Help Restore this Mid-Century Kitchen (Honeycut)
January 30, 2013 in Design Dilemma
This 1959 kitchen has never been altered and I love that! I need to make it functional but want to maintain as much of its original charm as possible. There is talk of gutting it and starting fresh -- ARGH!

These are my questions:
- Does anyone have experience refurbishing mid-century metal cabinets and drawers? Suggestions on how to do that? I am fighting to keep them. I may repaint exteriors, possibly periwinkle (this color shows up in other parts of the house).
- I will put in a new counter and considering something dark that won't show stains. Any experience with what works/what to avoid? No granite, I want to keep this as close to period as possible.
- I will put in a new back splash. If I keep the black cabinets, I might go with periwinkle, but I have to be careful with pattern because of the busy tile floor.
- Does anyone have experience refurbishing old refrigerators such as the stainless steel side-by-side shown in the photo? I *may* relent to replacing the fabulous black freezers that you can see in the back hallway in one of the photos...
- I am ok with tearing down the one wall between the kitchen and dining room (which you can kind of see in two of the photos -- it has the sliding glass door, metalic blue and silver wall paper, and 3 long white light fixtures). I will relocate those vintage intercoms to another wall. Opening this wall will allow a view to the back yard from the kitchen. I am not ok with tearing out the breakfast nook though. I wish the indoor bbq in the breakfast nook could be in the dining room, but I just can't part with that cool wood built-in and I need a convenient, enclosed area for kid junk and papers. No more homework and junk on the dining room table. Am I right?
- Although I think the two stove/oven units are cool, I think we really don't need two of these. We will most likely replace one and get rid of the other. I wish I could fabricate a cover over one of the original stoves to use as counter space and then use the oven for pot storage -- I currently live in a victorian and have an old Okeefe Merrit which has a pull-down stove cover. However, I don't think my husband will go for this idea. Anyone have experience with a good, solid gas stove/oven (or a compelling argument to convince my husband about keeping one of the originals?)
- The island: I hesitate to increase its footprint or overhang because that would ruin the flow between the back door and front of the house. I mean, you don't NEED a breakfast counter and barstools, right?

Thank you for your suggestions! You can see a description of the house and lots of photos at

If you want to help with other projects for this house, look for my posts that contain the word "Honeycut". I am all about preservation, restoration and using materials appropriate to the period of the house, and really appreciate suggestions to help me do this right. Thanks!
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Fantastic! It's funny cause it looks very current and on-trend.

Maybe get the metal cabinets powdercoated...I think there are companies that can do this in your house without removing them.

New laminates would be nice and of the period.

I agree you don't need barstools...they'd be too close to the stove burners anyways.

Have you checked out the website called It's a very fun, useful website and I think would be right up your alley.

Good luck!
1 Like   January 30, 2013 at 2:40PM
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Whoa mamma. That is AMAZING!

Regarding the countertops, even though it isn't period, I think I'd be tempted to go with a quartz or solid surface that was plain white. I worry that the dark would be a little too dark for the kitchen. The white quartz or solid surface would look a great deal like formica but make it a bit harder wearing.

Regarding the island - if you were to use the quartz or solid surface, you could find a slide in range that suits you and run the counter the full length of the two stoves together. Is there any of this metal cabinetry elsewhere that a piece could be repurposed and painted to fill the space where the 2nd stove lives?

I agree with mmilos re: having it powder coated.

Congratulations on such a unique and beautiful find!
1 Like   January 30, 2013 at 2:52PM
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Beautiful Kitchen! I definitly agree with mmilos. It does seem trendy and up to date.

If you need any backsplash or tile ideas, any of our designers at StoneImpressions would be more than happy to help you with some possible layouts.We have a range of patterns, murals, and decorative tiles that would work wonderfully in your space.

Please let us know if you need any help or have any questions.
1 Like   January 30, 2013 at 3:04PM
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Ironwood Builders
Sorry guys, powder coating is not done on site. It is a baked on finish that is done in a booth. We have done a number of projects that had to be cut down to fit in the booth, that or sent out to another spray booth that was large enough for our needs.....think exterior spiral stairs and long curving handrails. I love the metal cabinets. Metal is just as easy to paint on an interior as any other surface, so spraying the cabinets would produce perfectly acceptable results. About the slide in ranges, perhaps another appliance could be fit into one of the openings? Thinking beverage cooler or microwave? Are the slide ins 30" or 36"? If 30" two 15" units would fit. It would be incredibly lucky to find a bonus cabinet from somewhere else in the house that fit! Though I once found an entire kitchens worth of metal cabinets at a salvage yard....
2 Likes   January 30, 2013 at 3:10PM
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Here's a post on to a 1958 Sears Kitchen catalog.
This will help give you ideas for cabinet colors and countertops to stay true to the period.
So much fun to look at too!
1 Like   January 30, 2013 at 3:10PM
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Ironwood Builders
Re-reading your post, rotoin, I noticed the side by side refrigerators and wondered if they still functioned. Refurbishing them may be a job for the refrigeration contractors that service restaurants. They handle custom installations frequently and have access to parts residential contractors don't.
1 Like   January 30, 2013 at 3:17PM
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Errr...maybe wasn't powder coating per se but electrostatic paint.
1 Like   January 30, 2013 at 3:17PM
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Ooh! Lots of great ideas so far. Thanks! @onthefence, I'm not sure what a slide in range is. I love the websites you all have suggested too!
1 Like   January 30, 2013 at 4:27PM
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A slide in range is similar to what you have now. The pic below is a slide in.

There is a slightly different style called a drop in range. You don't see those as much any more. Basically it's the same style only the oven part sits on a piece of cabinetry below. Here's a link to a currently available drop in:

One other thing that a lot of people are doing now is installing separate cooktops with a separate oven installed below. It *looks* good - but makes the oven much lower so means more bending to get things in and out of the oven.

Regarding the range, you may want to look at an induction range.
1 Like   January 30, 2013 at 4:39PM
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I just went and looked at the pictures. This home is AMAZING! I am so glad you are dedicated to keeping its character. It's one of the finest examples of midcentury modern I've seen. Good luck.
1 Like   January 30, 2013 at 5:05PM
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I'm drooling over your kitchen and home. Fantastic! Kudos for keeping the cabinets. I think a professional paint job on them would spruce up your kitchen just fine. Ditto on visiting for lots of great ideas and tips for working with midcentury homes.
0 Likes   November 14, 2014 at 3:08PM
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