Christina Haack is famed for her coastal beach decor style—yet on the latest “Christina on the Coast,” she rocks an entirely different look.
In the episode “Midcentury Kitchen Reno,” Haack helps clients Mike and Tressa update their 1950s home in Long Beach, CA. This house once belonged to Tressa’s grandparents, and while Tressa feels sentimental about the space, she wants to update the home so it feels right for her 21st-century family.
Haack has $100,000 to transform this old house. While she ends up going over budget, spending $136,000, the results are a midcentury masterpiece that gives her old coastal style a run for its money! Here’s what Haack does, with plenty of take-home tips you might be inspired to try.
Flat-panel cabinets add a midcentury flair
Tressa loves the midcentury style of her grandparents’ old house, but she realizes that it’ll need some big updates. So Haack gives the kitchen a complete makeover, while taking inspiration from the original flat-panel cabinets. She chooses new flat-panel doors in fresh colors.
“For the kitchen, I know I want to use flat walnut lowers with white uppers to give it that iconic midcentury modern look,” Haack says.
In the end, the cabinets end up looking very similar to the 1950s cabinetry. However, with a new open floor plan and a convenient new island, this kitchen now looks like a mix of modern and midcentury styles.
Create texture with geometric tile
While the white and walnut cabinets look great, Haack knows this kitchen won’t be complete without a beautiful backsplash. Of course, she wants this backsplash to have a midcentury look to fit in with the cabinets—but she also wants the tile to stand out in the space.
“For the backsplash, I want something with texture to draw the eye in when looking at the kitchen,” Haack says.
She picks out a beautiful tile in a triangular shape and a shiny white finish. Since the tile has some texture, it stands out against the flat cabinets. It’s a beautiful choice that draws attention to the kitchen.
Wood flooring doesn’t need to match the cabinets
One of the most important updates in this renovation is the new flooring. While some old houses feature beautiful wood floors, the creaky flooring in this house simply isn’t worth saving.
Haack presents the couple with a classic, medium-tone hardwood sample, but Mike isn’t so sure about the choice.
“It doesn’t look like it matches the bottom cabinets,” he says.
“It’s really personal preference,” Haack says. “A lot of times we match the flooring exactly to the cabinet. We can still do a walnut flooring, or if you go with this route, then the walnut [cabinets] will pop more.”
Mike and Tressa decide to go with the flooring Haack picked out. When it’s finished, they love how the flooring and cabinets look together.
Bi-fold doors enhance indoor-outdoor flow
Renovating an old house can be tricky. In fact, Haack and her team run into serious (and pricey) plumbing and electrical problems, and then they find an issue with the living room. Apparently Tressa’s grandparents built this room as an addition over the former patio, and the concrete slab is uneven, so the team will need to pour new concrete.
However, this provides an opportunity to make some upgrades. This project will require removing the sliding door, and Haack suggests replacing it.
“This is a really old slider and a single pane, so now would be the time to do a nicer slider, double pane,” Haack says.
Mike and Tressa end up choosing bi-fold doors, which cost $10,500 compared with $2,000 for regular sliders.
While these doors are more expensive, they look amazing and give the room a great indoor-outdoor flow. This upgrade was worth the high price tag.
Cinder blocks add an authentic midcentury look
Haack makes a lot of changes to this home, but there’s one feature Tressa doesn’t want to change: the cinder-block wall out front.
“They’re iconic of the midcentury style, and they remind me of my grandmother,” Tressa says.
When the renovation is finished, Tressa is happy to see a new window in the kitchen, but even happier to see the cinder blocks out the window. While many things may need to be changed in a midcentury build, some special features are worth saving.