Remember Pam’s post about the 1964 custom green St. Charles kitchen for sale in Chicago? They are not for sale anymore — owner Mark and his wife are in the process of gut remodeling the entire house and have decided they will keep these awesome reto kitchen cabinets for reuse one way or another. But can this couple incorporate these cabinets into the minimalist-modern kitchen design they have in mind? Read on for my suggestions…
This story is exciting for me — right up my alley — since my personal decorating style is retro modern. I jumped at the chance to help introduce a little retro into what would have otherwise been a super ultra modern kitchen design.
The house is mid-century modern – built in 1949 by L. Morgan Yost. The architect studied Frank Lloyd Wright and knew him but didn’t “copy” his style. But he writes that his work is heavily influenced by FLW because he learned about all the amazing things he was doing at the time.
It sounds like Mark and his wife are very much into modern minimalist design, but since they have developed a love for these retro 1964 St. Charles kitchen cabinets, it seems like they could be persuaded to use them, if the right solution presented itself. It is always tricky trying to fit vintage cabinets into a different configuration.. That’s why, for this remodel, I’ve suggested combining the vintage green steel cabinets with wood kitchen cabinets in a complementary wood tone — to frame around the wall ovens, or make a pantry area, etc.. Keeping most of the rest of the kitchen neutral and light will appeal to Mark’s minimalist taste, while injecting some texture and a few bits of color and decoration here and there will keep the design from feeling too sterile. Here’s what I came up with:
- A Nelson Sunburst Clock in multi color would be a perfect way to add a bit of bold color to the kitchen. Bonus — it helps repeat the green from the cabinets. Note: I don’t think the green has to match exactly, since the clock will be up on the wall and be separated from the green on the cabinets.
- A light aqua blue wall color like Sherwin Williams Green Trance would contribute just enough color to help blend the green with the other neutrals, without being too stark.
- For the box around the wall oven, and some additional cabinets (where needed) Omega cabinets with Dunkirk style doors in a light maple or birch would keep the kitchen feeling light and airy and also add the warmth of wood.
- For a durable and modern looking backsplash, Modwalls 2×8 subway tiles in Milk would do the trick.
- To inject a little more retro, consider adding some wall decor, such as this small white ceramic owl wall plaque from seller JackJetVintage on Etsy (now sold).
- This simple, ultra modern Kohler kitchen faucet (model shown here now discontinued) in polished chrome adds to the minimal modern feel.
- You can’t get much cleaner looking than a simple white under-mount sink from Kohler.
- Another way to make the green cabinets work in the space, is to add more modern dishware, some in pristine white and some with pleasing green accents like this bowl from cb2 (discontinued)
- I’d keep the countertops white, but instead of choosing a flat white, these silestone countertops in blanco maple (now discontinued but check silestone for proxies) have flecks that create interest and texture.
- 1964 custom green St. Charles cabinets.
- This high end professional Viking double wall oven in stainless steel would add sparkle to the retro modern space, coordinate with the chrome and add to that shiny new feeling. You could always use a classic white.
- The new Omega cabinets that will be added will need some new pulls, but changing out the pulls on the St. Charles cabinets would also up their modern factor. I like the satin nickel cabinet pull because it looks modern, but the bow tie shape references many retro designs.
- Pam says they’ve already decided to put down porcelain floors. Initially they were considering concrete, so I used this Quartz perla light grey porcelain floor tile from the Tile Shop (discontinued by check for proxies) for the mock up.
I think this kitchen would fit well into a modern and minimal house — even with its retro touches. Alternately, if the light aqua wall paint color wasn’t their taste, a very pale grey would work well especially if Mark and his wife are using the Asian look of the exterior on the inside. With the light grey walls they could also add some small black and red accents, wall decor and dishware with an Asian feel.
Pam took a look at all my ideas, of course, and wanted to note that: Using a medium colored wood for cabinets can provide longevity to your design. Remember this big conversation about what makes for “timeless design” ? One of the ideas that came through in the comments is that, usually, trends go with the extremes of light and dark — but a medium wood tone has staying power. So for kicks, I adjusted the idea board to show a medium wood tone as well, and hey — I like it, too! Another thought: If there are original, natural wood features in adjacent rooms of the house — match the wood in the kitchen cabinets, for a seamless transition compatible with your minimalist aesthetic.
For the mood board above: I substituted the light maple or birch wood on the Omega cabinets for their sable finish.