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Kitchen in a 1949 red brick colonial

Does anyone have suggestions for cabinet door style and counter top for late 1940s brick colonial?

I am trying to weave some elements from the late 40s / early 50s.

I have searching the web but didn't find a lot of relevant info and / or pictures.

Thanks for your help.

Re: Kitchen in a 1949 red brick colonial

Do you want to recreate a 1949 kitchen, or remodel a kitchen so that it blends with the style of your home even if it is not period perfect?

Here are some pics from the 1940s and a little earlier: http://www.oldhouseweb.com/architecture-and-design/the-old-house-kitchen-magazine-scenes.shtml

Here are some from the 1950’s: http://www.housebeautiful.com/kitchens/kitchens-1950s-0609#slide-1

One of the things I like about TOH is the way they frequently create a modern workable kitchen that matches the architecture of the house without actually being a period kitchen. I really like the Arlington house kitchen (except it’s a little too large for me) because it is a modern kitchen that looks right in the house - updated but not out of place. Houses are homes, not museums.

One of the reasons kitchen designs have evolved so much is that kitchens for today’s family function different than before in many ways. For example, instead of a small back room only mom or the maid entered, now they are often gathering spaces for the family – doing homework, cooking, just talking.

I do think keeping the integrity of the house is important, but like the recent Arlington house, the improvements to the kitchen were worth knocking down a few walls. That said, I don’t like it when old houses remodel into ultra modern insides that don’t match the architecture of the house.

1940’s homes often had metal cabinets, linoleum floors and tile or linoleum counters. Do you want that? If so fine. If not really, then look for a style that will match the style of your houses architectural elements or are timeless. If you want wood cabinets, what is the color and style of the trim and doors in the rest of the house? A flat panel door is more timeless than many other styles. If you don’t want a linoleum floor, you could go with wood – not typical in the 1949, but a classy look.

Adding vintage pieces from the 1940s – 50’s and using vintage fabrics in the decorating will also help a new kitchen blend in with an older home.

Re: Kitchen in a 1949 red brick colonial

I am just looking to weave elements of the time frame throughout the house. The 2 bathrooms are mostly original. If I had to give a number to it, I would say about 97%. I am working to find some replacement tiles for ones that are cracked. There are about 5 to 10 that need to be replaced. Other original features include: slate roof, hardwood floors, front door, internal glass door knobs and some light fixtures. I am not sure if the internal doors are original.

The kitchen is 10x10. Within the design I want to incorporate some 40s/50s styles. It could be period style light fixtures, cabinet style, counter tops or pops of color in the back splash. One wall will have upper cabinets added to it with a butcher block counter to add as a breakfast bar. All of the cabinets will be wood.

The trim, chair rail and crown molding in the house is not original. The trim and chair rail are being replaced. My brother in law will be making me something to fit the period. I am not sure of the design but they will be painted white. He also making me a mantel for the all red brick fireplace.

The doors are stained slab doors with no designs but as I mentioned about they have the glass door knobs and hardware.

My style is very traditional and I like clean simple lines. The furniture will be simple hardwood Amish made furniture. The couch and wind back chairs for the living room all have straight backs and sides. The colors are not bold.

The windows are original and are being made of steel. They are in bad shaped. I looked into restoration but I am having issued getting estimates form 2 of the companies I found in my area. At this point I am looking to replace with aluminum clad wood. The interior wood would be stained to match the floors.

Re: Kitchen in a 1949 red brick colonial

I think your house sounds charming! Here are some more of my random thoughts:)

For the baths: if one of your bathrooms is pink, there is a website dedicated to saving pink bathrooms and you might find replacement tile and ideas there. They also have info on vintage bathrooms:

One thing to keep in mind about old bathrooms is they were not well waterproofed in wet areas. In my own house I discovered the tiled shower wall was disintegrating under the tile. Tile and grout are not truly waterproof and if any shower areas look bad, it will be less trouble in the long run to remove the tile, put in the proper waterproofing and retile – either in something vintage matching the house, or something timeless like white subway. I replaced my 70’s robins egg blue with white subway and also tiled the walls up 4 ft.

Another good source of information on tile is the John Bridge Tile Forum.

I love the Amish built furniture. I have both an Amish pie safe and Amish made kitchen island in my 12 x 12 kitchen:

The island is a little tight on one side but I was in desperate need of work space and storage space.

I think your kitchen ideas sound already good. My first house was early 1950’s brick ranch in St. Louis. The kitchen had been a little updated before we bought it, but it had white tile walls – about 5 ft high with black tile trim and only a few cupboards. Many similar homes had the stand alone large white sink/ cabinet combo with the drain board sides and a few metal cabinets. They also all had six panel doors rather than hollow core flat doors.

A friend of mine recently used an antique sink of that vintage in her kitchen renovation in her old house – but she has counters around it. My grandmother’s house had that same large sink. She also had white wood cabinets, but the upper cabinets had a smoky glass insert instead of a panel. She had pink walls, an arched area for the stove and white curtains with red cherries on them. I amazed at how much good food came out of that tiny kitchen with barely any counter space.

The cabinets, subway tile backsplash and beadboard in the Arlington kitchen would all look great in your house. http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/photos/0,,20809607_30142443,00.html
If you have soffits, replacing those with cabinets that go to the ceiling would give you some added storage in a small kitchen.

Do a search on vintage kitchens and retro kitchens to get some more ideas. Search those on Pinterest too. TOH has some good articles on vintage kitchens and small space kitchens. Look through the kitchen submissions on the 2014 readers remodel contest: http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/yourtoh/remodel-contest/gallery?cat_id=52b89f7bf37c0f515c0005a5

And look through the 2013 winners submissions too. TOH has some very creative readers.

Re: Kitchen in a 1949 red brick colonial

Hi Lilly - The bathrooms are black and white subway tile. Since I am having difficulty finding some replacement pieces, I checked the website that you referenced to see if I could find some replacement places. I didn't find any yet however I did not spend that much time looking.

I am trying to determine if slab or overlay cabinet doors with simple polished chrome or antique brass pulls would work well. The door plates in the home are an antique brass color.

We are removing the soffits for the reason that you referenced.

I will check out the links that you included.


Re: Kitchen in a 1949 red brick colonial

Either slab or overlay cabinets will work – just a matter of what you like and what you want to work with. Same with the hardware. Don’t over worry matching hardware. In the past, people often used what was available and things did not always match. I’ve seen some newer houses built with purposely non-matching hardware and / or cabinets in different areas of the house – the “matchy matchy” trend is apparently out right now.

Many of the kitchens of your time period have soffits. Keep in mind that removing the soffits and increasing the vertical height and lines of your cabinets will affect the look of your kitchen. Since slab and overlay doors do not have much architectural detail, be careful of a wall of cabinets that is overwhelming or boring. One way to prevent that is to put small cabinets above the upper cabinets like here:



Another is to put glass in a couple of cabinets. This doesn’t have to be clear glass. This shows lower slab cabinets with some upper cabinets with glass:


You can make a mock up of your cabinet out of cardboard and tape it to your wall to see if you like the look.

If you are taking your cabinets all the way to the ceiling, remember that ceilings in old houses are rarely perfectly level. You might want to add a little molding to the top of the cabinets to cover any gaps. Episode 25 of the Arlington House shows Tom and Norm putting crown molding above the kitchen cabinets, taking into account the uneven ceiling.

For your bathroom - I am thinking your tile is mostly white with black trim?, If so and you cannot find matching white tiles, you could purposely remove, here and there, a few random white tiles and replace them with black. A bit art deco, but it might work. Tiles that are not right next to each other wont show as much that they don't match.

Good luck with your project.

Re: Kitchen in a 1949 red brick colonial

For the bathroom if you can find a close match to the tile there, you can re-do a short wall with new and use the removed tiles that don't break on removal to repair the rest.

I've put together many high-end kitchens that used 2 and 3 differing colors and styles of cabinets and hardware. If you've got a good eye for design and color it can create a very nice kitchen! Since I don't, I can't recommend anything specific save for my always-advice of staying with traditional, not trendy, with all things durable unless you want to replace them when the trend and it's style changes next year!


Re: Kitchen in a 1949 red brick colonial

My hope is that I will put together something traditional and timeless.

Thank you all for your suggestions.


Re: Kitchen in a 1949 red brick colonial

Does anyone know how to post pictures? I tried and it failed.

I am trying to determine if the combination of the granite, counter tops, cabinets and floors is too dark.

I love the granite since that is where my pop if color is going to come from. The cabinet pulls are a cool type of chrome that I really like. The backsplash will be subway tile however we have not picked the color. I like the style of the cabinets but I am not sure about the color. I have pictures for all of these.

The one side of the kitchen will have a butcher block counter top. I do not have a pciture of this.

Also, are most cabinets made with wood veneer?



Re: Kitchen in a 1949 red brick colonial

I still have not figured out how to post pictures:)

Try putting them on a public hosting site like photobucket and then link it to your post.

Re: Kitchen in a 1949 red brick colonial

Great. I will upload them when I get home from work.


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