After finishing up my Kitchen Project last weekend, I took a little break and a trip down memory road. The Retro Ranch is not my first house or my first kitchen remodel. Back before I met my adorable husband Jim, I decided to buy my own little house and fix it up.

Luckily it wasn’t long until I had my adorable boyfriend Jim around to help me with some of the big projects. One such project was a complete gut remodel of the tiny kitchen.

When I bought the place, the kitchen looked like this (except I painted the walls yellow right away):

Of course I didn’t have my awesome camera back then, and I didn’t blog about my house so I only have a few so-so pictures to share,  please bear with me...

There were a lot of things wrong with this kitchen. It had pretty much no counter space, not much cabinet space (lower cabinets were rotten so they weren’t very useful), the press and stick vinyl tile floor was all ripped up, and there were only three outlets in the whole kitchen (the wiring was so bad that if you had the lights on, the microwave on and put some toast down, the whole house breaker blew) the countertops were chipped and one was not even connected to the base cabinet. It wasn’t a very useful kitchen.

Being my bold self, I decided to gut it. Luckily I talked my adorable boyfriend Jim and a friend of mine into helping with the demo. It took about eight hours for us to demo all the drywall, plaster and lathe off all four walls of the kitchen and the ceiling, shovel it into contractor bags and stick it out back. It was the single most exhausting day I have ever had.

Shortly after this photo was taken, I started to panic. What had I gotten myself into??? There was nothing else to do other than start putting it back together…slowly

We closed in the large original window (that looked into the back porch) and made a smaller one so that we could have more wall cabinet space. I also took this opportunity to have the wiring upgraded (which was very $$$ but worth it) so that I could make toast with the lights on.

My handy Dad came for a visit and brought his wet saw so that he could help me install our checkerboard ceramic tile floor. We hired out the drywall (which turned out to be a nightmare) but it eventually got done.

Next came the installation of IKEA cabinets. Now, let me tell you, I loved the cabinets once they were in, but purchasing, assembling and installing the cabinets was a serious test on my then two year relationship with Jim. Once you survive a kitchen remodel with your significant other, you can probably make it through anything…

Then our new Silestone countertops went in. (Even back then, Leo couldn’t stay out of my pictures!)

I installed a red mosaic glass tile backsplash all around the cabinets without having to cut any tiles! (I made a cardboard template first and laid out the tiles carefully to avoid cuts!)

Sadly, I don’t have any completely finished pictures of the kitchen. These were pretty close to the end of the remodel, but I hadn’t trimmed out the windows, gotten my new fridge delivered or recovered the stools in the red glitter vinyl yet

Did you recognize some of the “accessories” from my last kitchen have found a new home at my Retro Ranch?

The whole gut remodel of my first kitchen took about six months. It was hard work. It makes my new kitchen remodel look like a piece of cake. I am glad that I tackled my first kitchen remodel because it made the kitchen so much more user friendly, but I am hesitant to do another gut remodel kitchen with IKEA cabinets any time in the near future. I really lucked out to get nice cabinets and a good kitchen layout in my Retro Ranch. With just a little paint, wood putty and elbow grease my new kitchen was so much easier to rework!



  1. You’ve come a L O N G way babe! Ahh … a trip down memory lane. We all worked hard at the house with the pink door and it became very cute. Love the new place more tho …. 🙂
    Your new place has a guest room, a driveway and more than one bathroom. Hooray!

    • Thanks Mid Century Mom!

      Yeah, the old place was cool, but I love my Retro Ranch so much! I know you like it better because of the guest room, driveway, more than one bathroom, etc. It is much easier to have company stay over now! No more moving all the furniture in the living room every night to inflate the air mattress!

  2. This is probably not what you want to hear after your latest kitchen re-do, but this kitchen rebuild is swingin’. Color, cabinets, counter tops, floor, everything in this kitchen rocks. You kicked some serious butt in this house, sister.

    • Thanks Dave!

      I have lots of love for my last house. That kitchen (when I was done with it) was awesome with a capital “A” and I was sad to leave it, however, the Retro Ranch has so many wonderful qualities and now that I finished it, a great kitchen too! 🙂

  3. That is such an incredible amount of work to do. My SIL tore their kitchen out down to the studs, but he got someone else to put it back together. I’m really impressed that you tackled such a huge job.

    • Thanks Dana,

      Yeah it was a TON of work. We hired out the electrical work, the drywall and the windows (2), but did everything else ourselves. Once again, some serious elbow grease saved us some serious $$$!

  4. Seriously impressive, Kate. I’d be interested in further description of how you did the no-cut tile layout, if you feel like it sometime.

    • Thanks Nikki!

      I loved that color scheme! I was thinking about using it again in the Retro Ranch, but it didn’t feel quite right. Different house, different feeling…I am happy with how everything turned out! Red and aqua kitchens are one of my favorite kitchen combinations!

  5. Wow-E-Wow! You are so BRAVE to just dive into demo-mode. It turned out really nice! (I used that same Tiffany blue in one of the bedrooms in my last house.) So you moved the plumbing in the kitchen as well? I love the dining set. I can understand why you don’t want to do another demo. I lived through one kitchen tear out/remodel and it’s definitely challenging.

    • Thanks Jeanne!

      I felt sick to my stomach about 5 minutes before I sunk the first hammer into the wall, but after that there was no turning back. I did move the plumbing (well a friend of ours who is a plumber did it for us) but it made more sense to me to put the sink and dishwasher on the other wall…plus there is something about having a window over the sink…there was a window in the porch that lined up with the over the sink window so if you had the blinds up, you could see into the back yard through the porch. 🙂

      It would take a lot for me to do another down to the studs kitchen remodel. A bathroom on the other hand…now that I could tackle!

  6. thanks for posting this I have been wondering what your last kitchen looked like and it looks awesome…I am moving next week and and my new house has 2 kitchens (basement suite) and it has been tricky trying to translate my style (more 50s diner) into the new house(more 40s deco) so I totally get the thing about new house new feel…I’d be interested in more about the tile template too (we are tackling the bathroom first).

  7. Great job! After looking at this post and some other posts after coming over to visit from Retro Renovation, I can definitely say that you’ve got moxy, girl. And I love the way you’ll take on any project head-on! And you’re right – if you can survive any renovation project with your significant other, you can survive ANYTHING.

  8. Wow! You are so brave. My husband and I are remodeling/fixing a mid century ranch, and your blog is such a source of inspiration. Your doggie is too cute, too!

  9. Pingback: Cathy and Dave’s charming vintage bungalow kitchen remodel — Retro Renovation

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s