Decorating ideas for Tracy’s knotty pine kitchen — Readers, chip in!

Tracy wants our ideas on how to perk up her knotty pine kitchen. What do you think, Retro Renovation Squad? Tracy writes:

Hi Pam! My husband and I bought a 1962 ranch house in Nashville about 3 years ago and I’ve been wanting to somehow “update” the kitchen but still keep the mid-century feel. It’s a knotty pine kitchen with aqua formica countertops and a sort of aqua, peach, and ivory speckled linoleum floor. Everything is in really good shape and functional and the layout works for us. The thing we’re having some discussion about is the knotty pine on the walls and cabinets. I’m not a huge fan of it. I mean, I like it, but I just don’t like so much of it. Honestly, I’m not really sure what direction to go with it. I was wondering if you or your readers could make some suggestions of things we could do to kind of brighten the room up without changing the character, which we appreciate and love.


Tracy, you may be new and not quite know it yet, but we are generally nutty for knotty in these here parts. So be forewarned. See this post about Eartha Kitsch’s knotty pine kitchen. And, you might like this story on “heart pine” — the expensive stuff, which I tend to believe you have in your kitchen, given it still looks so great.

In our email back-and-forth to get prepared for this post, I ask Tracy some more questions. First, with the pics, she says:

Yay! Thanks! Here are some pics. The area with the microwave/cart/mess of rubbermaid storage containers is the bane of my existence. Storage is an issue for us in the kitchen and we want to get some sort of behind-doors storage instead of that open microwave cart with all the pet food/crap thrown in the bottom. And the red/green/clear rubbermaid containers are for recycling, but we need to figure out another solution for the recycling/garbage that is functional and sort of funky and visually pleasing at the same time. The ceiling fan hasn’t worked since we moved in – the light is broken on it, so lighting will have to be addressed as well. Thanks again!

Then, I ask her to tell us more about how she and her husband (as yet unnamed, along with the doggie) got into the house. Ahhh! Ford is involved again. They should sponsor my blog. She writes:

Sure…we live in Nashville and bought our house about 3 years ago after an EXTENSIVE house search. We were looking for over a year before we found the house actually. In the beginning of our search, our agent was taking us to newer subdivisions, I guess because that’s what most people she works with want, but we didn’t really care for any of the newer homes. They all seemed the same….didn’t have any character or any sort of story to tell. Then we stumbled on this neighborhood called Charlotte Park and totally fell in love with it. All of the houses are mid-century ranch homes, built in the early to mid 60s for employees of the now defunct Ford Auto glass plant. Ford built a plant here in 1956 to provide glass windshields and windows for their cars and our neighborhood, Charlotte Park, grew up around it for employees of the glass plant. I believe that Ford even provided some money to help build some of the homes. The streets are all named after Ford products….Cougar Drive, Edsel Drive, Thunderbird Ave. and, our personal favorite, Mercomatic Drive. Our street is called River Rouge Dr., named after the original Ford River Rouge Complex in Dearborn Michigan. Anyway, we love the story of this neighborhood, we love the people, and we love the homes. We particularly love our home – it’s not too big (we love the “not-so-big” home ideas), it’s solidly built, and it has a lot of character and just feels warm, if that makes any sense! We knew it was perfect for us as soon as we saw it.

So, gentle readers… whatcha got for Tracy?

  1. MaryP says:

    Looks like plenty of storage. Maybe edit your stuff. Lucky you to have such a beautiful house!. Mine is a 1955 small ranch. There are clapboards under the ugly faded yellow siding. At our ages too much expense to see how bad it is. My original kitchen had grungy solid wood. It’s downstairs as a work center. I think your best bet is to just go through your things and only put what you really use there. Store your seldom used items someplace else. Maybe use a lower cabinet for pull out trash bins. My baking center has 4.

  2. Loretta Cavender says:

    Pinterest has a site which shows you the colors of 1960 knotty pine cabinets available at that time to stain or paint. I preferred the green or red, many others, though. I decided to use the existing doors and remake into another style, French Country. I am keeping my knotty pine wall paneling and painting it one of the vintage colors.

  3. Terri Lee says:

    I am renovating my grandmothers house with knotty pine cabinets, which had the old copper colored hardware. I have cleaned the hardware and now trying to decide which color of spray paint to use. I did not like the copper paint at all. Looked really orange/pink. I tested Another piece of metal with brushed nickel paint, and did not think the tones blended. I finally sprayed another piece dark brown, which really brought out the pine knots! Any suggestions?

  4. Kathy Bassett says:

    Help, I want that exact knotty pine look? Just not sure what kind of
    stain/sealer you use to achieve.

      1. MaryP says:

        I grew up in mt grandparents old house. The livingroom was paneled in pine by my father long ago(I’m 67). It was varnished. As it ages you get that honey color. You can’t make it happen.

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