Before and After: Tour a Fully Remodeled 1950s Kitchen With Blocks of Color

A midcentury kitchen in a Rochester, New York, home receives a full makeover that incorporates high-tech features and modern finishes. With colorful custom cabinetry and fewer walls, the resulting open concept kitchen and dining room is a space you'll hardly recognize.

Photo By: Emily Fazio

Photo By: Photography by Scott Hamilton. Kitchen design by Robin Muto Interiors.

Photo By: Photography by Scott Hamilton. Kitchen design by Robin Muto Interiors.

Photo By: Photography by Scott Hamilton. Kitchen design by Robin Muto Interiors.

Photo By: Photography by Scott Hamilton. Kitchen design by Robin Muto Interiors.

Photo By: Emily Fazio

Photo By: Photography by Scott Hamilton. Kitchen design by Robin Muto Interiors.

Photo By: Photography by Scott Hamilton. Kitchen design by Robin Muto Interiors.

Photo By: Emily Fazio

Photo By: Emily Fazio

Photo By: Photography by Scott Hamilton. Kitchen design by Robin Muto Interiors.

Photo By: Emily Fazio

Photo By: Emily Fazio

Photo By: Photography by Scott Hamilton. Kitchen design by Robin Muto Interiors.

Photo By: Emily Fazio

Photo By: Photography by Scott Hamilton. Kitchen design by Robin Muto Interiors.

Photo By: Photography by Scott Hamilton. Kitchen design by Robin Muto Interiors.

Photo By: Emily Fazio

Photo By: Photography by Scott Hamilton. Kitchen design by Robin Muto Interiors.

Photo By: Photography by Scott Hamilton. Kitchen design by Robin Muto Interiors.

Photo By: Emily Fazio

Photo By: Photography by Scott Hamilton. Kitchen design by Robin Muto Interiors.

Photo By: Emily Fazio

Photo By: Photography by Scott Hamilton. Kitchen design by Robin Muto Interiors.

Emily and Pete Fazio's Kitchen Remodel

Shown at home with two of their kids, Emily and Pete Fazio stand in their new kitchen. (Emily is a longtime HGTV contributor and DIY blogger at Merrypad.) Years of brainstorming left them with a long wishlist for the 1950s kitchen in their "forever home." Make it look modern. Brighter! And tech-centric. It wasn't until the duo met a local Rochester, New York designer, Robin Muto of Robin Muto Interiors, that their vision became a reality. Though lifelong DIYers, Muto's fresh perspective on affordable custom designs guided the transformation of their traditional midcentury home. Bold design decisions and tech-savvy integrations highlight the home's best features, and also improve the space to better suit the family's lifestyle.

Enjoy the before, during and after photos of this midcentury ranch.

The Original Midcentury Kitchen Layout

The home's original kitchen had undergone various functional and cosmetic updates by the former homeowner and her family since it was built in 1952, but it retained the original footprint. There's no denying that the wooden cabinets and hardware were still intact, though many aspects of the design and fixtures were outdated and failing. The floorplan of the kitchen wasn't conducive to entertaining, nor was it an easy space for the family of five to cook and relax together. As part of the demo, Emily and Pete took great care to preserve elements of the space that could be reused or donated. All windows, drawers, doors, and the vintage chrome concave round pulls were saved.

The Updated Kitchen Layout

Out with the upper cabinets, out with a wall. Two new (larger!) windows were installed to offer more natural light. For some time, Pete and Emily thought that the whole back of the house might be nice with floor-to-ceiling windows, but in reviewing all of the design options, keeping cabinetry beneath the window and removing the soffits proved the best solution to avoid losing storage space. It was a tossup deciding whether to put the sink or the induction cooktop beneath the window, but they decided that they spent more time at the sink, and would value the opportunity to look outside.

Cutouts in Cabinet Doors

Cut-out handles were a common detail in many of the European kitchens that inspired Emily and Pete, and they were excited to try and incorporate the handles into the custom cabinet design. A template guided the cabinet builders on how to cut each door and drawer front. No drawer pulls or knobs were needed for the new kitchen.

Oversized Porcelain Floor Tiles

The kitchen's old floor tiles were salvaged and donated, and the family sought to install tiles that were more durable in the new kitchen. The kitchen has access to both the garage and the patio, so it was important that the floors be resistant to dog feet and muddy kid boots, and very easy to clean. Rather than choosing conventional 12" x 12" or 12" x 24" tiles, Emily fell in love with Alta large scale 2' x 4' rectangular floor tiles from Nemo Tile. A comparably priced product based on the cost per square foot, this specific gray color in a natural finish is stain-resistant and deep abrasion resistant to limit, eliminate and disguise any future wear. The larger tile size works well with the scale of the overall room. Also worth noting, the couple wished to avoid any raised transitions in the space, so the contractor worked hard to level the new tile with the existing maple floors running through the dining room.

A New Kitchen Island and New Back Doorway

A large island now sits in the middle of the kitchen to provide easy seating for all family members and guests. Emily and Pete looked to update the doorway that leads to their outdoor patio, but instead of opting for a sliding glass door or set of French doors which would have been too wide, they selected a custom door that matches their casement windows, and had a tall fixed pane window installed beside it. By improving line of sight to their outdoor living space, the family is able to make better use of it when the weather's right.

An Old Sink With a Cloudy View

The home's old triple-basin sink was big, and divided in a way that made it difficult to use; however, the kitchen window offered great line-of-sight into the backyard, whether to watch deer passing through, or kids playing. Most of the large picture windows in the house had broken seals and had gotten cloudy over the years, and the kitchen window was no exception. The family wasn't committed to replacing all of the windows in the home, but they did choose to match the new windows to the old style, with a fixed center pane flanked by two casement windows.

A New Sink and a Clear View

A new window, nearly double in size, is now installed above the kitchen sink. The white quartz countertop and backsplash reflect the natural light and contribute to the brightness of the room. A single basin stainless steel sink and faucet are centered beneath the window, and directly behind that, installed in the island, an induction cooktop sits flush within the quartz countertop. A variety of light sources were incorporated into the design, and above the sink, three flush mount fixtures target light downwards onto the counter.

Kitchen Island Seating

At the kitchen island, seating for five offers the family a flexible area to be together, whether to prep dinner, do homework or eat a quick breakfast before school. It's their new office space, entertaining space and their favorite part of the home. Natural wood counter-height stools are new, but subtly appear to match the vintage wooden chairs that surround the dining room table. Under-island USB ports and outlets provide added convenience.

Before Remodeling the Kitchen

Looking down the length of the kitchen in the former space, you can see how closed off the kitchen was from the rest of the house.

During the Remodel

Removing the wall that separated the kitchen and dining room immediately demonstrated how the light flow would change and how expansive the home could feel. The wall that was removed was not load-bearing, and was safely demolished by the family's contractor.

After the Renovation

Post-reno, the new island fills the length of the kitchen. It begins where the dining room wall used to be, and extends all the way to where the former peninsula was positioned. It's not always easy to choose a quartz countertop, but the family sought a product in an extra-long length to avoid seams. This white countertop was available in up to 12-foot length. A flush-mount induction cooktop sits in the quartz. Overhead, a flush-to-ceiling mounted hood range offers function without compromising the openness of this midcentury remodeled home. There are intentionally no drop pendants over the island, as the family and designers wanted to avoid fixtures that would affect line of sight.

The Dining Room, Before

The dining room wall would be completely removed once construction began. The vintage 1960s dining room table and chairs purchased from a local library would remain a part of the space. The family tried to retain as many of the original components of the home as possible; they salvaged the baseboard heating to replace a damaged piece in another area of the house, and cut the wooden door shown on the left to create closet shelving for one of the bedrooms.

During the Remodel

With the wall between the kitchen and dining room removed, the new open concept area quickly began to take shape. Shown here, new drywall was installed on the walls and along the entire ceiling extending into the dining room. Even though major changes weren't involved with the dining room, it was important for the ceiling drywall to be consistent.

The Dining Room, After

From the corner of the dining room, it's easy to see how much has changed in this home. Colorful custom cabinets line the kitchen, a new tile floor offers a smooth transition to the existing maple in the dining room, and added seating provides more room for the family to entertain and cook together.

The Former Kitchen Sink

The stainless steel triple basin kitchen sink wasn't in terrible condition — in fact, the family removed it and donated it — but in remodeling the home, being able to upgrade the essentials was a big perk.

Choosing a Single Basin Sink and Modern Faucet

The new 33" single basin stainless sink was chosen for a number of reasons: it's 16-gauge steel (stronger, more dent resistant), deep, and it even came with a stainless rack for the bottom, as well as a bamboo cutting board that sits in the beveled edges of the top. To complement it, a single-hole faucet in a timeless design adds function; its high arch allows clearance for filling even the biggest pots and pans, and the sprayhead functions eliminate the need for an extra hand sprayer. The family avoided adding an extra hole for a soap dispenser to keep clean lines on the countertop. The garbage disposal switch used to be underneath the sink, but now is incorporated conveniently into the wall switches on the backsplash. The sink, situated beneath a large picture window, overlooks the family's wildlife-filled backyard.

Choosing a White Quartz Backsplash

Rather than incorporating tiles, the family opted for a solid quartz backsplash that matched the countertop. This decision was partially directed by how little space there really was for a backsplash between the window and the countertop. While there was only one electrical outlet at a convenient area in the old kitchen, four outlets and switches were incorporated into the backsplash per local code. More outlets mean more room to plug in small appliances.

Reworking an Old Closet

Losing a broom closet was one way the design team recommended making better use of the available space in the kitchen. The wall behind the old refrigerator was bumped back into the existing closet, and new storage was added in the form of additional drawers and cabinets.

Storage and Functional Appliances Moved to a New Wall

In place of the former broom closet, there's now a modern, multipurpose stainless steel microwave/convection oven atop a second oven in a wall-mounted cooking unit. Colorful laminate doors accent birch custom cabinets. The design team recommended two small countertop areas to add function. All drawers and doors were installed using soft close hinges, but the family was able to save money by opting out of complex storage integrations within. Simple shelves satisfy storage needs in this new space.

Midcentury Cookware Inspired a Colorful Kitchen Remodel

One of the three 1960s cast iron cookware pieces by Copco sits on display in the kitchen. The palette of the vintage cookware inspired the family's color selections. In addition to the high-tech appliances, Emily and Pete also chose Adorne switches and outlets in the home. They already have this collection throughout the rest of the house, and it was natural to incorporate the contemporary design into the kitchen in the form of dimmer switches, and regular and GFCI outlets.

The Dining Room, Before

Upon moving into the home, the existing dining room was carpeted and separate from the kitchen. Though the window treatments were removed by Emily in the days after moving in, an old chandelier stayed in place until the remodel.

The Dining Room, After

In the years immediately following moving in, the family replaced the carpeting with maple flooring, and added a shelf for books, collections and children's toys. A vintage table and chair set purchased from a Rochester-area library are used to furnish the space. During the remodel, a wall was removed to open the dining room to the kitchen, and the ceiling was removed and replaced to accommodate a new recessed lighting design. The old, cloudy window was updated to match the new window installed in the kitchen (it's also about 11" wider, offering more daylight). A replica bubble pendant, originally designed in 1952 (the same year the home was built) replaced the old chandelier.

The Former "Dumping Zone"

An "eat-in" area of the old kitchen went generally unused. Situated between the garage door and the patio door, the corner of the room was more likely to be filled with draped coats and piles of shoes. This casement window is one that was removed in the remodel, but it was given to a family looking to replace a window in a cabin, so it didn't go to waste! When considering how to make better use of the full length of the room, Emily and Pete challenged the designers to incorporate functional storage.

The New Mudroom

To block line of sight into an adjacent half bathroom (not shown, but to the left) and add entryway storage for coats and shoes, a half wall was built for utility. Coordinating upper cabinets and modern plywood hooks make the space family-friendly for kids. Vinyl "wood" wallpaper helps to protect the underlying painted wall against wet or drippy jackets. Beyond the mudroom, a floor-to-ceiling 4-door cabinet adds essential storage space in the kitchen, and is big enough to fit all of the family's pantry items.

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