LaDonna creates a retro-style kitchen that would make her grandmothers proud

LaDonna loved the look of vintage steel kitchen cabinets, but wanted the features of wood. So, taking a cue from the vintage Elgins at her parents’ house — and inspired by her grandmothers’ kitchens — she mimicked the look with 3/4 overlay slab doors. She also incorporated New Old Stock liner tile from a Retro Renovation ebay find, and has tips for matching its size to subway tiles.

Elgin plaque and Mom’s gas company cookbook

LaDonna writes:

Hi Pam,

I have very fond memories of both of my grandmothers’ houses and decided to merge elements from both of their kitchens to create a “comfort” kitchen into my no-character brick ranch. My parents still had their Elgin steel cabinets left over from their 70’s kitchen reno, but I remember hitting my head on them and how sharp they were. So, I decided to recreate them in wood.

Pam notes: Photo edited; logo includes complete last name — what a great idea!

Later, my mom and dad sold their house and Dad gave me the metal Elgin plaque as a momento. I even had a plaque made to put where the metal Elgin sign would normally be using our last name in place of “Elgin”.

New Old Stock liner tile with Grandma’s Salt and Pepper shakers

I purchased some of the tiles on ebay from Angela for my backsplash and paired them with white subway tile. I found that they are the same thickness as porcelain 3 x 6 subway tile and not the thinner ceramic 3 x 6 subway tile.

A close up of the liner tiles and S&Ps

My tile installer had no problems, and I love the way it looks!

Enclosed work station with Mom’s Pyrex
Grandma’s McCalls cookbooks and Jewel tea set 

My countertop is quartz, but I picked a style that reminded me of laminated countertops. I also live in an all electric house, therefore a vintage gas stove was out of the question, so I opted for a GE Artistry range.

I liked the GE Artistry refrigerator but it was also smaller than I wanted. The one I have now is a Samsung.

Kitchen sink with Grandma’s Bittersweet dishes

My most favorite thing in my kitchen is the NBI double drainboard sink since I think that gives it the most charm.

Thank you for your wonderful blog and giving your readers the resources to help them in the remodeling of their dream homes.


Nicely done, LaDonna — a blend of old and new that shows off your beloved collections and gives you tremendous decorating flexibility.  Thank you for sharing!

  1. Christy says:

    I am curious on the durability if the NBI sink. I’ve read many articles on your website along with other articles making comparisons of the actual materials used in making the sink. I just can’t decide. Scratching, staining, and maintaining are my biggest concerns. I’m trying to decide on a drain board sink or a sink with a metal trim.

    1. Pam Kueber says:

      Christy, I recommend you contact the company to discuss this info along with any warranty they may offer. In general, I discourage reader complaints/comments on product quality — because I don’t know who is a troll and who is not.

  2. Deni says:

    Hi, where did you get the double sink? I have a vintage metal cabinet, trying to decide whether or not to refinish. I like my blue countertop so hate to tear it out. Really like the wood cabinets to mimic the metal.

    Perhaps I would trade the metal cabinets for????

  3. Kathy says:

    For those of you wanting a more vintage look, I ordered a stainless steel handle for my basic no frills GE electric stove with the old-fashioned coil electric burners.

    I have had the glass top and just hated how hard they were to clean and how long it took to boil water and whatnot. I couldn’t put in gas (suspected asbestos sheeting under the floor-rats!) and the coil type is more authentic, cheaper, and can give more consistent high heat,. This is really important for people like me who like to can, make their own jam and jelly, and for stir-frying.

    My model came with the chrome plates and plastic dials. The chrome was hard to clean and is now rusty (I see why my Mom covered them in aluminum foil) and not I’m considering buying replacement under-burner plates and dials in black to complete the vintage make-over. Plus it cost less than $500 on sale and works like a charm, and offers a bit of storage underneath, which I use for pan lids.

  4. Jon says:

    Is there a relation between “Elgin” steel cabinets and better known “St. Charles” cabinets? Both St’ Charles and Elgin are nearby towns in Illinois’ Fox River Valley.

  5. Beautiful job!
    How did you attach the wood fronts to the cabinets? We have 1954 Geneva Metal Cabinets that are in reasonable shape but have some rust. Looking for alternatives to having them repainted.

  6. Cindy says:

    I have the GE Artistry fridge. Hate to see it discontinued. Good job on the kitchen, blending the new and old. Did you already have your sink?

    1. Ecfinn says:

      That is a line by GE that is made to look vintage, so I think she bought the set because they are new but look good in a vintage-style kitchen.

  7. Bob Connor says:

    Well I guessed right, it was because of the Haier takeover!

    GE Appliances
    8:24am Mar 11
    Hello Robert, Thank you so much for your interest in our GE Artistry line of appliances. We have been thinking about our brand strategy, product offerings and building on Haier’s global brand presence, we have decided to discontinue this series as of December 2016. Although it was a great offering it did not have broad enough appeal to warrant continued investment and focus. While we don’t have any exact replacements we do offer a great variety of new features and designs on our new GE products. Thanks for checking with us. -SF

    1. Ecfinn says:

      Thanks for looking into this and posting an answer. I am really disappointed. I was able to find a GE artistry fridge and I *think* a stove and microwave from the same seller, but it has been a monumental pain and I know I’m paying more than the retail price for it. Sigh.

  8. Holland VanDieren says:

    Readers of this blog will understand that LaDonna’s statement “My countertop is quartz, but I picked a style that reminded me of laminated countertops” is exactly the right style principle for this charming retro kitchen!

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