Redesigning a kitchen in an old house can be scary. There is no other room in the house where you showcase your restoration philosophy as much as your kitchen. To be fair, no one is prepared to go back to the basic kitchens of the past (no one in my circle of acquaintances anyway).
So what to do?
Some people remove every last trace of the old kitchen and create a new modern kitchen that looks and feels much like what it is: a contemporary kitchen. We have all seen these kitchens. They have no connection to the rest of the house. They scream 2011.
On the other end of the scale are the purists. These are the folks who will revamp, restore, and reuse every single original item in a kitchen. I am always in awe of these people – of the patience they need to have to find exactly the right product and their willingness to spend sometimes large sums of money in making the present go away. This often means hiding contemporary appliances behind expensive custom made woodwork.
In order for a kitchen to look authentic it is important that the layout of the kitchen be original as well – not something most of us appreciate or really want today. Styles in layout go in and out of fashion. Consider that every one wants an island today yet not so long ago a U shaped kitchen was the embodiment of efficiency.
Most of us have kitchens that are somewhere in the middle. We arrange the room in a way that suits our lifestyle. We use materials that suit old houses and we design our kitchens so that they connect both visually and in feeling with the rest of the house. Those of you who read “This Old House” subscribe to this way of thinking. I enjoy that magazine but occasionally I am saddened by the work that has been done. Having a big open concept kitchen is a what people want today. Anyone who is old enough or knows a bit of history knows that this too will change. The houses that have had their walls removed will never be the same. Perhaps I’m the only one who feels like this….
I have to admit that I am very partial to the kitchen you see in the image ( bottom left). This turn of the century home has been restored completely by the owners. So successful was the result of their project that the house has been used for several movies. The kitchen includes all the features of 21st century living but the way it’s been done makes you feel like you have time travelled more than 100 years into the past. I’d have to say it’s one of the best kitchens I have ever seen in an old house.
What do you think works in an old house kitchen? What do you like to see and what do you hate to see? What have you done with your own kitchen? I’d love to hear from you.