Ten years of Retro Renovation, and I have oodles of kitchen renovation research, design and inspiration stories in the archives, including some that feature mega-lists of where to shop for things you may need. Starting out the new year, here’s a look at some of the 12 key stories that may help get you started on a kitchen refresh, renovation, or remodel. Above: That’s my kitchen — the project that inspired me to launch the blog!
Basic kitchen remodel strategies:
- My 9 tips before you start any remodel, plus 21 more tips from readers. This story is a must-read if you are new to your old house. It includes: Go slow, renovate safe, reality-checking the payback, reader input, and more.
- From the 9 tips, I will underscore this story, meant to counter the marketeers who constantly suggest you will get your money back and then some: Remodel and watch your “investment” plunge.
- And of course, be aware: Be Safe / Renovate Safe — hazards can be found in materials, layers, and products in our old houses, so get with pros to assess what you have so that you can make informed decisions how to handle.
- Do you have or want steel kitchen cabinets? Here’s my page on their history, along with a list of the 85+ brands identified so far. My kitchen features 1963 Geneva steel kitchen cabinets with their original aquamarine finish, which I salvaged from a cooking school in New York City once run by nuns. I don’t have personal experience refinishing metal cabinets — consult with pros.
- For modern-era-timeless wood cabinets, I recommend full-overlay, slab doors, typically with radius edge, medium-wood-tone cabinets. White also is modern-era-timeless. No roundup story, but you can read all our cabinet stories here.
- For kitchen countertops, I’m a #1 fan of laminate, because that’s what was used back in the day and is generally more consistent with the humble aesthetic of many if not most midcentury houses. See: 10 places to find retro-design laminate for kitchens and bathrooms + my design tips.
- For countertop edging, there are several historically accurate ways to go. See: 10 ways to do countertop edges from 1953. << This story includes where to find metal edging — aluminum or stainless steel.
- For the 1940s and prior, go with true linoleum.
- For the 1950s on, vinyl composite tiles were common.
- For the 1960s on, you could also do vinyl sheet.
- Where to find these flooring options: 25 companies that make flooring — cork, linoleum and vinyl — suitable for a midcentury house
- The Kohler Delafield white-enameled cast iron, double-bowl kitchen sink with hudee (metal) rim is a classic and still available — story here.
- Elkay stainless steel drainboard sinks also have been around for many decades — story here.
- And, oh my, the world loves drainboard sinks.
Ranges and refrigerators:
- Retro Renovation is not a fixit site. But, here are some places you may be able to get help if you need to fix or get parts for old appliances >> Parts, service and advice to fix old appliances.
- Restored-like-almost-new vintage appliances also are possible: 27 places to buy a restored vintage stove (and refrigerators too). These can get super spendy, but golly, they are gorgeous.
- New vintage-style appliances can be purchased from companies including Big Chill, Northstar and Smeg, and Sub-Zero still has one refrigerator style that’s been around for decades. In my Appliances subcategory, I also regularly feature less expensive proxies available from mainstream manufacturers.
There are, for sure, a lot more details in any kitchen, but this list will surely get you started. To dive in further to lots more stories, click on the categories — in blue — at the top of this page to open the subcategories — in orange.