Before & After : A Retro Kitchen Makeover

Retro Kitchen Makeover Before and After



before & after: a retro kitchen makeover


I love working with other creatives.  They like to get a little adventurous with the design like I do!   When Jenelle Gartner of Pink Polka Design approached me, her and her husband had just purchased a fixer-upper and were planning to do most of the renovation themselves.  They had hired a contractor  to do a large portion of the project, but wanted to do most of the design and even some of the labour on their own.


the fixer upper - retro kitchen makeover

The fixer upper

The Challenge

The plan was to knock the wall down between the kitchen and living room to create more of an open concept for the main floor.  Jenelle had designed her kitchen using the IKEA kitchen planner, but she didn’t feel like her layout was working well.

ikea floor plan - retro kitchen makeover

before and after: retro kitchen makeover - ikea kitchen


Jenelle had created her layout keeping the stove and sink in the same locations (or close to the same).  This is smart design.  For one thing it’s cost effective – sometimes moving plumbing can be very costly.  Secondly, it saves time which as we all know saves money!

The challenge with this kitchen is that the existing layout didn’t function that well to begin with.  The distance between the sink and the stove was approx. 12 feet.  So if you were boiling a pot on the stove you would have to schlep it all the way over to the sink to drain the water.  It may not seem that far but imagine you’re doing it while you’re making Christmas dinner, and you have the kids, the dog, and Uncle Ralph all buzzing around you in the kitchen.

There is a reason we have kitchen work triangles – they work!  If you don’t know what a kitchen work triangle is, it’s the distance between the fridge, sink, and stove.  The idea being that when these three work in harmony, the kitchen will be easy and efficient to use.



When I plan I like to keep the 6’ rule.  If I can,  I try to have no more than 6’ in between each leg of the triangle.


The Vision

So after meeting with Jenelle, and reviewing the existing space, I got to work!  I started the same way I do with every plan – I began with a blank canvas.


blank canvas for retro kitchen makeover


I remove everything off the plan and re-build it the most efficient way I can.  I try to keep major elements like plumbing and gas in the same locations.  Most times when I meet homeowners, their frustration comes from the fact that they can’t envision what the new space can look like because they can’t see past what’s already there.

So this is the new plan we ended up with…….

New Kitchen for Retro Kitchen Makeover

In this case, I ended up flipping the kitchen completely.  With that wall being gone between the kitchen and living room, it didn’t make sense to keep the island in that location.  So I moved the stove over to the wall on the far left.

The plumbing moved over only a few feet, and with the wall being gone we were even able to add a small island!  Jenelle really liked the idea of open shelving so we eliminated all upper cabinets so that large kitchen window and that fun backsplash could be the star of the show!    Being a creative Jenelle really wanted to do something fun with that backsplash.  So I sent her to one of my favourite tile shops to create her own custom design!  See how she created this inexpensive design here.

Say goodbye to the kitchen from the 70’s!  Now Jenelle has a kitchen that is functional and modern!

Retro Kitchen Makeover

Retro Kitchen Makeover Before and After

Retro Kitchen Makeover Before and After



4 thoughts on “Before & After : A Retro Kitchen Makeover

    1. I wish I was that quick! The one hour consult turned into a 4 hour job. The homeowner did a lot herself – I just helped with the space planning and connected her to the right people to get her started!

  1. Thanks for sharing this Candace! It is cool to read the process and remember how far this kitchen has come now that we’re actually living in the house.

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