Full Episodes of Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford
1960s Kitchen Remodeling Update Project
By: Danny Lipford
Watch this video to see how we remodeled a kitchen built in the 1960s, including:
- Painted the cabinet boxes.
- Replaced the cabinet doors and hardware.
- Removed the old laminate countertops and installed granite.
- Stripped the wallpaper and added a marble backsplash.
- Installed recessed and under cabinet task lighting.
- Covered the existing vinyl floor with ceramic tile.
- Replaced the appliances with new stainless steel models.
To turn it into this state of the art kitchen!
Read episode article to find out more.
- How to Choose Kitchen Countertops (video)
- Choosing Kitchen Appliances (video)
- Top 5 Kitchen Remodeling Decisions (article)
- Budget Kitchen Makeover (article)
Danny Lipford: This week on Today’s Homeowner, we’re transforming a dated ’60s kitchen from worn and tired to stylish and new. Stick around to find out what it takes to get from one stage to another. It looks like the ’60s to me.
This week we’re taking on a kitchen renovation. And this is one of the millions of houses that were built back in the ’60s, and it has a kitchen that’s ripe for remodeling.
Like many of the houses from this era, the simple plywood doors on the cabinets had a pattern routed into the surface that someone thought would make them look elegant. It must have worked at the time, because there are billions of them in U.S. houses.
Back then the countertop material of choice was plastic laminate, usually in a pretty basic color scheme. Unfortunately, the adhesives back then gave up after a few decades.
The lighting was pretty basic and not very functional for a work space. The vinyl floor that dominated these homes was functional but not very attractive.
So now you’ve seen the kitchen we’re about to change. Let’s meet the folks who’ve been living with it.
Lori Harris: Well, here it is.
Danny Lipford: It looks like the ’60s to me.
Lori Harris: Been here about 17 years.
Danny Lipford: Is that right?
Lori Harris: Decided it was time for a makeover.
Danny Lipford: So, how long have you been thinking about the renovation of the kitchen?
David Harris: 17 years.
Lori Harris: 17 years.
Danny Lipford: Well, now, thinking through it, I’m sure you thought about completely taking everything out. But I understand what we’ll be doing is removing all of the doors, and then some newer hardware, that kind of thing.
Lori Harris: Right, desperately need some new hardware. And as you can see, the cabinets are kind of looking worn and dingy. So, we thought that the boxes themselves were pretty good.
David Harris: We felt like it was well built.
Danny Lipford: Yeah, it is. I mean, it’s just fantastic the way it’s constructed. And being able to buy the doors, have them shop painted, and then us painting the boxes out here, it’s going to look like a new cabinet.
Lori Harris: I agree.
David Harris: And Lori wanted concealed hinges, too. That’s another thing. So…
Lori Harris: Just a more updated look.
Danny Lipford: Of course new countertops. What did you decide on? I know you thought of a couple different kinds of countertops. Where did you end up with that?
Lori Harris: We’re going to go with granite and we’re using sapphire brown.
Danny Lipford: OK.
Lori Harris: Which is a great little product that’s got a lot of really nice variations to it. It’s got some browns and tans and just a hint of that sapphire blue.
Danny Lipford: I got you. That’s cool. What about the floor? What you decide to go with on the floor?
Lori Harris: Some ceramic tile. Uh, 14×14. Laid parallel, I guess they call it.
Danny Lipford: Yeah. Uh-huh. Now, I understand we’re doing a little bit of lighting. A little electrical work in here.
Lori Harris: Right. If I can swap places. OK. I’m kind of tired of doing this.
David Harris: There you go.
Danny Lipford: They have switches for that kind of thing now.
Lori Harris: Yes.
Danny Lipford: But, well, it’s nice when you have that versatile lighting where you have one switch for the primary lights, another switch for those, you know, task lighting like that. That always works. New appliances. You’re going to part with this?
Lori Harris: Yeah, we’re going with some GE Profile appliances. Um, new range, gas.
David Harris: Duel fuel.
Lori Harris: Actually, duel fuel.
Danny Lipford: Yeah, that’s good.
Lori Harris: And microwave vent hood to match. And then a new side-by-side refrigerator.
Danny Lipford: I got you. Well, you know, the thing about it is… First of all, it’s a good size kitchen.
Lori Harris: Yes, it is.
Danny Lipford: But most of the time people are always trying to figure out a way to make their kitchen larger. And this is plenty of room in here. Great spot right here in the middle for breakfast table. So, that’s a big advantage in not having to grab space from another room. And I understand, David, you’re quite fond of the wallpaper.
David Harris: Well, the wallpaper. We actually put it in, but you know, it’s gotten some age and we…
Danny Lipford: You’ll be okay parting with it?
David Harris: I think we can part with it, and Lori is excited about the backsplash.
Lori Harris: Right, we picked out a beautiful tumbled marble backsplash.
Danny Lipford: There you go. And that is so popular now. People love that, you know, because of the… You don’t have the shininess as much, and it just seems to fit in. Especially fits in with a natural stone countertop like granite.
Lori Harris: Right, and they’re going to find a way to work in some 4×4 pieces of the granite…
Danny Lipford: Yeah.
Lori Harris: Into the backsplash. So, I think it will blend real nicely.
Danny Lipford: Oh, you’ve given this a lot of thought.
Lori Harris: We really have. We’ve really been doing our homework and getting ready for you guys to come in and get started.
Danny Lipford: So, we’re taking on six of the most popular kitchen projects all at once. Update the cabinet doors, paint the cabinets, change the countertops, update the lighting, change the flooring, and add a decorative backsplash.
But first, let’s check in with Joe for this week’s Simple Solutions.
Joe Truini: It seems the older I get, the more keys I carry around. Between the car, the house, the shed, the garage, wind up with a whole pocket full of keys. And finding the key that I use all the time, in this case, the backdoor, is not always easy because of all the keys. So, here’s a trick I came up with that works really well.
Get nail polish, get a nice bright color, and paint both sides of the key. This is extremely durable. You’ll be surprised, it lasts a lot longer than spray paint would. And then, you know, it’s very easy to find that key among the others.
Here’s another trick that works just as well. Take a triangular shaped file, and file a small notch in the edge of the key that you use all the time. In this case, this one’s for the front door. You don’t need much of a notch—something only about an eighth of an inch deep—but you can really feel that very easily with your finger. Even in the dark, you don’t even need to see it, you can just feel it with your finger.
Now with these two tips, you won’t be carrying around any less keys, but you will be able to find the key you want a whole lot faster.
Danny Lipford: This week, we’re diving into kitchen renovation with homeowners David and Lori Harris.
So, how long have you been thinking about the renovation of the kitchen?
David Harris: 17 years.
Lori Harris: 17 years.
Danny Lipford: We’re going to bring their ’60s era kitchen up to date with a coat of paint on the cabinets, new cabinet doors, new countertops, upgraded lighting, new flooring, and a beautiful decorative backsplash.
But first we have to get rid of the old stuff. And that begins with disconnecting the plumbing from the sink and removing the old, dated appliances. They’re all being replaced, but they would need to be moved anyway to install new flooring.
The next step is the removal of the existing cabinet doors. You can tell that the design of these things is a big part of what dates this kitchen, because it already looks more contemporary without the doors.
Next to go is the stove and the sink, followed by those old laminate countertops. The only real structural change being made to the cabinets comes next after the vent hood is removed.
Allen Lyle: All right, so, Joe, we’re getting ready to modify this cabinet. This was where the venter hood was. We’re going to put a microwave hood there. Usually, if you’ve got this at 84, which we do, you only have to come up to where you’ve got only 12 inches of cabinet here, but you want more than that. Why?
Joe Denson: We are. It’s a pretty tall unit, and the homeowners are trying to get the look of the microwave vent unit even with the bottom of the wall cabinets.
Allen Lyle: Right.
Joe Denson: So, we get one nice line across. What we’re going to do is we’re going to close this cabinet down to a nine-inch cabinet, and everything will flush right out.
Allen Lyle: And here is another way they’re going to save some money. They’re not going to put a new cabinet in, we’re just modifying what’s already there.
Joe Denson: We’re just going to cut it on three points.
Allen Lyle: Right.
Joe Denson: Lift the shelf up, re-pin everything back together, put cleats on the walls, and cut the plywood out of the back.
Allen Lyle: All right.
Joe Denson: It’ll be a nice, clean look. The cabinets in here, we’re painting anyhow. So, we’ll be able to refinish anything that we need to, and it’s easily done.
Allen Lyle: Well, I’m here to help, so, uh… You’ve got your safety glasses. You realize why I have these, don’t you? Because I’m cooler than you.
Joe Denson: Oh, I see.
Allen Lyle: Let’s do it.
Danny Lipford: First, Joe cuts the cabinet shelf free from the sides of the cabinet. Then he carefully cuts the bottom of the face frame loose, so that it can be moved up to the new position and securely attached with long screws driven through from the adjoining face frames.
Joe Denson: That’s that.
Danny Lipford: Three cleats will support the shelf in its new position. With the cabinet changes made, the electricians can go to work to improve the lighting situation in this kitchen.
As they lay out the new recessed can lights around the perimeter of the room, they have to consider three things. One, creating a symmetrical pattern on the ceiling. Next, clearing the ceiling joist above the drywall, and distributing the light evenly so that it’ll do the most good.
For this application, they’re using remodeler cans, so the work that has to be done in the attic is just pulling the wire. Then there’s a little work to be done in the walls to add switching for the new fixtures.
Replacing the old wood paneling with drywall is next on the list, followed by finishing the dry wall, and patching the holes left behind by the electricians.
Then we can replace the door, window and base molds. We’re also adding larger crown molding which should add more of a formal feel to the room.
Finally, we’re ready for the painter. His first chore is prepping the cabinets for paint.
Steve, one of the questions we always get from homeowners when they’re wanting to do a little bit of this work themselves, what type of grit sandpaper do you use to cut that finish off?
Steve Steele: Most of the time I use a 220 grit.
Danny Lipford: Mm-hmm.
Steve Steele: Because, it’s according to how much varnish is left on here, but if it’s not a lot, 220 is fine.
Danny Lipford: Yeah, it seems like it’s cutting it down pretty well, and of course, you know, these cabinets, they’re in really good shape. I mean, they’re not in bad shape at all, considering how old they are.
Now, I know you’ve done a lot of painting of cabinets. Where you go from here? You’re going to do all of the sanding first? Take us through some of the other steps.
Steve Steele: Right. Then, we’ll wipe the cabinets down.
Danny Lipford: Uh-huh.
Steve Steele: And get all the dust off of them, because you can see they’re real dusty. And once we do that, then we going to Bondo up where the old hinges was, because there’s going to be some new hinges in place.
Danny Lipford: Right. You know, that’s a good point, because, you know, when you look at that, you can see that there is an indentation from all of the years. It’s not just the two holes. You actually have a very, very slight little area there that you’re going to have to fill in, and Bondo or the automobile body filler. Man, that works great.
Steve Steele: It works good.
Danny Lipford: So you’re going to prime it before that?
Steve Steele: Yeah, we’ll take an prime it, and that way we can see if there’s anything else in here that needs to be Bondoed.
Danny Lipford: Right.
Steve Steele: Because the primer will let you know what’s going on.
Danny Lipford: I got you. Yeah. OK. And it’ll allow that to stick a little better, too.
Steve Steele: Right.
Danny Lipford: OK. And you’re going to use oil primer on everything?
Steve Steele: Oil primer, then we’ll go back with two coats of oil finish.
Danny Lipford: I get it. I see.
Steve still has lots more sanding to do before they can start applying the primer and patching the hinge holes.
After more sanding, the finish paint can finally start going on. And it makes an enormous difference in this room.
That doesn’t compare to the change that takes place when those new cabinet doors start going in. Whether you have these made by a local cabinet shop or order them through a home center, new doors and a coat of paint make an astounding difference in a kitchen.
While this transformation continues, let’s check in with Jodi at the Home Depot for this week’s Best New Product.
Jodi Marks: No, this is not a flour sifter, nor is it a fertilizer broadcaster. This is the secret weapon to making your countertops look great. Right, Shea?
Shea Pettaway: That’s right, Jodi. Rust-Oleum Countertop Transformations has made a kit to create natural stone look.
Jodi Marks: See, now, if you can’t afford granite, that doesn’t mean you can’t get the look of granite with this kit. Now we’ve got everything laid out here that you need to help transform the look of your countertop. What do we have?
Shea Pettaway: Oh, we have the diamond tool sander that’s going to start the prepping on the countertop. Then you have your base coat and you spray the wetting agent.
Jodi Marks: And then once you get the surface wet, this is where this little bad boy comes in. See all these little decorative flecks in this bag? You just pour it in here and then what you do is you evenly distribute it around the surface of the countertop, because that base coat is actually an adhesive and it sticks to the countertop. Right? Then what do you do?
Shea Pettaway: And after that, then you use your protective top coat to make it durable and have a shiny finish to it.
Jodi Marks: See, now you can do this project in about a weekend. Right?
Shea Pettaway: That’s it.
Jodi Marks: And it could transform the look of your kitchen or your bathroom in no time.
Danny Lipford: David and Lori Harris’s kitchen is being transformed from the dated example of ’60s interior decor into a cool modern space the couple can love.
The templates for the new granite countertops have been made, so the stone can be cut. And the cabinets have been updated with a fresh coat of paint and brand new doors.
We’ve even added a new matching cabinet between the back door and the dining room doors to add a little more storage.
Now the electricians are wrapping up their work to improve the lighting, and it’s time for the tile setters to their magic with this decades old vinyl floor. The vinyl is bland but it’s securely glued to the concrete subfloor beneath it, so these guys can actually lay their new ceramic right on top of it.
And while they’re getting started, it’s a good time to see what Lori thinks of the progress.
Okay, Lori, you’re not having second thoughts on some of these selections, are you?
Lori Harris: No, I’m really happy with everything. I love the way the colors combine with the ceramic tile and the granite.
Danny Lipford: Yeah, it looks really good, and the color on the cabinets look great. That’s not an easy job, though, to combine all these different type of surfaces. You know, you’re dealing with the floor. You’re dealing with the color. You’re dealing with the countertops, but I’d say you did a pretty darn good job.
Lori Harris: I’m really happy the way it’s going so far.
Danny Lipford: Well, tell me this. Have you forgotten the old, dark cabinets that you put up with here for so many years, now that everything has been painted a few days?
Lori Harris: Thankfully so. Yeah, I love the way it turned out. And I really love the hardware, the brushed nickel. Just really made everything look very sleek.
Danny Lipford: And it’s extremely popular, too.
Lori Harris: Yes.
Danny Lipford: And for good reason, I mean it looks great, it holds up really well. Looks good, you know, with sinks and everything else that you would put in.
Lori Harris: Yeah, I think it’ll be great combined with our stainless appliances.
Danny Lipford: Well, it’s been a couple of weeks since everything started. Have you tried out all the restaurants in town?
Lori Harris: Of course.
Danny Lipford: And the microwave.
Lori Harris: And that microwave is holding up rather well, even though it’s on its last leg.
Danny Lipford: We’ll have to check with David and see what he says about that.
Lori Harris: Sounds good.
Danny Lipford: Well, the guys are moving along here. We better get out of here to allow them to put the ceramic on down, and then we’ll put the tops on in the next day or so. Backsplash. Won’t be long, you’ll be in here whipping up those gourmet meals.
I’ll have some great inspiration.
Danny Lipford: We better get out of here.
Laying the tiles takes the rest of the day and into the next before the guys can come back in and apply the grout between the tiles.
Finally, we’re ready for the countertops to go in. And, boy, is this contrast something. The dark granite and the white cabinets set off each other to give this kitchen some pop that it’s never had.
And because the layout of this room is so simple, there are just a few pieces to go in, so the job goes rather quickly. And in no time, they’re done, and the tumbled marble backsplash goes in right above them.
Well, David, I tell you, I haven’t even seen the backsplash, I hear the guys came over on the weekend and did it.
David Harris: Well, it looks great. It really ties in all the colors. Lori did a great job working with the tile guy to come up with this pattern.
Danny Lipford: Yeah, I know, it’s pretty good, and I love the idea of putting a few of the granite accents here and there. Even behind the stove, how they did the little ceramic molding there. She’s thinking pretty well there.
David Harris: That’s one of her favorite thing in the whole kitchen, right there.
Danny Lipford: That’s cool. And then, the way you… I know you had originally the little shelves in here, and then to let this go up there, I like it. That’s tying it together.
David Harris: It does. It brings… Right when you walk in the door, you see this. It looks great.
Danny Lipford: Well, now, the guys will be over here in a little while, and they got, you know, a few more hours, little touch ups here and there to do. Um, and I know you’re helping a little bit with all this there and everything. Um, what do you think about… I mean, you’ve been through several weeks here of some pretty intense remodeling, and a lot of different people, a lot of different moving parts. Communication is pretty important, isn’t it?
David Harris: Communication is critical, and I will also say it’s good to have a contractor that has your best interest at heart. For instance, we were out here the other day, and we saw after the electrician put the plate up, there was a gap there.
Danny Lipford: Mm-hmm.
David Harris: The contractor on site called the tile guy to come out here, and they fixed it that afternoon. And they took the old piece out and put in a new one.
Danny Lipford: Well, that’s great. You hate to get to the end of a project and see something that’s just blatant like that. And that communication between all of the contractors and, of course, the contractor and the homeowner… I think that’s where it leads to a lot of frustration for people, that they can’t get a call back, or there’s just something that’s bugging them and they can’t get it addressed.
David Harris: It does, but it’s… If you can have one person to talk to and knowing they’ll take care of it, it makes it real easy.
Danny Lipford: There you go. That’s fair enough. Well, like I say, a couple more hours, it’s all yours.
Racheal asks, “What causes the hammering sound in my water pipes when I turn on my kitchen sink?
I can’t stand that thump, thump sound you hear a lot of times when you turn a faucet on or off in your home. What causes that is the pressure in the waterlines, which could be as high as 60-pounds-per-square-inch, is causing a little bit of movement because of the sudden flow, on or off. And it’s causing noise because the clamps that are holding the water pipes to the framing in your home are a little loose.
Not much you can do about that. But what you can do is have a plumber install one of two different types of systems to prevent that. One’s called a water hammer arrester—they’re basically two vertical pipes positioned directly above your water heater—or a water expansion tank that also is located directly above the water heater.
Either way, it equalizes that pressure and will quieten your water pipes down.
David and Lori Harris’s kitchen was just the right size, but it was stuck in the ’60s in a bad way. They were plenty of cabinets, but their finish hardware and door style all screamed to be updated.
The laminate countertops were bland and they had seen their better days. Above them, the only interest to the backsplash was the wallpaper, and it was almost two decades old.
The lighting under the cabinets and throughout the kitchen really only provided the bare minimum amount of illumination. And the floor, well… It was a 40-year-old vinyl. What else can you say?
The new kitchen is much more bright and modern. The white finish on the cabinets and the new cabinet doors reflect tons of light and gives the kitchen a really clean look.
To contrast the cabinets, the dark granite countertops add an element of drama. And balancing that contrast is a tumbled marble backsplash and a new ceramic tile floor that adds warmth to the room, begging you to come in and enjoy it.
Well, David and Lori, you guys have had a couple of weeks in here since the kitchen had been renovated, and of course, everything looks great.
Danny Lipford: What was your favorite part?
Lori Harris: Well, I love the new lighting. The under-cabinet lighting has just worked out great. The new recessed lightings in the ceiling. I love the fixture over the table.
Danny Lipford: Yeah, it is placed really well. And also the table. It is so neat to have a kitchen so large. You can have the family eating right in here. That is really neat. Now, what would you do different? Is there anything that didn’t quite turn out the way you wanted it?
David Harris: Well, we would probably add some under-counter lighting right over there in that custom cabinet that we got there.
Danny Lipford: I got you. Yeah. That was a great addition, too. More storage space, and it just seems like it’s meant to be there.
Lori Harris: Absolutely.
Danny Lipford: That’s great. Well, everything did turn out really nice. And hopefully we inspired you to think about remodeling your kitchen. And of course, David and Lori took on a lot of work here. You don’t have to do it all at one time, you can do it in stages.
More information on my website at todayshomeowner.com. I’m Danny Lipford. We’ll see you next week.
Houses that were built back in the ’60s, and it has a kitchen that’s ripe for remodeling.