Best Retro Renovation kitchen remodel of 2014: Luke and his family win The Hard Way Award

best kitchen remodelHard-way-award-Frankly, I think that grandma’s cafe curtains nailed it for Luke and his family: Yes, the people have spoken, and Team Luke’s family-affair restoration of the flood damaged, poorly maintained kitchen in their new 1953 home has earned them our The Hard Way Award – Kitchen Remodel for 2014.  Instead of gutting the weary space, this family embraced its vintage heritage and repaired, rebuilt and refinished the kitchen cabinets — a grueling DIY job that turned out great and demonstrates the incredible beauty to be found in prosaic birch wood cabinetry.

Finishing off with new appliances, flooring, countertops and yup, two windows full of utterly charming homemade curtains — and wow — a warm, inviting, architecturally suitable kitchen, once again.

Congratulations, Luke, to you and your family — and a big Retro Renovation group hug to your grandmother, stat! Thanks to our other kitchen finalists — Molly, LuRu and Sarah — all of your efforts were amazing! xoxo to all the readers who voted!

  1. Steve H says:

    Everyone did a fantastic job, but I have to say I was rooting for this project because of all the work they put into restoring the cabinets. Not only was the result beautiful, but it’s always good to see something resused rather than thrown away. Our society wastes resources at an alarming rate. We need to be kinder to our planet.

    1. tammyCA says:

      Congrats to Luke & family..such a charming kitchen & lots of hard work & love going into restoring it!
      All the kitchens were terrific and applause for all! 🙂

  2. Jacki says:

    Way to go Luke and family! Everyone’s kitchen was fabulous, but this kitchen is so warm and original to the house. Beautiful job, love it!

  3. Robin, NV says:

    I was rooting for Luke and Family – so glad they won. I’m so glad to see someone celebrating and honoring their birch cabinets. The other entries were fabulous too!

  4. Andi says:

    Congratulations Luke and Family! All four kitchen entries were so wonderful that I honestly can’t even remember who I voted for.

    I really love the job you did on this cozy, welcoming kitchen. You beautifully restored those worn-out cabinets to their warm and glowy original selves. All of the choices you made were great, right down to and including, of course, Grandma’s curtains!

    1. pam kueber says:

      Seriously. Going into it, I “knew” who I was going to vote for. But then, everytime I’d read another reader’s comment, I’d change my mind. I *think* I remember who I voted for, but I’m really not sure!

  5. Mary Elizabeth says:

    It was hard to vote for the projects, as they were all beautiful! However, I do want to say a big “thank you” to Pam for arranging the contest and highlighting the work of those who care about restoring their mid-century homes. AND what Steve said about conservation and the planet!

    1. pam kueber says:

      awe… thanks! And thanks to Kate for all the help with the original stories, and for the graphics for the contest. I can’t imagine life here without her!

      And YES to the planet!

  6. Molly Evans says:

    Aww, terrific! Thank-you again, Pam and Kate for showcasing our pet projects. Congratulations to Luke and his parents — building a full kitchen of “old new stock” had to have been quite an undertaking, but the results are spectacular! Love their authenticity and real effort to not ruin the character of that home.

    Pam, without your website kind of coordinating all this, I honestly don’t believe that there’d be much of a grassroots effort to save pink bathrooms, steel cabinetry, or to admire kitschy “stuff.” You’ve inspired thousands and have undoubtedly saved a good bit of sweet and nostalgic Americana from a much less dignified demise. Best to you, your families, and the whole Retrorenovation Nation in 2015!

    1. pam kueber says:

      Oh my goodness, what a kind — and inspiring — thing to say. Thank you, Molly, you just made my year — and it’s only January! For me, it’s ABSOLUTELY GRATIFYING to see all these projects come together. That’s my big “payoff”. It gives me absolute bliss. So thanks to all of YOU INTREPID READERS for mulling it all over — and taking the dive! Not to be too woo woo, because I always remind myself to “show” don’t “tell”: I do believe it’s a righteous path.

  7. nina462 says:

    I’m glad you won! This kitchen is the one where I’d like to stop over for a cup of coffee & mid morning chatter (if I was a 50’s housewife). So homey ….. and so much like my own kitchen 🙂

    1. pam kueber says:

      Sally, the hotlink to the original story is in the first sentence of the story — all hotlinks on this blog are in BOLD BLUE. Just click on those links – they reference other related stories.

  8. Johnny 5 Fachy says:

    Absolutely beautiful, you should be proud, so bright and cheery! Love the window and door criss cross effects and the fact that you elected to restore the original cabinets, they are so cool looking. ENJOY!

  9. Retroski says:

    Love, love this cozy renovation and their choice to renew! What are some natural/renewable retro kit counter materials you recc? I’d like to replace the blegh 80s off white laminate with butcher block, but what about the sink area? I like stainless steel but wonder if it’s pricey. Tile is cheap but my guy isn’t into the feel of it. Retro laminate is cool, but you can’t recycle it unfortunately! (I will take said laminate and hudee ring glass counter to the ReStore though! Suggestions?

    1. pam kueber says:

      The greenest thing you could do is to… keep the functional countertop you have.

      Recyclable as the key environmental concern? I don’t agree: If you are after sustainability, I believe our biggest concern — a life-threatening one — is climate disruption — which is being exacerbated by carbon dioxide and carbon dioxide equivalents emissions. Money is a pretty darn good proxy for carbon dioxide and its equivalents. That is, the more you have to earn to spend –> the more economic activity is necessary, and the more economic activity you cause –> the more CO2 emissions you are responsible for. So, to be green – spend as little as you can. Keep functional countertops. Wear them into the ground. For a spiff, paint them (there are special products). The least expensive replacement options: Laminate, tile, or finding something used at the Re-Store.

      Lots of folks like lineoleum because its ingredients include cork and linseed oil. But, it’s expensive, which in my view means there is a lot of economic activity required to create is, which equates to more carbon.

      1. Retroski says:

        Thanks Pam!
        Plans are to keep most of what we can… One of the countertops by the sink is bubbling where water has gotten into the base. Love the ReStore, anything I take out, I donate. Looked but it’s mostly odd sized granite…see what you’re saying about green/sustainable things. There are so many factors to weigh, like CO2 emission vs the VOC off-gassing of materials in the home. The latter is a big concern for me. If and when we do remove them we will do our darnedest to remove them intact so somebody else can use them.

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