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1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel (before and after)

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If you’re facing a 1950’s Cape Cod kitchen remodel, you might feel a bit overwhelmed by the dated fixtures, small footprint, and overall lack of modern functionality. But fear not! We recently faced the same challenge and successfully transformed this dated kitchen into a modern, inviting space while still preserving the home’s original character.

Built for efficiency and affordability, a Cape Cod-style house became popular from the 1930s to the 1950s.

1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel with grey kitchen cabinets and white countertops
I love our 1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel with gray cabinets

Jim was fortunate to acquire this Cape Cod home through a family friend. With the exception of a handful of improvements, everything, including the kitchen, was original from when the home was built in 1950.

Needless to say, it needed some updating!

How To Remodel A 1950’s Kitchen

The whole house was only 1300 square feet and per tradition, this cape cod style kitchen was tiny!

1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel
1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel

It was closed off from the living room, lacked natural light and the square footage of the kitchen was fairly small with an awkward layout. 

The overall floor plan and layout of the first floor was choppy and very cramped.

Assess Your Kitchen Needs And Remodel Budget

We had an overall budget of $40,000 for the kitchen remodel and that included gutting the entire space, removing the wall, flooring, installing new cabinets, new countertops, backsplash and new appliances.

1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel with grey kitchen cabinets and white countertops
1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel

The goal was to open up the kitchen living space, provide more space for kitchen cabinets and incorporate an island of some sort.

Ideally, I would have loved some open shelving but that wasn’t possible due to the minimal wall space we had to work with but overall, the main goal was to acquire additional storage space which was achieved by installing new cabinets.

​The previous owners utilized a kitchen table in the space but that feasibly was not possible for our new design so ultimately, a kitchen peninsula was built.

1950’s Kitchen Renovation Ideas

Kitchen Cabinets

We decided to gut the entire kitchen as the old cabinets were not worth salvaging. 

1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel
1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel with pink cabinets

If your original cabinets are sturdy and worth saving, consider painting them and swapping out the hardware, This can be a huge savings! 

Another option is to just replace the kitchen cabinet doors, leaving the existing bases in place. 

1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel
1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel

We picked light gray kitchen cabinets that were in stock, affordable and opted to customize the look of them by adding long contemporary cabinet door pulls and install a crown molding for a finished look. 

1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel with grey kitchen cabinets and white countertops

This is an example of saving money on the cabinets but adding finishing touches like hardware and molding to elevate the look. 

A traditional design would have included white cabinets but honestly, gray cabinets are just as classic and timeless. We were also planning to sell this house and white and gray cabinets appeal to the majority of the buyers. 

Let’s take a look at the kitchen before and after.

Here is the old kitchen before we remodeled.

1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel
1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel

Here is the new kitchen after we remodeled. 

1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel with grey kitchen cabinets and white countertops
1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel

The new kitchen offers a welcoming space with modern elements.

New Hardware

​We installed simple long stainless steel cabinet pulls on all of the cabinet doors and drawers.

1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel with grey kitchen cabinets and white countertops
1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel with long stainless steel cabinet pulls

​Installing “extra long” pulls is a simple way to create an elevated custom look in a kitchen without spending a lot of money.

​Read these two posts, how to choose cabinet hardware and grey kitchen cabinets with white countertops to see how I achieved a classic contemporary modern look in our newly remodeled kitchen. 

Install Modern Backsplash

When picking a backsplash especially for resale, opt for timeless materials like subway tile, ceramic mosaics, or subtle patterns in soft colors.

1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel with grey kitchen cabinets and white countertops
1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel with new sink

We splurged on the backsplash material at $18 a square foot and I am so glad we did! I felt like the kitchen needed a designer look and there is no better way to add that modern feel than a gorgeous backsplash. 

The backsplash area was minimal so even at $18 a square foot, we spent roughly $500 on tile. The gray geometric backsplash adds a classic modern flair and was short money to achieve the look. 

1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel with grey kitchen cabinets and white countertops
1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel with geometric backsplash in gray and white

If you have a larger budget, consider a full height countertop style backsplash. We recently finished our own kitchen remodel and installed a full height backsplash and I absolutely love the modern sleek look. 

New Countertops

​We went with a classic white and gray carrara quartz that was subtle but still had a small amount of detail. We didn’t want to take away from the backsplash because that was the hero (in my opinion) of the kitchen. 

1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel with grey kitchen cabinets and white countertops
1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel with quartz countertop

The white and gray countertop complimented the gray kitchen cabinets and tied in nicely with the overall modern feel of the kitchen.

If you are looking for more countertop ideas, visit this post called, quartz countertops.

Stainless-Steel Appliances

Introduce modern functionality with sleek stainless steel appliances that complement the classic aesthetic.

1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel with grey kitchen cabinets and white countertops
1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel with stainless-steel appliances

Based on the size of the kitchen, we were limited to where we could install a microwave so we opted for an above the range traditional look. 

We purchased brand new stainless steel appliances to complete the look.

Refinished Hardwood Flooring

The existing flooring was absolutely horrible in the kitchen so we decided to remove and install raw hardwood oak flooring in the same size as the rest of the house. 

1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel
1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel

Once all of the remodeling was complete, we hired a flooring professional to sand down ALL of the hardwood floors in the home and refinish with a clear oil based polyurethan coat to create a seamless look that flowed nicely from room to room. 

1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel with grey kitchen cabinets and white countertops
1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel

Refinishing existing hardwood floors or installing new ones in a timeless wood species like oak or maple is a great way to modernize and update a home.

Ensure the flooring shade complements the cabinet and countertop colors.

Install New Lighting

Jim installed new recessed lighting, under cabinet lighting, classic jar style pendants over the new peninsula and a simple flush pendant over the sink. 

1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel with grey kitchen cabinets and white countertops
1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel with new modern lighting

Replacing outdated fixtures with modern classic-inspired pendant lights, sconces, or under-cabinet lighting will 100%  improve illumination and ambiance in a new kitchen.

1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel with grey kitchen cabinets and white countertops
1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel with under cabinet lighting

If you have a small budget, consider the strip under cabinet lighting instead of hardwiring. The strip lights are DIY friendly and affordable!

Remove Wall Between Living Room And Kitchen

Creating open spaces in small homes like a 1950s cape code style house, can be difficult especially if you are not adding square footage. 

1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel with grey kitchen cabinets and white countertops
1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel

One way to make a 1950’s kitchen look bigger is to remove the interior wall between the kitchen and living room.

Here is the same wall below once we removed a portion opening it up into the living room.

1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel with grey kitchen cabinets and white countertops
1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel with peninsula

A small cape cod living room layout typically encompasses a space right as you walk in the front door and leads to a hallway and kitchen.

1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel with grey kitchen cabinets and white countertops
1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel and removing load bearing wall

This wall was a load bearing wall which requires a structural engineer and special beam installed so while it does eat up some of the budget, this is an example of a strategic renovation that will enhance the flow of traffic and give the appearance of more space.

A worthy investment for sure!

1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel with grey kitchen cabinets and white countertops
1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel

​We originally considered removing the entire wall but then realized, by removing the entire wall we were eliminating a “wall” for furniture in the living room. 

1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel with grey kitchen cabinets and white countertops
1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel

The delemia of “no kitchen table” was also something we needed to consider so we decided to create a “half wall” which allowed us to install a peninsula in the kitchen which allowed for countertop stools as well as a functional interior wall in the living room for a sofa. 

This is a prime example of why pre-planning and strategizing all the scenarios before demo starts, is very important. 

1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel with grey kitchen cabinets and white countertops
1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel

Thinking about removing a load bearing wall? 

Consult with a structural engineer to ensure feasibility and proper support installation.

I also share this post, {how to remove load bearing wall} at the split level home renovation we completed a couple years ago. 

Kitchen Island or Peninsula

In today’s modern style kitchens, the kitchen table seems to be a thing of the past. Especially in a 1950s cape cod kitchen remodel, space is tight. 

1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel
1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel

This is where introducing a kitchen island or peninsula for additional storage, prep space, and casual seating can work wonders! 

Based on the square footage of the kitchen and living room, an island was not feasible but a peninsula was a great choice. 

1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel with grey kitchen cabinets and white countertops
1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel

We installed upper cabinets as the peninsula base and installed a quartz countertop to finish the look. 

New Windows

Replacing old windows with energy-efficient ones that retain the classic style, maximizing natural light and ventilation is a great way to modernize your kitchen not only asetically but for efficiency as well. 

1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel with grey kitchen cabinets and white countertops
1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel

We were fortunate that the windows were all in good shape and not that old. We did install new windows in screen room leading to the kitchen to create a 3 season room which helped modernize this kitchen as well. 

New Doors

We installed a full view exterior french door in the kitchen which now leads to the enclosed 3 season porch. 

Here is the view of the kitchen from the screened porch before we remodeled.

1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel
1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel

Here is the view after we remodeled.

1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel
1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel

The idea behind the full view door was to maximize the natural light into the kitchen and give the appearance of a larger kitchen space.

1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel
1950s Cape Cod Kitchen Remodel

Like I said earlier, we did not add square footage to the kitchen but by removing the kitchen wall between the living room and kitchen, increasing the width of the hallway leading to the bathroom and bedroom, installing recessed lights in the kitchen and installing a new glass exterior door, all make this 1950s kitchen feel bigger and brighter. 

I’ll be sharing more of this 1300 square foot, 1950s cape cod home remodel soon and you are going to be amazed at how we turned a formal dining room into a first floor master suite!

This small but might home is the perfect example of how creative ideas can turn an outdated home into a modern new home perfect for a growing family or someone looking to downsize.

Meet Jessica

What started as a hobby, Jessica’s blog now has millions of people visit yearly and while many of the projects and posts look and sound perfect, life hasn’t always been easy. Read Jessica’s story and how overcoming death, divorce and dementia was one of her biggest life lessons to date.

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