13 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 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, and our list of the 100+/- 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 and Be Safe/Renovate Safe.
- 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: 12 places to find retro-design laminate for kitchens and bathrooms + my design tips.
- My round up research: Where to find metal countertop edging — steel, aluminum and faux.
- For countertop edging, there are several historically accurate ways to go. See: 10 ways to do countertop edges from 1953.
- For the 1940s and prior, true linoleum seems like it was the go-to.
- For the 1950s on, vinyl composite tiles seem to have been most 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 or Ceco San Clemente white-enameled cast iron, double-bowl kitchen sinks with hudee (metal) rim are classics and are 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:
- See my Appliances category for stories on retro ranges made new today.
- 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 — see my guide on the best retro refrigerator options for your kitchen. In my Appliances category, 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. ALL KITCHEN STORIES and Subcategories HERE.