David and Tiffany’s Kitchen: Restoring an Original

2010 12 28 Image 01David and Tiffany lived in a wonderful Victorian with an amazing staircase, plaster medallions, and large windows. But as their family grew, it became necessary to look for a larger home. They came across a 1921 English Cottage style home that fit their space needs. It had plenty of room for each of their children to have a room of their own, spacious rooms on the main floor, plenty of built in cabinets, a sun porch, a beautiful master bedroom, and a finished attic space for family activities.

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Nate and Molly’s Kitchen: Sinks, and Floors, and Lighting, oh-my!

2010 03 09 Image 01The kitchen sink was in really poor shape. Molly and I discussed the possibility of finding a replacement that was in better shape, but we both felt it would be too disruptive to the historic tile to attempt to replace the sink. Instead, Nate and Molly opted to have their sink refinished by Stanley Tub. The sink lost it’s dull, stained, worn appearance and once again looks bright white. Molly understands that this finish is not as tough as the original porcelain, it is more like an auto body paint and may need to be touched up or even redone in time. When using a refinished sink, it’s important to use a sink mat or kitchen towel to put dishes on when you sit them in the sink, and use Bon Ami Cleanser, never an abrasive cleanser or Brillo pad to clean the sink.

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Nate and Molly’s Kitchen: In the Beginning… 1920’s meets 1970’s

2010 02 11 Image 01Nate and Molly have a wonderful 1905 home. They consider themselves stewards of this wonderful historic resource, and wish to honor the interesting story that this home has to tell. Initially, they did not know what their options were other than what is so commonly heard throughout the media…. which is “rip it all out to the studs and put in the latest kitchen style… Make it personal to you!” This approach to kitchens runs counter to the preservation ethic of conserving historic building fabric (50 years or older). It creates a state of “cognitive dissonance” with the rest of a historic building, unnecessarily puts huge amounts of building materials in the waste stream, and costs homeowners tens of thousands of dollars unnecessarily. Historic kitchens can be repaired with creative solutions and made to contend with contemporary demands.

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Fox’s Victorian Kitchen: A Restoration Done Right!

2009 09 21 Image 01The Fox’s Victorian kitchen remodel was completed earlier this year, and it is an amazing sight.

Necessity is the mother of invention, and after the reproduction icebox Kim and Roy Fox had hoped to purchase was no longer available, another approach had to be found. The solution came in the form of separate Liebherr refrigerator and freezer components. Kim and Roy purchased the two components, and had Brendon Powell of Mountain View Door and Woodworking build an icebox shell and doors to go around them. The antique icebox hardware was the finishing touch bringing everything together. People have come into Kim and Roy’s kitchen, looked around, and said “Gee, where’s the refrigerator?” In most cases they were standing right next to it!

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Fox’s Victorian Kitchen: In The Home Stretch

Kim and Roy Fox, clients of mine, are in the home stretch of restoring their Victorian kitchen. You can read more about their story in two previous blog entries.

Kim and Roy wanted to capture the beauty and elegance that was often historically reflected in the butler’s pantry. They chose a natural wood finish, soap stone counter top and back splash, and an absolutely wonderful early mixer faucet. Kim needed to have a functional work area sooner rather than later, so the emphasis was placed on completion of the lower cabinets so she would have a functional sink and dishwasher (camping is fun for a while, but there are limits….).

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Soapstone sink in pantry

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Wall mount mixer faucet

Kim and Roy wanted to have a mixer faucet in the butler’s pantry, and their quest ended when they came across piece that was at a salvage place in California. It ended up having problems with worn out seats. No one we knew here in Portland would touch it, and they didn’t want to send it back. I contacted my antique plumber (I call him the Plumber from the gods…) Walter Parker of School House Plumbing in Massachusetts. He said he would fix it without any hesitation, so off it went to New England. Walter repaired the seats. He was also able to help Kim and Roy with installation advice and last minute trouble shooting. Like I say, Walter is truly the Plumber from the gods! Kim and Roy love the faucet, and it looks beautiful!

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Totally hidden dishwasher!

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Drawers, the real deal

We all want them, even if we don’t admit it… Dishwashers, yes indeed! Kim and Roy wanted to incorporate a hidden dishwasher, and I recommended a Fisher & Paykel. One of the most challenging aspects, however, is that the control panel happens to be on the front of the drawer. The panel had to be recessed into the wood and then covered with an antique pull handle that was just the right size. It is completely hidden, but still accessible for operating the dishwasher. The carpenter, Brandon, was able to create false drawer fronts that make the dishwasher completely indistinguishable from the bank of real drawers on the right side of the sink! Yep, dishwashers, we want them, but we don’t want to look at them!

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Eriez Stove now at home

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Utility Sink next to stove

The first stove that Kim and Roy purchased was not well restored. They ended up sending it back, but not sure where to locate a well restored replacement. I recommended Dave Erickson of Erickson’s Stoves in Littleton Massachusetts. It seemed like the best thing to do was for Kim and Roy to go to New England, meet Dave, and see if he had a stove for them. Dave had so many choices, that Kim and Roy almost came home with two stoves! But alas, with only one kitchen they ended up choosing this lovely Eriez stove that has eight burners, two small ovens and one large oven. It is all gas and electric, so no need to tend the fire and clean the ash box here! They had it in time for Thanksgiving, and it worked beautifully, as Dave’s stoves always do. To the right of the stove, they have a utility sink. The sink is copper, with a more plain wooden cabinet, soapstone counter top, and vintage separate hot and cold faucets. Kim has an enamel tin cup and stand in the corner at the ready!

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ish dresser in the butler’s pantry

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Roy, Kim and Karla

Kim needed storage, but in an unfitted kitchen there just isn’t much. The storage is usually in the pantry. So Matthew Roman and I came up with a bank of upper and lower cabinets that were designed to look like the old dish dressers commonly found in butler’s pantries. Kim wanted a wooden counter top, and chose a contrasting wood finish, which reflects light into the room. The upper cabinets will have etched glass fronts when they are finished. Kim will actually end up with more storage with her new old kitchen than she had with the contemporary kitchen that was removed… Fancy that! Although Matthew was not able to be with us when this photo was taken, Kim, Roy and Karla posed for a group shot in the pantry. Between them is the kitchen plan.

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Kitchen design plan

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Light fixture above utility sink

A beautifully finished light fixture is above the utility sink. Note the lovely bullet shade, and wonderful pull chain lever. There is great attention to detail that takes time, but Roy and Kim are now in the home stretch to having a wonderfully restored Victorian Kitchen.

Fox’s Victorian Kitchen: The Great Stove Safari

Kim and Roy Fox are clients of mine and in the process of restoring a Victorian kitchen as first described in “Fox’s Victorian Kitchen: A Creative Interchange of Insights and Ideas”.

Kim and Roy were struggling with their stove selection for the restoration. They had successfully found many elements for the kitchen on their own. But the stove they had found and purchased on the web had quality problems when it arrived. Fortunately, they were able to return it for a refund, but they were unsure of where to look for another stove. They were leery of going back on the web, but needed to figure out how to locate the type of stove they wanted.

Eriez Stove at Erickson's Antique Stoves

Eriez Stove at Erickson’s Antique Stoves

Eriez Stove top

Eriez Stove top

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Fox’s Victorian Kitchen: A Creative Interchange of Insights and Ideas

Kim and Roy Fox are restoring their home, a lovely Queen Anne Victorian. When they purchased the house years ago, it had been condemned. Kim and Roy remember being able to see sunlight coming through the ceiling when they looked up! For years they have been going through the house, sensitively restoring it inside and out, and doing an amazing job. Then they came to the Final Frontier… The Kitchen… The original kitchen was largely gone, though the Foxes were able to preserve the original wainscot, windows, doors and moldings. The current kitchen had contemporary cabinets, lighting, and layout along with modern appliances. Most people might not have given it much consideration. However, the Foxes were interested in bringing the Victorian charm back into their kitchen, while still retaining some of the modern amenities.

Fox house (with Fox's) back in 1980

Fox house (with Fox’s) back in 1980

Fox house today

Fox house today

After meeting with them and finding out that they truly wanted to return their kitchen to more closely resemble the time period of their house, a strategic partner of mine, architect Matthew Roman, of Roman Design, and I began looking at architectural clues and proposing design suggestions. The contemporary kitchen had been located in what had been the butler’s pantry, and what had been the kitchen had been made into a dining area with a poorly a laid out closet for storage. We recommended returning the butler’s pantry to its previous location, creating cabinetry that would provide much needed storage, returning the kitchen area to its original location, and changing the closet orientation so that it would provide more accessible storage (and would occupy the same space as a long-removed wood lift).

Fox kitchen (and Kim) back in 1980

Fox kitchen (and Kim) back in 1980

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Fox kitchen before current restoration

Kim and Roy are hands on and have been paying a lot of attention to detail. They hired Brendon Powell, of Mountain View Door and Woodworking, to replicate doors, moldings and wainscot; restore the pantry window to its original size, and to build all the cabinetry using all mortise and tenon joinery (no plywood here). Kim then stained all of the woodwork which now has a beautiful old style finish. The Foxes have also been figuring out creative ways to further conceal a microwave oven and a draw dishwasher I recommended, and integrate refrigeration into an old fashioned ice box. I helped the Fox’s find lighting from Dave Vaughn Lighting and I’m currently helping them in their quest for the perfect vintage stove. The goal is to make their kitchen be like a time-warp, more closely matching the time period of their beautiful home. There kitchen is the last major project to having a fully restored Queen Ann Victorian.

Fox pantry window being restored to original position

Fox pantry window being restored to original position

Pantry sink mixer faucet

Pantry sink mixer faucet

The Fox’s were very pleased with a faucet I found at Rejuvenation and used it for the kitchen sink. They found a fabulous old mixer faucet on the web for the butler’s pantry sink, and it was just recently delivered. It is a wonderful piece of vintage plumbing, but did not come with installation instructions. Because of its design, it appears to require access to the back side of the mixer during installation. So Roy is now figuring out how to best install it. Roy loves a challenge, and he has honed his problem solving skills to near perfection with this project. It is truly a pleasure to be of assistance to them in this exciting project, and I’ve been encouraging them each step of the way. Honestly, I think I’ve learned as much from them as they have from me. But this creative interchange of insights and ideas is a big part of what I love about consulting.

Fox pantry showing draw dishwasher

Fox pantry showing draw dishwasher

Fox kitchen sink restored

Fox kitchen sink restored