Kitchens and Restoration in Vintage Homes
Conservation of old homes is a favorite conversation of
owners of vintage homes but rarely do you hear talk
about a kitchen restored to its former glory. These
beautiful historical homes we have grown to love and
appreciate, did not have the kind of kitchens we expect
today. Historical kitchens today are antiquated,
inefficient and poorly laid out.
In a typical pre-war model, kitchens were work areas
plain and simple. Everything in the kitchens were
freestanding from the huge cast iron stove, the sink on
porcelain legs, the icebox and a table that doubled as a
workspace. Those that were modernized in the 1950s,
'60s, or '70s often held even less appeal than the ones
before. The countertop, flooring, and ceiling materials
in them were no match visually as the hardwoods,
linoleum's, and metals they replaced. Appliances were
disappointing at best with their dismal colors.
Today we want to envision the flavor of the kitchens we
imagine our great-grandparents loved and enjoyed. Homey,
warmth and filled with the aroma of good cooking.
Fortunately, replicating the mood of a vintage kitchen
in an existing space has never been easier. As demand
for kitchen accessories with a patina of age has grown,
so has the availability of period materials.
Architectural salvage and well-designed reproduction
hardware and appliances are relatively easy to locate.
Resources for old-fashioned pieces can be found by
perusing advertisements in many home design magazines
and inquiring at local antiques' shops and architectural
Cabinets, more than any other single element in the
design, determine the look and feel of a kitchen. To
give a kitchen a historic feeling, designers caution
against filling the kitchen with modern built ins.
Architectural salvage companies often stock vintage
cabinets in wood or metal. These cabinets mix well with
freestanding antique or reproduction pieces. An antique
dresser or a dry sink adds charm as well as
semi-customized items like plate racks and open
shelving. Painted wood cabinets may warp when stripped
so be advised to try one cabinet door first. Metal
cabinets should be stripped, buffed, and lacquered to
prevent them from rusting.
Stone countertops are well-matched with old-fashioned
kitchens as long as the stone is honed to a soft finish
not sleek and modern. Vermont soapstone is one popular
For flooring, designers usually advise hardwood.
Linoleum, maligned for years, is making a comeback.
Unused rolls of vintage linoleum from the '20s to the
'50s can often be found at salvage companies or at
specialty stores. On the ceiling, pressed metal makes
quite a statement, particularly when left in its natural
state. As an alternative, try heavy Anaglypta paper, a
cream-colored wallpaper embossed in a variety of period
patterns. It is less expensive to install than pressed
metal and once painted, achieves a much similar effect.
Finding genuine looking stoves and also refrigerators,
became easier in the mid 1980s when the country look was
blossoming. Our grandparents' stoves have all been
refurbished and are easier than ever to find. No matches
needed!. Though most old stoves are white, some
occasionally turn up in cream, green, or cobalt blue.
Hoods are more difficult to find to match your stove
since they were not around one hundred years ago. Try
buying wood and blending it into the upper cabinetry.
Vintage style hardware is the icing on the cake for the
finishing touch on your period look kitchen. Designers
suggest old-fashioned brass, satin nickel or a blackened
finish. The hardware makes the whole kitchen look as if
it has been there for years just like the rest of your
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