18 cute & cheap kitchen cabinet facelift ideas from the ’60s & ’70s

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Budget vintage '60s kitchen cabinet decor

Cute kitchen-cabinet facelift ideas from the ’70s

A galaxy of do-it-yourself revampings to give a timeworn kitchen a lift. (1973)

Color, design, texture — new surfaces for your old cabinet doors are fresh, bright, clean, washable. If your cabinets are still in good working condition, all they need is a bit of clever camouflage to make you feel you’re in a brand-new kitchen.

Experiment with new coverings and edgings. Be sure what you want to use will work on your cabinets — for instance, some materials adhere easily to wood but not to metal, and some moldings may interfere with the opening of a door unless placed away from the outside edge. Our suggestions will help you. (Ben Calvo, Woman’s Day Studio – 1973)


1. Fresh colorful paint and peasant pattern insets

We have chosen our peasantry prints first, then picked out paint colors accordingly (you may have to match an unchangeable counter color, too).

Protect the prints with several coats of Fun Podge and a coat or two of varnish, or use a decoupage finish for even greater durability. Frame them with butt-joined (easier then mitering) 1/2″ square molding. Plastic paint and new china knobs finish off the cabinets.

1. Fresh colorful paint and peasant pattern insets


2. Colorful patterns in self-adhesive vinyl

Probably the easiest way to rejuvenate metal cabinets is to cover them with self-adhesive vinyl. With a little advance planning, you can use a pattern most effectively. The only trick is in turning the rounded corners.

Plain yellow vinyl lines the doors and drawers. No new hardware was needed; we simply cut the vinyl to fit around unremovable pulls.

2. Colorful patterns in self-adhesive vinyl


3. Sleekly sophisticated veneered cabinet doors

Veneer-like sheet of real wood with self-adhesive backing and a protective finish team up with a gold anodized counter edging to produce sleekly sophisticated cabinet doors.

The same wood was applied to exposed ends of cabinets, which are metal except for wooden doors on the wall cabinet. Currently available handles did not fit, so we used knobs.

3. Sleekly sophisticated veneered cabinet doors

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4. Colorful & durable vinyl flooring for a cabinet

Vinyl flooring supplies pattern, color and durability. It’s stiff, so even double-faced tape will hold. Frame is plastic inside-corner edging designed for wall paneling. Hardware is 1973 design.

4. Colorful & durable vinyl flooring for a cabinet


5. Washable foil patterned wall covering with yellow trim

A washable foil wall covering is set off by flat metal counter edging (you’ll need a hacksaw for mitering corners). Two square metal knobs blend in perfectly (barely visible in the lower right corner).

5. Washable foil patterned wall covering with yellow trim


6. Vinyl fabric with red rope molding

This vinyl-fabric wall covering is so heavy that it is cut to fit instead of wrapping it around corners. The rope molding is set in from the edge so it won’t interfere with opening the doors.

6. Vinyl fabric with red rope molding

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7. Decorative plastic placemat and upholstery tacks

Often the area behind the handle shows wear first. A simple cover-up — half a plastic placemat (or a quarter of one for a corner handle) is attached to the door with decorative upholstery tacks.

7. Decorative plastic placemat and upholstery tacks


8. Distressed replacement cabinet doors

This distressed plastic door comes fully finished in various sizes for replacing your old cabinet doors. The manufacturer also supplies matching stain for use on cabinet sides and other kitchen trim.

8. Distressed replacement cabinet doors


9. Update & decorate with simple molding and purple color scheme

Molding to set off your new paint job can be bought in kits (corners and lengths for one door in each kit) or you can buy separate 8′ lengths and matching corners to construct your own designs.

9. Update and decorate with simple molding and purple color scheme


10. Distressed finish with a wood medallion

Screen-door molding, 1/8″ thick, frames a wood medallion and a square wood knob. After painting and antiquing the door, we pressed 2″ self-adhesive aluminum tape into medallion’s recesses.

10. Distressed finish with a wood medallion


11. Plastic molding and vinyl fabric wallcovering, then green accents

Heavy vinyl-fabric wall covering cut to fit is trimmed with prefinished plastic molding. You can buy corners and straight pieces (for a continuous frame, if desired), so no mitering is necessary.

11. Plastic molding and vinyl fabric wallcovering, then green accents


12. White flexible sheet vinyl, then yellow accents

Flexible sheet vinyl used for counters covers this door. Prefinished black batten can be attached at the very edge without its interfering with door opening because it narrows to a thin outside edge.

12. White flexible sheet vinyl, then yellow accents

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13. Self-adhesive grasscloth wall covering

More fragile than our other coverings is this self-adhesive grass-cloth wall covering. Several coats of clear varnish or liquid plastic help protect it. Edging is again prefinished black batten.

13. Self-adhesive grasscloth wall covering


14. New knotty pine to match old cabinets

The wear of years was very evident on the kitchen cabinets when new owners bought this Scituate, Massachusetts, home. They got an estimate for replacements — $850 — and decided new doors would answer nicely.

The old doors served as patterns. A lumberyard rough-cut doors from two sheets of 4′ x 8′ knotty pine, good on both sides. Finishing cuts and dadoing were done in the owners’ basement workshop.

A good sanding preceded two coats of Early American Minwax and three coats of Dutch Boy urethane satin-finish varnish, both inside and out to prevent warping. New doors plus paint (chosen to match a color in the wallpaper) came to about $55, a considerable saving.

The original hardware was reusable. Wallpaper was given three coats of Protex-It behind counters. Mirabond surface of flooring requires no waxing and sheds dirt; even heel marks wipe off with just the use of water.

New doors were dadoed so that half their thickness fit into the opening. By cutting overlapping lip smaller on the inside than on the outside, plies became invisible.

14. New knotty pine to match old cabinets


Cheap kitchen cabinet facelift ideas from the ’60s: 

Easy ways to bring new glamour to old kitchen cabinets: A glance at these delightful kitchens will show how easily you can glamorize nondescript cabinets in your home with new washable materials.

Worn cabinet faces are covered with tough and scrubbable textured wall coverings — the plastic-coated fabrics or supported-vinyl fabrics.

Or you can edge painted doors with your favorite washable wallpaper border, matching the pattern that you use overhead on the kitchen soffits or the wallpaper pattern that you selected for use in an eating area. This will give a related look.

Vintage kitchen cabinet makeovers from the 1960s (4)

Apply the fabric over worn cabinets with paste formulated for vinyl wall covering. The fabric (plus paste) is available in a wide range of colors and many textures from local department and from wall-covering stores.

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Trim edges and frame with molding to protect fabric. Apply it with epoxy glue, or you can tack the plastic fabric in place if cabinets are of wood.

To add a wallpaper border trim, measure and cut a washable border so the pattern centers on each edge. Apply with a wheat-type wallpaper paste, overlapping the corners. Cut mitered corner through layers. Then pull back corners to remove excess paper. With a damp sponge, carefully remove the excess paste that might be visible around the edges.

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Vintage kitchen design with compact shape and unusual angles from 1960s

How to match your ’60s kitchen cabinets to your curtains

To coordinate cabinet inserts with the kitchen window treatment, you can paste the fabric on old wood door fronts as shown.

Then attach cutout veneer panels over the fabric. Plan your draperies or cafes, using the same fabric. Or, if you prefer, you can have material laminated to fashionable shades to use at the windows.

The various adhesive-backed papers and vinyls are effective rejuvenators of old, scarred cabinets. But, don’t overlook their many other uses in a kitchen. Installed in dramatic stripes, these coverings give a bright, bold look to a kitchen ceiling, or to an eating-area wall.

A design made of scraps of two or more colors of the papers is effective when attached to piece of plywood. Cover plywood first with a wood-look paper to make a background for the design.

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Vintage kitchen cabinet makeovers from the 1960s (2)

For fabric inserts for cabinet doors, use wheat-type wallpaper paste to bond fabric on flush wood doors. Let paste dry overnight. Glue and tack the finished 1/8-inch panel of plywood over the fabric.

Protect fabric with a new spray plastic for paper and fabrics (available at department stores). If you wish, finish cabinets’ plywood with a two-coat antique glaze.

For adhesive-backed cutouts, select pattern and color that you want in adhesive-backed paper or vinyl. Mark location on doors with a template that is cut to match lower corners.

Cut the panels to size. Separate from paper backing. Place lower edge of panel to fit the template. Work from center of panel to edges gradually and smooth out all air bubbles.

Cute cheap kitchen cabinet facelift ideas from the 1960s

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