Vote for our “The Hard Way Award – Kitchen Remodel” winner — 2016

{Voting now closed.} Voting for our 2016 “The Hard Way Award – Bathrooms” is under way (vote here), and now, it’s time to take a look at our contestants to win “The Hard Way Award – Kitchens”. I went through the archive and selected six finalists. Now it’s time for YOU to vote! The voting poll is at the bottom of this story — click one to vote. 

Which of this five remodels do you think should win? Voting is open through Friday morning, Tuesday morning, Jan. 17. I’ll announce the winner for both competitions the next day..

What criteria would I use to select a winner? Hmmmm…. how about:

  • Pursuit of detail — how challenging — how “doing things the hard way” — was this project?
    • How many old house obstacles needed to be overcome?
    • How difficult was it to obtain the products used?
  • Creativity — props for pushing envelopes and as described above, for going the extra mile to achieve a creative vision.
  • Suitability — to the house and its era.
  • Overall vibe and story — there’s more than one way to retro, so as they say, everyone’s a winner!

That said: There are no rule-rules (and except for everlasting Retro Renovation, there are no prizes), so take a look and pick your favorite!

Our contestants:

#1 Drew and Amy’s atomic inspired kitchen remodel in a 1960 parsonage

Newlyweds Drew and Amy bought their fixer-upper — a parsonage built in 1960 — three years ago. Smart folks, they tended to fundamentals first. But all the while, they were planning for the fun stuff — a necessary kitchen remodel. Their design mixes modern with retro — all the while aiming to be sympathetic to the original architecture of the house.


#2 — Ondrea and James’ English Rose kitchen: Two sets refurbished into one joyful remodel

Ondrea and James paired up, and soon enough, were feathering their Bristol, UK, nest with a “new” kitchen. In this case: combining two sets of vintage aluminium — (in U.S. talk, aluminum) — English Rose kitchens into one… and there’s lots to the story, of course!


#3 — Roger & Lynsey + two sets of vintage St. Charles kitchen cabinets = a gorgeous midcentury modern kitchen remodel

Here’s another pair who searched out two sets of cabinets to create the one kitchen of their dreams. Roger and Lynsey remodeled their 1953 kitchen featuring St. Charles steel kitchen cabinets. When they bought this house, it had been unoccupied for five years — yikes!


#4 — Heidi & Scott recreate a 1950s birch wood kitchen for their Cinderella ranch house

The Great Recession — along with another project, renovating a rental house — slowed down Heidi and Scott’s ability to begin renovating the kitchen until about two years ago. By then, they knew just what they were going to do, and had the resources to do it. Their goal: to rebuild the kitchen as close to the original 1956 version as possible, with just a few, mostly invisible, ‘upgrades’.


#5 — Pat and Bill’s St. Charles kitchen remodel

midcentury modern kitchenWhen reader Pat and her husband Bill initially moved into their 1951 ranch home, they weren’t fans of the original St. Charles steel kitchen cabinets, which were in rough shape after years of use. Pat priced out how much a complete gut remodel would cost and realized it wasn’t in her budget. After pondering her situation for a few years and discovering Retro Renovation’s stories about readers who had successfully refinished their steel kitchen cabinets, Pat knew that she could do it, too.


#6 — Wren & Willow’s little bit of perfection 1940s kitchen remodel

Laureen Scrivan, owner of the general contracting company Wren & Willow took took a needs-work 1940s cottage and gut-remodeled it to look brand spanking new — new, ala 1940. The initial intent was to renovate the house, then rent it out. But she and her husband loved the end result so much — they now live in it! P.S. Does this really belong in “The Hard Way” category, since Laureen is a general contractor? I pondered the question, then decided it’s “in,” because it’s a… culmination of her lifelong story. 


So now it’s time to vote! Voting closes Tuesday night, Jan. 17.

VOTE HERE — vote once — choose one:

[Voting now closed.]

  1. Nan Lewis says:

    Very hard choice because they are all super kitchens. For me it came down between #3 and #4, both spectacular kitchens, but I’m afraid the pink and gray boomerang Formica on the desk of # 3 melted my heart, because that’s the exact Formica My Mother had in her kitchen, in the MCM my parents built in 1955!

  2. KennyT123 says:

    I went with #4 but #2 made it difficult. I was in the Air Force and knowing about the cabinets made from aircraft aluminum was really interesting–plus I love the small fridge and cooker.

    1. Jan says:

      I had the same problem between #2 and #4. I love them both, I love #4 a tad bit more, but for me, it came down to the fact that Ondrea and James appear to have done all the work themselves. And having been down that road myself, that can be the hardest way ever! But congrats to ever single kitchen owner – they’re all pretty great!

  3. Heidi E. says:

    I went with #4, not because I share a name with one of the homeowners, but because it looks like the kitchen I would most feel happy to live with on a daily basis. After all, what’s ultimately more important than that?!

  4. Bette Jean says:

    Wow! This is really hard. I’m in the middle of re-reading all of the stories (and enjoying every minute!) After each story I’m ready to vote for that one! 2 more to go. Congrats to all entrants. Really beautiful work and creative ideas. Love RR for sharing these stories and great photos.

  5. Rick G says:

    For me, it really came down to which kitchen was as close to being correct, as far as what would it have looked like in that time period. – Materials, design, color palette, etc …….. That being said, one kitchen stood out for me – Fantastic detailing all the way through !! – Bravo

  6. Mary Elizabeth says:

    This was a very hard choice! All of the kitchens had such great results and wonderful stories. I think Roger and Lynsey picking up the cabinets with a U-haul in a blizzard finally decided me. 🙂

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