From Karmi’s kitchen

A break today from our Lexington-Louisville series for a regular-reader feature: Karmi gets the award as the reader most likely to make me LOL daily – because she’s a bona fide crazed retro renovator AND she calls me her Mid Mod Queen.

My loyal servant is hard at work (understatement) on her kitchen. She’s sent lots of photos – with tile, flooring, countertops and more – along with questions about her plan.

My initial reaction: Karmi, What is not to love?! But, I do have a few thoughts to add to your agony over final decisions…

And here’s what Karmi writes:
Hello Dearest Mid Mod Queen,
I think I am ready to be on the cover of the Rolling Stone… oops… I mean Retro Renovation! (even better!)
As you know, we gutted our kitchen the weekend of July 4th, while most “normals” were out enjoying themselves. Since hubby and I both work fulltime, we have been progressing slowly on our kitchen creation. Now that the drywall is going up and goodies are collected, I really would appreciate some input from you and your followers. I’m including pictures and scans so you can see what I already have as well as choices I am considering.
We put some of the upper cabinets in place just for Thanksgiving. I still have to sand, final coat, sand again, then reattach the doors. I also have corner cubbies that will come almost right up to the sides of the window, and they will also be pink.
I have been planning to paint my base cabinets aqua (SW Holiday Turquoise), while leaving my appliances white. Now, I am considering alternating the pink and aqua just to carry the pink through all the way to the floor (my dishwasher really does need to be painted).
For the floor, I am looking at Azrock VCT tiles in Cirrus, Spearmint, and Midnight (no good pinks available!). I want a black border all the way around, beginning at each wall and extending inward just a few inches beyond the edge of my cabinets/appliances. Then, a small strip of the Spearmint (aqua) for a “strip” then the middle will be the Cirrus, which is a nice white with streaks of aqua and just pale, soft hints of pink.
My counters…argh…this is tough… I was think something between charcoal grey and black, but it’s tough to find something that looks authentic. I really don’t want to go boomerang. I think it may be too atomic or too forced for my kitchen. I scanned a couple of samples that I picked up at Home Depot. They are all Wilsonart Laminate and are (left to right): Mesa Midnight, Canyon Black, Ebony Star, and Galactic Black.
As for what I have to work with already, well you’ll remember that remarkable pink tile that was probably for a bathroom, but I plan to use it for backsplash or perhaps just to cover my west wall with it (the wall with the main window above super sink). I also have authentic vintage wallpaper for my soffit, marble windowsills (yes, made them myself, thank you), hand-painted fabric for pinch pleats, great pink fabric to reupholster my chairs, and that awesome retractable light (thanks for not outbidding me!). I guess I should point out that there is a dining room that mirrors the kitchen.
Basically, I have a 9’4″ x 23′ strip in which to play. But for now, I’d like input on the kitchen part…it’s my main focus.
Since I will be painting soon, that is really where I would like suggestions. Once I taped up the wallpaper on the soffit, my hubby mused, “Well now I think the ceiling should be pink” (don’t you love him?!!). I *have* seen many of the ads that feature a ceiling painted the same as the walls, but I didn’t know if anyone really did that. I also see walls painted the same as the cabinets. So if my walls are pink, do I use the same high gloss I used for the cabinets? Surely I wouldn’t use that same thing on a ceiling?! (My drywalling is just NOT that good!). I originally thought that the ceiling AND the bottom of the soffet would be white, the walls would be pink just like the uppers, and the front of the soffet is wallpapered (a must). It worries me a bit that there is not a lot of aqua in the upper area and not a lot of pink in the lower areas. Please say everything will turn out okay when I add all my pink and aqua decorative trinkets!
I’m also thinking I might have to go with different fabric for the curtains. I have been hoarding that stuff for a decade, and now I notice that the background is off-white. Hmm…maybe I’ll wash it and then decide. 🙂 It might be white after all!
Of course I’d like to know about counters and floors too, but as you can tell by the pace here, I have a while before I need to decide for sure on those. It’s exciting to see this all come together. what a wonderful feeling to think that my dream kitchen is coming true. Again… so grateful for your blog and wisdom. I found you just in time!
Your loyal servant

Hey, Karmi. What fun to read all your well-thought-out ideas. I love it all – the cabinets, the wallpaper (for sure!), the floor plans, the upholstery fabric, the pulldown light (of course!), even the pinch pleat valance will likely look fine.

I have one serious suggested change for consideration, though: I am not too thrilled about the black countertop. I think it will “cut” your pretty pastel kitchen in half, horizontally, in a jarring way. How about a nice porcelain white instead. Like this Wilsonart laminate, Frosty White – I think a goal could be to pick up on the white mosaic tile in your backsplash as well as the floor tile:

I think that the whitish countertop will also play up on the lovely “lightness” that seems like it will define your kitchen. Kind of like this two-toner (sorry for the numbers, it came from a Flashback and I can’t find the unadulterated version):

Regarding your other questions:

  • You are fine, I think, to do pink cabinets above, and aqua below – this will be better than sprinkling pink with aqua cabinets below. Paint your dishwasher aqua to match the line of base cabinets – like I did in my kitchen. For some reason – experience and taste, I guess – I like the straight color line with the key breaks of appliance white being the stove, the fridge and the sink.
  • Just paint the ceiling, the walls and the bottom of the soffit white (also a porcelain white. I really do not like white-white for walls.) This will help provide restful spot for your eyes to rest while dancing around the other pretty parts of the kitchen.
  • And yes, dear one, once your trinkets are in — it will look fabulous!

  1. sumacsue says:

    Wonderful kitchen. Great work. Are you going to use the great wallpaper and the great printed curtain fabric together? Or will one be in the kitchen, and one in the dining area?

    Love the toaster, coffee pot, and particularly the big roaster on the counter. My grandma cooked holiday turkeys in such a roaster every year. Delicious!

  2. Kristinski says:

    Well, I love it! What is your roaster sitting on? Is that where you’ll have the cubbies? I can’t visualize the black countertops. It’s hard to do black without looking modern. How would a grey look? Like the color of a vintage formica table? Just a thought. I like white, but I love your sink and I’d like to see it stand out from the counter. I love the idea of bordering the floor. I’ll be anxious to see it all completed!

  3. Femme1 says:

    I like Kristinski’s idea of a gray “cracked ice” countertop. That formica pattern is still available; a couple of the websites I found that sells it are: and
    . I’m not sure if you can buy it directly from whatever company manufactures it.

    The white formica will look nice, but I just find it difficult to keep looking clean. Every little crumb shows up. Gray can also be a good compliment to brighter colors and also gives the eye a place to rest when there is a lot of other visual impact (your aqua and pink) in the room.

    Karmi, good luck—you’ve already made great progress!

    By the way, you’ve inspired me to get cracking on my kitchen. My husband is ready to paint, and I have to pick colors! Making these kinds of decisions is very difficult for me. I think my solution is to go back through all Pam’s posts and look for sample kitchens and just pick a color! I may have to do as Karmi did and send it all my photos and selections for flooring, etc., and beg for help.

  4. Mid Mod Pam says:

    Ladies, your comments make me think… how about a laminate that looks like the marble window sill that Karmi installed. Someone makes a Carrera Marble that might work well. Still…. I think the key will be to harmonize the countertop with all the other stuff going on in the kitchen. That’s why I initially thought “plain” in this case.

    I’ll have to go searching for the classic Carrera…I saw it somewhere, drats.

  5. MidCent Keith says:

    Any “before” pics? I was wondering if any of the cabinets/ appliances are original to the kitchen, or was it updated since the house was built, and you want to bring it back to period?. Lighting wasn’t mentioned too much – I would consider some recessed task lighting – that’s one thing old kitchen design lacked. I’m in the process of adding some above my counters – eyesight ain’t what it used to be, good lighting helps – and reading glasses in the drawer!

  6. Glamorlux Nancy says:

    Love the idea of cracked ice countertops HOWEVER… We originally wanted to do our countertops in a yellow or grey cracked ice, but after seeing the samples from various companies we decided against it. The pattern unfortunately looks very “pixelated”, almost like it was poorly reproduced on a computer. Our kitchen chairs are original red cracked ice vinyl and we love it! Too bad no one can reproduce it to our satisfaction… Maybe others have had better luck?
    BTW Love the Cirrus tile and wallpaper!

  7. Kitchen says:

    I liked the idea of painting base cabinets aqua (SW Holiday Turquoise), while leaving my appliances white. If totally gone for aqua, would be better instead of mixing aqua and pink.

    A great post

  8. Karmi Woolfe says:

    WOWZERS! Thanks for all of the great feedback and ideas! I have a LOT to respond to, so this will be long. But I think I got everything…

    First, let me say that NOTHING that you see in the picture above was there when we bought the house in 2002. The previous owner had put in brand new oak cabinets. I took one look at them and said, “OH, those have to go!” (much to the Realtor’s surprise). Even the windows are new and were installed in different places so that the window and sink could be “centered” and together. (We also changed where the stairs are in our home to do away with a huge divide between kitchen and dining area, but that’s another renovation story alltogether!) We also added the soffet (bulkhead) for a more authentic look. As for lighting, there is a square recessed light with chrome trim right above the sink (behind gramma’s clock:), and a pretty typical ceiling fixture toward the center of the ceiling. Yes, I need glasses though. Perhaps I can get some great wingtips so that I can leave them out on display when not in use! If any of you have a myspace page, I am there under the same name and have pictures of the whole project! Please add me as a friend!

    I am using my wallpaper on the soffet in the kitchen and a single wall in the dining area behind my ’63 PINK Maytags. If I decide to keep the white/turq/gold fabic for my pinch pleats, I will pick it up in the dining room by making a valance out of it for the sliding door that will lead out to the back deck. I’ll have to find some solid turquoise barkcloth to make drapes to complete that window treatment. (Okay…the sliding door and deck aren’t there yet, so we have time!)

    The Westinghouse roaster is setting on a cabinet on the far side of the stove. A corner lazy susan will connect that counter and the sink. Wait till y’all see how I fudge that! I do have a stand for the roaster that is great for storage, but it was on the counter because — yes — I was cooking the turkey in it! However…the toaster you see is NEW! It is a 4-slice wide slot I found at Target, and it passes every time!

    Femme1 and others…. look through everything you can find on this blog! I studied every single kitchen on this site, and looked at the one Pam posted as an example many times (mostly because I don’t have an upper corner or room for one!). As for colors, Pam is spot-on with the Sherwin Williams Suburban Modern Color Palette. You just can’t go wrong with that. For example, ” SW Apple Blossom” is an exact match for Tappan Pink!

    I never thought about a light countertop, but (of course) I think you are right on that my Queen! As soon as you suggested going light with it, I thought about playing up the marble windowsills. I’m also going to use my table as a guide. It was my gramma’s (1961) and sort of has a pinkish marbled look. Hmmmm….

    Actually….I just realized what my very next expedition will be: hunting down original lame’ countertop… the white with gold flecks. You just cannot beat that!

    Oh Goodie!!! I have something to shop for!!!




  9. Femme1 says:

    Glam Nancy, I’m so glad you let us know about the pixelated nature of the new cracked ice laminate. Big time bummer!

    Karmi, good advice! My goal for this weekend is to peruse Pam’s site and finally … FINALLY … come up with a kitchen color plan.

  10. Mid Mod Pam says:

    Karmi, I dug thru my stash – Pionite makes … or made (?)… a nice looking “Bianco Marble” that has a carerra marble look similar to your window sill. The number on my sample is MW540, Suede finish. Next time I power up the scanner, I will add it to the Laminate Library.

  11. Karmi Woolfe says:

    Thanks Pam!!! The Bianco Marble is still up on their site, so I suppose it is still available. I also like MW550 “White Fiesta”. It has speckles and reminds me of those gold glitter speckles of days gone by. You’re a rare gem!

  12. NorthsideCJ says:

    Karmi I love the direction you are going with your kitchen!
    The dark colored/black countertop would look fine, as well as period if done correctly in my opinon. If you start scrutinizing the vintage adverts in flickr you’ll see what I am talking about. I went with a black counter over my white cabinets and I think it turned out well.
    I agree the gold-flecked would be amazing if you can find it! It was what I sadly had to rip out of my kitchen, but was beyond saving (the house was a former rental and the tenants apparently never heard of the concept of a cutting board.)

Leave a Reply

Commenting: Information

All comments are moderated, generally within 24 hours. By using this website you are agreeing to the site's >> Terms of Service, << which include commenting policies, and our >> Privacy Notice. << Before participating, read them in full.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.