The Kitchen: Old House Renovation Story

It’s said the kitchen is the heart of the home.


When I first saw my old house, she needed a heart transplant... and Renaissance Man and I were blessed to provide it.


Old house kitchen before


In fact, the Kitchen was the first room we tackled. Have I ever told you demolition is perhaps my favorite part of a renovation? Why? Because only then do I know the project is really going to happen. Love it!
As for the surgery…


We couldn’t clear out the mess fast enough to suit us!
  • The horrid old cabinets and countertops
  • The five layers of old vinyl and linoleum – with water puddled between each layer
  • The rotted floor and subfloor
  • The drop-down ceiling with its translucent panels and fluorescent lighting
  • The beyond-nasty appliances
  • The 220V hard-wired floor heater (that was on an as-yet-undiscovered separate fuse box; thank God for a husband using insulated wire cutters!)
  • The wallpaper
  • The exploded canned goods
  • The grime.  Oh, the grime…


Eventually we were down to the original walls and floor joists – and the original built-ins. Whew! (This built-in is the sister to the one in the Dining Room with a pass-through between the two. The only difference is that the Dining Room cabinet has glass in its upper doors. Now you know why I didn’t call them “twins”!)


Take a close look at the window on the left (better view in the first pic) because it’s about to disappear. The only way to design a 21st century kitchen in this early 20th century space was to cover up that west window. Inside, you’ll never know it’s missing. Outside, everything will look original except the old glass will be replaced with frosted glass to hide the insulation and sheetrock.


Old house built-in


Finally… Time to put in that new heart.
New wall and ceiling surfaces. New floor boards.
old house kitchen collage
New cabinets….
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New paint on old cabinets…
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New appliances and subway tile…
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New wallpaper and quartz countertops…
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And, finally, a narrow island for additional storage and bar stools for two…
Do you recognize the shelf over the range? It’s another piece of the original Dining Room plate rail. (Remember where we used the other one?)
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Since you’ve stuck with me this long – and since most of you won’t have seen it – I’m going to show you my absolute favorite part of the Kitchen:
the Dish Pantry


It was one of the things that drew me to our old house… and one of the things I looked forward to having renovated. Notice I didn’t say I looked forward to renovating it — because I didn’t. In fact, I did NOT.


In truth, we renovated our house for an entire month before I could even bring myself to step across the threshold into the space. That’s what scraping wallpaper every day for a month will do to you! I woke up one Saturday morning and decided “Today’s the day to tackle the pantry!”


The pantry was filthy – exploded canned goods leaving their marks everywhere – with years of grime stuck to the cabinets. Sorry about that, but you really do need to get the full picture to appreciate from whence this baby has come!


In this picture, you can see that I’d started cleaning the top section … but the bottom was still a mess. Don’t you just love the color?!!!  Yikes!


This window was on the back wall of the house… and far too high on the wall to see out of it – but the light was nice!  The crowded second-sink counter below it, however, was not — and had to go!


These large bins go at the very bottom of the cabinet, and the local “old timers” tell me they would have once stored flour and meal.  We use them for recycling.


The cleaning was such an almost impossible chore that eventually Renaissance Man just pulled out his belt sander and went to work. That”s one way to cut through the yuck!


Finally we were able to lay a tile countertop… and finish bringing the old gal back to life.


She cleaned up nicely, didn’t she?

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Today, the Dish Pantry holds (slightly) fewer dishes – since I’m downsizing my life. It also holds a secret –but you’ll have to wait until another day to hear that story…


It you missed any of the others, check them out:


I’m joining Metamorphosis Monday at Between Naps on the Porch.




  1. Wow, Susan, this level of renovation is not for the faint of heart! You were exceedingly brave to jump into that dish pantry, but the results are incredible! What a wonderful space for dishes!

  2. I adore your wall paper in the renovated kitchen, dear one!
    Is it Waverly, by chance? I have similar Waverly with Pears in my kitchen.
    The paper has been up 12 years and I have yet to tire of it!!!
    We, recently painted cabinet door fronts here for a divider in our craft booth. . .
    a never ending job while you’re in the midst of it, but very gratifying once it’s completed!
    What I wouldn’t give to have your pantry!!!
    This HEART of the Home will bring you much JOY and reward in the years to come!
    Thank you for sharing!!!
    Visiting from Susan’s MM!

    • Pat, I lucked into that wallpaper on clearance, but I don’t recall it being Waverly. I loved it, though — still do!

      I know what you mean about some things being “never ending jobs” when in process but gratifying when they’re done. My kitchen was definitely one of those!

  3. I enjoyed seeing your kitchen and dish pantry renovation. I think it’s more fun to sit back and see the transformation than actually doing the work–of course! I live in a old house with a dish pantry like that–it was really neat!

  4. Incredible! Wow, Susan. I am speechless, and to say I am in love with your pantry is not an overstatement.♥ It reminds me of my grandma’s pantry.

  5. I need that dish pantry in my life. 🙂