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June 28, 2018

Susan’s Epic Journey to Have the Vintage Kitchen of Her Dreams – Part 1

By Sara In AZ

Susan (or ‘Susan From Boston’ as she is known on the blog….some of you might have seen her comments here and there) has been a faithful reader of “No Pattern Required” for quite some time now. Susan and I became friends a while back when she wanted some tips on mid century style cabinets and VCT for her upcoming kitchen renovations. The long, bumpy road to having the kitchen of her dreams started approximately 2 years ago…and it really has been an epic journey to say the least! Susan was kind enough to take lots and lots of pictures along the way and to document this process in her own words…it’s a really great story…so why don’t you grab a cup of coffee and sit a spell while you read all about it!

First, let’s start off at the beginning….here is Susan’s home when she first purchased it.


Here is Susan’s home today!


Restoring this home has been a real labor of love for Susan!  Just a few things Susan has done so far – she had new siding installed, had a new roof installed, had new windows installed, had a new chimney installed…..she even re-landscaped the entire yard on her OWN! Wow, color me TOTALLY impressed!! Your home certainly looks fantastic now Susan!

So, we will start our journey with some background information from Susan and some “before’ pictures in the kitchen.

I purchased my home in January 2012, immediately after my divorce. The home was an estate sale and it sat on the market for almost 2 years. It was built in 1910 and there are only 2 owners on record, I am the 3rd. The house was severely outdated, as the previous owner lived (and died) in the home for 75 years. Rather than gut the house, I wanted to preserve it, if you will, to the best of my ability. Given that the house has “great bones” — according to my home inspector – I was inspired to fully appreciate the home’s age and its history. I often feel homes built after 1980 are made with tissue and spit. This home was definitely not made with tissue and spit.


The original color of that ugly laminate floor was salmon that oxidized to brown. Yuck!  I figured out the original color when I removed the cabinets. Not sure when the laminate was installed.



Additionally, it was important for me to not rush through the process of refreshing the house. Rather, I wanted live in the house, introduce myself to it and allow it to introduce itself to me before making any changes, at least to the inside. In the meantime, I spent the first 2 years focusing on the outside (as you can see by the before and after photos). I wanted to make sure the outside was buttoned up so as to withstand our harsh New England winters.

Demolition begins…..


Susan went to town on the kitchen….demoing everything on her own!!!



When it came time to focus on the kitchen. I have to say, it took me 3 years to figure out a design plan. I spent countless hours re-watching Mad Men, as well as combing through blogs like No Pattern Required. Initially, my plan was to recreate Betty Draper’s kitchen in Mad Men Seasons 1-4. I knew, right out of the gate I wanted knotty pine, Formica, metal banding and either VCT or sheet vinyl flooring. However, I was hung up on Betty’s wallpaper, the blue countertops as well as the blue flooring. Due to the fact my kitchen is much smaller than Betty’s I feared the plaid wallpaper, the blue countertops as well as flooring would make my kitchen appear too dark. And quite frankly, I felt my kitchen was already too dark.


Note the groovy faux stone wall. The kitchen walls were covered in this faux stone wall and blue paneling




Underneath the faux stone wall was melamine and underneath that was layers of lead paint







As you can see by the photo, underneath the blue paneling was melamine.





That stove is a 1970s Kelvinator





Lots of Lead paint



As Sara can attest, I must have sent her over a hundred emails asking her questions about Formica, metal banding, VCT, knotty pine versus steel cabinets, etc. My mind was literally all over the place. Part of me wanted steel cabinets. So I combed Craig’s List and happened across severely dilapidated steel cabinets.

Another part of me wanted knotty pine – like Betty’s kitchen and like the kitchens I grew up seeing as a kid in the 1960s and 70s.

Eventually, I made up my mind. I wanted knotty pine. Now it was time to find someone who could make me knotty pine cabinets.


Come back next week to see what flooring Susan chooses for her retro renovation….and also to read all about her perilous journey into the world of home renovation!

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4 Responses to Susan’s Epic Journey to Have the Vintage Kitchen of Her Dreams – Part 1

  1. Jacki Reply

    June 28, 2018 at 7:10 pm

    I am DYING to see this restoration. This is going to be good!

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      June 28, 2018 at 8:09 pm

      OMG! Jacki…….just wait…..this is EPIC!!!!

  2. Jacki Reply

    June 29, 2018 at 8:27 am

    Susan, had the house ever been rewired in those 75 years? I was wondering if the electrical was still knob and tube.

    • Susan from Boston Reply

      June 29, 2018 at 12:43 pm

      @Jacki – Hi. Yes. I had to have it rewired as it was knob and tube. That is one of the many costly updates I had to make, before I moved into the house.

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