Ready for our kitchen reveal?? Okay, “reveal” makes it sound like we did a big remodel. We didn’t. We really we just painted, hung up some new blinds and installed a new doorbell. But if you’ve seen my previous two kitchen posts (where we painted and the “before before” photos), you may agree it’s a pretty big change! Especially since that old paint kept me from ever sharing the kitchen on my blog.
And now, a little tour. Actually a looong tour of a little kitchen, but I know you want to ogle all the retro goodies I’ve been holding out on showing and not only see the paint, right?? 😉 So this post is a big one. This is our real life kitchen, with no staging except me tidying up a bit so you don’t have to look at unopened mail or dishwashing soap or the ramekin that usually lives on top of our microwave housing the “where the hell is this from?” screws that fall out of random places.
So I present the Golly Ranch kitchen. Now with more aqua and less poo green!
Ta da! Indulge me in one dramatic before vs. after shot. The day we moved in, and present day:
So those windows, let’s talk about that for a sec. The old blinds were 1″ metal mini blinds that were old and grubbier than you could believe. The one over the picture window was a behemoth!
Hard to tell it’s even three windows above, right? So when we painted, we ordered separate inside-mounted 2″ faux wood blinds (these ones from blinds.com) and we love them. (Second time ordering from them, the first was our cellular shades for the den and our bedroom which we also love. I’ll do tours of those rooms at some point. Worth noting they often have sales, I think we got these for at least 20% off, if I recall.)
Here’s a daytime and a nighttime photo for comparison, since it’s reeeally hard to photograph a window:
We picked ones with a slight wood grain texture and they’re really nice! I considered getting cloth tape too to cover the strings, but realized white cloth tape in a kitchen… nope. And I really wanted to go with white blinds in the kitchen to keep it nice and bright.
Eventually I plan to sew a cute fabric valance, which will cover the very tippy top of the window, so at that time we’ll remove the valances that come with the blinds. We also replaced the blinds over the sink window to match (that one probably won’t get a new valance since it’s kind of a cramped space). You can see what it looked like while we were painting. We removed the old blinds so we could patch, so we lived with no window treatment and stared at our neighbor’s house for a month. Oh, city living.
We did have a false start with the matching one for the back door (which is just to the right of the big picture window), realizing they may stick out too far, so we’re currently working on that.
I’m just so freakin’ happy to have the new blinds up, along with the new paint! Since over the kitchen sink, we always left the old mini blinds halfway up because of the plants, we saved ourselves a few bucks (and a thick stack of blinds) by getting this one cut the actual height we wanted. It’s mounted on the inside of the window, too, so just the valance sticks out.
As you can see in all the photos in this post, the main color scheme is aqua with red accents, and we have a mix of kitschy, vintage and modern all working together. I’ve been collecting red vintage kitchen items for over a decade! Salty and Peppy salt and pepper shakers, red Bakelite flatware, plastic canisters, you name it. But I’ve also picked up a couple of other accent colors over the years. The yellow started when we got a vintage lion cookie jar for Pia’s dog treats and a couple of sunny yellow pieces of chalkware, back in our condo. So when we needed a few new small appliances in the new kitchen, we went for yellow ones. And then two of my yellow vintage planters that were in other rooms in the condo were moved into the kitchen and are perfect, too. So boom, second accent color.
I’ve also subconsciously accented with pink too, picking up several pieces of pink Pyrex and two vintage planters over the years, then more recently, when I was given my step-grandmother’s two patterns of pink floral Spode china that I display in the hutch. It’s trickled down to things like heart-shaped measuring cups and spoons. I wish I could remember where I got those as they’re so cute, I think it was on Amazon.
Below is a red Le Creuset utensil holder my mom gave me, stuffed with all the cooking utensils we use, including vintage Bakelite-handled ones and aqua spatulas from Martha Stewart’s kitchen collection at Macy’s. I also have her aqua-handled food storage containers, hand mixer, digital thermometer and probably a few other things from that line. Hey, when you actually spy aqua things you need, you have to get them!
We also use (modern) Fiestaware as our daily dishes, and have narrowed down the palette to ivory, turquoise, sea mist (retired since 2005, so I’ve had to supplement on eBay or at outlets), scarlet and black.
Love the hilarious country-ish shelf paper, by the way? I need to find a better one to cover up it and other equally bad shelf paper in other cabinets. I reaaaally don’t want to try to steam all the old stuff off so I’m thinking something else I can stick on top. Red gingham, if it exists?
You can see throughout the kitchen there are little pockets of my accent colors. I guess green can also be included, too! From the sea mist Fiestaware to my Juice-O-Mat juicer (another thing I’ve probably had at least a decade), to accents in the chalkware and plants. And not that you can see it on display except for one cup on a sink shelf and some of the small plates in the photo above, but I also have my step-grandmother’s collection of green depression glass, too.
The amazing vintage angry cats apron on the bar cart below is something my mom gave me this Christmas, it’s a hoot!
The two yellow and one aqua planter you can see behind the sink are all vintage McCoy, but the green one at the end and the aqua hobnail one above the hutch were actually from Target some years back. It’s nice to have something lush and green to look at while you do dishes, especially in winter. In our condo you just stared at a wall.
Our house was built in 1955 and the kitchen has the original cabinets, but that’s about it. Fortunately, that’s the biggest part that gives it a fun 50s touch! The scalloped wood valance over the sink, the little display shelves to the sides of the sink, and a peninsula all made me (internally) squee when we first toured the house. And I was honestly a very down-to-earth house shopper, so that’s saying a lot!
It really feels like our “meant to be” kitchen, when you consider the majority of the vintage items we’ve put in it were things we already owned before we even had this house, yet they really look right at home in here. 🙂
(The little plant below could use a stick for support, I know!)
You know the second I saw the peninsula I thought, “Yep, my Pyrex would go right there.” And so it did. The other neat thing about the peninsula is that you can access the cabinet from either side.
There’s even a built-in cutting board to the right of the sink… which frankly I usually forget about (and by the way, it does pull completely out so you can properly clean it). I love those special little bits!
Unfortunately I forgot to take a close-up “before”, but that box on the soffit above the sink is the doorbell. The old one was very yellowed plastic from the 80s or so. At one point in time the doorbell was obviously bigger, as the previous owners had literally taped and painted over pieces ripped from a cracker box on either side to make the hole smaller, instead of properly patching it. Um, oookay. Needless to say, that’s all gone now and it’s done the right way!
By the way, I feel like 1950s kitchens typically don’t have soffits that extend out beyond the cabinets but are usually more flush up against them, so our configuration is kind of interesting. Not sure why it’s like that. Maybe the original owners really wanted to make sure they got in enough lighting? It’s an oddity in our kitchen. I’ve only seen something similar in this 1961 kitchen (from this post), but with no lights.
At some point we replaced the bronze cabinet knobs for the saucer-shaped chrome ones you see. I think I used the knobs mentioned in this Retro Renovation post as the cheaper alternative to Rejuvenation knobs, or some similar ones from the hardware store. Eventually we need to swap the hinges for chrome, too. But man… that’s a lot of hinges. So the box of hinges has been sitting in the basement waiting for a rainy day.
There’s also matching cabinets above our fridge. To the left of the fridge is a little vintage wire shelf we use for cookbooks and our keys (keep meaning to find a key hanger for the broom closet). For the photo on the left below, I was standing in the hallway looking into the kitchen. For the photo on the right below, I was literally sitting inside the sink to get far enough back, ha ha!
I’d love to say we’re the type of people who have a squeaky clean fridge but nope, we fill it full of photos and postcards and crap. And there’s always cereal and cracker boxes on the top, I only moved them to show you the cabinets. 😉
An interesting thing to note is that our wood cabinets started life painted white! The previous owner told us she had them stripped at some point (she bought the house in 1979 and we’re not sure when she did it). I don’t think they were ever meant to not be painted, however, since the wood actually doesn’t match, even within individual cabinet doors! So we’ve discussed that if we need to build any additional boxes or shelves to change things slightly at some point down the line, we might paint the cabinets white. I do love the light wood though, even un-matchy as it is. We’ll see.
The large arabesque-shaped tile back splash was maybe a 1960s or 1970s addition, although similar tile is still sold so who knows, really. It’s like the world’s most pervasive back splash, going all the way down behind the stove and everything! Thankfully around the sink window was drywall so we could paint that and bring a bit more of the aqua into the kitchen proper, other than just the soffit up by the ceiling.
The back splash tile has a gray tinge to it, making it always look kind of dirty, although fortunately that’s a bit improved with the aqua paint. I don’t hate it, but it was poorly done around the edges (pretty sure it was layered on top of whatever was behind it), it definitely has had the grout painted (not very well), and in some spots has weird gunk we can’t get off. So someday, it’ll go. You can also see the dial to our original working Blo-Fan vent that’s in the ceiling! Someday we want to get the vent re-chromed.
The stove and fridge are from the 1990s (I know because I called Sears to find out if the fridge was pre-Energy Star, and it is by a year). You may have noticed there’s no dishwasher, which I’d like to eventually resolve if we can do it without losing much storage that we can’t add back elsewhere… that’ll be a really tough one, though. I’m not sure it’s really possible.
We also have a huge 40″ vent hood above the stove. I don’t think it’s original, but more than likely the original stove and hood were both 40″ wide as the built-in cabinets were obviously shaped around a hood that size. It’ll be hard to figure out what to do about that in the future. You can see the smaller stove was centered under it and an extension of the counter built to meet it, but it’s a bit silly having a normal stove under a huge hood.
Plus to the right of the stove there’s a cabinet above where we keep our trash can, just hanging out in space as a shoulder buster when you turn the tight corner from the fridge into the hall.
This is kind of my “WTF” wall. Our kitchen layout is like a scaled-down and slightly more odd version of Kate’s kitchen from Retro Ranch Revamp (you can see it on her House Tour page, a little bit down from the top), except she doesn’t have the same WTF wall. 😉
It’s all a bit awkward, especially with the shoulder-busting cabinet by the doorway, but it works, and I’ve yet to come up with any ideas to make it better in the future because of the cut-out cabinets above the stove and hood! It’s a periodic source of head scratching for me.
I dislike white-and-black mixed appliances and the fact that ours add a 90s vibe to the kitchen (along with the dark laminate counter top), but they actually work great so we’re in no rush to swap them out! And much as I looove swoon-worthy retro appliances like Big Chill and Northstar, the astronomical prices mean we’ll just upgrade to something more modest down the line. I really dig the way-more-reasonably-priced and still-retro-reminiscent GE Artistry line that I first saw on Retro Renovation, (and omg, if they really do skins, how cool!). I don’t love the idea of a bottom freezer (and we’ve both gotten surprisingly attached to the external ice dispenser), but as another plus to the fridge, it’s a little narrower than our bulky side-by-side… so it’s something we’ll have to chew on when we cross that bridge.
It’s hard to figure out the life stages of this kitchen, but fun speculating! I wonder if in the 60s or 70s, the original 40″ stove was removed, and the arabesque back splash was added (since then there was a lot more wall space behind the stove), and perhaps that was when the psychedelic wallpaper remnant we found went up. Neon orange with yellow and black swirls, with arabesque tile? Who knows. Boy, to be a fly on the wall! 🙂
Anyway, I have the perfect place to showcase my collection of state plates on the only large wall in the kitchen. We actually put these up awhile ago when we could no longer stand trying to live with nothing on the walls until we painted. I really liked the configuration, so I took a photo before for placement, then carefully found all the nail holes after and had a fun puzzle getting them all back up in the same spots (it worked!).
For reference, that door is the same broom closet and attic access I showed in my last post, when we were insulating.
They look so much better against the aqua! Although a bunch of shiny plates are hard to photograph, sorry.
There’s one more original thing in the kitchen, the Colonial trim. Here’s the odd thing though: it’s not stained wood. The trim used to be white, and was actually painted or glazed to look wood-tone. I know that because they did it the lazy way and it stops being “wood” halfway behind the stove and fridge, and goes back to white. I bet the previous owners did that when they stripped the white paint from the cabinets. Check this out:
Is that not the strangest thing?? I’ve never seen it before. I’m not positive it was all once white, but at the very least some of it was. I have mixed feelings about it because I like that it’s wood…ish, but the reality is that you’re not actually looking at the grain of the wood. And since some of it getting kind of crummy at this point, I don’t even know how to fix it. So in the future if we do end up painting the cabinets white (or even if we don’t), we’ll likely paint the trim white. But it might involve some fixing up in a couple of spots, so we didn’t want to deal with it during this round of painting. And we’re not entirely convinced of what we’ll do yet, anyway. Another conundrum to tackle at a future date.
In the eat-in kitchen area, we have our vintage dinette table and hutch that were in the dining room in our condo, but are perfect in our kitchen now! We have the original table extension so we can seat 6 comfortably when we need to. Above (you can’t see it in the below photo, but it shows up in other photos) is a ceiling fan. We have to have one for such a small space, but we’re already annoyingly on our second one, after the first replacement of the boring white one from when we moved in broke. Grr.
Oh, about six months after we moved in I wrote a post about trying to find a good place for our cat to eat, and never did a follow up! We solved it by getting a vintage Cosco bar cart. We picked it up cheap at an antique mall, probably because someone didn’t do the most amazing job spray painting it red, so up close you can see a few little fuzzies permanently embedded, but who cares.
Dinah eats on the bottom shelf, and we have two more for various random kitchen items (some for display like the vintage box of corn servers from my mom’s friend and the juicer, and some for regular use like the food scale, salad spinner and pans). I may rotate things around and put my white vintage Sunbeam stand mixer on the top shelf at some point, just to mix it up, and I’ve been meaning to try and find a better home for the pans in a cabinet.
As an added bonus, Dinah really loves sitting on the cart and using it to get to the window to watch the backyard. I spied her doing that when I was taking photos, even! She usually sits there for a minute, then lays down in the windowsill. This photo was blown out but you can see her on the bar cart in the corner!
And phew… I think that’s the full tour!
So, now my thoughts on possible future changes? We have nothing planned in the immediate future, but it’s fun to think about. Definitely new counter tops to replace the dark faux marbley laminate (that I hate and that we coincidentally had in our condo too… I joked with Mel when we moved in, “Why can’t we get away from this counter top?!”). A new sink, maybe a larger single basin with integrated drain board. New down lights in the soffit instead of florescent (my dad suggested we could drywall the bottom and put in nicer can lights). Eventually new appliances, when ours kick the bucket.
Those are all the somewhat smaller things. The bigger wishes would be figuring out how to deal with the WTF stove wall, removing the huge back splash, adding a dishwasher if we can figure it out and not lose too much space that we can’t gain back elsewhere, and re-doing the floors (we like the easy-care of tile but it has pink and gray swirls which are meh, plus a couple are chipped). But all of those are really pretty big things and have their own various challenges, so who knows when we’ll do any of that, and what of it we’ll actually do!
Odds are we probably won’t make any counter top changes until we decide on the bigger items, so likely this is the way our kitchen is going to look for a good while. A valance for the picture window, a couple of things to hang on the wall next to the hutch and fridge, and that’s it for actual plans. And we’re cool with that. Right now, we’re certainly enjoying the mix of 1950s, kitsch, modern and cheerful colors that make up our modest little mid-century kitchen! 🙂