Home Before & After Before and After: Mid-Century Modern Designer Kitchen Redo

Before and After: Mid-Century Modern Designer Kitchen Redo

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There’s something so lovely about a mid-century kitchen — soaring ceilings, angled windows, clean lines. The ancient appliances, tiled countertops, and lack of storage space? Well, those things maybe not so much. That’s exactly why Blythe Interiors was tapped to bring this 1961 cook space into the 21st century, preserving as much vintage charm as possible while improving functionality on the whole.  

At 300 square feet, the kitchen wasn’t exactly gargantuan, but the Blythe Interiors team felt confident that new finishes, contemporary amenities, and a few tweaks could make it sing. “The goal was to create a more efficient layout while keeping the integrity of the original mid-century design and charm of the kitchen, as our clients love all things mid-century,” says Lynn Siemer, director of design and operations at Blythe Interiors. “From the first meeting, there was a clear direction. We aimed to modernize and enhance the kitchen while maintaining the mid-century style of the home, including the warm wood tones and clean lines.”

A few must-haves quickly informed the design scheme. The past-their-prime linoleum floors would be replaced with beautiful terrazzo from Cle Tile, which would strike a period-appropriate, neutral tone underfoot. New matte white appliances with jewelry-like gold handles from GE’s Cafe line were non-negotiable, too. 

As far as the footprint went, the Blythe Interiors team didn’t really have square footage to steal or space to annex, so they stuck with the existing u-shaped peninsula layout, which separates the space visually from the nearby dining nook. They’d work to max out storage with Masterbrand open shelving and stunning, MCM-inspired walnut cabinetry tricked out with special inserts. Perhaps the brightest idea, though, was raising the cabinets up to meet the room’s windows — and closing the original awkward gap that was there before — which added an additional 16-inches of storage to the uppers on that wall. This, in combination with the additional cabinetry incorporated on the backside of the peninsula, provided the perfect spot for the homeowner’s cookware and impressive collection of vintage Pyrex.

When it came time to select the rest of the room’s major materials, finishes, and fixtures, the team homed in on shades of white that would pop against the mid-tone walnut cabinetry. An off-white Bedrosians backsplash introduces a hit of quiet texture to the space, while a West Elm globe chandelier provides overhead illumination with a mid-century modern flair. Siemer kept the MSI countertops light and bright, too. “Solid white quartz worked perfectly in this kitchen and came at a great price point, which allowed our clients to invest in other areas, like the appliances,” says Siemer.

The neighboring bar area, which is just beyond the refrigerator, got a glow-up, too. The Blythe team kept the original painted paneling and opted to replace the bar cart with a built-in bar cabinet, which packs even more space for bottles and cocktail supplies. 

Now, the space is barely recognizable — but in a way that feels in tune with the history of the home and the lifestyle of its current occupants. “It feels new and modernized, and functions effectively for how they live in the home and retains the character and charisma found in original mid-century style,” says Siemer. “We also love how the white counters, backsplash, and appliances brighten the space while highlighting the beautiful walnut cabinetry.”

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