1950s Kitchen Before and After

We live in a house with a 1950s kitchen and it’s pretty cool.  When we first moved in here this kitchen was a little ugly so we made a few updates.

Eventually, we will rip out the walls and do a full kitchen renovation.

But, for now, we are embracing our 1950’s retro kitchen.

It is important to make your living space happy and enjoyable.

The cupboards, sink, and tile are original and very retro.  Through the years the cabinets had been painted and scraped back many times.

At one point I could tell the cabinets were painted avocado green!  I am assuming that was in the 1970s.

This kitchen is long and narrow with light only coming from one side.

Taking this into account we decided to paint everything white.  This also helped to match the mint and yellow tile much better.


1950’s Kitchen Photos

mint retro kitchen

before photo

This is what our kitchen looked like when we first moved in. 

As you can see the flooring was in terrible condition as were the cupboards and walls.

mint and yellow 1950s kitchen


We started with a fresh coat of paint on all the walls and soon after on the cabinets.

After much debate, we decided to do more laminate flooring over the old floor.

We came to this decision for several reasons.  First, it only needed to look good for now since we will remodel the whole kitchen in a few years.  

Second, this was the easiest and most cost-effective plan.


Broken Dishwasher

We also decided to remove this broken-down dishwasher and my husband built a replacement drawer and cupboard in that space.

I have had many questions on why we didn’t just replace the dishwasher.

Well, 2 reasons: we did need a functional large drawer and this kitchen was never set up for a dishwasher.

It leaked and there was no way to alter the sick to fix that.  So for now I am the dishwasher!


If you are looking for a very inexpensive update try painting!

Painting is very affordable and gives a room a whole new feel.


vintage kitchen


The tile is the original yellow and mint from the 1950’s kitchen. 

It is very interesting to see how they made kitchens in the past.  This tile has a lip on the outer edge.

I have not seen that in modern kitchens.  The lip on the edge of the tile makes a lot of sense!

When there is a lot of water spilled it stays on the counter.  

Another interesting thing is the cupboard right under the sink is indented in. 

I am guessing this is for when you are washing dishes your knees have a place to be.


Painting The 1950s Retro Cabinets

Before and after the white paint.

When painting these cupboards I cheated and did not do it the proper way.

The best way to paint cupboards is to have a professional do it or use a paint sprayer.

Since I knew this was a temporary solution and knowing these cupboards were in terrible condition I took the easy way out.

I sanded them the best I could, and then I rolled them with primer and paint.

This was affordable and fast.  A year later there are a few scratches, but nothing a little more paint can’t fix.



1950’s Mint Tile Paint Match

The most recent update to this kitchen was when we added beadboard and some mint-colored paint.

It was hard to find a good match for the mint tile.  My goal was to have the paint match because I did not want to introduce a third color to the kitchen.

We are embracing the quirky side of this retro 1950s kitchen instead of fighting it.

I think it is important to make your living space as enjoyable as possible for the time being.  Do what you can afford, and love your home until you can do what you want.


Beadboard and mint paint make this space fun and bright.



Below you can see where our fridge is intended to go.

After living with the fridge in this spot for a few weeks we realized it was way too close to the back door.

The fridge stuck out way past the cupboard so we decided to move it to the end of the kitchen.  This is where a little dining area should be.

But since we don’t need two dining rooms we decided to extend the space and move the fridge.

I also took the 2 cupboard doors off of this top cabinet and made them into an open shelf.

Using baskets to hold things like vitamins and flashlights.

By adding a second little shelf and a cart from Ikea we have extended our counter space.

The big thing lacking in a 1950s kitchen is counter space and drawers.



The only decor I have in here is our plants and this mirror.

Since I like to keep things minimal these plants are good enough for me.


My husband made this little side table to the right of our fridge.


Tour Our 1950’s Kitchen Transformation:

Retro Kitchen Conclusion

If you are living in a kitchen that is “not that great” do what you can!

It is amazing what a little paint and cheap flooring can do to transform a place.  Of course, these are not long-term solutions, but they can help you love a place until you can afford to do something else.

I think it is very important to love where you live.  Make it your own and if you have to embrace where you live, just cover up the bad parts.


More Home Decor Posts:

Minimalist Livingroom Ideas

How to Reduce Visual Clutter

How to Update Old Furniture

Minimalist Home Tour (our previous condo)


Pin 1950’s Kitchen Before and After

1950s kitchen before and after

Here is a fun article on the history of the kitchen!

5 thoughts on “1950s Kitchen Before and After”

  1. Aquaria

    Too bad about losing the in-kitchen dining. The fridge now seems to be in a weird place, but not much you can do about it, either. You made the best of the layout that you could, I suppose.

    So glad you didn’t trash the counters and the tile backsplashes. Too many people rip out everything, but leaving all that (expensive!) tile work is the right call. If you tried to install it today, it would cost quite a lot of money, but you had it all there, already. All it really needed was a little spiffing up.

    What I most like is that your updates respect the original idea, while improving on it in little ways that don’t detract from what makes it so fabulously 50s. Great job!

  2. You did a great job on this kitchen and it’s amazing what painting the cabinets white did for the overall kitchen, plus makes it look lighter. The one thing that you should be concerned about is the tile on your counter tops. I have read where they contain bacteria so they must be scrubbed with a strong brush and no doubt be cleaned with clorox. My in-laws had this same yellow tile and I hated it; it seemed no matter how much you cleaned it, it never looked clean. I’m not sure about recaulking it. Otherwise, I really like the work you have done. Maybe someone else has other ideas.

  3. Stacy

    Love it! You did a great job. We just purchased a second home for vacations it’s a 1950s home that was taken good care of but does need a revamp of the old kitchen. Your redo has given me inspiration that we can do something without taking away the 50s charm of the house. Thank you!

  4. I don’t know how old this post is, but I have that same tile in my kitchen (different color) and it’s pretty easy to regrout it for a cleaner look. Also, you could get a portable dishwasher with a butcher block top which will give you more counter, a cutting board, and movable island -plus clean the dishes. It could fit in your old fridge spot when not in use.

    love you tile color combo. You can still find jadeite accessories that will go with.

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