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Age Before Beauty

Most people thought I was crazy for trying to save the original cabinets in this house, but I’ve done it before and I knew it could be done again. There is something very dramatic about the makeover TV shows were you see the sledgehammer smashing into something and having it explode into little pieces. Sometimes this is necessary, but more often than less… I find myself  yelling “Noooooo” at the TV because what is being destroyed actually has so much potential and could be reimagined into something beautiful.

This 1930’s home had the original kitchen cabinets that were built as a single unit. Cabinets as we know them today are individual boxes that are installed together, but each piece is actually separate. However, when cabinets were being built almost 90 years ago, the frame was custom-built against the wall and then doors were installed onto that frame. The back of the cabinet is actually the wall and not a cabinet at all. This makes modifying original cabinets challenging, but anything is possible. I loved that these cabinets were built all the way up to the ceiling and I found the detail over the sink charming. I also found the little window shelves and the built-in cutting board within the base cabinets very special… But I knew the rest needed to be improved.


Thankfully previous owners had already worked to modify the base cabinets to accommodate a dishwasher. We kept that as-is, but modified the sink cabinet to accomodate a stainless steel farm sink and plumbing from the counter instead of the wall. Updating the sink gave a modern vibe to the space, and the counter plumbing increased functionality for the faucet and garbage disposal. Despite the cabinets being one complete unit, we were able to edit the framing for the farm sink and cut the doors down to size. This was a simple modification, but with a massive impact on the space. During the sink upgrade process, the tile counters got removed and replaced with marble. This was complimented with a classic white subway tile backsplash that unified with the upper white cabinets. The base cabinets were painted ‘Hale Navy’ by Benjamin Moore for contrast, and all of the cabinets got bright copper hardware. Modern handles went on all the doors, but my favorite hardware was installed on all the cabinet drawers. I purchased these angular balls from Target, which were intended to be used as wall hooks for hanging towels or clothes, but with some slight modifications… They became the perfect cabinet hardware for this kitchen!


In the process of the remodel, we expanded the kitchen area by taking space from the adjacent laundry room (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I recommend that you look back at the last blog post to see what I mean)… This allowed us to do an island and install additional lighting. We opened up the dining room with a large archway to give the feeling of an open-concept floor plan, and exposed one of the original brick walls as a visual element.

All of these changes helped to transform this kitchen into a unique and stylish space, which also maintaining the original charm and character of this 1930’s home. TIP: If you’re working on an older home, try to see beyond what we might first describe as dated and see the age before beauty. Often times you’ll be rewarded with something far more special than what could be done today.

Interested in anything you see in the AFTER photo? E-mail me: flippingdiaries@gmail.com for the direct sources and product links

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About Valentin Luboya

Valentin Luboya
I’ve been involved with numerous aspects of real estate since 2008, but my vision and passion is in flipping houses.I love the fact that when I am done with a rehab, I can see tangible results for the effort I have put in.And I love that I am creating homes for new families I can put a smile on the face of kids. I get paid for helping others.

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