Before & After – a 70s Kitchen Makeover on a Budget

It was time! Finally!

Time for me to branch out from doing my own home projects and take a stab at helping someone else achieve their dream space. I knew right away what project I had to complete – my mother in-law’s kitchen!

This kitchen was the original with the house (mid 70’s). Saying it was dark and cramped would be a severe understatement. She had been wanting to remodel her kitchen for as long as I’ve been in the family (7+ years), probably longer, but wasn’t sure what to do or even how to begin.

(Click thumbnails to enlarge)

I presented two ideas to her one I called Beach Side Retreat and the other I named Retro Glam. Of course my beach loving mother in law picked the Beach Side Retreat plan and so the work began…

Demo Day:

They live in a mid-sized brick ranch built in the 1970s, for those of you that don’t know, most of these homes have very chopped up and constricted rooms. We had to start with opening up the walls between the kitchen and den, and widening the opening to the dining room. Both of the original openings to the den and dining room were regular sized door frames with pocket doors. By completely opening up the wall to the den and widening the opening in the dining room we were able to achieve a much more open concept.

Because we were opening the kitchen into the living room and dining room, I wanted to freshen these spaces up too. My plan was to remove the wallpaper in the dining room and paint the walls the same color as the kitchen. I wanted the rooms to feel connected even though we weren’t opening them up completely. Little did we know how difficult this wallpaper removal would be. We ended up having a professional come in and skim-coat the drywall, basically giving us new drywall without the cost of removing the old and hanging new. Let’s just say we were all thankful the den had paneling ready for painting.

New Floors:

We replaced the old linoleum faux brick flooring with 12×24 floor tiles in a soft gray and beige, using the sandy shores for inspiration. This involved adding cement board underlayment to evenly distribute the weight of the tiles.

New Countertops:

Agreeing on a countertop was a bit of an issue – he wanted granite and she wanted something more modern like the quartz we installed in our own kitchen. I was able to find a beautiful compromise in a white quartz countertop with dark gray veins, flecks of lighter gray, and almost a sea-foam green that perfectly tied into the mosaic tile backsplash I’d chosen. I was able to get her a gorgeous stainless steel single basin sink through the countertop installers. I’m not going to lie I still have major sink envy on this one! You could wash a small child and puppy in there at the same time!!

Updated Cabinets:

Even though the cabinets are all original, they are real wood and still in good condition. This allowed us to save a ton of money by having them professionally painted, instead of buying brand new. In order to update the profile and continue with the beach theme, I had new doors and drawers made in a simple shaker style. A bead board insert was added to the doors, giving them a beach cottage vibe.

I had a custom island built for her with an added spice rack on the end next to her stovetop. After painting our own island myself, I decided to do the same here, again cutting costs drastically. Check out my blog post, How to Paint Your Island for more details. I chose a deep charcoal finish to tie into the backsplash we would be putting up, as well as the veining in the countertops.

Backsplash and Lighting:

The backsplash was the very first material I had decided on, well that and the floors. I loved the mosaic tile and the colors were exactly what I was looking for. They embodied everything that resembled the beach. Even better, this was something I knew they would love!

This was another part of the project my husband and father in law were able to do. It’s so great having a husband and father in law who are not only handy but also work in the construction industry. And who doesn’t love a DIY plus cost savings?!

For the lighting, I wanted a statement piece but I also needed to make sure that it gave off enough light. I ended up finding these gorgeous pebble glass pendant lights in pale aqua, almost the same color as their walls. I had one installed over the sink and two over the island. Under the upper cabinets we got our electrician to install task lighting with a dimmer switch to give them a little more light for prep work as well as soft lighting in the evenings or for entertaining.

In my opinion the end result was nothing short of stunning! What is your favorite part?

Do you have a project you are dying to complete but not sure where to begin? Use the contact form below to request a consultation now!

You may also like


  1. Words will never express our gratitude and love for everything that you’ve made come true for us in our kitchen. This space is the center of our home where everyone gathers, and we are so very proud to welcome family and friends into our new home. Thank you for all of your hard work and tireless work with the contractors and work yourself to make this dream come true for us!

  2. Wow what a fabulous revamp your doing to this space. The work in progress looks a lot of work. And the finished product looks so worth it. Awesomeness!!

  3. What a difference! It looks really lovely now, the whole area looks so much bigger and lighter. You can be very proud of the transformation :)!

  4. Wow, this brings back memories of a kitchen reno I did a number of years ago. It was fun (and frustrating too!) to watch it go from dingy and old, to stripped to the studs, to a beautiful welcoming place I liked to spend time in. Memory lane!

  5. You did a great job of documenting the process in pictures, and that kitchen is an entirely new energy and everything. Well done!We need creative people like you because I would not have come up with that, let alone pull it off!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *