Author Archives: Dwelling On A Dime

Salvage Server (in with the old)

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By now, anyone who knows me at all knows that my tiger oak “problem” is legendary. It’s one of my favorite things on earth. Painting it should be illegal and punishable by water torture. I’m not all that sure that I’m kidding when I say that…

 

ANYWAY!

 

I noticed that someone on my “upcycle/DIY” FB group listed a tiger oak dining table (round) that opens for a leaf. It was huge, something like ’56 round! Furthermore, it damn near weighed a ton (seriously). It was way too large to be used in its current state, and I would never part with my Carrara marble kitchen table. It was too beautiful to pass up for $20. I knew I had to find a way to re-purpose it before Jeff got home from work and threatened serving me with divorce papers (again)!

After walking my house and brainstorming with my best friend, I remembered that I’ve always wanted a server/buffet in the dining room, but I don’t have one. A server too big and chunky would take up too much room, as I already have a mahogany Queen Anne set that includes a table with 2 leaves, 6 chairs, a curio, a hutch, and an antique side table.

How to turn this massive table into a server? Cut it in half at the bias, where it breaks apart for the leaf! The edge would sit along the wall under the partition, coming out in a demilune/half-moon shape.

Then came the issue of what the heck could serve as the base. Hubby and I then recalled that in the very back of our storage room was the mahogany, Queen-Anne end table that we used as a coffee table and ate off at for 4.5 years at the apartment. Not only would it match the dining room set, but it also has sentimental value. The fact that the top was all sorts of beat up didn’t matter, since we’d be securing the top to it anyway.

The issue was that the server would sit too low. A trip out to the shed turned up old pieces of pressure-treated 2 x 4. When we stacked them (piecemeal style), the height became perfect. After that came a lot of pre-drilling, broken drillbits, loud noises, very long screws, and the task of securing them to the base. The remaining movement and slight rattling was fixed with shims.

I refused to risk long screws going up into the tiger oak top, because I was unwilling to risk a screw coming through the table top. When something is 100 years old with a perfect patina, it’s never as easy as wood putty, filler, and new stain. Instead, we used liberal amounts of contact adhesive. We put the top into place on the base and weighed it down heavily overnight. It’s now nice and secure!

I love the character of old pieces and wanted to make the server look its best without messing with that. I applied a small bit of stain to chips along the edges, and then made a homemade polish with white vinegar and olive oil, massaging it into the wood. This is literally all that was needed. Here is the end-result. If you like it, we have an extra base and the other half of the table if you’d like to make one. I’ll unload the supplies cheap, just let me know!Image

 

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Here are some photos of the dining room, so you can see the lay of the land:

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I LOVE this project. It was fast and easy with two people and it was a fun way to re-purpose an antique. I love it, and it will get plenty of us during dinners and parties. Not bad for $20!

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Roadside Rescue Makeover: ANOTHER Chair!

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En route home the other night, my husband noticed (mere nanoseconds before I did) 2 chairs and a dining table at the curb by our neighborhood. I can spot quality a mile away, and what caught my eye first was a beautiful table base, country-looking and trestle-style. I typically get eye-rolls, loud sighs, and joking divorce threats when bringing salvaged furniture into my life/home, so I was shocked when he willingly turned the car around to look! There was a BEAUTIFUL, thick, high-quality dark pine dining table with two chairs. The chairs were lovely, with a finely-detailed Windsor design that was rustic and yet elegant. I needed one (naturally).

 

Whoever went home with the dining table is a lucky person indeed!

 

Shocker #2 was when my husband said “I think we can fit both in the car”. I had to make sure I heard him right! Being practical, I said we should take the better of the two chairs. So we went home with this beauty:Image

 

Oh, the potential! I do not like to refinish dark pine, and prefer painting it (not my usual). Looking at the details, I decided on a shabby paint job, but was torn between an oatmeal shade with antiquing wax like this $3 thrift store table makeover (I did this last week):

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OR this robin’s egg blue shade that I used to make over my $0.50 salt and pepper mills:Image

 

The blue idea won out, mainly because it’s the final chair I could get away with squeezing into the hodgepodge/ quirky eat-in area! It’s softer than the screaming turquoise I used on the other chairs and I’ve been all about blue lately! That, and I had plenty of the paint left over, so I did not need to buy any supplies!

Here she is after being painted with the blue chalk paint:

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See? Pretty even without being shabbied up!

 

After I took a sanding block to her, this was the result:

 

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I had no clear furniture wax left, so in an effort to keep this project completely free, I used some semi-gloss water-based poly I had left over from the floors. I used this to seal it, since it would be expecting frequent use.

 

This was a TOTALLY free project! Free chair, leftover paint and poly, leftover paint brushes and sandpaper. It doesn’t get better than that!

Here it is in its “home”:

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“From that thrift shop down the road!”

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I’ve had a very creative evening! I’ve been feeling extra inspired lately, and two oh-so-fabulous finds this week at my local thrift store were my muses 🙂

Item #1…a 24-inch wood stool for $1.95? YES! I am just under 5 feet in height, so this is perfect for me.Image

 

No artsy chalk paint job for this one! I decided to celebrate the start of (unofficial) summer by going with a hand-painted, summery, and colorful design. I chalk-painted the legs a Tiffany blue, but am considering doing an ombre blue design down the legs to add some color variance…we shall see. Here’s the end result:

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I’ve always thought of myself as having absolutely no artistic ability, but I may need to rethink that one.

My second thrift store find was an AWESOME end table with a beautiful marble insert. It’s by Mersman Furniture, mid-century or so, and was screaming out to me for a makeover! Best of all…I got it for just under $3. I mean, honestly…how do you say no?! Here she is:

 

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Look at those details!!

I decided on chalk paint, layered in oatmeal and white, and then a dark brown antiquing wax/glaze. I wanted the end result to resemble old wood or driftwood, but go nicely with the marble. Here’s the midway point, with the layered paint job (I had no white chalk paint left, so some white acrylic paint did the trick) and before the distressing:Image

 

Fun, but incomplete. I wanted the details to jump out and the color to darken. I took a sanding block to the piece to distress all the edges and details, and then (for the first time), I gave antiquing wax a try. The color I had was dark brown, and this is the brand I use (I also love their chalk paints, and you can get them for about $4 each after a coupon at Joann Fabric):Image

 

After taking a sanding block to the painted table for heavy distressing, I used a lint-free cloth to give the entire table a thorough wax coating, rubdown, and buffing. I was hooked and obsessed with this product from the first swipe…seriously, it’s great! I will use it on some other pieces.

Here are photos of the lovely end result of the table, some with flash for details, some in natural light.

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I’m happy with my decision to let this table rock the shabby look. The color pairs nicely with the beige marble insert and is neutral. It will serve as an end table next to the chaise on my sectional. The marble means no coasters are needed! For my best friend, the sectional is the equivalent of “Sheldon’s Spot”, so she will probably get the most use out of it!

I paid just under $3 for the table, and used supplies I already had on hand to redo it.

::shakes head:: $3. Disbelief.

Here are my other fun finds from that trip (where I spent a whopping $8):

Fun, cute vintage enamel colander for $1Image

 

And a great tabletop ironing board (that matches our kitchen) for just $2…we really needed one, as our other one that we’ve had forever broke and bent in half:

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Everything you see in this post cost me $8. Un-freaking-real. Thrifting/upcycling are a way of life for me. It’s recycling at its finest 😉

 

Until next time…

Bonjour, Paris! (A fast, easy, cheap little makeover)

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When I saw a small ottoman/upholstered footstool for sale for $5, all wood with padding and plywood intact…I pounced! There’s no limit to what could be done with it. It’s funny to me that the makeover ended up being neutral, demure, and sophisticated rather than vibrant, bright, and fun.

 

I’m fairly certain the culprit is “The Other Boleyn Girl”, which I am currently re-reading for the fourth time. Maybe it’s the sense of artistocracy, Anne’s French sense of fashion, or the courtly revels, but I’ve had Paris on the brain today.

 

I decided I wanted to budget between $8-$10 total for the project, including the ottoman and supplies.

 

Well, $3 in fabric later (I had also bought a burlap fabric, but it didn’t “fit” as well as this cotton twill), leftover chalk paint and paint supplies later, and I had my final result!

I used a bit of semi-gloss water-based floor poly to seal the chalk paint, which I distressed using an old sanding block. When keeping project costs down, GO SHOPPING IN YOUR OWN HOUSE.

 

Seriously…it’s the best way to do it! And chalk paint is environmentally friendly, non-toxic, and safe, so it’s a good choice for virtually anyone. Roughing it up is a lot of fun, and you can play around with it to achieve your desired result.

I did one good coat of oatmeal colored chalk paint and then roughed it up.

 

Here is what I started with:

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Bad fabric, bad color (it did not know whether to be maple or mahogany). However, good bones!

Here’s the frame after paint and before distressing:

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And the final results:ImageImageImageImageImageImage

(That last photo, with the flash on, highlights the distressing).

I fell in love with that fabric straight away…old bikes, skeleton keys, French script, the Eiffel Tower? AND cheap? Sign me up! It is a cotton twill, as previously mentioned, not heavy tapestry or thick fabric, but it works perfectly on this piece. I’ll use my $2 piece of Parisian burlap for another project in the future.

 

So to recap costs:

Footstool/ottoman: $5

Parisian fabric: $3

Leftover paint, brushes, poly, sanding block: FREE 🙂

Project total: $8

 

Here it is in its new home, next to a fabulous $15 overstuffed chair that I got on Craigslist last summer. The butterfly pillow is from Pier 1 and features French script that pairs nicely with the ottoman.

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Can’t beat that, can you?

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Until next time 😉

Somewhere Under the Rainbow (and over the bulkhead)

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Ho-kay! So…

I won’t even mince words. I have done a LOT of cool things to my house since I bought it in 2013. I’m not sure why this little, silly, eccentric change is such a big deal to me, but it is! Like all great ideas, it began as a tiny ghost of a thought that snowballed and spiraled into something totally different…and far more wonderful.

The original plan was a pallet wall in the half bath, with rustic, unfinished wood. Then, I thought that maybe I should also put the pallet wood on the bulkhead where the main pipe is stored in the ceiling. Then I got to thinking I could salvage some of the pallet planks and paint them bright rainbow colors on the bulkhead. THEN, after taking the idea to my husband, he suggested scrapping the pallet wood and going for a more streamlined look with 1 x 2’s painted and placed together.

I’ve always been in love with (and truth be told, kind of obsessed with) rainbows. What’s not to love?! I am a colorful person, I love color in my house, I love all the things rainbows mean and stand for, and they simply make me happy. Once the idea of having my own, personal rainbow in my own home took hold in my mind, I couldn’t let it go.

I searched high and low, but could not find any photos of exactly what I wanted or planned on doing. Either it hasn’t been done or (more likely) simply hasn’t been posted. But this little bulkhead was the perfect place for a small but brilliant makeover. I decided early on to follow the ROYGBV color scheme, but after hubby had measured the bulkhead, he said that to sit the colors/lumber boards all up against one another, it was going to require 8 colors! After some thought (and a lot of mixing of paint), I decided to add a terra-cotta color after the red (that matched the half-bath perfectly) and a cross between robin’s egg blue and turquoise after green, for a total of 8 colors. Because the boards were pre-primed, my job was easy! I bought acrylic paints rather than latex for this project. The hardest part was spending the time to mix colors to make them exactly, perfectly “right”.

Here’s the top half of the rainbow being painted:

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And the top half of the rainbow all finished:

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::warm fuzzies::

(Looks like a sunset!)

Then, it came time to begin the bottom half:

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(that was after coat 1)

After a few other coats, here is the whole rainbow assembled together:

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Now, let’s play “spot the problem”.

SEE THAT GREEN?! EEK. Way too dark! After several tries mixing to get the color I was going for:

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That’s more like it!

Once more, here it is with all of the finalized colors:

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And ::drumroll, please:: Here is the completed accent wall, up on the bulkhead in the half-bath.

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I realize that to a lot of people, I am the layman’s term for “crazy”. However, I love my rainbow accent wall and I love that I have my own rainbow at home.

One of the best parts? Between materials and paint, the whole cost of the accent wall was a mere $15! If this isn’t $15 of fun, I don’t know what is 🙂

Save the popcorn for the theater!

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The following entry is NOT by me 🙂 It was (wonderfully) done by my lovely husband, Jeff, for instructables.com.

This is the original link: http://www.instructables.com/id/Removing-Popcorn-Ceilings/

I am posting it here because I love the difference it has made in our home. I came home from a bad day at work to the surprise of a new project for our house. Some girls like flowers, cards, and jewelry….I like home projects (and getting a little messy in the process). Next up is our 400 square-foot den, which will prove more of a challenge.

Here I am, covered in plaster after night #1 of “popcorngate”:

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Without further ado, please join me in saying so-long to the popcorn ceilings in the foyer, dining room, and formal living room. Let’s leave the popcorn in the bag or the bowl, where it belongs!

Picture of Removing Popcorn Ceilings!
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I surprised my wife by having her walk in from a long day at work to find me covered in sloppy wet oatmeal-like popcorn ceiling plaster and the furniture all over the house, but she wasn’t mad and it turned out to be a very easy DIY project!***((Warning: Popcorn applied before 1978 MUST BE TESTED for asbestos and other chemicals common to the product in the 60’s/70’s.  You do NOT want those fibers floating around the room to be ingested.  If it’s asbestos based, you should have a professional come in to take care of it.  Some municipalities have codes against you doing it yourself, for safety reasons.))***Popcorn ceilings were really popular back in the day, although many people had them sprayed on to hide defects in the ceiling, supposedly-deaden sound, or give that “cozy” appearance to a room that was a little too barren.  Either way, I don’t believe that have any place in a modern home, and must be removed immediately!Ours was actually sprayed circa 2001, so it came off fairly easily and the ceiling drywall was already primed white above it, making it even more easy.  Many times, you’ll find cracked Sheetrock, failed joint compound, edging tape coming loose etc.  If any cracks are apparent, moistening some joint tape before applying to the crack, then compound over it until it’s smooth. It’s the best remedy – short of installing new drywall!Anyway, the process is simple.

Supplies list: (many of these items you may already own, keeping costs down)

Clear Tarps ($10)
Duct Tape ($5)
Blue Painter’s tape ($5)
Handheld pump sprayer ($15)
Bucket, Sponge and Soap ($15)
10″ Scraper ($7)
Silicone Caulk – ($4)
Stepstool ($25?)
Paint Pole, Roller, and Roller Covers ($15)
Ceiling Paint ($15 / gallon)
Spackle / Joint Compound ($5)
Sandpaper ($5)
Mask / Respirator ($15)
Joint Tape ($3)

Instructions:

1) Strip room of everything you can move.  Certain sofas, tv stands, or heavy furniture are better off left where they sit, but all lamps etc. can go. It’s much easier to get to all corners with big things missing.

2) Tarp the entire room.  Tape tarps together – ALL SEAMS- with duct tape, and use the painter’s tape to go at least a foot up the walls.  Cover all electrical outlets and air registers, essentially creating a bowl-shape for the plaster to fall in to.  Some people like to tarp the ENTIRE walls, but if you go slow, not much will glop onto them.  It’s easy to clean up later anyway.  The smallest seam between tarps will inadvertently cover the entire room in plaster dust.

2) Use the water sprayer to moisten a 5×5 foot box shape.  You can spray the whole room if you want, but this stuff absorbs a ridiculous amount of water, so be aware before you begin.  It’s hard to describe when it’s wet enough – but your scraper will slide through the “oatmeal” easily without leaving the Sheetrock very wet behind it.  You can use paper towels to dry the Sheetrock if it’s really wet, and be sure to spray the popcorn directly.  If you have many drips falling from the ceiling, it’s more than wet enough.  You can honestly use your fingernails to test!  Wear a mask and eye protection, even if you’re asbestos free.  This stuff tastes like glue.

3) Use a file to smooth and curve the edges of your scraper so you don’t gauge the Sheetrock above the popcorn.  This step isn’t necessary, but I’m glad I did!  You could use a smaller (or larger) width scraper, but the 10″ was perfect for our application.

4) Get up on your stool and scrape away!  Hold the scraper at a very low angle – almost parallel with the ceiling.  The more angle, the more gouges you’ll risk.  Push firmly, but if it fights you, add more water.  Water is your friend!  You can also use a paint roller dipped in warm water to apply if you don’t have a pump sprayer. You CAN scrape dry popcorn, but it’s a lot more work.

5) Be sure to keep all the oatmeal on your tarps, but be warned – it will be MESSY and SLIPPERY.  I wore “crocs” type shoes to keep from stepping in it directly, and they’re easy to wash off.  As the wet oatmeal dries, it turns back into a powder, which will get everywhere.  Be sure to double tape your tarp seams.

6) Use a smaller putty knife to get the edges.  If your room has molding, scrape against it.  If not molding exists, scrape close, then use the sandpaper to get the edges.  You may need a gritty sandpaper to get it done.  Remember: water is your friend!

7) Bundle all tarps into themselves, overlapping, to keep major chunks from falling out.  We did a poor job taping the seams, so dust and chunks got everywhere.  On treated hardwood floors, a warm water bucket with citrus cleaner will do a nice job, and a shop-vacuum (wet / dry vac) gets the dust.  It’s a good reason to move the furniture and clean behind!

8) Check for any repairs.  We didn’t have much major repairs, but Spackle easily fills in the holes.  Wait for it to dry, sand it flat and prime/paint over it.  Use the sandpaper to smooth out any missed plaster or adhesive.  Remember your mask and goggles…  Use a damp (not wet) sponge and paper towels to wipe the ceilings smooth. Paint will not adhere to loose drywall dust!

9) Prime and Paint – Apply fresh tarps, no need to tape unless you feel so inclined.  You may need 1/2 coats of primer if you’re painting plain stamped drywall, or if you’re using any other color other than white.  I used the primer that was already applied, and put two heavy coats of ceiling paint on top.  The paint roller pole was a little difficult to get used to, but applying a lot of pressure made the process go quickly.  Wait for the coat to dry completely before “touching up” any areas.  Ceiling paint is usually flat, and wet spots will look a bit awkward until it fully dries.

10) You may want to use a silicone caulk to clean up the edges where the ceiling meets the walls.  In our application, our walls are actually painted-over wallpaper, so the edges were very rough.  They may have applied an adhesive to the edges to keep the wet popcorn from peeling the paper during installation.

11) Throw away all tarps, examine progress for touch-ups, missed spots etc.

12) Clean and replace!  Use the water bucket and mop, as well as a vaccum and dusting rag to give your rooms a really good clean.  If you get plaster on carpet, use it as a reason to rip up all the carpet! 😀  You may have to vaccuum 47 times, wipe the glass 12 times and mop 125 times, but in the end it’s worth it.  The hard part is over now.

13) If you’re replacing fixtures, fans etc, remember to remove the old ones first.  Turn off the electricity at the circuit breaker and flip the wall switch off for extra insurance.  If you’re not comfortable with the wiring, seek professional assistance.  Do not spray this plaster with water, just grab some gritty sandpaper and get it done.  No water should come anywhere near electrics, even with it shut off at the circuit breaker.

And that’s it!  Obviously, tall or angled ceiling would be more difficult but for the cost, it’s a great thing to try yourself.

You’ll notice a LOT more light in each room, now that the millions of tiny shadows are gone, and you’ll insist your ceilings are a foot taller than they used to be.

Total times for 2 rooms and a hallway:

Wet, Scrape, Spackle = 2 Hours
Prime / Paint = 2-3 Hours
Cleanup / Replace = 2 Hours

Good luck and have fun!  Be sure to blast music and invite friends over to help.  It may not be perfect, but our motto became ‘anything’s better than popcorn!” and for us, that’s true.  😀

A Touch of Retro (Paging the 1950’s!)

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Hello, my precious little blog! I’ve missed this place. I’ve also missed having, you know…a life.

I’m always really inspired in the summertime, when I’ve got vacations on the brain and plenty of time to myself to get creative!

In the interest of beating the wintertime blues (as NJ has spontaneously morphed into an offshoot of Antarctica), I want to talk retro, I want to talk kitchens, and I want to talk 1950′s design elements. *cue Julie Andrews singing “My Favorite Things”*

They say style is cyclical. “They” are right! It seems that every number of years, things come back into vogue again. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel I am seeing this constantly with the 1950′s! ESPECIALLY when it comes to kitchens, so much of what is popular right now harkens back to this time period. I super-love the decor/design of the 50′s…from fashion to home design. I also have to say that while I did not set out or plan to add some 1950′s elements to my kitchen during the remodel, it definitely ended up that way.

Let’s go back in time a bit. I’m going to show you some ads and photos of 50′s kitchens so we have a baseline to work with:

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Ahhh yes, the 50′s “kitchenbitch”. A true classic. What I find intriguing is the crisp, white look. This kitchen would not look out-of-place in a kitchen today!

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I can’t tell you enough how much I adore this kitchen. the 50′s saw the rise of metal cabinets in fun colors, such as this Tiffany blue. The fridge just brings it all together. Look on the right and you’ll see the awesome stainless steel wall ovens…which are highly desirable right now.

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Another “white cabinet” kitchen….this time with tea/green formica counters and an island *very trendy back then*.

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50′s “Hotpoint” ad featuring their colorful wall oven. My obsession with the color aside, they are coming back in popularity. Notice something else? Check out the mosaic wall design. Flip the pattern horizontally and you have today’s tile backsplash. I always fly into an unnecessary rage when people buy an old kitchen with an awesome old wall oven and then RIP IT OUT. WHY?!

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1950′s “pepto pink”. A true classic. Also popular in bathrooms and tile. Hey, this was the housewife’s domain, and if she wanted a pink kitchen, she got one!

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This is an old Formica ad. It was the fashionable thing to have. Formica actually grew to NOT be a trend, as it was the go-to material for countertops for 50+ years! Today, most people want natural stone or some form of cement/silestone. What I also think is fun about the ad is that it features the great “retro red” pop of color so popular in this day (carried over from the 40′s).

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Changing gears, this ad focuses on yellow accents (Formica and wall oven) but features wood cabinets with the classic 50′s hinges and hardware. Sweet wallpaper, no? *yikes*

When you really start to examine the photos, you can’t help but see eerie similarities to what is trending today! Every decade has its moment in the proverbial sun and its own particular nostalgia. However, something about the 50′s seem a little more lasting (and somehow still relevant).

Fast forward to 2014: A kitchen remodel is the most expensive (and sought after) home renovation. The trouble is that they’re so costly! To completely rebuilt a basic kitchen will easily cost you $30,000. A remodel on the higher end usually tops $50,000. I’ve discussed kitchens a few times before.This entry is more for those who don’t WANT to spend a small fortune, but if you’ve got a big budget, you can work with this information, too!

If you want something other than beige granite, stainless steel appliances, travertine backsplash, and darker wood cabinets…consider bringing one or more 50′s elements into your kitchen! You can do it in a big way or do it in a more subtle fashion. I personally feel it’s the most fun with color added, but hey…your call.

Whether you bought an older home and are working with what you have, or want your newer kitchen to travel back in time, here are some awesome renovated kitchens with elements borrowed from the 50′s:

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The above kitchen is the stuff of my vintage fantasies! I love the painted cabinets, the hardware, the apron sink, and the removed cabinets on top to make room for open shelving that houses fun, colorful accents. The white subway tile backsplash keeps it simple but fits perfectly, and the white appliances are a perfect choice here. How much fun is that orange Kitchenaid?! These people get an A+++ from me! They took an older kitchen and redid it in a way that stays true to the era but *belongs* today, too.

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Now, you may notice that the “before” photo is the “everykitchen” that is sought after today. It’s tasteful, it’s pretty, but it’s also rather anonymous. I love these people for their excellent and MUCH more fun “re-vamp”! They added shiny new stainless appliances (which are somehow a perfect modern-retro marriage), painted the cabinets white, chanegd the hardware to stainless steel, and (my favorite change), chalk-and-distress painted their pantry door. GENIUS! Perfect vintage touch! What is striking is how different the granite looks after the re-do…it’s the same counter-top, but the white, bright remodel changes its look.

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Talk about preservation! These homeowners did a gorgeous job preserving the style and integrity of their 50′s kitchen while still creating something stylish and relevant. They kept and painted their original hardware and exposed hinges. They painted the original wood cabinets off-white. They kept their still-working wall ovens and old gas cooktop. The scallop details that frame the window are pretty and unique. The best thing they did was paint their old counters to an awesome matte black that “fits” perfectly. A re-vamp like this costs nearly nothing!

I want to feature the kitchen of a friend of mine (hi Kristen!), because she is a perfect example of the amazing transformation that countertop-painting can bring about!

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I’m 100% being honest when I say I don’t think I have ever seen such a huge transformation for so little money. You may wonder what this has to do with “retro”? The elements are there in a subtle way, with the brightened cabinets and brand-new, glossy white appliances (white/glossy was big in the 50′s, as it looked crisp and clean). It looked awesome before she painted the counters, but painting them completed it all. It took time and elbow grease, but her “I may as well try it, anything is better than what I have” attitude paid off! The resulting lovely shade of grey is the perfect complement to her shiny new appliances and grey cabinets. The kitchen has taken on a more “French country” feel. Let this photo stand as a testament to the fact that a kitchen that looks completely different needn’t break the bank. If you have bad, ugly, or old countertops but don’t want to shell out thousands right now for new ones, get your paint on (make sure to seal it afterwards). You can go classic and elegant like Kristen did, or try out a fun pop of color. The best part? If you don’t like it, try another color :-) There are also countertop-refinishing/refacing kits you can buy specifically for this type of project.

Back to more 50′s/vintage inspiration:

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These homeowners painted their old wood cabinets while keeping an original retro stove and backplash. They painted their island and left the green enamel top as-is. Not a fan of that, but hey…it works for them. The biggest problem in this kitchen is THE CLUTTER THAT MAKES MY BRAIN EXPLODE and the yellowed, cream microwave. That should be white, and this kitchen needs a good “organize”, because it’s otherwise charming.

Here’s just an example of how brightening up your kitchen space can take your layout from “wind tunnel” to “fresh, clean, and open”:

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Their goldenrod accessories are a nice pop of color, too!

If you’re not doing an actual reno but want to add in a few fun 50′s elements, consider doing so with accessories! I’ve done some of this in my own kitchen and will add a few more soon.

The Bella company makes cooking/kitchen appliances in excellent colors with a vintage-feel:

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(I am thinking of buying that toaster for my own kitchen. This line is affordable and accessible).

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Another current trend is accessories that feel nostalgic:

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(I am clearly partial to aqua blue. Please excuse my blatant bias!)

Appliances that feel vintage are gaining in popularity:

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Fantastic microwave by Nostalgia Electrics.

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How. Freaking. Genius. It’s literally a breakfast station…coffee, toast, and eggs/meat on the top griddle. All wrapped up in an inexpensive and whimsical package.

If you’ve got VERY deep pockets, you can outfit a kitchen in brand-new appliances that look vintage…by Big Chill:

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(I adore the mint green!)

They’ll set you back $3,000 for the fridge, $4,000+ for the range, $600 for the microwave, $1,700 for the dishwasher, $1,400 for a vent hood, and $3,000 if you choose a wall oven. They are STUNNING, but my goodness…the prices raise my blood-pressure!

If you want affordable nostalgia, GE designed a line called “Artistry” which features a choice of black or white appliances that have a 50′s feel for VERY little money…you can easily get the whole kitchen full of appliances for about $2,000-$2,200, which is great!

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I fully admit that if I was not set on stainless for the look I wanted, I’d have bought these in white, hands-down, no-contest.

Another easy way to add a vintage element is with a colorful and endlessly useful Kitchenaid mixer!

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My hubby bought me this pale pink breast-cancer edition mixer…I named her “Loretta”:

In conclusion, don’t shy away from playing around with 50′s elements in your kitchen, because the results can be inspiring and fabulous! Remember that it doesn’t take a lot of money to DIY a kitchen from something cringeworthy to something you’re proud to show off. I’ve ALWAYS loved the style of the 1950′s…all my life. I did not realize I was going in that direction when we re-did our kitchen, but the end-result clearly shows a lean to vintage/retro. I leave you with a reminder of my kitchen “before and after”, that cost us a measly $2,500:

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Now for our “accidental-50′s-inspired” after:

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Don’t be afraid to play around with style! Do what inspires you and makes you happy, while remembering that there’s always room for 1950′s charm in some element or another. Until next time…