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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. Amber says:

    Very good point! My mom still likes to can tomatoes and in her words ‘tomatoes come ripe at the worst possible time for canning, the hottest part of the year!’

    But really, many things you want to can get ripe when it’s hot, and before air conditioning? It must have been oppressive. You can see where the phrase ‘if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen!’ Came from. But perhaps determined women simply went from the first kitchen to the second, cooler kitchen downstairs.

  2. Mary says:

    What a great idea! I have often thought that as much as I love true retro kitchens, they wouldn’t fit my lifestyle so a second kitchen is the perfect solution! This is a treasure.

  3. Danielle Muntean says:

    Fabulous job! I too thought of a window, he could even hang an actual old window frame and put a sweet valance over it. I’m sure whatever they choose will be perfect.

  4. Nina462 says:

    Sweet. the only thing missing is a window over the kitchen sink. I have a yellow ‘handy holder’ for my milk cartons too!

  5. DJ Sparkles says:

    I LOVE this kitchen! And I love that it’s a “display” kitchen, because it’s the perfect display vehicle for Scott’s fabulous collection! I did wonder, because with no windows and with the open side, it looked like a stage set. And whatever play would be performed, I’d want to see it (better yet, be in it!) It’s just marvelous. I swooned repeatedly. This is a dream kitchen for me!

    So above the sink, which I had thought about even before Scott mentioned it, what about a painting or photo of an outside shot with a frame to make it look like a window? The picture should be of the same era, to keep “in the mood”. Better yet if he could indent the picture to make it look like a window was set in and frame it like a window, complete with ledge! The ledge would give him another shelf to display small items, and add to the magic of his man cave kitchen!

  6. Risë Kwake says:

    OMG! A man/fam after my own heart!! I showed this pic to my hubby to SHOW him what my ideal kitchen would look like! Loving every bit of this kitchen–the colors, the trim, the appliances, the accouterments, well, the everything! VERRA nice job, Scott! Can’t wait to see the bathroom!

  7. Ginny says:

    This is stunning. What a terrific way to showcase collectibles. Even better is that so many of the pieces are from family members.

    Well done, Scott.

  8. Carol Skawinski says:

    What a wonderful job! Kitchen is lovely! My favorite color green. We both display some of same collectibles: Big Boy and Coca Cola tray. Oh, that gorgeous frig. Why don’t they design them with character any longer (unless you pay $2000 and up!). A window would be great in empty space, if possible. Or you could put print with window design.

  9. Kathy says:

    This is one of my favorite kitchens yet.

    Maybe he has something in his stash for the space above the sink. Not all kitchens have windows over the sink, such as in an apartment. Maybe old copper jello molds or plates or framed old food advertising, or maybe even framed ads or artifacts from his FIL’s cabinetmaking collection.

    Or some of that sort of thing can go in the adjoining rec room.

  10. Maureen Edelson says:

    Awesome work, Scott, and congratulations. I am immersed in inherited items from parents, aunts, uncles & grandparents & I’ve wondered what to do with all of these family treasures; Scott has provided the answer. Thank you so much, Scott & Pam.

  11. bella says:

    Love this kitchen. If it were me, I’d build a fake window and put a pleasing scene behind it and light it up from behind. If not that, then hang some vintage plates and a small mirror.

    I hope we see more of his work as it’s completed!

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