Carolyn’s gorgeous 1940s kitchen remodel featuring yellow tile with maroon trim

kitchen-beforevintage yellow kitchenEarlier this year, reader Carolyn asked for our help — how best to repair and decorate her 1947 kitchen. Since her original kitchen was in rough shape, we suggested that a complete remodel — in authentic vintage style, of course — and created a mood board to coordinate with her vintage Fiestaware collection.  Now, Carolyn and her husband Dennis (both shown at right) are back with the results — yes, they built new cabinets and went for yellow tile. Wow, is it ever beautiful. So much so that it will be featured in the local newspaper soon — go, Retro Renovators, go — show the world how it’s done!!

vintage kitchen remodelvintage yellow kitchenCarolyn writes:

Thank you, Kate and Pam, for your encouragement and inspiration. This kitchen could never have become what it has become without your resources, reader opinions, philosophy and just plain old kindness.

1940s vintage kitchen

I hate to think what this kitchen would have become (granite and MDF) without your advice, “Listen to your house.” My house is happy. We are thrilled. We’ve had some folks come to take pictures of our new kitchen to be published in our local paper.

vintage yellow kitchen

The cabinets were built by a local cabinet maker — John Petterson of Chico Custom Cabinetry, Inc. He used top grade wood (Maple ply interiors…no MDF!) and came up with some wonderful design ideas…like not too many glass front cabinets as I had initially wanted. As a result, the overall he balance of our kitchen turned out better. I insisted on the same cut-outs we had in our old kitchen. He did a wonderful job.

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Finally we can use this corner space with a new lazy Susan.

vintage yellow kitchen

Our other corner is useful, too. Our cabinet maker really pulled off quite a coup with my oddball requests. European hinges are apparently hard to install but, I like the look.

vintage yellow kitchen

My husband hand made all pulls and knobs using African Purple Heart wood.

vintage yellow kitchen

The precious tile above the sink was found at a local gift shop. Also, we kept the old housing for our above the sink light, instead of putting in a new pendant or other light. Easy breezy.

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The countertop and backsplash tile is yellow with maroon quarter rounds and “old school” box shaped edges from B&W Tile. The amazing vintage sizzle strips were found on Ebay.

[We adore your vintage liner tiles, Carolyn — way to match things up! Readers, see all our stories about liner tiles here.]

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The faucet is a Grohe — which I love.

vintage yellow kitchen

Our walls are painted Sherwin-Williams “Quartz White,” which is a sort of mauve. It really makes the yellow and maroon pop. I determined the color choice by the sizzle strip design and colors: maroon ribbons with a small diamond dot of mauve between. This really worked out well. I love the color contrast so much that I don’t want to fuss it up with shelving.

vintage yellow kitchen

We were able to restore and use the old fan housing while installing a new Nutone ceiling fan. I looked for metal covers and eventually paid some guy named, Gary, who had a hardware store somewhere in the Midwest. Unfortunately, the metal cover he sent was aluminum and not much better looking than the white plastic cover that came with the new fan.

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Refrigerator is an LG 10 cu. ft., which suits our needs and enabled us to enjoy more kitchen space. It is flanked by a skinny pull-out pantry that helps maximize our storage space.

vintage yellow kitchen

You’ll also see a new glass door put in beside our stove.

vintage yellow kitchen

I painted our old Dutch door to match the matte on the framed artwork.

vintage yellow kitchenCongrats on a remodel well done, Carolyn! Thanks so much for sharing the results with us — we are tickled that you were able to use our mood board to create the vintage kitchen of your dreams. Way to “Love the house you’re in!”

See all of our 1940s kitchen design boards here

love the house youre in

  1. Doris Eckey says:

    Beautiful kitchen! But it’s not uncommon for vintage fiesta ware to be [discussion on materials potentially used has been edited — see my response below and get with your own properly licensed experts to assess / decide – Pam ]

  2. Paul says:

    Hey Carolyn, excellent job on the kitchen. I’m curious, what color did you paint the cabinets? Thanks

  3. Kathy says:

    Love, Love, Love it! Great vintage color scheme, especially the bit of mauve in the paint. I wouldn’t have thought of that, but looks great and is such a subtle touch. Vintage color usage often is very sophisticated.

    Did you consider epoxy grout for the counter? More expensive, but doesn’t mold or stain like the traditional type. I’m not sure of its heat resistance though, but might be worth looking into for those who want to follow your example.

    Love the knobs too–a perfect match. I would like to see a close-up and know more how your husband made them. What did he finish them with? Knobs can add up, so this is a great DIY option, and possibly could be painted or stained various colors.

    I have a small kitchen too, tiled in ballet slipper pink circa 1962. We got a basic Whirlpool 28″ freezer over fridge–about as small, 17 cubic feet, as they come in the budget category, about $600. I’m eying some new 30″ French door over bottom freezer styles as a replacement–some of the new ones are rather vintage looking and the prices are coming down–about $1.500 or so. I cook from scratch a lot and subscribe to a farm share, so the smaller size isn’t quite enough for me.

    Smaller fridges do force you to use what you have and that cuts down on mystery containers in the back and food waste, so I admire you for getting by with just 10 cubic feet of fridge.

    1. Carolyn says:

      Dennis used old scraps he had on hand of a very hard wood called, “African Purpleheart.” He used “Tough as Nails” nail polish to finish them. Dennis is a master wood worker and our home is filled with his beautiful furniture creations.
      Thank you!

  4. Carolyn says:

    Hey everyone! Thank you so much for all your compliments. And yes, I do stand in the middle of my kitchen in wonder. Many friends are amazed at this transformation.
    The art work is an otiginal water color by Dave Simcox of Chico’s Art Etc. My contractor was Eric Enns and Donnie who aptly named their company, Dream Development Co., in the midst of this project. Again, our cabinet-maker was John Petterson of Chico Custom Cabinets. He and his wife, Dianna, have become dear friends. They were married during construction of my kitchen! Our friend, Anton Jackson, is our personal house wizard. He and my husband Dennis put a new cylindrical ceiling fan into a funnel-shaped hole. We were told it couldn’t be done. That’s all Anton and Dennis needed to hear. I scraped years of paint layers off the original house fan. All it took was warm soap and warm water. No chemicals were needed! I was so delighted that I took all the old brass hardware off all our doors and scraped paint off those. Everything gleams as you can see. My color choice on tile was Clay Squared’s mid-century yellow and maroon BOX tile. The Marroon cost extra but, was well worth it. The folks at B&W Tile in Gardena, CA had to glaze all the Marroon tile before it could be shipped…lending it a fresh-out-of-the-oven feel.
    Again, thanks to all of you, Kate and Pam for your inspiration, encouragement, ideas, knowledge and know-how.
    P.S. While the rest of our house’s floor are original wood, our kitchen floor was not. We found a product at Home Depot called Bruce Olean Narural Oak in random length. The planks were just 5/16″ thick, making this project both do-able and affordable. We went ahead and installed the same flooring in our adjacent laundry room. It adds a wonderful freshness to our home and is super easy to keep clean.
    One last thought, check your local Craigslist. I frequently see old stoves available there and some are quite inexpensive compared to the price of buying ANY new stove.
    Carry on my fellow retro-renovators!

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