a new place to cook

You will have to get your magnifying glass out to capture these next two images of our kitchen when we moved in. These are the only ‘before’ photos we have. One of these days I will slow down enough to get my own ‘before’ images. Getting straight to work seems to be my MO.

Apparently the previous owners had redone the kitchen prior to putting it on the market and I imagine they were proud of their work. We took one look at it and said “ick”. We were appreciative of the well-constructed, quality cabinets (not the appearance) and the U-shaped layout. Knowing that the original floorplan was an L-shape, we were thankful that they added a bank of upper and lower cabinets to maximize the use of the space. Cabinets and layout, that was all we appreciated about this kitchen. We were anxious to get the midcentury vibe back and set out to make this happen.

We started by covering up the incredible eyesore of a floor! (Flimsy vinyl sheets with a spectacular 1970s pattern- not our thing).  I’ve had a love of rubber tile for years – something about the geometric shapes, fun colors that it comes in, and modern feel, along with it’s ease of installing and it’s low cost. We knew we wanted colorful accents, with subtle grays and natural wood as the backdrop. Grey rubber it was, sporting my favorite geometric shape: the circle.

Ouch- look at that ugly countertop!

The beauty of the rubber tiles is that they can very easily be replaced should you have an accident.  Each tile interlocks and you simply lay it down over a flat surface. We covered up that ugly floor in minutes. The life of a designer is such that what has been done often needs to be redone- just to keep it fun and interesting. When we tire of rubber, we may be on to VCT (vinyl composite tile)– another very common material in midcentury modern design – one that also has lots of options for color and pattern. That may be next!

Counters next.

Years ago, I came across this Wilsonart cartoon-like woodgrain pattern- Ebon Grain. I knew the second I saw it that we HAD to do something with it in the future. There was a strong pull for concrete for our counters, but the laminate won. And, seeing that our home was built in 1958, it was definitely in keeping with the MCM era to install laminate. I also like the suggestion of ‘natural’ in the fact that it mimics wood. It is not fancy, but it sure is cool looking!

Cabinets were painted turquoise, a perfect choice both for its MCM-ness and the fact that it is one of my favorite colors.

We had been surviving with a half-size dishwasher until the renovation. With kids and friends, this was just not ok. Out it came. IKEA to the rescue, as we needed a new base cabinet to accommodate the larger dishwasher. New sink and faucet in.

Family is invaluable. My stepdad got busy in his wood shop in Goshen, IN and whipped up these solid slab birch plywood doors. There were sprayed with a clear coat to protect them from use and bring out the grain.

As soon as the doors went up, we started to see figures in the grain. Check out the owl lying down.

New IKEA hardware. What would we do without IKEA for some well-designed basics?

To tie in the turquoise of the cabinets with the gray floor, we chose simple grey subway tiles accented with square, turquoise, glass tiles as our backsplash.

White appliances (not really white anymore!) were swapped with stainless.

Ahhh, now it feels right.

photo by CJ South
photo by Bob Foran