These 5 Makeovers of 1970s Kitchens Are the Best We’ve Ever Seen

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It was the best of times, it was the most chartreuse of times. Kitchens in the 1970s weren’t afraid to get wild when it came to bold patterns and bright colors. And while some of those unique features remain in many homes, others have been renovated by DIYers seeking a more modern look. 

From heavy wood cabinetry and far-out light fixtures to bold palettes and heavy fabrics, the decade saw some features that are totally cool — and some that are better left in the past. Take a look at five of the best 1970s kitchen makeovers we’ve ever seen, and take note of how the best of this era lives on.

A Kitschy Brown Kitchen Gets an All-White Makeover

When designer Carmen Lepp of Carmen Interiors and her husband learned they were expecting a third baby, they knew it was time to upgrade their 70s kitchen. With about $8,000 or so to spend, Carmen and her husband did most of the work themselves. They were sure to make “every square inch work” in the small space, forgoing a microwave and adding an in-island sink. The pair chose white for the entire space to make it feel bright and airy, and brought in vintage hardware to give it a chic finish.

“Doing any project yourself is difficult but the reward is so rewarding,” Carmen says. “If you are on a budget, I would suggest really researching products that fit your budget. Mixing high and low materials makes for a higher-end look.”

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A 70s Kitchen Gets a Colorful Reno With a Personal Touch

Homeowner Chantal loved that her 1970s ranch featured cool vintage elements such as wood paneling, but when it came to the kitchen, it was just too much of a good thing. The dark brown palette left the room feeling, well, dark. In about three months, the room underwent nearly a full renovation, including new appliances, white quartz countertops, a new sink, an oversized subway tile backsplash, and a reconfigured cabinetry.

But there was still a surprise in store. While Chantal originally viewed the soffit as a dated feature, it ended up getting a uniquely personal fix. “My father was an artist, so I leaned into painting a mural on the soffit instead,” Chantal says. “I used leftover paint samples for the mural, so it fit the rest of the house.” The result? A colorful, quirky update that’s all hers.

A “Dramatic” Renovation Goes From Colorful to Calm

Drama isn’t just for binge-watching. For Charlotte of At Charlotte’s House, the most dramatic change she made at home was in her mismatched 70s kitchen, where the chartreuse of the past gave way to a bright white upgrade with a new tile backsplash, hardware, and lots of paint.

By replacing the dated green floor tiles with hardwood and adding a colorful pink rug and matching runner, the space now feels fresh and playful. The found ($70!) table and cool, modern chairs complete the look. 

A Cramped 70s Kitchen Gets Upgraded With More Natural Light

Lee Hoffman got rid of a wall to open up a formerly cramped 70s kitchen in his Midtown New York co-op, and it was immediately lighter and brighter. The glossy white IKEA cabinets he chose provide a simple and minimal look, and the addition of upper cabinets allowed him to preserve valuable floor space.

Lee found his contractor through Sweeten, an online remodeling resource that connects contractors and homeowners. The new L-shaped configuration of kitchen, dining, and living room is now perfect for entertaining.

Credit: Josh Garcia
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An Old Kitchen Is Upgraded from Sad to Sleek

For a sleek remodel of their newly purchased Miami townhome, architect Niraya and civil engineer Humberto took nearly two years to create the perfect “loft” style they’d grown accustomed to in Brooklyn. “We spend a lot of time in the kitchen like Latinos that we are, cooking or just hanging out,” the couple says. “The kitchen area is a big part of our culture.”

Maintaining a family-friendly flow was most important, so thoughtful details like modern white stools allowed them to freshen the previously drab decor and provide a welcoming feel. Their choice of IKEA design elements helped them stretch their budget even further. “It took us 21 months of nonstop DIYs and living in a construction site (with an open scaffold in the middle of the entryway for four months!),” say the proud homeowners, “but now we love every corner of our home.”