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renovation or restoration?

We compare 2 mid-century kitchens.

The words renovation or restoration are terms frequently and often interchangeably even though their true meanings are quite different.

Renovation: the act of taking something existing and improving it to look new again

Of the two, this is the term most people usually get right, as this is what all our favorite home improvement shows demonstrate.

Renovation can include restoration, but term allows for also completely changing the original style and purpose and possibly even adding new elements to a space. I have selected two mid-century kitchens to illustrate the differences. The above completed kitchen in a mid-century home is would be defined as a renovation as the current owners entirely altered the space by removing walls to open the kitchen up to not only the foyer area but also the living room. They removed all the upper cabinets, built all new lowers, greatly expanded the island with a currently popular waterfall design and installed new counter materials. This all contributes to a very functional space that successfully addresses todays lifestyle for cooking, eating and living.

photo by benjamin benschneider

Restoration: the action of returning a building, a work of art, etc to its former original condition.

While specifically referring to design and architecture-I also personally believe that the term Restoration does not necessarily mean creating a “museum” where every element is from the period of the original and is slavishly authentic from that time period- but more importantly, that the restored final product represents the intent and true spirit of the original style.

Restoration also generally requires less new materials and may take less time to complete depending on the condition of the home if the space has good “bones” and doesn’t require large repairs or expensive resurfacing.

The below photo of the kitchen shows a sensitive restoration of another mid-century kitchen that still brings in new, up to date finishes such as composite counters, new cabinet doors and appliances as well as new flooring in the form of staggered 18’ x 24” tiles. But, the general concept still remains true to this period and style of architecture where the ideal kitchen from the 50’s and 60’s was intended to be a very modern and utilitarian space with the most up-to-date appliances- easy to keep clean and very uncluttered.

As designers, we all know that our client’s comforts and personal tastes are number one. Our job is to take their dreams and visions and elevate them to levels they haven’t imagined- that’s why we’re called designers. photo:

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