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Scott started with one adorable vintage dinette — and built a picture perfect kitchen around it!

affordable mid century kitchenHow to pull together a picture-perfect vintage-style kitchen? Reader Scott started with one favorite piece — a vintage kitchen dinette — and designed his whole new kitchen around it. With this sweetheart mid century style kitchen, Scott also shows us how to combine new materials with vintage appliances and decor. I spoke with Scott on the phone recently to find out more about his resources and how he pulled this delightful vintage green, white and bit o’ aqua color scheme — so easy on the eyes! — together.

affordable mid century kitchen designScott first connected with me to share photos of an amazing stash of St. Regis Panelyte laminate samples. He mentioned his new kitchen, too, and by golly, Happy New Year!

Keeping costs low was important, Scott told me, because this is actually the second kitchen in the house. Yes, he built it in the basement as a place to showcase his vintage appliances and family collectibles. He’s always loved retro and vintage, he said, and when he and his family built their house about 15 years ago, they considered making the main kitchen retro. Ultimately, though, they decided to go with a more contemporary look upstairs. 

vintage green kitchen dinette

In his first email to me, Scott called this his “man cave” kitchen 🙂 I asked Scott why he liked retro style so much. He said:

You know, that’s a good question. I have liked old stuff since is as little. I was interested in old stuff since I was 10 years ago. People told me I had an old soul, was born in the wrong time period.

vintage green kitchen dinetteThe table and chairs are the colors that Scott started with. He pulled the green from the dinette chair upholstery into the checkerboard flooring, and there are lots of 1940s-1950s greens in the accessories. Meanwhile, the tablecloth, countertop and paint bring in light aqua, a lovely complement to the green.

vintage hoosier cabinetScott said the Hoosier cabinet — a real statement piece in this kitchen! — was in his house growing up. He thinks it’s from the 1940s, inherited by his parents. It’s been painted at least once, but that enameled pull-out top looks original to me. What a sweet piece to keep in the family all these many decades!

vintage pyrexHe also had collected the dinette, lots of memorabilia, family dishes and more. Mixing bowls also are from from grandparents when they got married in 1947. The rotary phone on the wall works. There’s all that pink depression glass. He had lots to display!

1950 frigidaire rangeThe 1950 Frigidaire stove belonged to Scott’s grandparents and comes with lots of fond memories. He spent every weekend there growing up and says that his Grandmother left the stove light on every night as a night light. Oh my!

The 1959 ceiling light fixture (visible in the lead shot of the whole kitchen) also came from his grandparent’s house. He swapped it out when they sold they house.

vintage frigidaire refrigeratorOne of the single largest expenses in the kitchen was having the vintage 1956 Frigidaire Imperial Cold Pantry refrigerator rebuilt.

vintage frigidaire refrigeratorFor this task, Scott chose Antique Appliances of Clayton, Georgia.

refrigerator butter holder with separate temperature controlsScott says the refrigerator has lots of great features — like the butter storage compartment with its own temperature control. And oh my gosh, in the photo just before: that fold-down drawer compartment in the door of the fridge!

kohler delafield kitchen sinkTo keep costs under control — this is a second kitchen, after all — Scott chose relatively inexpensive stock cabinets from Lowes. Hardware is from Amerock. He used professionals to install the cabinets. He recognized that vintage kitchens in the 40s and 50s were most likely to have featured slab doors with radius edges — but that really would have bumped up the cost. 

Readers will recognize our go-to kitchen sink — the Kohler Delafield with hudee ring. Scott declared:

“I had to have the metal ring, that was a necessity!”

For the countertop, Scott used a favorite-of-blog-readers retro countertop — Wilsonart’s Betty laminate

The countertop edging came from one of the vendors he found here on the blog. At first Scott had trouble finding someone to install the edging. But then he discovered a neighbor with countertop expertise who was willing to give it a try.

Scott added the vintage Washington Line sink vents after seeing a story about where to buy them New Old Stock here on the blog. 

kohler delafield sinkThe checkerboard floor pattern was created using Congoleum Floor AL-86 Spruce — a white with a lot of green in it, and Emerald Lace AL-18. One of the patterns already was discontinued when Scott was ready to buy, but he found leftover stock on Wayfair. Never give up, readers! The installers got a kick out of the throwback look, he said:

“The flooring guys really liked it, they were taking pictures of it.”

Scott said he is still thinking about what to put in the open wall space above the sink.

scroll woodwork in a vintage kitchen

Scott said that talented family members helped with much of the special wood trim, including the open shelving, the what-not shelves around the sink, and the decorative scrollwork. In fact, the family found the template for the scrollwork in his father-in-law’s shop! His uncle who does woodworking on side, and his dad too, did the shelving. 

affordable mid century kitchenRepeating the lead photo here, it’s also interesting that this kitchen has an open “fourth wall”. That is, it’s wide open to the rest of the basement. Sounds like Scott is still working on the rest of the space (yes, he has more collections to showcase). And next up, he says, is an bathroom using Daltile Aqua Glow tile — He said that Jim and Nanette’s bathroom is his inspiration. That said, his bathroom may not use A LOT of tile, because the quote to create a tiled shower came in higher than he wanted. So he’s noodling some ideas to get the look without breaking the basement fun bank. Hey, we love retro on a budget — can’t wait to see!

vintage kitchen design
Fabulous family photo!

What a happy kitchen, Scott — I’m betting it will provide its own inspiration to lots of other readers! Thank you so much for sharing all these photographs and resources — and for keeping all those family memories alive in your man cave kitchen — for another generation! xoxo – Pam

  1. Gretchen Fucio says:

    This is so beautiful! Absolutely one of the best kitchens I’ve seen. As to the area above the sink- maybe some nice chalkware fruit plaques?

  2. KennyT123 says:

    What a beautiful kitchen and I absolutely love the refrigerator. My 1941 GE is at Antique Appliances right now getting restored. I can’t wait to see it when it comes back. They did a wonderful job. I fell the same way about the hoosier–I built one and put it against the wall by itself in a beautiful green. I couldn’t see putting anything else there.

  3. Debbie in Portland says:

    I have that same stove. I bought it new-to-me about three years ago. I love all the colors and the “stuff” in this kitchen, such a refreshing change from the white-minimalist trend of today. This is a happy kitchen!

  4. Connie H says:

    This is SO much like what we are about to do! Question: what type flooring people will install the Congoleum tiles? Do they also finish/seal it? We were thinking of getting a commercial construction person for it. ALso: which colors is discontinued? The off white or green? I am wanting off white and green check, with corners cut off and 2” squares of black, red and yellow put in. MOre precision than my husband says he has in him lol

    1. Pam Kueber says:

      Connie, one of my local flooring companies installed my commercial grade vinyl composition tiles (Azrock Cortina). Check the manufacturer’s specifications for the recommendations on finishing/sealing. I have my floors polished once a year or so by a local professional who does small business jobs.

  5. Wendy in STL says:

    Outstanding job! I love that the wall phone works and grandma’s ceiling fixture was used.

    I have the same refrigerator in pink. Here’s a great commercial starring Bess Meyerson from when it was introduced:

  6. Ronda Vallejo says:

    The fridge may have been expensive to restore, but it was well worth it. I love vintage refrigerators and I wish manufacturers would produce some vintage styles. I’m tired of stainless steel. 🙂

    1. Carol says:

      I agree stainless steel is so overrated. It seems like every time someone renovates a historic home they always install stainless steel. I love the look of this kitchen. I would love to have one too.

  7. Diana says:

    Love, love, love it. It’s especially special because it contains so many family pieces. It looks perfectly vintage. I like the faux window idea that someone else mentioned for the space above the sink.

  8. Wendellyn Plummer says:

    What an absolute walk back in time! Even down to the green milk carton holder in the frig.!! He was so fortunate to have such great pieces from his family. Quite an inspiration!! Well done!

  9. What a beautiful kitchen! And that refrigerator! Why don’t they put those cool features in today’s appliances? I know of another reason for basement kitchens: canning. Boiling all those mason jars of your fresh produce was just so hot in the summer. Plus the mess of cleaning it all and chopping it up. The kettle and jars had to be stored when not in use. When finished you could store your tomatoes, green beans, pickles and sweet corn in the cabinets!

  10. lynda davis says:

    What a beautiful kitchen. It is like having a museum in your basement! I think a vintage clock over the sink may be nice. The right window “look” would be nice too. My Polish friend from a Western Pennsylvania steel town once told me that everyone in their area had a kitchen in the basement if they could afford it. That way the kitchen upstairs stayed clean and lasted much longer! I have a friend here in Maryland from Pennsylvania and she has a kitchen in the basement. She said she put it in so she could work on quilting all day in her craft room in the basement and still cook a meal. Some counties will not allow a full kitchen in basement. [EDITED] I love all the colors, the details and the wonderful memories in this super darling kitchen!
    Lynda

    1. Pam Kueber says:

      Hi Lynda, note I edited your comment a bit. Yes: Check with your locality whether downstairs kitchens are allowed; presumably this also would come up when you pull your permits.

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