How Would You Modernize Betty Draper’s 60s Kitchen? Budget Makeover Challenge

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Some acquaintances are about to buy a new (to them) home, one that has been in the hands of one owner since the 50s. They invited me over to give some opinions on the kitchen, and as soon as I saw it, it felt familiar. Why? I realized it felt just like Betty Draper’s kitchen on Mad Men. What would you do with this kitchen to update it, especially if you were on a budget?

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

This kitchen is so much like Betty Draper’s, and while it was the height of piney, woodsy suburban chic back in the 60s, that look doesn’t translate well into the present. There’s no question that this kitchen needs updating. Some of the issues:

• The floor is covered with old carpet, which even runs up the toe-kicks of the cabinets.
• The brown appliances, which were probably quite handsome when new, are quite old now and at the end of their useful lives.
• The stove is in a slightly awkward location, and the oven is quite small.
• The knotty pine cabinets are good wood, but they are chipped and peeling in places.
• The drawers are barely functional and need to be replaced.
• The shelves in the cabinets are not in good shape.
• The kitchen is much darker than it appears in these photographs (I pushed up the light to help you see the details).
• And that wallpaper just has to go!

Overall, this kitchen has a lot in common with other Before/After kitchens we show you. It’s old, musty-smelling, and, while it has good bones, is in sore need of an update to make it feel modern and clean.

What would you do to modernize and update this Betty Draper kitchen? Especially on a budget? Would you try to keep the cabinets? (The doors need to be replaced, my friend wants drawers instead of lower cabinets.) Any experience with that level of a cabinet makeover? Or would it be better to just replace the cabinets altogether?

(Images: Faith Durand)