Historic Kitchen Renovation

Completed historic home kitchen renovation.
Completed historic home kitchen renovation.

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This historic home built in 1909 has been through a number of renovations over the years, and now the homeowners have decided to update the dark and dated kitchen.

Though most of the cabinets will remain, they’ll be given a fresh coat of paint as well as new doors, drawer fronts, and countertops. Other changes include removal of the vintage wallpaper, new lighting and appliances, and laying an engineered hardwood floor.


Once the countertops, doors, and drawers had been removed, modifications were made to the cabinets to accommodate the new appliances. Next, the cabinets were primed with an oil base primer and allowed to dry overnight.

After being lightly sanded with fine sandpaper and wiped clean, they were given two coats of oil based enamel. While slower drying and producing more odor than latex paint, oil based enamel produces a smoother and more durable surface.

When deciding whether to upgrade existing cabinets, it’s important to be sure they are of quality construction to justify the expense involved in repairing and refinishing them. The cabinets in this home were constructed from solid wood and even the drawer hardware was in good shape.

After the cabinets were ready, the prefinished doors and drawer fronts were delivered and installed using hidden 35 mm. hinges.

The “old world” style knobs and drawer pulls blend well with the age of the house and provide a contrast to the white cabinets.

An additional section of shallow cabinets with glass doors on top was added to provide storage and display space without projecting past an adjacent doorway.

Engineered Flooring

Engineered hardwood flooring is made of alternating layers of wood topped with a hardwood veneer.

The flooring for the kitchen was selected to match the width of the other floors in the house. It was installed on top of and at right angles to the existing kitchen floor, allowing it to run the same direction as the flooring in the adjoining room.

Design Tip

To give a room a more spacious feel, lay hardwood flooring parallel to the longest dimension in the room.

After the new flooring had been sanded smooth, it was stained to match the flooring in the rest of the house.

When the stain was dry, several coats of clear polyurethane were applied to seal and protect the wood. To keep from damaging it the fresh finish, it was given plenty of time to harden before work on the kitchen resumed.


The granite countertops chosen for the kitchen are a light color called New Venetian Gold.

After the heavy granite slabs had been carefully fitted, a flexible silicone adhesive was used to hold them in place.

Since granite is a porous material, it’s important to seal the surface every year or two to prevent staining. An easier alternative is to cover existing countertops with an engineered stone veneer like Trend Stone from Granite Transformations.

Unlike slab granite, Trend Stone is scratch, heat, and stain resist and comes with a limited lifetime warrenty. It’s available in a wide variety of styles and colors and can be used everywhere from kitchens to baths to fireplace surrounds.

Once the plumbers and electricians had completed their work, the transformation from a dark, dated kitchen to a light, inviting one was complete. After 18 years, the owners of this historic home finally have the kitchen of their dreams.

Kitchen Trends

While trends in kitchen design come and go, both granite and solid surface countertops, such as Corian continue to remain popular options.

A more recent trend, noted in Better Homes and Gardens magazine, is mixing different cabinet finishes and types in the same kitchen to give it a feeling of gradual change over time.

Other Tips From This Episode

Simple Solutions with Joe Truini:
Using Wall Anchors

While it’s best to screw or nail directly into a stud when attaching to a wall, they’re often not found in the right location. Since plastic anchors provide little holding power in drywall, a better solution is to use molly or toggle bolts which spread out behind the wall. To find out more, see our article on Testing Wall Anchors and Picture Hangers.

Best New Products with Emilie Barta:
AccessPoint Digital KeySafe

The AccessPoint Digital KeySafe from GE comes in several colors and can be mounted right on the door frame. A programmable four digit code allows access to the key while a LCD display keeps track of the date and time of last nine times it was used. The AccessPoint KeySafe is available at The Home Depot.

Ask Danny:
Home Warranties

What is a home warranty, and do I really need one? –Paul from Atlanta, Georgia
A home warranty is a service contract that usually lasts for a year and helps protect homeowners from expenses associated with the repair or replacement of household systems or appliances. In the event of a problem, the home warranty company will send a prescreened technician to your house to make the necessary repairs.

Power tools used on Today’s Homeowner with Danny Lipford® are provided by Ryobi.


  1. In a period house like that, it’s quite obvious that the contractors should be mindful of the delicate nature of the house itself, having stood against time longer than other houses. A worthy challenge for an NYC contractor group,I believe.

  2. I love watching the show to see the awesome improvements you can make with an old room or house.This is also a great web site and I will use it when doing my next project. Thanks

  3. I have a late 1700’s colonial and am renovating the kitchen. I would like it to be as pure as possible, do you have any suggestions for a backsplash?

  4. Really good job here remodeling the kitchen to give it a more modern look and feel without compromising the integrity of this early 1900’s colonial style home. The counter top looks great, I have always been a big fan of the solid surface counter tops. I have always liked granite and Trend Stone counter tops, but some of the new Corian surfaces are my personal favorite as I have found that they offer more versatility to really help tie together a color scheme of a room, even down to the appliances. The Corian Sorrel product for example (one of my favorites) offers metallic veining, making it perfect for counter tops in a kitchen with stainless steel appliances. I really like the color scheme here as well. The floor, counter tops, and cabinetry mesh together perfectly and really compliment each other without being too uniform. It looks so much brighter in that kitchen now, the light colors really liven up the mood of the kitchen and not only make the room look more aesthetically pleasing, but make it look much more open and inviting. This was a great job start to finish, from the first step to the finishing touches.

  5. The new kitchen looks fantastic after the remodel: so light and classic (in a good way). I do like those shallow cabinets for display purposes, as well as for continuing the kitchen elements.
    I personally like Trend Stone and Corian; I’ve seen too may staining issues with granite. Granite is popular, but everyone seems to think they’re impervious to everything (which of course they aren’t). Thanks for detailing options and the tips. I’m passing this on to several of my clients.
    Mathis Custom Remodeling
    La Mesa, CA (San Diego area)


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