There is just something so… likeable… about the ubiquitous maple and birch kitchen cabinets that filled American homes for– how long? — from 1935 (or earlier) through to 1970 or so? These cabinets are both warm — and durable. They are also classic, mid-century unpretentious: They say “I’m vintage… I’m original” — but not in a flashy way that may wear you out over time. I *know* the desire is strong to want to repaint these wood cabinets when you first move in. Hey, I did it once, in the very first home I owned, a 1938 mid-century modest. But as shown in Donna’s kitchen today, if these cabinets are still in good shape — they can be gleeming lovelies. With some modest updates — in this case, a new checkerboard lineoleum floor — this kitchen is ready to do its cheerful duty for another couple of decades. Read on for Donna’s story…and some more great photos of this sweetheart kitchen.
I have finally taken photos of our new red, light- and dark-gray checkerboard Marmoleum kitchen floor, complete with Capel braided rugs, as well as two or three of the common but classic kitchen elements that ‘sold’ us on our 1965 rancher.
I always wanted a scallop and little shelves around my kitchen window; I finally got them. They’re simple touches, but we’re so glad they weren’t destroyed with an update; yay!
When we moved in, we tolerated mid-70’s dark blue indoor/outdoor carpeting in our kitchen. It was oppressive (and smelled like the previous owner’s golden retriever on humid days), so new flooring was high on the list of must-do’s.
Our new Marmoleum is Bleecker Street red and Silver Shadow light gray checkerboard, with a Volcanic Ash dark gray border to help ground it. We’d initially intended to do a black and white check, but absolutely fell in love with the way the red warmed up and complemented the original cabinets. The grays help pull our drab mid-80’s gray countertop and ceramic backsplash into the room and look a little more like they belong there.
The rugs are Capel Gramercy in Songbird. Their colors are muted compared to the tile, which helps keep the flooring from overpowering the room.
Pie birds, kitchen & stuff! I’ve included a pic of one of the backsplash tiles.
We really do not like them, but, as with the countertop, the backsplash looks better now that we have the new flooring because the reds & grays tie together.
The dutch clogs were always hanging in my grandaunt’s kitchen, and the trivets were my husband’s grandmother’s.
I’ve settled on some 30’s repro fabric to make kitchen curtains; don’t like the pictured embroidered sheer that came with the house. The 30’s repro’s are red, yellow/gold & aqua: a classic color scheme in my book, and perfect for our red floor.
How we ended up in the house is really a very simple story. New homes lack personality. We ended up in our perfect house because we wanted an older home with character. We both grew up in the 60’s and wanted something that vintage or older, plus, it’s flat! We intend to live in this house the rest of our lives, so flat was tops on our requirements list. Once we’d begun looking at 50’s/60’s ranchers, it was all over! We loved what we were seeing and knew we wanted to be in this neighborhood, where every house is a little different from every other. We chose this particular house despite its blue indoor/outdoor kitchen carpeting, its purple bathroom, and its overdose of mid-80’s mauve & cream because we gleefully looked past the decorating to see its good retro-able bones. We also liked the many mid-60’s touches that remained, such as the ceiling fixtures in all three bedrooms – atomic pattern on the shade and pindots on the metal rounds that make awesome patterns on the ceiling! Just plain fun!
You’ve seen what we’ve done with the kitchen. Though we initially talked about completely re-doing the purple bathroom I found the perfect MelinaMade “Jetson White” fabric for it, again thanks to your site! Now I have to confess the purple is beginning to grow on me, especially since I know the tiles are original. I haven’t sewn the curtains yet, but the tide is already turning in favor of keeping the purple. The vanity was replaced in the 80’s, so we’re planning to replace it with something MCM at some point. As for the mauve & cream: it’s GONE! We’ve painted the living & dining rooms a butterscotch-y gold, probably more bungalow than rancher, but we like it.
Without your site, we never would have known we could get all this cool stuff to make our home quite possibly even more gorgeous than its former glory.
With many, many thanks!
Thank you, Donna — what a beautiful, beloved and lovable home you have. The floor looks fantastic… as you note, the red bouncing off the cabinets looks waaaay better than the blue-green indoor/outdoor casting its harsh light. Great choice — and a good lesson for everyone to remember to watch and plan for how colors reflect and influence each other. Finally — as you already know from my email — I’m chasing after you to see that purple bathroom! xoxo pam