I have received many emails from readers asking me questions about the design of our new kitchen pictured at left. It seems like a good idea to answer some of these queries and give you a few tips along the way in case you are thinking of “updating” your old house kitchen. First of all my disclaimer. I am not a restoration purist. Although I applaud the efforts of those of you who meticulously search to replace old with old it just is not as important to me. What I care most about is preserving what there is if it works and recreating the feeling of the original if it doesn’t. This kitchen is without a doubt a modern kitchen but I made conscious choices that make it blend surprisingly well with the rest of our century old house. Here are some of them:
- Painted cupboards even though it cost more. We also got a “tincture” added to the edges of the panels to simulate age. This has the added benefit of masking dust or smudges! Kitchen cupboards were always painted back then. Off white and dark brown were the most common colours of paint but this antiqued gold (Benjamin Moore) works with the colours elsewhere in the house. Painted wood is always more authentic. Simple panelled doors are also a good choice – a Shaker profile which many people choose looks too modern and bead board styles get dirty very quickly.
- The counter is Corian. It looks like soapstone which would have been authentic. Corian gives us the look without the hassel of having to oil the counter on a regular basis. (I checked out the real stuff and chose the Corian instead). Colour: Earth. We chose to stay away from all the granite, quartz and fancy finishes because as nice as they are they will definitely date the kitchen – and not in a nice way.
- The appliances are all stainless steel which I admit had me really worried. I did not want them to look new but when the grey-black counter and the Marmoleum floor in dark grey was installed the appliances blended in. The heavy gas range looks old fashioned which helps.
- Yes, subway tiles are cliche today but they are totally authentic for kitchens of this era. The white of the tiles tied in the millwork throughout the room and reflected the undercounter lights.
- All the hardware was in antiqued pewter that blended in well with the stainless steel appliances. I had some of the original harware and the colour of the metal matched perfectly.
- We chose Marmoleum for the floor. It has been in existense since Victorian times and is considered a “green” product today.
- We used pot lighting because of the good light it gives off. It is state of the art – each bulb is as bright as a 100 watt bulb but it only takes up 15 watts of electricity. Pot lights in the kitchen are unobtrusive and can be dimmed. We used task lighting that features turn of the century styled halophane shades. Undercounter lighting keeps me from cutting my fingers when I chop vegetables. These are tiny – and I mean tiny- bulbs that come in 8 inch strips. A late 1920’s deco fixture was installed over our kitchen table in the nook.
What would we do different?
- Go for even longer windows – although the part of the kitchen with the window only has 8 foot ceilings. Elsewhere it’s 9 feet but in order to get the proper pitch for the roof we could only do 8 feet.
But you know, that’s pretty much it. I love our walk in pantry. We now have a clothes closet (hidden in the far cupboard closest to the back door). I don’t know how I’ve done without a dishwasher for so many years! And our windows actually open – to let in air! I love the breezes we get especially from one window.
So, I guess, all in all there’s very little that I would change.