Midcentury Kitchen and Living Room Remodel

Browse pictures of a neglected 1954 rancher restoration featuring salvaged materials and retro design.
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November 25, 2014
By: Elizabeth Beeler

Lackluster Beginnings

Prior to purchase, the home's exterior was desperate for an upgrade. Savannah-based designer Celestino Piralla and Cornelia Stumpf mended cracks in the bricks' mortar, enclosed the carport with decorative concrete blocks, and repaired the walks and driveway. They chose an eco-friendly spray foam for roof insulation, which increases energy efficiency and lowers utility bills.

Midcentury Curb Appeal

Amongst some of the country's best architecture, this midcentury bungalow rarely goes unnoticed. Cast concrete blocks laid in a brick-like pattern and a gently sloped low-profile roofline nod to the home's midcentury style. The front door's turquoise hue hints at the playful palette inside.

Desperate for an Upgrade

In its former state, the kitchen's cabinetry was not salvageable. While the basic kitchen layout was maintained, additional base cabinets were added for storage. Floral wallpaper, a brass chandelier, laminate countertops and obsolete appliances called out for an update.

Energy Efficient and Compact

Celestino and Cornelia chose stainless European appliances for their compactness and low-energy consumption.

Floor Plan for Storage

Celestino implemented a slight spacial reconfiguration in the kitchen's layout to accommodate an under-counter wine cooler. Its low placement keeps it largely out of sight.

Reclaimed Appliances

The oven was the only salvageable kitchen appliance. With its bright turquoise hue, the home's original GE oven is just as fashionable today as it was a half century ago. From toasters and blenders to refrigerators and ranges, new appliances in a variety of punchy colors are now being manufactured to mimic this '50s-era look.

Chic Cabinetry

The couple selected sustainable glass cabinetry manufactured by Bazzeo. A groove inset into the bottom edge of upper cabinets functions in lieu of pulls, keeping the look uninterrupted.

Bright and Colorful

Gypsum wallboard painted white brightens the dining area and tames texture underfoot. The original windows were kept intact, preserving the home's period appeal.

Salvaged Slate Floors

The original flooring in an array of earth-toned hues visually defines the adjoining kitchen and dining areas. When Celestino and Cornelia took ownership of the home, the existing stone floors were undamaged — only requiring a simple cleaning.

Groovy Lighting

Celestino added a pendant comprised of milk glass above the dining table for practicality. The modular design goes hand-in-hand with the home's vintage style.

Retro Furnishings

The living room's Danish modern seating was passed down to Cornelia from her family in Germany, while the nearby vintage sofa was purchased from a Miami Beach shop. The retro wooden-topped coffee table is one of the couple's favorite finds. "It's an original Harry Bertoia bench that's rare and hardly ever comes on the market," says Celestino.

Bold Vintage Finds

The couple found a Saarinen womb chair and ottoman in its original upholstery at an estate sale a decade ago. Instead of a standard floor lamp, an original George Nelson cigar lamp attached to the wall operates on a swing arm and casts a soft glow.

A Ceiling With Charm

Celestino removed dropped acoustical "popcorn" ceilings, leaving the wood framework exposed and maximizing ceiling heights. Wood offers warmth, character and layers of texture that can't be matched by flat paint on drywall.

Geometric Design

A suspended stream of shapes joined by metal links creates a visual divide without blocking light from the living area's windowed wall. "The partition was one of those rare finds," says Celestino. "The screen creates a non-intrusive separation of the space."

Practical and Sophisticated

Once wall-to-wall carpeting was lifted, the home's concrete floors were given a second chance to shine. The floors were repaired and polished in a glossy satin sheen; the low-maintenance application offers a practical surface underfoot.

Layers of History

Cast concrete block walls that mimic the home's exterior façade were discovered behind layers of '70s grass cloth. With its rough, tactile surface, the brickwork adds another layer of texture to the home and balances the look of sleek concrete floors.

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