2009 First Place Winner

Retro Kitchen Remodel

I have a small, four unit apartment building in the Glenview District of Oakland that was built in 1922.  For the most part, the building is original and has survived without any weird additions or funky remodels.  Unfortunately, that’s also its downfall; everything is very old and in need of attention.  For me, it’s important to use salvaged material wherever possible, not only to be environmentally friendly, but also to preserve the integrity of my building.

I have taken a custom-retro approach reviving the kitchen.  All of the built-in cabinets are original and have been completely stripped, painted, and have new reproduction hardware.  The worn out wooden drawer runners have been replaced as necessary and waxed to ensure a smooth operation.

Kitchens of this era, traditionally, would have had linoleum flooring, but I thought that continuing the flooring from the rest of the unit into the kitchen and breakfast nook would be a tasteful upgrade while still respecting the original feel of the space.  Although I did have to check back regularly, I was fortunate find and purchase a large enough batch of salvaged 2” oak flooring from the ReUse Bazaar to complete the project.  To maintain the flow of the space, and to keep the installation as seamless as possible, I simply continued the same lay-out pattern from the rest of the unit.  I covered the sub-floor with a 15lb felt paper, and once the five-row boarder was laid out and nailed down, I filled in the field with random lengths.  The old finish was stripped using a rented drum sander, the nail holes were filled, and I used a shellac finish with a paste wax over the top for protection.

(Note: Laying the floors really wasn’t all that difficult, but I think the results are pretty dramatic.  I would encourage any average “do it yourselfer” to attack a similar project.)

I found the 1940s General Electric refrigerator on Craigslist and bought it for $100.00!  Mechanically, the unit was in great working order and only needed a new power cord and door seal.  Cosmetically, however, this old guy needed some love.  At some point in its life, it even received a brushed on coating of house paint.

The process used in the restoration of the fridge is the same as any high-end automotive paint job.  The refrigerator was disassembled and stripped it to bare metal.  The panels were body-worked as necessary and the entire unit was primed and blocked.  The base color is an off white with an orange pearl over the top.  The center section has been flaked out and covered with a tangerine candy to match the trim color in the kitchen.  The entire unit was clear-coated, color sanded and polished.  Black and tan pinstriping was used to help define the raised center sections on the door and lower panel.

This project wouldn’t have been possible without the help of my friend Tony Parker.  I’d like to thank him for the use of his shop, knowledge, and artistic insight.

Tony Parker
Young Guns Kustoms (Automotive Paint & Metal Fabrication)
23673 Connecticut Street
Hayward, CA 94545

John Morrow
Oakland, CA

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