Good Questions: Design Advice for Ugly 1980's Kitchen?

Good Questions: Design Advice for Ugly 1980's Kitchen?

Gregory Han
Mar 24, 2009

Hello AT, We are in desperate need of some decorating advice for our ugly 1980s kitchen. We own our condo however a complete overhaul is out of the question right now, thanks to the economy. I have scoured your site for ideas and know we have many options (paint, rug, etc) but I am not sure which colors will work best with our burnt orange/brownish tile, light tan linoleum, and shiny "shellacked" wood cabinets. I have watched countless hours of the DIY Network and HGTV and seriously, have not seen a more horrendous kitchen than ours...

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We've already removed some of the cabinet doors but am not sure what else we can do. If we paint the cabinet frames a different color (...which color we don't know!) then it won't match the other cabinets that still have doors. It's gotten to the point where we've started using some of the cabinets as a bulletin board  just to cover up the ugliness...but somehow that makes it even worse.

To help describe our usual aesthetic, the rest of our home is nicely decorated with mid-century style pieces mixed with ikea and cb2. ANY advice, as specific as possible is greatly appreciated!! debbie & tom.

We often magnify our own troubles to be much worse than we think, and your kitchen is nowhere the worst we've seen. There are quite a few simple solutions that may be affordable quick fixes inbetween now and the time you'd be able to replace those aged 80's cabinetry with something more complimentary to your existing home furnishings.

First, ditch the bulletin board cabinet door. It's making a bad situation worse by cluttering the kitchen; the same could be advised for your kitchen counters. If you have room, store away appliances and tools that do not need to be out. Just like the camera adds 10lbs, excessive amounts of stuff on countertops age a kitchen in appearance. Just by putting things away, your kitchen will look more contemporary and also give you a better idea of how colours will work within it.

Since you've ripped out the kitchen cabinet doors for one large section, a modest investment in matching/modern storage containers might infuse a more unified appearance to your storage area. Because cost is an issue, consider investing in modern cabinet hardware to give your storage a small but noticeable upgrade.

Also, consider working with a remodeling professional with a specific budget. Our own mother lightened her late 70's honey tone cabinets to a lighter shade for about $1000 and it changed the feel of her dated kitchen significantly, while also saving her the trouble of replacing all of her kitchen cabinetry.

We're sure AT readers have tons of additional advice...bring it on!

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