Asked on Jun 24, 2015

50's kitchen needs some updating.. Help!

by Alecia
I recently purchased a home, the kitchen is outdated as you can see. I'm on a VERY tight budget for the kitchen... I'm talking like a few hundred dollars TOPS for the whole thing. I plan on painting the hideous white and burgundy wall tile ALL white and the walls white as well... I'd like to just repaint the cabinets (possibly two toned white on top grey on bottom) and add new hardware... I need suggestions for the counter. I've seen a lot of concrete countertops lately, but can I do it directly over the tiled counter? ANY suggestions and pictures would be greatly appreciated.Thanks!
  28 answers
  • Anne stickn354ey Anne stickn354ey on Jun 24, 2015
    First, rip out all that white tile. You'll be surprised, you can do it. If I can, you can. Get somebody in to sheet rock after you have it down to the studs where the tile was.. Shoould cost around $500 or so. Countertops? I found cheap granite at a local surplus building place, they seem to carry it now. It isn't as nice as the other granite you may find, but for $230 for a six foot piece...I'll take it. Do not know how much installation would cost. 2nd choice, I'd use laminate countertops. Concrete is high maintenence, who needs that. I'd put some trim on the cabinet doors, in a square. Take them off to paint, and be sure to PRIME THEM. They are probably painted in oil, and the new paint would just peel off if you don't. Voice of experience, here. Fill in the holes, and then install new hinges and pulls. Ebay has best prices on pulls and hinges- you are going to be shocked at how much they cost in the store. Paint the inside of the cabinets with white semi gloss, will make them look clean and kill any smells. Put up a tile backsplash. You can just glue it to the sheetrock in this case.You aren't talking about a lot of tile, so it should not be too bad expensive. Find a friend who owns a tile saw ;-). You could also use tin ceiling tiles, find them online. Good luck!
  • Anne stickn354ey Anne stickn354ey on Jun 24, 2015
    And if you are really pressed for money- be sure and see if you have a local Habitat for Humanity store or look on Craigslist for paint primer.
  • Lillian Santana Lillian Santana on Jun 24, 2015
    I wish I had a camera that worked so I could show you my kitchen. I was in almost the situation as you, but just had to bust down that wall between my kitchen and living room, lol. I had some leftover floor tile and used them for my countertop. Be sure to seal the grout! I neglected that due to my health, and now I regret that. I wanted to do the cement countertop, too, but health reasons precluded me from doing it myself, and my contractor (friend) had no idea what I was talking about. I did have to purchase additional tile, but as mentioned, Habitat for Humanity stores have lots of stuff for pretty good prices. I even bought gobs of kitchen cabinets from there and used in various places in my house for storage. You save by putting them together yourself. Hang around the paint department at Lowe's or Home Depot, and you can most likely get some good paint for a much cheaper cost. I did that, as well. Material for curtains, I only look at clearance tables for material. I made 2 lovely set of curtains: 1 for the living room, and 1 for a bedroom; also made a matching table cloth as the living room curtain to tie the theme together.
    • Allison Allison on Jun 25, 2015
      Lillian, it sounds to me that you have some great skills! Get one of the neighborhood kids to post some pictures for you. Kids can do it all!
  • Lagree Wyndham Lagree Wyndham on Jun 24, 2015
    Just my opinion, embrace the with tile walls and what looks like red trim, repaint wall in a complementary color, cabinets white, 1950's style formica with metal trim and a checkerboard pattern floor, floor tile or vinyl.
  • Joan Joan on Jun 24, 2015
    When I move to a new house, I don't like to change too much, too soon. I can totally see Lagree's vision for this kitchen. If it were my house, I'd do some cheapo stick on alternate b/w tiles on the floor, clean up the wall and countertop tile and seal the grout well. Add some cute 50's style cafe curtains and chochkas and work on redesigning that kitchen to be what your really want, to be done in a year or two. 50's are very hot right now! Go with it!
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    • Alecia Alecia on Jun 25, 2015
      @Wjc54 I was thinking wood too.. I'm just concerned ripping out the tile on the counter will end up being a disaster. I've never done it so I don't know what i'm in for.. Also, as far as the wall tile I was kind of trying to make it blend rather than stick out too much. But what would you suggest for color on the walls? I was going to do grey cabinets on the bottom with white top cabinets.. sort of like this. So i'm not too sure i color would end up looking good with that. I can't picture it.
  • Lis Ricketts Lis Ricketts on Jun 25, 2015
    Older homes often had octagonal or hexagonal shaped 1" to1 1/2" tiles as counter top with a 1"x 2" x 4" rectangular edge or bull nose. Home improvement stores often have this style in square sheets.I would look for white with black accent. Tile stores often have the brick style edging tiles. Another option is to research the product that allows you to float a thin layer of concrete over your existing tiles.
    • Alecia Alecia on Jun 25, 2015
      Yes, Lis they are the hexagon tiles. I must admit for being 60 years old they look pretty darn good.. But they do show some where and I need an update.. I have researched products and it looks like concrete will be my best bet for a simple (temporary) fix until I decide to tackle the whole kitchen. I just am unsure which concrete may be best.. If seen them come in kits and I've seen people buy regular concrete as well.
  • Susan Cryor Susan Cryor on Jun 25, 2015
    I too would live with I for a while. It is very empty looking. Once you get in your decorations and counter top appliances you can get the feel of how you want to work in it. Yes, you can cement over tile, you can tile over tile, you can even lay marble over tile. Read up on it and see what you want. I can not determine if those are red tile or wood trim painted red. All white kitchens are VERY POPULAR. Perhaps just getting rid of the red and changing it to white will work for a while. Habitat for humanity has TONS of cabinet hardware. Take a look and see if it will help you make the cabinets pop with different hardware. But certainly Google "white kitchens" and look and dream, with a kitchen baby steps it's not a jump in feet first room as it is very expensive and there are always "hick ups" keep us posted
  • Tammy Tammy on Jun 25, 2015
    I love the look of this vintage kitchen, I agree though that the floor needs help to complete the look. I would add some darling red curtains and spruce the paint and the tile counter-tops up a bit...I think it is charming and would not change much else.
  • Nancy Nancy on Jun 25, 2015
    Be sure that you can invest the time before you attempt concrete countertops. Removing the tiles will be very difficult and most likely the base will be unusable. That entire kitchen is built to last for 100 years. Once you attempt to remove wall tiles, you will have to replace the walls. They are set firmly into a mortar base. Think twice before you paint ceramic tiles, it can be done but the effect isn't always good looking. Once tiles are removed from walls, the walls will have to be sanded and replastered. Otherwise you will have to cover walls with drywall. I removed my wall tiles myself. It took me weeks to get them smooth looking. I woud not reccommend doing it yourself without some sound advice about the structure underneath the countertops and behind the walls. My home was built in 1937 and I have decided to leave my countertops alone. Estimates for professionally done countertops ran into the thousands of dollars and most of the cost was the labor to rebuild everything after demolition. Looks like the window sill tile is built right into window framework. I am very familiar with old homes and give tours on historic homes that are sometimes remodeled. Take your time, get some opinions from professional contractors before you attempt any sort of demolition. Make sure your cabinet structure can support the weight of concrete countertops. Estimates are free. Anything can be remodeled but sometimes at a cost we may not prepared to pay. If you are handy and do your homework, you will be successful in any endeavor. Good luck.
  • Peggy Henderson Peggy Henderson on Jun 25, 2015
    How do you feel about beaded board for the tile on the walls? You can apply it right over the tile, without having to demo the tile. You could keep the tile if you want it for the backsplash, and beaded board for the walls.
    • Alecia Alecia on Jun 25, 2015
      @Peggy Henderson I like that idea, I will have to look into it. thanks!
  • Pamela Pamela on Jun 25, 2015
    I love the tile---If you replace the ones that need repair with a few colored or decorative tile it would spice it up. Also, maybe remove the remove the Also sanding and painting the cabinet body is a nice refresh and then replace the doors. I painted my kitchen with Annie Sloan Chalk paint- Old Ochre and trimmed with country grey and versailles-- its a bit of work to buffed with all and the covered my old formica counter with new 4" tile.
  • Janyce Janyce on Jun 25, 2015
    I would get some paint for the walls, faux granite the counter tops and faux wood grain the cabinets. All the directions can be googled.
  • Cynthia Cynthia on Jun 25, 2015
    I love the headboard idea for the walls, too. I think eliminating the black tiles by painting them white works, and taking down the cut portion above the sink and replacing it with a straight cornice would update the look. I'd find a faux granite laminate for the countertops and choose a complimentary palette for a two toned cabinet scheme. If you keep the tiles white, I'd go two tones of another color for the cabs- maybe two shades of grey? Good luck- I think this could really be fabulous!!
  • Connie Connie on Jun 25, 2015
    You also opt to use the open shelving look which is popular today. Also maybe cover the tile back splash by using sheet metal with a decorative punch style. Check out year a Habitat for Humanity store. They have great ideas and items for those of us on tight budgets.
  • CottonwoodMama CottonwoodMama on Jun 25, 2015
    Have you thought about butcher block for the counters? RELIUS SOLUTIONS 1-3/4" Butcher Block Birch Top by JOHN BOOS - 72x36" - Square Edge for $205. Not sure if that is in your budget, but it would change the look. You could also re-tile the counter top with granite tiles. Keep the grout lines really tight. Often times you can get tile in the sale section of tile stores at a great discount. You won't need a ton. They now sell grout that is anti-microbial (Microban is just one brand) and you def. want to seal it well. Good luck!
    • Alecia Alecia on Jun 25, 2015
      @CottonwoodMama I have looked into butcherblock.. The problem I keep running into is most are 6 foot pieces of butcherblock and this countertop is barely 9 feet.. So i'd have to purchase 2 pieces of it costing $400.. plus what materials I will need to install/cut a sink hole.. and I will barely be using the second piece.. I love the look of butcherblock. Do you know of any companies that may carry a longer piece of the butcherblock?
  • Wjc1425650 Wjc1425650 on Jun 25, 2015
    Take off the whole top- not just the tile!
  • Whomping Willow Whomping Willow on Jun 25, 2015
    Everything you described sounds more on the modern side, with the picture that you posted I think that would work well. Paint the tile, paint the cabinets, add new hardware. As for concrete counter tops, the materials are cheap but sometimes so are the results, and also the support under it needs to be extremely sound. I would instead just tear the tiles off the counter, use cheap plywood covered in a nice laminate, you can make the front of the plywood 2 or 3 inches, so it mimics concrete, Wilsonart or some other laminate maker has great options and could be done by a handy homeowner for 2 to 3 hundred dollars or less. Good luck, post some after pics we love them!
    • Alecia Alecia on Jun 25, 2015
      @Whomping Willow Thanks for the input.. The whole concrete counter thing (as much as I like the looks and cost) does make me nervous.. Everything i've seen thus far has been concrete over a newer looking, possibly laminate counter. Which is why I was hesitant to slap concrete over my already heavy ceramic tile counter. I will most likely be tearing it out.. and I will definitely look into some laminate counters as well. I can work with $200 - $300 for a counter as long as i'm able to make the rest of the kitchen look good with some paint and new hardware! I will post pics once everything is done.. Fingers crossed!
    • Alecia Alecia on Jun 25, 2015
      @Whomping Willow Wow that looks AWESOME! I'm definitely going to look into doing that.. Thank you!
  • Dylanthomasp Dylanthomasp on Jun 25, 2015
    I have a friend who did this to her old counter tops-- and they look great. I think there is also a sealer that they recommend to apply--good luck!
  • Marion Nesbitt Marion Nesbitt on Jun 25, 2015
    I really like the white tile with the black tile trim pieces. I'd embrace the vintage look. However, I'd remove the valence or cut it level and add a mini-slat blind. You could also add some trim pieces to the cab. doors. New hardware will be nice - maybe wrought iron look? Then I'd put a colour on the upper walls - maybe a pale yellow. Am a big fan of plants, real or artificial, so would get a tall slim one in a colourful pot for beside the large window.
  • Carol Carol on Jun 26, 2015
    As Marion suggested, I would certainly remove that scroll valance.
  • Nancy Henderson Nancy Henderson on Jun 26, 2015
    You can glue lattice strips around the outside edges of the cabinets before painting to mimic a shaker style door. Super cheap!
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    • Nancy Henderson Nancy Henderson on Jun 30, 2015
      It works great! There is a bit of prep work especially if the outside edge if the cabinet is rounded. I just filled in with some wood putty, then a light sanding and paint.
  • Teresa C Teresa C on Jun 28, 2015
    Wow that is a lot of tile! I would remove all tile on the walls up to the counters and leave those for a back splash. Try and keep the black smaller tiles to go down the sides. There is a tile paint, you have to have a bunch of ventilation. More expense. I would use a pastel color on the walls such as a creamy yellow or green. I agree with Marion about the valance connecting the cabinets. Go to a resale shop and find different handles or get a great glue and some antique silver spoons and glue on top of your handles. There are many things you can do, however you are the one who is going to live there so what are some things you like such as flowers, 50's decor, I love old signs and my kitchen has vintage looking signs on the walls to give it a vintage feel. You have a blank canvas, so put your flavor in it and enjoy.
  • Kris Kris on Jul 01, 2015
    Im in the same boat. New to me house with the exact same cabinets (mine never want to stay closed either.) I have decided to paint my cabinets charcoal, change out the drawer pulls, chrome out the handles by repainting and change my faucet. Found some fun fabric for cafe curtains and a piece of molding to cover the scallop trim. Im just painting my countertop a lighter shade of grey to blend, I have the lovely green metal molded laminate. Thought about Ardex for concrete counter tops but I do not have the patience, its a one shot deal, plus my sink is undermounted. Im going to cut some vct tiles and lay to where I can grout them (they come in a ton of colors now and are cheap Plus dog friendly for me). One day I will be able to afford to remodel but for now all I am trying to do is divert the eyes away from what is not so great like my counter tops.
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    • Patti Patti on Aug 24, 2016
      If you still have these kitchen cabinets, (I have them) just buy new magnets (kitchen cabinet magnets where one side is on the door the other side is on the base where they close at the bottom or top your choice, mine are on the bottom) and they will stay closed. Works great.
  • Molly Evans Molly Evans on Jul 01, 2015
    I think it's an adorable kitchen -- yes, you need to make it your own personal space and add your own touches but there's nothing wrong with it. The motto at Retrorenovation is to love the kitchen you're in --- and then they offer up all kinds of help and forums for when you do want to renovate. -- great site -- if you spend some time on there I think you'll come to appreciate what you've got and can make a better determination what you need to do exactly. Anyway, I'd play up the red and white myself and would live with it for awhile to let it tell you what it needs. I'd probably do wood countertops myself -- it's not that hard to do ---> Good luck to you! I hope you come to love your special kitchen!
  • Molly Evans Molly Evans on Jul 01, 2015
    P.S. I wouldn't touch that scroll header. It's very feminine and pretty.
  • Molly Evans Molly Evans on Jul 01, 2015
    Here are a bunch of stories of people who faced their own vintage kitchen challenges:
  • Wjc1425650 Wjc1425650 on Oct 18, 2015
    Sorry, I just saw this email. After looking at your kitchen and knowing you are keeping the tile on the walls, I this because the wall space is so little make it grey like your cabinets- In the updated example the walls are white.( I think) The grey I think would make it all pop!