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MCM Kitchen Update! help!

last month

Original 1958 kitchen that I’m trying to brainstorm how to cost effectively update (modernize a bit) but still keep the authenticity of the house and kitchen. The whole home is out of a magazine and set from Mad Men in the best way. Really really well built and the cabinets don’t have a dent or scratch.

Comments (29)

  • last month

    Great vintage kitchen. I would focus on the appliances and ceiling fixture.

    The fridge is massive - way bigger than anything of that period. There are some great vintage-styled fridges, although most of them are small. At a minimum I would find a fridge closer to counter depth.

    The microwave is way too big. At the time there would have been a small vented hood, and I would go back to that. The current microwave is not only visually unappealing, but way too close to the burners.

    There are some wonderful vintage print laminates for sale, if you want to update the countertops. Quartz would be inappropriate. Butcher block could work. Stainless tiles could be good for the backsplash.

    Unless you need the ceiling fan, there are better fixtures. Cans, while not vintage, could improve your lighting.

  • last month

    Agree as above.

    If you can live with the cabinets, keep them and change appliances. Remove micro, get a slim stainless hood for under the cabinet. Smaller counter depth fridge at LEAST. New dishwasher. Then consider counter and backsplash replacement.

    A terrazzo look / ice stone counter and a coordinating backsplash tile - maybe patterned, in a 4x4 Dal-Tile. Undermount sink, new faucet.

    New ceiling fixture.


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    You have good bones to play with. The kitchen is nice! Looks well-preserved and well laid out--lucky you! I'd love to see it with a turquoise floor. Bathroom could use a colored floor as well. I'm not sure what your budget is...but Marmoleum would be super nice in both rooms, and comes in fun colors. I'd replace all the replacement hardware with original style hardware.I see one boomerang in all that. You need ALL boomerangs! Or at least something a tad more MCMy, preferably in chrome and/or brass.
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  • PRO
    last month
    last modified: last month

    I love MVCM but the kitchens did not usually function well for how we live now. To start they did not have fridges the size of a car . We now know all base cabinets should be drawers for much better function a range should have proper venting . The top pic was my kitchen in my MCM ranch and we swithched the DR for the kitchen when we renovated to get a kitchen that worked for how we cook in the bottom pic.There are IMO 2 spaces in MCM homes that if original do not work thta is bathooms and kitchens , we live differently now. I love the room sizes of the living spce in these homes BTW and the exterior and usually most of the layout . You need to reall think about how you live now and do a home renovation to honor the house but be realistic abouut wht does not work for you.

  • last month

    How about a black and white checkerboard floor and red laminate countertops! Also new appliances that match.

  • last month

    Replace: lighting, dishwasher, cooktop, microwave (use a hood, as suggested above).

    Where is the oven?

    If the cabinet under the cooktop doesn't have pull out shelves, put them in. Two shelves for pots and pans will be fine.

  • last month

    Esthetically, I agree that new lighting, a counter-depth fridge and a new spot for the microwave would be a big improvement. And even if you don't have outside venting, a sleek hood will make the cooktop space less cramped and provide additional lighting.

  • PRO
    last month

    Thank you all! Any suggestions for countertop and backsplash? Add color?
    Oven is a double off to the side near the galley. I’d love to eventually add an island do some sort- I love counter space. But right now, the area I took the picture from has a little kitchen table; but eventually that’s open space

  • last month

    I know you say they don't have a dent or scratch, but clearly the finish is very worn. The doors under the sink and drawers to the right look particularly bad. I would not spend money on counters and backsplash. I would update appliances and save for a full remodel.

  • last month

    Google "vintage laminate" and you'll have lots of options. Similar to below.

  • last month

    I wouldn't consider the style of the kitchen MCM, it's 50s but more country, traditional, or grandma style than modern. If the rest of the house is more modern in style or if that is what you'd like to highlight, I would consider popping off that scalloped valance.

  • last month
    last modified: last month

    If you have not bought the house yet, but you want to get an idea of how much it will cost to make the kitchen a viable option., the answer is a lot! This would be an act of love. If you want to modernize and are not trying to perform a historical renovation, you might want to work on keeping the form but upping the function.

    Electrical. This may have to be updated if you are updating your appliances. Search the threads here to read more about that, but in Ohio you’re looking at about $2K for new 240 V service and a new panel.

    Cabinets. The cabinets do have dents, scratches, and are absolutely showing wear, even in the pictures. You have very few drawers and no pantry cabinets. If you want to keep them because they match the wood in the rest of the house, keep them, but they need to be cleaned, sanded, and refinished. But consider replacing these with actual cabinet boxes and getting drawers and doors with a finish that harmonizes with this one.

    Counters. New laminate makes sense because the substrate looks to be in good shape. That means the old surface is peeled off and a new one is applied to it. There are wonderful laminates today. Solid surface (Corian) would look fantastic too and gives you the option of an integrated drainboard at your sink. Generally you don’t put new counters over old cabinets, so I would go with laminate if you keep the cabinets.

    Floors. You could choose linoleum, but the modern choice would be to match the flooring in the rest of the house. Will you be installing hardwood throughout? If so, install it in the kitchen as well, although if you are keeping the cabinets, consider LVT in a wood grain finish.

    Appliances. You’ve been told about the microhood, dishwasher, and the fridge. Of course the oven we can’t see in this image would go as well. The sink would be an undermount in Corian or a flushmount in laminate counters. Single bowl. The faucet will be bigger with a pull down. A 36” induction cooktop will fit very well in your cookop cut out so that is probably the right choice, and an under cabinet vent hood that works with your ducting would be another goid choice.


    • A small Tulip table with mcm chairs, like the one below, would be a great choice for the dining niche.
    • The fan should go and your lighting choice (you only have one overhead box) would have to illuminate most of the space. If you update your electrical panel, you can add more boxes to have dedicated work zone lighting.
    • Do a google search for mcm kitchen renovations and see what combination of new and old works for you before you begin.

    It will take a lot in both time and money to update this space, but it is beautiful. The design is so appealing, we keep copying it to this day. Would it be less expensive to buy a house with an up-to-date kitchen? Probably. Let us know what you decide to do.

  • last month

    I've noticed this a couple of times lately on the forums ... people labeling a regular suburban ranch from the 50's or 60's as MCM.

    Maybe the rest of the house is (no photos shown), but the kitchen definitely isn't.

  • PRO
    last month

    If you are referring to atomic ranch versus MCM ranch then you can be correct but MCM ranch is exactly what I have and what this OP seems to have

  • PRO
    last month

    Change out the hardware and maybe go for some retro-looking atomic age appliances:

    Blue Stallion Farm - Southwest Ranches, FL · More Info

    Orange Retro Kitchen Appliances with Modern Touch · More Info

    I love these colorful appliances that remind me of old 50"s style Cadillacs.

  • last month
    last modified: last month

    I love your kitchen almost as it is. Live with it for a year, and see what works and doesn't. A less-in-your-your-face fridge would really streamline things.. Yes, get a retro fridge that fits into the space better. GE has a a retro line that's just great. Smeg carries some terrific retro fridges--tall, so you'd have to remove the overhead cabinets. When you have big company, have a backup fridge in the basement or garage for drinks and platters. I'd kill for a double oven. The microwave is fine where it is. You only use it for a few minutes, and it frees up counterspace.

    A friend had a house of that era and had checkerboard Marmoleum kitchen floor--a knockout and easy on the feet. She also had a different complementary speckled linoleum surface countertop banded in stainless. The kitchen was so warm and inviting. Others' advice about great laminate of that era is an affordable way to go. Go for it.

    Note the schoolhouse style pendant below. Schoolhouse Electric is great source for something special like that.

    Happy Lil Retro Kitchen · More Info

    Send out the cabinet doors and fronts for a light refinishing or get someone in who's good at this to do it on site. It's not brain surgery to lightly refinish them, just tedious. There are various kinds of metal pullout drawers you can get at the big box stores. Rev-a-Shelf is one brand. If the cabinets are functional, keep them. Not everybody needs perfect pullout drawers.

    Really, you don't have to spend a fortune right now to gut the kitchen. Yours can be more functional and charming for a long time with some smaller changes.

  • last month

    If you're not looking to do a complete remodel, I would look at changing out the countertop and doing a backsplash. A nice warm white for both of those would be good. Appliances that coordinate with one another would also help the appeal of the room - although it can be hard to change out appliances is they work well. I'd suggest removing the scallop molding above sink and even the cabinets if possible. Adding a new undermount sink/faucet, lighting and a rug can see you though until you might want to do a full remodel in the future.

  • last month

    This story and photo reminded me of your 50s kitchen. This couple had a small budget, but look how wonderful their kitchen turned out with slight upgrades:

    Forgot to ask: what kind of flooring do you have?

  • last month

    I don’t know that the OP can answer these questions. S/he never said s/he owns the home. It appears to be for sale. If you would like to see the rest of the house, click here. Again, this would be a renovation someone would take on as a labor of love after doing the math and knowing the value of the property. I know nothing about Bowling Green, OH, but the neighborhood does have homes that vary widely in price per square foot.

  • last month
    last modified: last month

    Wow! Great house and great interior. I'd leave cabinets as is because it works with the rest of the wood trim in the other rooms. Figure out which appliance is the newest/best and replace the others with the same color. Let's say the fridge wins. White counters and use the counter for back splash. I would remove the green wallpaper and replace. Not lovin' the fan...

    Minka Air:

    If the black appliances win, then black for counters and back splash.

    Floor looks okay in photo, so maybe a fun, washable rug over top the floor. This one is from amazon, largest size if 5 x 8 and priced at $69.00. I think the design is so much fun.

    Is that grasscloth on the walls in the living room? Keep it! Love.

  • last month

    I love the windows in the living room and the 3 sided fireplace. And a full basement is pretty great, although the bedroom down there, honestly, total gut. It’s not my taste but it was tastefully decorated in 1958. Who knows, maybe there are hardwood floors underneath all of that shag carpeting?

  • last month

    What a fabuluous house. I hope they nailed it down with a contract. This is a house to live in for a time before making changes. Hope the OP researches ranches of that era to see how to balance the vintage vibe with updated look.

  • last month
    last modified: last month

    There are very few readily available current door styles that would suit this house, given the intact-ness of the rest of the interior.

    The ubiquitous white Shaker door--that the majority insists goes with everything--would literally kill this house. A full overlay slab wouldn't quite kill it, but almost.

    You might be able to find a cabinet shop that could refinish the door and drawer fronts and match the original finish. It would take a good shop, they would probably have to do a number of samples, and it would not be inexpensive. But it would be cheaper than a $50K-75K 2020s kitchen.

    The cabinet shop who made my cabinets (almost the same style as yours) was able to match an existing cabinet finish from one of the bathrooms, and were able to make a DW panel and refrigerator panels that matched the kitchen cabinets after the fact.

    (The Maytag W/D are also better than anything you could get now.)

  • last month

    Well, hang on a minute. I’d love to visit that house, but I wouldn’t want to renovate it. The asbestos abatement alone could cost a fortune, all of the plumbing is probably galvanized steel with cast iron waste pipes, and all of the wiring is probably 2-wire rubber-insulated, cloth jacketed. The basement has seen water at some point. So buy or don’t buy, but realize it’ll probably need all new plumbing, including waste plumbing to the city sewer, new wiring, a new electrical panel, the basement will have to be waterproofed, and I’m going to guess new hvac including ducting. Have you noticed the vents at the top of the walls on the main floor?

  • PRO
    last month
    last modified: last month

    yeah, this is 50's, not so much mcm. those hinges and handles are a dead giveaway

    of course the fan has to go, the flooring (that isn't original) , you prob had something like this:

    the huge white fridge (consider doing a counter depth)

    The microwave was added later as it's way too low to the cooktop. I'm wondering if it's properly vented to the exterior??

    So, what do you want to do? These cabs are almost 70 years old. if you like how they look, great, but don't feel you have to keep everything. (unless you plan on decorating everything in 1960 look.)

    Can you DIY? because, those wood cabs can easily be sand back to raw wood, fill the hinge holes and the hardware holes w/stainable wood filler, and apply a walnut stain, new clear coat.

    Then I'd get a matte black quartz countertop or granite,,,

    New hardware, and a geometric backsplash tile. You can easily do all of this yourself

    White quartz would work too, see if you can install some european style hidden hinges, tabpfinger hardware, trapazoid tile splash

    or, less work, remove most of the upper cabs and do tile and open shelving

    Break up those floor tiles and install some terrazzo (but in the porcelain,,,it's cheaper) Emser tile has Terazio porcelain tiles, avail at Home depot. comes in blk/or white.

    If you like this look^ Personally I'd do this w/the matte black countertop.

    or a black tile. wood, black and white look fab together!

    I love this look too, (but you could do the black countertop and white tile, opposite of this) Again, no uppers, lots of shelving, Terrazzo tile, some mcm-looking backsplash tile

    You could refinish your lower cabs to look similar to this.

    go to a stoneyard and look for remnants. or, see if they have any pre-fabs. super cheap if you go this route.

    places like L&L flooring or Floor and Decor also have some like this

    (they come in a 24"X8-9' prefinished dimensions. fabricator cuts them on site to fit your kitchen. since you have a very simple countertop to measure and cut, a prefab and install could be as cheap as 1500 bucks. )

    you could paint,

    If you want to see how she did this one, click on the link,

    This one also has the how to's, this is the finished result. she has a 6-week links for each one on everything they did.

    Apt Therapy has some nice ideas. you could paint and do a butcher block, then get some mcm style backsplash tiles (not these subways)

    if you can't afford to tile, look into peel and stick wallpaper for the backsplash. tons of ideas/pics online


  • last month
    last modified: last month

    What is ”modernize a bit” ? Detailing your own description is a start. no one is a mind reader. if you can specefically state what you think the activities could/ would be you will get feedback….people have tons of experience. personally I would need to upgrade all the appliances…cost analysis of pulling the cooktop and microwave for a range and hood… id call an electrician right away. i would not dwell on the cabinets so much. theyll be gone at some point due to layout or lack of efficiency issues…..doesnt matter right now…. … do not show an eating area… question becomes what is the connection of this space to adjacent available spaces. Old layouts in older homes with no changes ever, need things done ....whether just widening or moving a doorway / sometimes opening up a wall / or larger scope like adding on , at times.

  • last month

    Just a note for those of you who haven’t read the other threads, this seems to be a house for sale not a purchased home. The OP has posted a ”what if” thread and may have abandoned it. Don’t work so earnestly on this one, unless it gives you pleasure to do so.

  • last month

    Agree, this isn't a MCM kitchen, it's a 50s pastiche. The hardware and valance are giveaways. It has very little merit functionally or aesthetically so there really isn't anything "authentic" here to preserve. This is the gray and white quartz countertop kitchen of 70 years ago, except from a time when things were built to last.

    Nothing wrong if you like it and just want to tweak it or this is what you can afford and want to improve it on a budget, but those are different questions and the answers would depend on what your style is and how you want the end product to look, not "preservation."

  • last month

    Of course it's "authentic". There is nothing more authentic in a house than what the house was built with. Anything put in there now at the very least would not be "more authentic" than what's already there. Plenty of these 1950s "country kitchens" were built. How is that not authentic?

    Whether or not these 1950s country kitchens are currently aesthetically pleasing or have any particular value is a subject for debate. But just because the kitchen is not "MCM"--the whole current concept of which I think is a 21st century revisionist construct--does not mean that it is not an authentic 1950s kitchen. Most 1950s-60s houses built in America were not designed by the Case Study Architects.

  • last month

    This house is "midcentury ranch". Not "midcentury modern". Two very different design aesthetics.

    Cute house nonetheless.

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