April 3, 2020

Retro Renovation

Timeless retro cottage kitchen design ideas — and other terrific interiors — from the Carmel Cottage Inn – Retro Renovation

Oh my goodness: The four kitchens among the five little cottages that comprise the delightful Carmel Cottage Inn are not only charming — but they are chock full of timeless kitchen design ideas — several of them quite affordable. Yes, I would call these interiors “cottage style” — a style that is hugely popular in the U.S. and has been for decades. So cheery and comfortable! But, these houses also have many classic elements of simple ranch style that carried over to mid-century houses. When Cheryl, the owner of the Carmel Cottage Inn, remodeled and redecorated, she kept the look pretty simple… pretty “humble”… but with carefully selected, high-impact $plurges… all in line with the vintage style of the original architecture. Let’s see some more terrific design ideas from the five renovated cottages at the Carmel Cottage Inn:

When I first wrote to Cheryl, I was admiring this first kitchen, shown above — with its classic Early American style black wrought iron strap hardware. I also asked her for a few sentences on the designs.

Cheryl told me: We purchased the five vintage cottages (ca. 1910-1941) and restored them as full time vacation rentals with the emphasis on comfort and cottage experience. We wanted them to feel like they should have always looked this way, so we took out the 1989 kitchens in the two largest houses and copied the original cabinetry from the smaller cottages. We love our retro appliances, so do our guests. We have actually heard people squealing with delight when they find them in the kitchen.

Four colors of checkerboard floors:

In one story, we get four varieties of checkerboard floors! These floors work really really well as part of Cheryl’s harmonious, graphical design. We get a lot of folks here on the blog interested in doing checkerboard floos. Here’s my design-analysis breakdown of why Cheryl’s design turned out so great:

  • She has kept her palette simple — checkerboard-color+white floor, white cabinetry and one other punch of color. In this case, the pastel punch comes from the Big Chill appliances, which because of Cheryl’s design restraint, stand out like works of art… almost like color blocking. And hey, if you’re gonna buy Big Chill appliances — which are expensive — you’re going to want to make sure they shine!
  • (2) The dashes of black — in wrought iron hardware, the appliances and liner tile — complement the strong graphical nature of the checkerboard… and keep your eye moving around the room.
  • (3) The small checkerboard pattern curtains repeat the check motif, but smaller.
  • (4) Take 1-2-3 together, and this is very “graphical” kitchen — carefully edited to work with the dominant graphic element, the checkerboard floors. Warning: Put too many colors, too many “busy” “competing” design features in a kitchen with a checkerboard floor, and you risk design chaos.
  • Dashes of creamy beige (the counter tops are Corian) and the wood tones warm the space up.
  • Cheryl repeats this formula kitchen to kitchen — which provides harmony within her inn and her brand:

Notice how the backsplash is one with very inexpensive white 4″x4″, 6″x6″ and black liner tiles:

This backsplash done all with inexpensive stock tiles: Brilliant design idea for humble retro kitchens!

Resource list for the Carmel Cottage Inn kitchens:

Appliances: Big Chill, Sears
Checkboard floor tiles: Congoleum VCT
Backsplash tile: Daltile off the shelf at Home Depot
Cabinet hardware: Cheryl says, “We sandblasted and powder coated all of the original hardware we could throughout the houses and purchased Acorn products for the replacements and new cabinetry.”
curtains from Country CurtainsAnna’s Linens and Sears.
Cabinets: Kizanis Cabinets.
Bell McBride Builders was the general contractor.

Other beautiful design details from the Carmel Cottage Inn:

Wagon wheel chandelier — hurray! And, it looks like a super nice one. Cheryl told me, “I had been looking for a wagon wheel light. This was a gift from our electrician, Scott Eagle.”

And notice the Dutch door on the far right. 🙂

To coordinate with the wagon wheel chandelier, a pendant. Beautifully done! People, you can get these things CHEAP on ebay!

Likewise, I am a huge fan of braided rugs. So pretty… versatile… affordable… durable… retro! Cheryl said hers came from Yankee Sturbridge Workshop. I also recommend you check Thorndike MillsCapel, and vintage (abundant! — demonstrating just how durable these are.)

The fireplaces are spectacular and, again, the decorating is restrained to spotlight them as if they were works of art. Which they are!

Simple tile used on this bathroom vanity.

Lovely hardscaping and gardens for this little storybook ranch house.

Notice the shakes on the cottage — both siding and roof. But, the house also has wide clapboards. This mixing of siding materials was common on small ranch and cape cod houses in midcentury America to add visual detail. Vertical batten boards also were used in the mix. BUT no narrow clapboards, please! Use the fat ones. 8″? I’m not sure. Can someone measure? (I have brick.)

At first I thought this roofing was real cedar shake. But, no. Cheryl told me it was composite, Landmark by CertainTeed.

If I hit the lottery, I am going to get a cedar shake roof. Still, hers looks pretty darn nice!

And, when we hit the jackpot, we will expand into the attic — and carve out a bit for a balcony, where we will also put our telescope. Thank you, Cheryl, for permission to show all these wonderful photos of your place — gorgeous, and so many great design tips here! Next time I’m out thatta way, I’m coming to stay for sure! xoxo

The Carmel Cottage Inn — lots more fantastic photos on their site!