Before & After: A Brown, Dated Kitchen Gets a Reno That Takes It Back to Its Mid-Century Roots

published Aug 14, 2021
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Before: Dated brown cabintry with silver pulls around microwave and stovetop

It’s normal to not love every single piece of your home on move-in day — after all, perfection is a high bar! There might be colors you’re not wild about, or styles that don’t exactly match your vibe.

In Suzanna Smith’s 1963 home, the space that gave her pause was her kitchen. “I loved everything except the kitchen,” she says. The layout was workable and the cabinets were solid, but the overall look was brown and dated. Granite counters hadn’t been properly sealed, so they were mottled and stained, a low ceiling fan made the room feel crowded, a half-wall behind the sink was less than functional, and the room was more “traditional” than the rest of the mid-century house.

“I love to cook, and while I absolutely loved the functionality of this kitchen, the visuals were depressing and didn’t match the rest of the house,” Suzanna says. Plus, storage was an issue: “Someone had ripped out the cabinets that originally ran along the breakfast area and the remaining cabinets were relatively small in number. I had serving items and appliances stored in my garage! While not a deal breaker, the original kitchen definitely did NOT bring me any joy.”

Since the kitchen and adjoining family area are the most-used spaces in the home, Suzanna wanted to make this area a happy place for her to spend time in.

Suzanna reached out for pro help in remodeling the kitchen, but served as her own general contractor in the project, designing her space, managing timelines, and choosing subcontractors for each element. “We’ve lived in this house for seven years and I have been mentally planning this remodel since day one so had a pretty good idea from a design standpoint of what I wanted,” Suzanna says.

Suzanna scheduled the remodel around her cabinets, which were made by a local cabinetmaker. The cabinetmaker was able to reface the original cabinets — just crafting new drawer fronts and doors — but added some matching new ones, too, to help expand the kitchen’s storage capabilities.

Suzanna also was able to make another piece of the kitchen more functional with a slight tweak, too: The half-wall behind the sink — once too shallow to be able to use as an eating spot — became an actually functional breakfast bar. And of course, new white counters are a huge step up from the previous stained granite.

Suzanna also had the lighting upgraded, which went a long way in making the kitchen feel bigger and brighter.

Even though the renovation was a big one, with lots of expenses, Suzanna was able to cut costs for herself. She and her husband did the demolition of the old kitchen, and repainted the cabinet boxes themselves, too. They also saved big on their Viking cooktop, which they purchased at an estate sale for just $600 — a fraction of the multi-thousand dollar pricetag if you purchase new.

The stunning new kitchen is a much better match for the mid-century home’s style. “The whole house feels much more cohesive with out the jarring expedition to the 1970s the old kitchen provided,” Suzanna says. “And I have storage and no longer need to trek to the garage for my entertaining serveware!”

Inspired? Submit your own project here.

This post originally appeared on Apartment Therapy. See it there: Before and After: A 1963 Home Gets a Kitchen Reno That Takes It Back to Its Mid-Century Roots