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Design Dilemma
Design Dilemma

Our Sad Kitchen

Jess DJanuary 24, 2013
This is our kitchen. Our house was built in 1950. The kitchen has been semi-updated. I'm looking for ideas on how to update this space in a cost-effective manner. My husband and I are working on one income as he completes his grad school. We also don't have that much time as we run to various activities with our 2nd grade foster daughter.

If you want to stop reading now, feel free. Below are more notes on the space. I am interested in whatever ideas you have. I stare at this room constantly looking for inspiration.

Details of the Room:
We absolutely hate the floor and the fact that it isn't level. There is a small peak running from the stove to the fridge where it clearly didn't settle right or they put too much cement for the tile. I have no idea. The house inspector thought it was a bad tile job versus a problem with the actual floor as there appears to be no issue looking up from the basement. We want to remove the tile. (That's going to be a nightmare.)

Anyway, my husband and I would like to live her for another 5 years or so and then move. We know the kitchen need an update. I personally think it just looks sad. Our plans right now are to remove the unknown number of layers of paint from the cabinets, sand and repaint. We're not sure of the color. Thoughts?

The countertops are a painfully ugly in a marbled laminate green. They must go! Oh, and there's no backsplash. To me, all kitchens should have a backsplash. It makes that part of the wall look naked.

I'm not opposed to rearranging the stove & refrigerator. I would also like an over the range microwave. I may look into having a carpenter create more cabinets to mirror what we already have if they come out decent. The cabinets are in great shape structurally. Of course, they do look very dated.

Oh, we need to install a dishwasher too. I'm thinking I'll get an 18" since we're not going hog wild and replacing the cabinets.

Our "style"

The living room is a (for lack of a better description) subdued Miami Dolphin green color. I would describe our house as comfortable. Tan couch, hard wood floors, eclectic paintings (abstract and professional painting from Italy from husband's parents trips abroad before he was in the picture). My design and color choices should be relaxed. I shy away from anything formal, trendy or tooooo neutral. I want color! I need color! To me, the colors should bring some life to the place.
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This kitchen is compact but has a nice window and enough room to move around in.

Are you thinking of improvements for less than $1000?

Also, have you tested the 1950's kitchen paint layers for lead?
    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 5:18PM
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Cancork Floor Inc.
Believe it or not, I have several "handy" people who are looking to glue cork tiles (yes...flooring tiles) to the front of their cabinets!!! The "handy ol' guy" figures he can save, "...a whole lot'a time an' money" by resurfacing his cabinets! I have suggested this to a friend of mine who is doing her "home on a budget".

I have "glue down stone" tiles...yes, it is thin stone slices mounted on cork...looks like slate!!! That, at $4.99/sf, you could resurface your counter tops! These can be sealed against spills with water based polyurethane (food grade...of course). You could even use the stone (just in case you don't use them for counter tops) as back splashs. No grout, no mortar. No expensive "install" or labour.

For a more modern "update" you should look at refacing/replacing doors and hardware. A sleeker, more contemporary (as opposed to 50's) look is to have the doors edges "touching" and the hinges on the INSIDE. If you strip/prime/repaint, the "old" look of the 50's is still going to "shine through" simply because of the door sizes. That's just a "thought". It is what is causing the "sad" part of the kitchen.

As for the floors, if those are ceramic tiles, you may be able to get away with "sinking" them in concrete (like a skim coat) and then laying down another resiliant floor - cork or our stone-cork would do well here (that would be using the cork and stone as it was "meant to be").

Check out the floor below...it is a "bamboo" effect. It could be glued onto the surface of the cabinets (tiles are 1ft x2ft x 1/8th inch). It might help with the Miami ideas going on here.

For flooring, if you can get it flat, I can get you anything from blue, to white, to "Diva" red (it might be too close to the floor you have), to marble black.

Just some ideas. Thinking outside the box. Budgets are something I deal with every day.
1 Like    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 5:24PM
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Hi there! This kitchen has lots of potential and if you are able to do some of the things on your own, it'll be less expensive for sure! If you plan to sell in 5 years let's work with what you've got for that purpose!

White cabinets will go with anyone's colors as will white subway tile or white beadboard for a backsplash. Adding picture frame moulding to the cabinet doors & drawer fronts will be a simple update and you may be able to use the current knobs/pulls. You can then accent with any color you desire bringing in lots of color in the curtains, counter items, even a teapot on the stove!

Put matching panels over the two spaces at the sink - make them tip-outs even.

Hang a pendant style light over the sink or a lantern style or a mini chandelier!

On the side of the stove (or if you put the fridge there) where the shelving unit is, build a floor to ceiling pantry with doors. An over the stove microwave will also get rid of the current fan/light unit (love mine).

With the double cabinets on either side of the sink, convert to open shelving and bring the white subway tile all the way up behind them. If you do the pantry idea, you'll still have plenty of storage.

Place dishwasher on whatever side of sink works best. You'll still have the "pantry" to take on the items that were stored there.

There are plenty of "granite" look molded laminate counter tops. Maybe one that pulls charcoal gray would sell well. :) There are some great grey wall colors that would work well with that combo, too, as well as most any color you like! Something in the same saturation range as your living room.

At some point, the color of the stove/fridge/over range microwave/dishwasher should match unless you're taking the stove/fridge with you (that looks like a giant fridge!). Then go for white or stainless steel for the microwave & dishwasher and let the someday buyers deal with the others.

The floor...well, to bring matching hardwood in would be awesome! Okay, not least expensive. There are a myriad of tile choices out there.

I came at this from the selling/buying point of view as you plan to sell so advance apologies if I stayed too neutral :) Also, there are two blogs that have redone their kitchens in the past year. Just Google Beneath My Heart blog by Traci and Southern Hospitality by Rhoda. Also, Addicted to Decorating blog just made her own cabinet doors for her bathroom vanity that originally looked like yours. They did wonders!
5 Likes    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 5:25PM
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Jess D
I would say improvements less than $2000. I have fabric for the curtains. I just need to pull it out and take a picture of it. It's more on the "fun" side.

I haven't tested the paint layers for lead, but due to the age of the home I'm just assuming its under there.

Yeah, the frig is overwhelming. It's mainly visitation and school schedules and artwork and such. I may have to come up with a different center for all that so it doesn't clutter up the kitchen even more.
    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 5:26PM
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You can do a lot for $2000. Can you post the fabric photos or describe the colors?
    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 5:34PM
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Jess D
Here is the fabric.
5 Likes    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 5:45PM
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Here are some ideas for $2000 budget, assuming you do most of the work yourselves.

$800 GE 18" dishwasher and installation (http://www.ajmadison.com/cgi-bin/ajmadison/GSM1800N.html)
$600 Formica laminate countertops
$50 light fixture over the sink
$200 paint
$150 tile backsplash
$200 contingency

BTW, the fridge is likely to stay covered in school stuff until she graduates, just clear it off at the end of the school year every year. Some things are inevitable. You can keep it clear when the house is for sale. An over the range microwave and installation are likely to run $250 plus $125 installation, if not more for installation (you need electrical power, I assume you have a vent already).

The floor is a big deal, as you say. However, removal will go faster with rented equipment. You may want to hire this job out. If you are really going to do the floor soonish, wait to put in the dishwasher until the floor is done because you will want to be able to slide the dishwasher in and out which you can't do with a lip of ceramic tile in the way.
3 Likes    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 5:48PM
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It would be wise if you are moving on in a few years to add your personal style to maybe the next home. You can always add color with pretty dishes, curtains and kitchen accessories. Is there a 50's feel to the other parts of your house, I don't mean your decor but the finishes?
1 Like    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 5:51PM
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Jess D
I wish I posted on here sooner. I can't believe how helpful this has been.

apple_pie - thank you for taking the time to break this all down. The husband and I just get so overwhelmed when we actually walk into the store and are faced with all the options. We need a clear idea of what we want before we start purchasing anything. This is helping us get closer.

noankwaters - I found your post extremely helpful. Since we do want to relocate, I do need to ensure that this will help the house sell. It's only a 2 bedroom/1 bath. We love the layout and that it's a ranch. To us it has been the best starter home and I think would make a great house for a downsizing couple. I will check out those blogs.
3 Likes    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 5:55PM
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Jess D
bygeorgi - I wouldn't say that the house has a 1950's vibe otherwise. To me it just has real wood trim, real wood floors and small rooms with small closets (which we installed Rubbermaid closet systems in).

The bathroom has the original layout with 1990's stock cabinetry and a terrible vinyl flooring install (the seams don't meet!). We will redo that too but, that'll be quick and cheap.
1 Like    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 5:59PM
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I found posting schedules etc on inside of 1-2

cabinet doors easier on the eyes....just redid and decluttered my kitchen- it's working for me
1 Like    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 6:00PM
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The Virtual Designer- Kitchens & Bathrooms
Hello- To save time I'm just going to give my ideas in point form so don't feel that I'm being well....rude.
Take away the curtains and replace with a roller blind or wide blade venetian blind.
I would take off the doors of the wall cabinets either side of the window and fix them up to have them as open shelves with perhaps a strong contrast colour painted on the back of the cabinets. Some down lighting there to show off some colorful culinary items you have on display on these shelves.
I would like to see perhaps another base cabinet with a door on it beside your range to continue the flow and perhaps you could re-use the doors from the wall cabinet betside with window. Also safer, as a buffer from getting too close to hot things on the stove.
Color for cabinets? I'd do them in plain and simple brilliant white with new chrome handles.
Splash back- thats where I'd introduce the color. I could imagine a mixture of 4 colored square tiles around 5 x 5 inches in beige,blue, teal/blue and brilliant white. Maybe even a metalic silvery tile here and there. Match the display items with these colours. It would also work with white, beige, cocoa and black colored tiles.
Benchtops- pick one of the colours from the tiles and try to match a laminate. If your budget doesn't stretch to a new bench, think of using your favourite colour from the range in the splash back and cover existing bench with tiles (just one colour) or use a laminate paint. I have actually seen cheap plywood, painted with a colored wash paint suitable for timber and glued over existing benchtops.
You need to finish the edge with timber treated with the same paint and then seal it very well with a non-yellowing clear coat. Not a long-term solution but might last you long enough.
Good luck...hope it works out well. Sorry about my spelling, I am Australian and our spelling is a little different.
4 Likes    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 6:00PM
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Tammy Sprinkle
Hi there! You have good bones. The countertops are not that pricey at Lowe's. As for the cabinets, you can add moulding and give the cabinets a completely different look. I've attached a few photos of plain flat cabinets with moulding added. It makes a huge difference. It's not that difficult, either. Just miter cuts , small finish nails and glue. Then add paint and new hardware and voila!

If you plan to keep that shelf unit, I would paint it the same color as the walls or the cabinets. You could add a piece of luaun or 1/4" wood to the sides and add the same moulding to the outside as you use on the cabibets.

What colors are in your kitchen curtain fabric? Photo? Paint the wall and add a large area rug and you will be good to go.

There are several good how-to's on adding moulding but here is a link to a simple one. http://www.hgtv.com/kitchens/streamlined-kitchen-cabinet-makeover/index.html

Have fun!
3 Likes    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 6:04PM
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I inherited my parent's 1950's home and it has a galley kitchen but this kitchen is so reminiscent of how it used to look. The kitchen cabinets were updated in the 70's with dark stained birchwood and a few years ago they were professionally painted all white and what a difference it made. The walls were painted an oatmeal color and I'm considering painting it a warm grey to update it even more. The flooring is still linoleum and I've considered tiles if not a laminated wood, Also, I'd like to add crown molding. I'm on an under $100 budget so I really have to be creative and do changes myself. Good thing my dad taught me how to use a hammer!
    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 6:05PM
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Jess D
Annette - what are bench tops?? I don't feel you were rude at all. I just got lost when I got to that part!
2 Likes    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 6:11PM
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The fabrics are fun. If you like this look, try a fashionable Roman shade instead of curtains:
Custom Window Treatments by Lynn Chalk · More Info

I'd pick up one of the off whites or whites from the new fabric for the paint color. The current green marble countertops go best with the blue "flour" design.

If this were my kitchen, I'd get an estimate on removing the floor tile from the pros before doing anything else. Then decide what to install instead.
5 Likes    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 6:13PM
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Miller's Fancy Bath and Kitchen
Replace curtains with pull up/down blind, add base cabinet with top to left of stove, maybe include pull-out spice rack or waste basket. Add wall cabinet above that, maybe with spice storage, then wall cabinet above stove and over-the-range microwave. Replace tops with current color laminate (granite look). Paint cabinets white, self-install ceramic tile backsplash. Consider adding LED under-cabinet lights on wall cabinets. Replace the door "knobs" with pulls. Replace light over sink with pendant light. Add two panels under sink.
1 Like    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 6:15PM
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http://www.thesmarttiles.com/c-2-collections.aspx I used these tiles in my kitchen as a quick update, they look amazing. You can get them at Home Depot and other places.

I would paint the cupboards an off white or ivory, walls a nice light blue-green to go with the terracotta tile floors which are going to be expensive and hard to remove. Update to a nice brushed nickel hardware and roman blind in the windo or bamboo. Well under 500-600 for that.
3 Likes    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 6:17PM
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Jess D
Miller's - you're the second one to mention "add two panels under sink" can you describe that more? Is that to replace the metal mesh that's painted beige?
    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 6:18PM
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Jess D
Susie - those tiles look like a dream to work with!
1 Like    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 6:19PM
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Miller's Fancy Bath and Kitchen
Yes, make to match doors. Currently draws attention to a very minor, unattractive, area
    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 6:31PM
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Yes Jess! I used the Maya Mozaik tiles in my kitchen, took about 35 sheets, so about $350 and it took me about three or four hours! I then went and got some grey piano key style ones, I can't remember the name, and used then in one of our bathrooms behind the mirror! Very quick way to do some DIY work! And you can remove them with a hair dryer when you need or want too. You can also get counter tops at IKEA!
    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 6:45PM
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with a 2000 budget get the most bang for your buck. leave the floor, that alone will run you way over.
for the backsplash, the smartiles will be the smart way to go. as for color, do not think of what you like but resale value. therefore cannot go wrong with white or cream. take the color in the backsplah. do not bother stripping especially with a child in the house.
as for countertops go to a home depot or lowes and get a price for different materials. ask when they have sales, every 4 months or so they have big sales on something. then go to a stone place and ask for their cheapest granite. sometimes they get pieces with some "defect" like irregular veining, etc. and they end up being only a bit more than corian, etc. but they do add tremesdous value to the house.
get some nice knobs, there you can go for fun.
if I were in your shoes I would do a white as in BM "white" paint on cabinets, which saves you the pain of finding the right cream with a red floor. I would paint the kitchen in a grey, do a tile with colors and the countertop in black. with the black and white scheme you do not have to worry about appliances too much because they are black and white.get your dishwasher, even 18" are still 18" of bliss.
get a nice, classic fixture like a schoolhouse one. check lampsplus open box outlet for great stuff at good prices.
changing the shelf for microwave/hood is a great idea and not too expensive/difficult.
at the other end of your range get a butcher block kitchen island. if you have an ikea near they have great stuff. some they deliver. http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/40201916/ buy online have it delivered. or http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/80116997/. they are 149 and 199 each plus shipping. also look for unfishedover that cart get a framed cork and use it for pictures.
get a new faucet for about a hundred.
White & Black Kitchen · More Info
you can do miracles on that budget if you choose wisely. when in doubt.... post in houzz !
3 Likes    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 7:15PM
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the ikea islands
1 Like    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 7:26PM
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Elizabeth Cannon
You could have so much fun with this, especially considering you want lots of colors. You've got a 50s kitchen - play it up. I love this Rachael Ray on a shoestring kitchen!

    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 7:29PM
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The Virtual Designer- Kitchens & Bathrooms
Hello again- 'bench top' is Australian-ese for counters or counter tops
2 Likes    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 7:47PM
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I'm re-posting this from another design dilemma I recently commented on that had similar kitchen cabinets. In addition to what I will post below, I'd recommend you get rid of the green countertops and those drapes ASAP, and de-clutter as much as possible. Some better lighting would help a lot, and I also like the idea of a rolling bakers island too.

A few years ago my wife and I bought, rented out, and eventually sold the home next door to us that had similar kitchen cabinets. Here are some pictures showing what we did since we didn't have the money for a complete re-do. We used a router to cut in some subtile contour lines into the flat plywood doors (see pic), we painted the cabinets a creamy antique white, tiled the floor, and added new hardware and countertops. It ended up looking very nice and didn't cost us a ton of money. In addition, if you were to add crown molding, a nice tile backsplash and appliances, and you might be surprised at how good it could look.

Oh... BTW - the kitchen we did already had crown molding. We also removed the cabinet doors above the sink and added a couple shallow arches to dress it up a little. Good luck!
5 Likes    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 8:04PM
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Okie dokie Jess D... Budget is my middle name so here's some suggestions. An 18 " dishwasher is a good addition , that's what I have , good for resale. I bought a standard one from Osh very cheap from the scratch and ding section, nothing wrong with it just a floor model $200 . I would go for easy updates ... add molding to the cabinets, paint them white, add a subway tile back splash with an accent tile maybe a pencil tile, neutral colored.
The counter tops you could do a couple different ways, easy redo with a more updated laminate, or "bang for your buck" an upgrade to granite done DIY... thats a small slab with two turns , probably a few hundred dollars....go to a granite yard not big box store with your dimensions to get a price .. they cut ,you install..
Flooring - you must get rid of the hump....I agree with Cancork Flooring... a skim coat of cement , but this is not for everyone , it takes skill and the product to use is a self leveling compound, its very heavy, messy and not cheap...you need the right tools etc, but the outcome is great. Home depot sells a specialty flooring its is is a vinyl peel and stick, super easy to install and looks just like tile , in fact you grout it and costs only about $2.00 a sq ft. Myself I would take an afternoon and scrape off the existing tile going over existing is sometimes more work in prep and not the best out come.
2 Likes    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 8:34PM
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What a beautiful kitchen you got in there, you are lucky because you have a bigger space, well for me, Because I am living in a limited space, I still love my kitchen - Kitchen Size, Color Scheme, Kitchen Mirrors, Vertical Space for Storage and Other Storage Areas are some that I am at focus to make my kitchen "not sad" :) Here is one article that may help you http://sandybayapartments.tumblr.com/post/33632601664/give-your-apartments-kitchen-a-new-look
    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 10:10PM
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Marti Lindsey
Easy. Paint the cabinets white. Replace 2 of the cabinet doors with glass doors or leave off for open concept and paint the INSIDE of the cabinet in an accent color....I'd do red or turquoise or kelly green. Now replace your counters with black granite tiles (just checked and the cost is $2.50 for a 12x12 tile)...very reasonable and another easy DIY project. Tile your backsplash with a glass tile or if you want to be CRAZY...tile in legos. I saw it and it looks amazing. Of course fix your window treatments with an easy roman shade or just take them off entirely. Best of luck!!!
1 Like    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 10:40PM
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Hi, I have an old kitchen too and 3 things I did that helped were, 1) cut out the center of my upper cabinets leaving about 3 inches open and placing a frosted plexiglas inside so it gives an illusion of expensive glass doors. You can't see inside and it looks fantastic. I picked the cabinets that would be best to do not all of them. 2) I painted the cabinets doors a soft butter yellow and the rest of the cabinets an creamy white, painted the entire kitchen with yellow and white, including the ceiling. 3) put up wains coating panels on the two walls in my kitchen, it was only two sections about 4 ft wide. The wains coating was cheap and goes up the wall about 36 inches, put a piece of trim ontop and painted it the same creamy white as the trim. I still need to do my floor but I heard of some peel and stick linoleum squares that look fantastic and can go right ontop of your old floor so I'm going to check it out good luck.
1 Like    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 11:08PM
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first get rid of those horrible curtains, and replace them with neutral blinds. And of course the color of those cabinets is not going to sell your house. Update them with trim overlay and go "neutral" (cream ?)and new hardware. Then when you are ready to sell "de-clutter, de-clutter, de-clutter
2 Likes    Bookmark   January 25, 2013 at 6:01AM
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Elizabeth Lockley
The curtains have to go. Paint the cabinets. Own the period if you can't afford to replace all the cabinets. Pick a fab color scheme that blends into the living room (Miami Dolphin green) Turquise and coral might be awesome. You might even consider painting the cabinets a bright cheery color from your color scheme, but white is flexible. Replace the knobs and pulls. Don't worry about the hinges. Put a cabinet or open shelves beside the stove. Try to get everything off the counters. Put a large basket or 2 that blend in with the cabinet color ontop of the fridge. Store tupperware in it. It's light enough that you can pull it down and it will make your fridge stick out less (trust me!) I would replace the vent hood with one that goes to the ceiling would look better and if you can vent it outside, it would remove cooking odors much better. Failing that, install a cabinet or shelving above so it's not hanging in mid air.
2 Likes    Bookmark   January 25, 2013 at 6:25AM
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Create Good
Hi Jess! If you have plan to replace your sink, please visit our Houzz profile http://www.houzz.com/pro/creategood/create-good
    Bookmark   January 25, 2013 at 7:18AM
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Lisa Rose, M.F.A.
I have been in this kind of situation. I LOVE those old funky cabinets. Here is what I would do - stop fighting it and go with it all the way: paint the cabinets and wood work bright white white white, back splash could be a strip of fabulous imitation old patterned Spanish tiles or artwork (like a row of wonderful paintings or prints of plants) laminated and attached there. Get rid of curtains or replace with gauzy white to let light in (what is seen through window?) or transparent shelves with herb plants. Don't replace that hardware - that old stuff is gorgeous and for the creative Silicon Valley types, this is much preferred over the over manipulated clever design approach of hardware that is often used vs leaving the old fabulous stuff. Also, I painted the INSIDE of every cabinet in my old kitchen a different pale but primary color. Gorgeous, vibrant, and popped. Glass cabinet facings would also work beautifully with this but is more costly than just painting the doors white. And I would do a black and white tile or imitation kind of look on the floor to brighten, update, and match the bright spirit up even more. I LOVE those cabinets, though. Very very San Francisco funky artsy bungalow and made bright and fun... Yeah, terrific.
4 Likes    Bookmark   January 25, 2013 at 7:52AM
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Go with the look, and paint. BM Super White is a bright but ever-so-slightly warm white.

When you paint, move the knobs to the corners of the upper and lower doors. The odd placement adds to the off-kilter look.
    Bookmark   January 25, 2013 at 8:01AM
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Looks very similar to my kitchen. We call it a one butt kitchen. We used Ikea products and I recommend them. Some difficulty with the first cabinet we put together but after that it went easily. It took us a long time, but we did it ourselves on the weekends. We were in our late 50's at the time. The project was under our budget, we did spend money on upgrading the counter and the appliances. Cabinet doors are easy to replace if you want a different look later on. Make sure you measure, measure, measure before purchasing.
We did only purchase items that we were going to use that month. It kept us in budget and we did not have to store boxes until we used them. We did find doing small parts of the kitchen worked best for us. We do work well together, would never of attempted this project if we didn't. We did not have any babies under foot just two dogs.
Good luck.
    Bookmark   January 25, 2013 at 8:03AM
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Oakwood Veneer
I think you could have a ton of options if you chose to re-veneer the cabinets. Depending on the color theme that you want, there are tons of possibilities that could really enhance whatever you do with the kitchen. If you know where you want to go with a theme, we could help you find the right wood that can match.
    Bookmark   January 25, 2013 at 8:03AM
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Susan Jablon Mosaics
Hi Jess!
There are a lot of comments and suggestions here for you to consider, so I'll be brief. I used the image you posted of the fabrics to choose colors. Medium to dark brown counters, creamy off white cabinets, light aqua blue walls, and either blue tiles or a mosaic that incorporates blue for the backsplash. All the tiles/mosaics are from our site, the other surfaces/colors are labeled. Hope this helps, and good luck!
1 Like    Bookmark   January 25, 2013 at 9:02AM
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Martha Woods
Okay - I am thinking if you have any money to spend, spend it on having the floors done. If you are handy at all, you and your husband can paint the cabinets and walls. After painting, invest in new hardware. You might also consider removing some of the upper cabinet doors for open shelving or even inserting glass fronts to the upper doors - - if you wanted a contemporary feel, use a rippled modern glass for insets. Take down the curtains - they are too much - and use an inexpensive rollup bamboo shade. Depending on your funds, change your counter tops. If not, work with the green (looks green). One more thought - the shelf on the other side of the stove is too tall. You need more of a counter height - maybe a roll-around style that could be utilized in another location if needed while cooking. There really are many inexpensive things that you can do in that kitchen to "make do" and look nice. As I say, spend money on the floor if there is any to spend. Good luck.
1 Like    Bookmark   January 25, 2013 at 9:24AM
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Martha Woods
I just looked back at your picture. Change your light fixtures. The one over sink is too large. Also, consider under cabinet lighting to illuminate your work surfaces. I can't tell what, if any, ceiling fixture you have but you probably need to address that one also. An economical idea could be a light strip with several accent lights to illuminate where needed.
    Bookmark   January 25, 2013 at 9:29AM
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Martha Woods
These old eyes need to put on my glasses. I see that is not a light over sink but the outside showing where curtains are pulled back. You do need a light over the sink.
    Bookmark   January 25, 2013 at 9:31AM
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This is SO awesome!! My kitchen is sad too :/ Thanks for posting, all the replies are wonderful.
1 Like    Bookmark   January 25, 2013 at 9:49AM
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Blinds Direct Canada
A Screen Roller Shades would really brighten up the space . It will also give you alot more light to come in with out blinding you.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2013 at 10:41AM
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I think there are many of us in tired old kitchens that are still functional but.. lets face it, we could be a lot better with a bright colorful kitchen for inspiration.
1 Like    Bookmark   January 25, 2013 at 2:21PM
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Okay, here's the thing. If you are moving in about five years then something classic like white cabinets is probably the best choice. But the fun thing about old cabinets that are still in good enough shape is that you can feel licensed to go a little wild with the colors. Some examples of both old and new cabinets in fun, bright palettes, if you feel that your need for color trumps issues of resale:
Houzz Tour: a world traveler and producer nestled in NE Minneapolis · More Info

Kitchen · More Info

Corvallis Custom Kitchens & Baths · More Info

Beverley Place - Kitchen · More Info

Berns Kitchen · More Info

2 Likes    Bookmark   January 25, 2013 at 2:36PM
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Joys, Jewels, and Gems
So many posts. I would say honestly, I didn't read everyone's. I have a budget plan per what you anticipate spending on our website. Suggested by DIY cable tv shows and HGTV. HTTP://tgmcabinets.weebly.com under budget. Your budget is key and you shouldn't be fearful to tell people. It makes them lead you where you want to go. But so many people go into doing the DIY and spend more money then actually replacing the cabinets/countertop. I could do both for less than refacing them. Then the rest is really a matter of knowing who knows where to get what on a budget. I have clients on budgets all the time and I don't mind sharing my knowledge on information. What and who has the right item for the right piece at what you want to spend is going to be the battle so that as a DIY you really do spend thriftily.. Do what you can yourself and then investigate handymen who will do what you can't do for a minimal fee. Call a local church they already know who is a handyman who needs another assignment. They also typically know who does it on the side for half the cost.
2 Likes    Bookmark   January 25, 2013 at 3:59PM
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Jess, this looks like my kitchen 20-plus years ago. We did everything people on here recommended -- painted the cabinets white (helped a lot), changed out the counters and window coverings. Luckily when we pulled up the old flooring, there was wood underneath, so we refinished that ourselves. Your photos are a "blast from the past" for me. The only thing I would never do myself again is tile. We tiled kitchen counters, bath counters and floor and it just didn't look as good as what I paid someone else to install.
Good luck.
Keep us apprised of your progress. I'd love to see after pictures.
1 Like    Bookmark   January 25, 2013 at 4:03PM
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TGM cabinets: your website has some good ideas about kitchen budgets at $5000 on up. Do you have any specific suggestions for the original poster's $2000 budget?

By the way, your website needs a spellchecker.
1 Like    Bookmark   January 25, 2013 at 4:13PM
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I'm on the same page with Apple Pie For lack of sounding mean... The pro places always give great advice , but they seem to ignore numbers , kinda unrealistic.... other wise we would all have beautiful kitchens right? It is also difficult to find a handyman / contractor that really knows his stuff for cheap. Unless you see his work first hand, you're rollin' the dice. And always, always sign a contract with budget and time line. Honestly this really is a small reno and it could all get done with $2000. by planning well , being thrifty on what they buy, and of course some elbow grease.
1 Like    Bookmark   January 25, 2013 at 4:49PM
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Hi there! I have redone a few kitchens, especially on a budget...My last house (1952) had similar cabinets - Benjamin Moore Kendal Charcoal was used to paint the cabinets, also went to ReStore and thrift shops and found great hardware at a fraction of new. As you can afford it, check the want ads for Stainless Steel Appliances. Surprisingly, many people upgrade their appliances every couple of years! My house sold in 3 days! Just a few suggestions...have fun with your project!
1 Like    Bookmark   January 25, 2013 at 5:20PM
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A Vintage Affair
I had these exact cabinets in my house, I did what someone else said and added the molding (very cheap at home depot) Painted white (don't strip if you have lead paint) put on new hinges and hardware. I did make the doors 'face' each other as well, can't believe the difference that made! I had thought of just replacing the door fronts but this was WAY more budget friendly. I didn't have a lot of time on my hands at one time so I worked on uppers then did lowers. Good Luck!
    Bookmark   January 25, 2013 at 7:14PM
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This reminds me of my first kitchen, except the previous owner had stripped the cabinets (formerly painted turquoise, I guess) and then stained them.... plain paint looks so nice by comparison!

My unprofessional two cents:
There will be a substantial cost in getting the dishwasher in vis a vis electrical and plumbing; I think that means you don't move anything else. Have your kitchen electrics already been GFCI'ed? If not, that will be another expense. While you have the electrician there, and before you tile your backsplash, think about new wall outlets, including one for your microwave. I think a microwave over the oven is inconvenient, though; I hate reaching over a kettle to get in there. Will it (or a smaller one) fit in the cabinet currently hanging over the microwave? Because of the flat panels you could have the door cut down and the edge routed to match fairly easily, I think, or go for another section of open shelving over it.

I would get rid of the curtains; if the view is unappealing, use a window film. Once you get rid of the curtains, those cabinet walls flanking the sink will reflect natural light into the kitchen. You could also hang colorful decorative elements -trivets, potholders.

I loved the ideas of taking the doors off the two cabs next to the window and painting inside the cabs with bright colors. I'm not sure taking the shelves off will look quite right; the classic 50s would have had shaped shelves there instead of a open bookcase --but it is mighty cheap to try.

I now own a Victorian and I have stripped a *lot* of paint. Lead paint can be stripped safely, even with little children in the house (and my poor kidlets had the lead testing to prove it) but it may not be worth the effort when the flat panels repaint so easily. If you are really keen, look it up on the web and try just one pair. Test for lead so you know what you are getting in to. Do them outdoors (number the hinges and draw a map before you start!) with a heat plate. Even if there is lead paint, stripping with a heat plate is actually pretty safe as it produces neither tiny inhalable lead particles (like sanding will) nor vaporous lead (for that you would have to set a door on fire). I leave it up to others to advise you on color, but I like the style. Magnetic latches are cheaply installed and will crisp up how the doors close with minimal effort.

Now, about the tile floor.... this could be one of those mushroom effect projects, but really, if you hate them, you should totally try getting them off yourself. If you can see the underside of the tiles from the basement, the floor is probably not all that well engineered. I think you owe it to yourself to see how hard it would be, and my guess is that the cement float they are on (if any) is probably not all that deep. (We took up a small floor in 40 minutes once, when we had nervously allotted a whole weekend.) Look up how to replace a floor tile on the web, move the fridge, and have at one or two of them! You'll have to put a new underlayment down anyway, so you don't have to get whatever is underneath perfectly smooth.

Best of luck!
1 Like    Bookmark   January 25, 2013 at 7:34PM
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First organize your cabinets, countertops, etc.

I would paint the cabinets bright white and paint the walls possibly a lighter shade of what you have in your living room.

If your foster daughter is into art and drawing, consider painting the refrigerator with either chalkboard paint or whiteboard paint... You can look up tutorials on how to do this online.

Your countertops don't have to go; you can paint over them. I painted over my countertops and they turned out lovely. It costs around $20 or so. Just be sure not to splash water onto it, it WILL leave a mark.

Perhaps you could change the lighting fixtures as well? Maybe something a bit brighter. Ikea has a lot of cool lighting fixtures, if you're wondering. I don't know much about lighting, though.
    Bookmark   January 25, 2013 at 10:29PM
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sacapuntaslapioz, do you happen to know the source or name of the tile you showed as an example for this remodel? (The olive, gray, white, amber?) Thanks.
    Bookmark   January 26, 2013 at 5:48AM
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There are smart tiles. peel and stick tiles ;-) YEAH! sold in home depot and lowes and if you look online they might have more places.
    Bookmark   January 26, 2013 at 6:00AM
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look in your local home depot and lowes as they have also sinks and faucets that have been in display and go on sale as clearance items. I do not know where you live, I have a piece of granite that I cannot use. I am in the NY area.
also look at ikea, they have good countertops. even the current laminates are pretty good looking
    Bookmark   January 26, 2013 at 6:08AM
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Jess D
My dad is very skilled when it comes to electric. In fact, last night he just replaced one of my switches. The kitchen was GFI'd before we bought it per our request. My dad suggested that we rent a sawzall with the tile removal part and pull the tile up ourselves. He does expect that part to get dirty and gross and understands if we want to hire out the job. But at least if we pull it up - I can hire out getting the floor leveled if needed. The kitchen floor is at least 3 layers thick if not more (I remember redoing a bathroom once with my dad and the floor had 5 layers. It had a horrible smell and as we got closer to the toilet we realized it was because the seal was bad with the toilet plumbing.)

I will risk stripping down the cabinets and will do it outside likely in spring. At some point I feel there just become too many layers on an item for it to look nice when painted again. They are definitely at that point.

I've contacted a local woodworker who made an awesome sewing desk for me (custom to my tiny height!!). He has done work like this before and will be coming out soon to estimate the routing. He's very reasonable and darn it, I just like the guy and don't mind giving him business.

Since I want to move some appliances and add in some extra surfaces we will definitely have to spend the money on new countertops. I've already purchased my faucet on super sale and keep looking for sinks at Lowes and Home Depot which are just around the corner. Unfortunately our closest ReStore has closed and I've got to make the hour trek to it now.
1 Like    Bookmark   January 26, 2013 at 7:23AM
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Thanks for the tile info!
    Bookmark   January 26, 2013 at 7:39AM
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Retrorenovation.com is a great resource for old kitchen ideas and sources. Love the fabric--very retro and sets the tone for the space to be colorful and fun.
    Bookmark   January 26, 2013 at 11:54AM
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Anita Bloom
Be very careful if you mess around with the floors. You house is of the era that there may be asbestos tile underneath. You don't want to disturb that. Best to have it tested before proceeding.

Not always necessary to remove it. Since you have issues with level, you could pour self-leveling compound over the asbestos and go from there.
    Bookmark   January 26, 2013 at 12:05PM
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Joys, Jewels, and Gems
Apple pie - R U referring 2the Tweet like words??? Thanks 4heads up but next time... Don't post it here 4 all 2c. There's a contact form 4the webmastr who can forward it 2me if it pertains 2me.
I think I can advise but first I do have to advise the entire situation. The housing market has and continues to increase in prices and go up. See my blog. http://tgmcabinets.weebly.com

A 15 year old kitchen or older gets a 90-125% percent return on investment that you fix your kitchen with. ANy money you spend anywhere on the planet is throwing money away but this...is an investment. Find the $2000-$3500 more and buy new cabinets and a new countertop first. Thermofoil is going to be best on a budget and you can get all wood cabinets at this price. Make the investment since you'll see it again. Otherwise putting lipstick (tile on a old pig doesn't make the pig not a pig).

If I had to and I refused to get new cabinets...which painting in my mind will look just like they were old and were painted. This isn't cool guys. The style is old. The measurements are going to reflect this. The height is probably 29.5 instead of 30-31" which screams old house and old kitchen cabinets. Anything else would be decreasing the value of the home. Doing the wrong diy would hurt them not help them and with cabinets this old, they need new ones desperately.

If all you want to spend is $2000. Save it for getting the whole thing. Go to Home Depot and get tile for 1.88 a sq ft or look for a sale better than that cause at times, they do have it. Then do the Tile /backsplash, redo the floors, and paint the room until the funds are there to get new cabinets/countertop. It's too old to do anything else with and refacing...I can do the kitchen at the same price in brand new cabinets and countertop.

But do go to the thirft store and look for different handles that cost pennies. But I have new handles for about $2 and the thirft stores around here would probably not have them for less. I don't know about where everyone else is located.

If we had $4000 to work with. I'd give new bottom cabinets, shelves seem to be a trend right now that is acceptable for wall cabinets and new countertops. Then Install them yourself, paint the room, do the tile/ backsplash. And buy the 6qrt ninja that cooks, bakes, sears, roasts off QVC until all new appliance set can be obtained. OR check craigslist like someone said. You can find people pulling them out of apts too and often a reseller has a shop where he fixes them up. Course that will give you about a 30 day warranty and then maybe minimal repairs later...but it's another shortcut. I just don't like shortcuts. Sorry. But that is what I would suggest.
1 Like    Bookmark   January 26, 2013 at 4:10PM
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Just to show an idea.....I am providing a link to my kitchen in my previous home. It was built in 1938. I don't remember all the specifics of cost, but do know it was about 2400.00 to make the changes. Just wanted to share so you know you can make improvement without spending huge bucks. Is it perfect, no, but was it dollars spent wisely considering all aspect involved at the time???.......YES!!! http://www.roomzaar.com/rate-my-space/Kitchens/HEELLLLLPPPP-Confused/detail.esi?oid=23826011
    Bookmark   January 26, 2013 at 4:31PM
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Jess D
Yeah, the ceiling NEEDS paint. My husband didn't believe me on the purple to white ceiling paint before but after we did our spare bedroom he believes me now!! It's not *that* noticeable unless you're staring at the ceiling. But, duh, what do people do in bedrooms!

There is a ceiling fan in the kitchen. I'm not sure why.... maybe I'll have my dad run the electric into the center of the living room and install it in there and switch the main light fixture out in the kitchen. The large fan looks really heavy for the space. Do people usually have ceiling fans in kitchens?

My husband prefers solid surface for countertops with a built in sink. I'm just not sure if the little extra on that is going to make the difference when trying to sell.

Oh, our fridge is huge... way too big for the space. I love it though. I can always see exactly what we have. Plus it fits in all these meal organization baskets. It's great.

I am currently "settling" on the 18" dishwasher due to plumbing. There is only about 19" inches between the sink and the corner cupboard. I will have our woodworker come do an estimate at the house though. Since he's done stuff like this before I'm sure he's got an idea or two about the stuff we could run into.

The cabinets are complete built ins. There is no division in space between one cabinets contents and the next. In that sense, I think I'd do better off making a glass or fiberglass insert to open up the space. If I made shelving a divider would have to be installed. The orientation of the pulls really stands out in the photo so that'll definitely have to be changed.

Here's my issue with the flooring... I have original hardwood throughout the front of the house. I plan on getting that redone. I want the laminate but am afraid that it'll look TERRIBLE with the real hardwood in the house. How does one transition from real hardwood to that?
    Bookmark   January 26, 2013 at 6:38PM
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Why not put in real hardwood? I checked yesterday and the supplier had #2 unfinished oak for $1.60/ sq ft. Perhaps you can find some reclaimed wood; it is a lot of work but if you have more time than money, can be a good way of getting a quality product

Regarding the posting about old houses being torn down, I hate seeing the old houses bulldozed too. I used to do deconstruction on teardowns and rip out cabinets, sinks, flooring, doors, windows etc for resale through the local ReStore. Now that I have project houses of my own, I go to demo sales to see if I can find items to be used in my rehabs. The large gut job historic house we rehabbed ended up having material from probably a dozen other houses. We had cabinets from one house, kitchen flooring from another, newer oak flooring from one house and older oak from two or three different collections sold by ReStore. Then, we had the original tub and woodwork from the house and managed to reuse one older solid wood door (2 inches thick!) between the back entry and the basement stairs. We salvaged bathroom fixtures, doors, trimwork, wire closet shelving, solid surface shower surround and even the power vent hot water heater. I hate to see those good quality older products ending up in the landfill or burn pile.
2 Likes    Bookmark   January 26, 2013 at 6:57PM
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^^As far a transitioning from hardwood to laminate. . . . I've seen it done in several homes and I haven't seen a house where it transitioned well.

Maybe someone else has an example of where it looked good?
    Bookmark   January 26, 2013 at 7:01PM
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Jess D
The wall behind the stove is a supporting wall.. :( I would love to open up the space but am not quite willing to take on that expense.
    Bookmark   January 26, 2013 at 7:27PM
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Painting the cabinets and getting rid of the saggy curtains will go a long way towards changing the feel of the space. None of the pics showed the edge of fridge. Is it possible to move the clutter around to the side? There are a lot of great storage ideas you could do. You could combine an old shutter, an area that has been painted with magnetic paint then chalk board paint, so you can use magnets and write notes, and a pin board
    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 9:47AM
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PAINT your cabinets white with ben moore satin impervo, put in a blind to open and close easily. The curtain has to go. Get new hardware. Our kitchen was much the same and I did each of these and wow what a difference.
    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 10:03AM
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I had a kitchen very similar. The first thing I did was paint the cabinets white (which were metal!) I also painted the refirgerator white. I put floor tile (peel and stick) on the counter tops. As I had no light over the sink, I put up some track lighting. On the windows, I made little valances of blue and white gingham with matching cafe curtains. The walls got a coat of white paint and I used dish towels and accessories to add splashes of color. I kept the counters clear of clutter by adding little shelves next to the cabinets by the sink to house a few cookbooks and a few colorful knick-knacks. It turned out great!
    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 11:32AM
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snross ^^ what color/style of peel and stick did you choose? I had rejected this idea, so I'm curious. My counter is blue and we'll redo/build soon, but in the meantime. . . blue.

Also, is it better to paint the cabinets before putting new countertop? Or other way around?
    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 11:39AM
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Another link concerning laminate flooring and its pitfalls in any area that can be leaked on (http://thriftydecorchick.blogspot.com/search/label/flooring). Sarah had Pergo in her kitchen when the fridge went and the freezer defrosted and leaked all over. It wasn't repairable so maybe an inexpensive hardwood stained to match your other floors would be a better investment for self and resale!
    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 1:12PM
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I have redone two kitchens on the cheap, both with paint. The first had white melamine cabinets, a wallpaper backsplash and white laminate counters. We used molding to trim the cabinets and painted them off white with new hardware. The backsplash is Talavera tile and the counter is a new laminate from Home Depot. Very happy with the results.

The second is at our cottage. We painted the cabinets with Benjamin Moore Newburyport Blue and changed the hardware to create a more country feel. Instead of a tile backsplash, we used beadboard and painted it a lighter blue green (can't find the name, but also BM). We ended up keeping the countertop, as it matched the cabinets and we are super cheap!

Photos below.
    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 3:23PM
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Liz Slaybaugh
Be sure to determine if the current paint on the cabinets is not enamel. if it is you absolutely must use primer.
    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 3:45PM
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Hi Jess,
You've had some fabulous advice on here. I've attached some pics of what I've played with to give you an idea of the outcome of some very quick fix options. To summarise:
1. Definitely sort out your floor (the peak in the floor will only raise alarm bells for any potential buyers about any further structural problems). I would put in the hard work of removing the tiles so you can assess what's going on. You may be able to lay an economical substrate material to then lay new stick-on tiles (think black and white chequered or recycled timber boards as suggested earlier).
2. Paint your existing cabinets white (doing whatever prep is necessary to get a perfect finish). I feel you could live with your existing hardware. I love the feel of the exposed hinges (make sure you don't get any paint on them - replace if they're rusty).
3.Tile your splashback with white subways (you could also go for a pop of an accent colour).
4. Replace benchtop (sorry countertop - another Australian here) with a laminate or whatever is most cost efficient over there. I would go for predominantly black (so possibly a black granite or similar) and I would just run it back to the wall (no return on the wall). This way you can bring the tiles right down to the countertop and hopefully reflect a bit more light in there.
5. Replace curtains with a simple roman blind in a striking fabric. You could keep it to the black and whites or go for a strong contrast colour.
6. Organise the interior of your cupboards to counteract their age with storage solutions to maximise the space (IKEA is a good starting point). I'm sure you have many others over there as well.
7. Clear off all your benchtops and start from scratch with accessorising to a colour theme. I know it's hard to keep them clear, but it's one of the best ways to maximise the impact of your kitchen. Keep the fridge free of any pin-ups. That doesn't mean they don't have a place in the kitchen. I just think with the black fridge, it's best to make an impact with that as a solid block rather than broken up with bits. Not sure what's on the wall opposite the sink but maybe you could add a magnetic or pinboard there to accomodate all these treasures. Another option would be to paint this wall a strong colour (ie the red or yellow and include a chalkboard section).
8. Most of all…HAVE FUN WITH IT!!!
7 Likes    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 4:28PM
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Broad Redux
re the response about lead paint testing in this 1950 home:
any house built and painted prior to 1978 has lead paint! PERIOD
that is all there was prior to 1978 so unless someone has completed the huge, costly remediation process, there is lead paint still in the house.

It may have been painted over many times since 1978 with non lead paint and is best left undisturbed without professional guidance.
If lead paint is a concern, move forward with that knowledge.
AND don't chew on the doors and moldings.
2 Likes    Bookmark   January 28, 2013 at 3:32AM
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Love a lot of the ideas and suggestions and find them helpful as my kitchen needs some work, the first being new flooring. Anyway as to the clutter on the fridge, I have taken cork and mounted on the inside of a cabinet door and use it for notes and papers that I need in the kitchen. It sure helps my kitchen look neater!
    Bookmark   January 28, 2013 at 6:00AM
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Yes, we now use the insides of tall pantry doors as posting boards for what used to go on the fridge before we got stainless steel appliances. Just as handy, and out of sight.
    Bookmark   January 28, 2013 at 6:08AM
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I had a 1950's kitchen that was remodeled in the 70's, thus the orange vinyl and avacado appliances, so I feel your pain. I had a very limited budget so I found discounted vinyl to replace the old stuff, worked some overtime and put a thousand into a new laminate, slate look counter, new sink and faucet. I painted the cupboards and here is the best thing- There is a product that will go onto the old finish and make it tacky so you can prime right over it without sanding. After that you can paint with a sturdy enamel- its a lot less hassle. Change your hardware, and you are well on your way to feeling better about your kitchen.
    Bookmark   January 28, 2013 at 8:12AM
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oh, and for the backsplash, there are all kinds of things you can do. I found a rustic mosaic tile wallpaper. It actually had the texture and look of stone tile, and people would go up to it and touch it before they realize it was paper. It washed well too. You can also used placemats ( there are all kinds of material used for placemats now). Painted beadboard makes a nice backdrop and it doesn't have to be made of expensive hardwood. The ideas are endless. Faux tin ceiling tiles, or textured wall paper made to look like tin ceiling tiles.
    Bookmark   January 28, 2013 at 8:17AM
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sorry for being so long winded! I would love to have at this kitchen! Find a salvaged bit of architechture and fit it beneath the sink in place of those vented panels. Replace those heavy curtains with simple blinds or shutters. (Check out your local Habitat for Humanity store. They have tons of contractor leftovers at huge savings.) Good luck and have fun being creative!
    Bookmark   January 28, 2013 at 8:24AM
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looks like my old kitchen. I worked with a handy man to add wood strips on the cabinets for a shaker style. Painted top a mossy green and the bottom I stained and refaced bombay mahogony.
2 Likes    Bookmark   January 28, 2013 at 1:44PM
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Jess D
Wow! Thanks chartstein. this really helps me visualize all our kitchen could be :)
    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 3:52PM
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Sue So
Wow your kitchen will be adorable. My first big girl apartment had very similar style. My measly 2 cents is to use linoleum on the floor because you can pick something fun...(maybe black and white checker on the bias?), it's inexpensive and easy to clean. If you can get the floor leveled out, you can DIY and keep a couple extra for repairs down the road or resale. I completely agree with adding basket storage above the fridge but would make sure it's only used for infrequently needed items or paper goods. (We solved our tupperware storage issue by only buying two sizes of the light reuse type with the same lid size. Never a mismatched lid again and it takes very little space).

#1 though would be to clear the fridge completely and find a new home for kiddie stuff, even if on the side of the fridge that's less visible - if not possible then mercilessly throw away old items, scan if you must and save digitally, rearrange by shape/color, throw away tchotke magnets and buy little strong ones of the same color. Then remove as much as possible from the countertops. With your new, blank, white and black canvas, unify the decor and use the necessities like artwork - kitchen towels in balanced locations, curtain fabric (agree on roman or just box top so the pattern is clean), framed kiddie art work above the cabinets, color on the fridge top boxes.

Have fun! and sounds like you could do a lot with $2000 to make it a space that is as happy and fun as you are!
    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 11:13PM
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Sue So
Just saw dewilder's post - sounds like a lot of the same advice but better with a visual! Fabulous! And I like another suggestion to use painted beadboard for the backsplash for budget. My neighbor actually got scraps for free from Home Depot and neatly put them together :)
    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 11:19PM
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Martha Woods
A picture truly is worth a thousand words. The black and white theme with "whatever your favorite accent color is" is fantastic.
    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 8:48AM
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Jeannie Nguyen
Hi Jess! Any updates that you can share with us?
    Bookmark   August 16, 2013 at 3:10PM
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Retro Planet
Oooh, a 1950s kitchen that's actually been downgraded due to ultra-modern appliances and wear. A floor overhaul isn't cheap when it comes to leveling, but a black-and-white flooring would be fairly inexpensive and would look superb. Consider painting the cabinets (and yes - test for lead paint) and updating the hardware. With a little sweat, this could be a very nice kitchen.
    Bookmark   August 19, 2013 at 1:52PM
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Foyer entrance - need help!
Hello houzz experts, My husband and I have been struggling...
Design Ideas for New Home
I have a small living area with bay windows and a small...
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I am so confused! We love the concrete floors, but...
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