchenRetro, modern, eclectic, colorful and unexpected, Thomas Welles — owner of TG Architecture — has masterfully blended old and new together in surprising ways in his 1930s garage turned office and guest house. Skillfully blending existing features, salvaged finds, wood, wallpaper, color and NOS retro goodies all together in one space, Thomas’ creation is a visual feast and an excellent example of what can be done when old and new are skillfully merged together.

7. Patti and Darin’s kitchen: Yabba dabba DIY

retro-kitchenPatti has always been a DIY girl, so when the kitchen in her newly purchased 1957 ranch house was feeling tired, she knew she could use her DIY skills and the good bones of the space to give it a cosmetic lift. Patti found a vintage pink cooktop and wall oven, which she was able to install with help from Darin. She painted all of the cabinets a lovely aqua and then installed the Wilsonart ‘Betty’ laminate countertops and backsplash herself! For extra creative points, Patti and Darin created a Belart style clock and cozy kitchen snack bar using leftover wood and laminate pieces and a whole lotta imagination. Bravo!

8. Jessica’s kitchen: Chalk paint transformation

retro kitchen remodelJessica knows her way around Annie Sloan Chalk Paint as owner of J. Paris Designs, a furniture refinishing and repurposing business. When it came time to spruce up the kitchen in her 1960s split level home, she put her know how to use. Using paint, laminate (which she installed herself), a Vinylasa VCT basket weave design floor and a mix of new and vintage finds, Jessica’s kitchen is now colorful, cheery and full of life.

Once you’ve reviewed the entries, use the polldaddy poll thingie to vote for your favorite:

the hard way kitchens


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