Maile remodels a dark 1970s kitchen into a sunny 1940s delight


yellow kitchen inspiration
Color inspiration — from the women in her life

Maile’s tiny 1970s galley kitchen was dark, narrow and covered with years of grime — but that didn’t stop her from seeing its potential to be delightful. With a careful budget to overhaul the space — including moving a wall — Maile made a plan to maximize her kitchen, while adding some cheery color on the countertops and flooring. The result of her hard work is a functional and sunny 1940s-style kitchen that makes Maile want to bake the day away.

kitchen-before-renovationMaile writes:

My home is a double wide that was built in ’77. The elderly couple that lived here smoked… and the whole place had that ‘old, grimey’ odor. Anyway, as you know back in the ’70s, kitchens were so much tinier. This was a galley kitchen that had 24″ floor space between sink and stove.

Kitchen-remodel-demoremoving-old-cabinetsThe construction of the cabinets was just about a step and a half above cardboard, and there was such an appalling lack of space utilization. The faux wood paneling and tiny stainless two side sink made everything so dark.

70s-flooring-and-wallpaperSo keeping the budget to 16K, I punched the stove wall out two feet into the living room, added a garden window, and went with glass upper cabinets.

vintage-kitchen-jadeite-and-yellowI used Wilsonart Laminate 4916-60 Sweet Corn for the countertops, with stainless edging that my contractor got (not sure from where), Armstrong Marmorette NATURCote LP020 Sweet Grass (this is commercial grade, but extremely environmentally sound, and will require a professional floor layer as it is persnickety for the DIYer) on the floor. Thanks to Retro Renovation, I found the Hudee ring for the sink. I got the sink from a salvage store for just $40! It was a mess, but with Bar Keepers Friend, I got it bright white again. The paint is Behr, from Home Depot.

vintage-kitchen-retroI went with the 40’s because  my last home was my grandparents’ house in San Diego, built in 1939. I love the feel and products of back then.

vintage-kitchen-decorI’ve inherited many items from family and have collected items to finish out the look. They are my inspiration pieces.  Among all the items in the kitchen, I have something from each of the women who have influenced my life.  Every time I cook, they are there in spirit with me.  It’s always a good time!

vintage-stoveI have found a late ’40s vintage Magic Chef gas stove, but it’s sitting in the garage until I can get it retro fitted for propane, (an expensive proposition!) Waiting to build up the piggy bank.  The only guy in the area is quoting up to $1,500. Plus buying the tank, etc. When they remodeled, I had them do the gas piping. Looking forward to cooking with fire again!

vintage-kitchenvintage-kitchen-white-and-yellowI had them build a low cabinet to put the refrigerator on.  I have a bad back, and bending over is a big problem for me. Having the fridge up on this pedestal makes it so much easier, and the lower cabinet drawer is perfect for baking pans and such.

yellow-and-jadeite-kitchenI hope that this covers it. I’m happy to answer any other questions or more pictures. I must tell my husband at least once a day how much I love my kitchen now!  The only drawback it that it makes me want to bake and cook ALL THE TIME!

Wow Maile — what a transformation. The kitchen feels so much cleaner and larger now. I love the combination of the yellow countertops, aqua flooring and vintage jadeite accents. And — we LOVED that you showed us your inspiration pieces — we strongly encourage readers who are trying to decide colors for their kitchens or other rooms to do the same — that is, look for items in colors that sing to you and build your space from there. All the better when the pieces have sentimental value! Pam and I both also have items from our mothers and grandmothers and aunts in our kitchen — what a great way to stay in personal touch with those memories, every day. 🙂

Also, what a great idea to raise the height of your refrigerator to improve ergonomics. This reminds Pam: Her aunt Mary Anne did the same with her dishwasher.

Thanks so much, Maile, for sharing your space with us1

  1. Debra says:

    Maile some how I missed your fun kitchen redo when Pam first ran it. Kudos for a fantabulous job! I also chose yellow Formica counter tops in my kitchen & laundry room when we “updated” our 1970 kitchen. What a happy difference it has made! PS I’m so jealous of your retro stove. We have no wiggle room to have one. ENJOY!! ????????????????

    1. al says:

      Hi! Maile, your kitchen is *absolutely* lovely!

      I’m sure you won’t see this comment because it looks like it’s been two years since someone last posted here, but I really hope you do see my comment, because I have a question for you about your sweet grass flooring.

      I am about to order that same linoleum for a room I’m renovating, but I need to order two sheets, so they will have to be seamed together.

      I’m wondering: Did you have to order multiple sheets for your kitchen? And if so, is the seam noticeable or unsightly? (Is the seam thin like a piece of thread? Or is it wide and thick?)

      Thanks in advance for your help. I don’t want to spend money on something that may look bad in the end!

  2. lynda murray says:

    i think you did an excellent job! I especially like the floor. I bet you cant wait to get that awsome stove in there. I feel your pain waiting to finish. I don’t like waiting.

    1. Maile Lakely says:

      Check out my post to Retro Renovations f/b page showing the vintage stove in the kitchen. I’m cooking with gas again! Whoot!

  3. Mary Lou Keller says:

    During a bout of insomnia in the wee hours of the morning I found the retro renovation website and THEN found this. . WOW! I may be a bit envious of your fabulous kitchen. It is beautiful and I absolutely love the retro touches. The colors and all the light are so inviting. No wonder you love to spend more time in there.

  4. Liz says:

    I have a 1940’s house with the cottage style kitchen that will be undergoing a remodel to make it more functional. I’ve been wondering what to do with the counters since the jadeite colored solid surface I wanted was discontinued. I hadn’t really considered laminate, but I really like those yellow countertops! I also have some green linoleum (VCT) tiles that I picked up at a Habitat for Humanity Restore for a steal. Loved the idea of the cabinet under the fridge. That is so much better than installing a cabinet you can’t reach above it! Great job on the remodel!

  5. Pat says:

    Gorgeous, Gorgeous, Gorgeous! Although not all 70’s kitchens are tiny, my mom and dad built a house in 1972 and it had a huge country kitchen with that gold vinyl similar to yours!

  6. Sarah says:

    Maile, your kitchen is delightful. I am sure your relatives would be thrilled to see their treasures in such a beautiful new home. I wish you many happy years of baking there.

  7. Nina says:

    You did a beautiful job. I just loved the colors you chose and I liked that you took a picture of your color inspirations. Very simple and well-organized but still cozy.

  8. Pam says:

    A+++ Love this! This truly shows creativity and a love of 40s, 50s & 60s homes! We’re slowly redoing a home we bought in the late 80s. I’m not a fan of modern pretty kitchens and iridescent backsplashes – those looks come and go and everyone seems to have them. What lasts and gets attention are kitchens like Maile’s! I’d savor a kitchen like this – it never gets boring and welcomes everyone! Good job!!!

  9. Jennifer says:

    I love it! I really love your countertops. My house was built in 1948, it also has a galley kitchen. I am slowly renovating it and your kitchen sure inspires me.

    1. Simon Thomas says:

      Hello, I recently bought the same model Magic Chef stove and was wondering if you knew anything about it! Thank you, Simon

      1. pam kueber says:

        Hi Simon, I don’t know the answer to your question. There may be a few groups or sites out there that may be able to help you — start googling! Good luck!

  10. Linda Haas says:

    Love, love, love what you,ve done!!! So glad you have a vintage stove to complete this beautiful kitchen! Isn’t the Marmoleum product great? I have it as well! Thanks so much for sharing.

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