Before & After: A Very Brown 1970s Kitchen Gets a Colorful Redo Full of Personal Touches

updated Dec 18, 2020
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Before: Kitchen with dog walking through
Credit: Chantal

One word to describe this 1970s kitchen? Brown. Very, very brown.

Homeowner Chantal loved that her 1970s ranch was untouched when she purchased it, and she liked the retro vibe of the wood paneling on the walls. But, she says, “there was just too much brown in the kitchen.” Brown floors, brown cabinets, dark black-and-brown speckled counters … together, it made the room feel extra dark.

Credit: Chantal

“There was also a bank of upper cabinets that blocked the view through the pretty bow window in the adjacent living room,” Chantal says. She wanted to give the kitchen a lighter, brighter look and take advantage of the scenery outside, too.

Credit: Chantal

Things didn’t exactly turn out as Chantal had expected — in the best way. “I initially thought this would be a total “HGTV” gut, especially removing the soffit, which I felt really dated the kitchen,” Chantal says. “Looking at new cabinets, I realized how much better made our original solid wood cabinets were, and it did not make sense financially to replace them.”

So Chantal kept the cabinets in place, choosing to paint the lower ones a pretty green-blue. And while part of the kitchen was opened up to reveal the view out the aforementioned bow window, the soffit stayed in place.

“My father was an artist, so I leaned in to paint a mural on the soffit instead,” Chantal says. “I used leftover paint samples for the mural, so it fits the rest of the house.” The quirky mural brings tons of personality and turns the soffit into a punchy focal point.

Live-edge wood shelves in the corner by the fridge are another unique and personal touch, as they were made with the lumber of a tree that fell in Chantal’s yard.

Credit: Chantal

The rest of the renovation included new appliances, fresh white quartz countertops, a new sink, an oversized subway tile backsplash, and reconfigured cabinetry. It took about three months from start to finish.

Credit: Chantal

“I love the lightness and fun of the finished kitchen,” Chantal says. “What I love best is actually not seen, as it is the new cabinets inserts fitted to what I like to have handy. It is so much easier to keep tidy as there is a designated spot for everything. For example, I have a pull out for everything salad related. I added pull-out cabinet shelves to not have to stack pots and pans.”

Chantal’s advice? “Do not feel you need to tear things out just because they are old,” she says. “I did not like the soffit but realistically at 5 feet tall, taller upper cabinets were not going to be very useful to me. Now I am glad I had fun painting them. It is easy to paint over if I ever get tired of it.”

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This post originally appeared on Apartment Therapy. See it there: Before and After: A 1970s Kitchen Gets a Vibrant Redo Full of Personal Touches