Mid-Century Modern Kitchen

Candice Olson transforms a kitchen that hasn’t changed since the 1960s into the heart of the home.


Seven years ago, Terry found the house of his dreams: a ranch-style bungalow that hadn’t changed much since it was built in the 1960s. He particularly loved the kitchen, a swinging ’60s gem, complete with copper-colored appliances and a melamine table. Unfortunately, his wife Tracey wasn’t as keen on the place; she was hoping for something a bit more contemporary. But, because her hubby loved it, she made him a deal: They would buy the place and live with the kitchen for five years, at which time they would undertake a complete kitchen renovation.

Well, the five-year mark came and went, and the room’s awkward layout, tiny oven and antiquated fridge finally took their toll on Tracey. So, I called in my team and got set to bring this super-groovy kitchen into the current decade.


The cramped kitchen didn’t leave much room for entertaining, and it was closed off from the adjoining living and dining rooms. I kicked things off by knocking down a few walls and opening up the whole space. I also added windows and some new glass doors so the lovely backyard would be in full view.

I then got started on my quest: to pay homage to the home’s mid-century design, while turning this space into a modern kitchen. I ripped out all of the old appliances, tore out the cabinets, replaced the flooring with charcoal porcelain tile and put up a fresh coat of paint. I then sectioned the large space into two rooms, a kitchen and a dining room, that flow seamlessly into one another and blend into the adjacent living room.

In the kitchen, I created a long, continuous flow of white quartz counters, zebra-wood cabinetry and windows along the back wall. Because I wanted to maximize the outdoor view, I put in very few upper cabinets, and put most of the new appliances below the counters, including the new double ovens, a dishwasher and a microwave. I also hid a fridge/freezer behind some panels that blend in with the rest of the cabinetry.

The focal point of this room is a large kitchen island. Part of the island functions as a food prep and cooking area, and contains a black marble surface with a sleek cooktop. I designed the other half of the island for eating and entertaining, by installing a higher white-quartz perimeter countertop and putting funky bar stools around it.

In the dining room area, I added a bar that contains a marble counter and more dark wood cabinetry, and decked it out with a state-of-the-art wine fridge and coffeemaker.

I kept Tracey and Terry’s existing dining room table, but added new dining room chairs in a creamy fabric. I also installed a gorgeous elevated fireplace that can be enjoyed from anywhere in the room.

Lastly, I hung five retro pendants over the island and installed a “funkadelic” fixture above the dining room table.

This dysfunctional ’60s kitchen was way past its “best before” date. So I blended modern convenience with retro charm and created the perfect recipe for a beautiful kitchen – and a beautiful compromise for Tracey and Terry. Now that’s divine!

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