Elegant Old Kitchen Gets More Efficient
A period kitchen redo adds function, storage, and better flow
Kitchen remodels are complicated beasts anywhere but even more so in a historic house, where modern efficiency often seems at odds with charming detail. Such was the quandary facing James Bryant as he considered the much-needed update of his Newton, Massachusetts, home.
Designed in 1883 by famed Boston architects Peabody & Stearns, it was a preservation-minded homeowner's dream—despite a bumpy history as a girls' school and a boardinghouse. "I was lucky to find the house in near-original condition," says James.
Unfortunately, the kitchen was dysfunctional, with storage and cleanup space shunted into a pantry and no running water: the previous owners took the freestanding sink with them. An adjacent breakfast room was accessible only through another pantry, and a second kitchen was grafted on awkwardly at one end.
Despite these flaws, James did not want a spanking new space. "I'd seen too many old houses with fabulous kitchens that looked totally out of place," he says. "I really wanted the same old kitchen, but much nicer." Local architect Anita Rogers and contractor Paul Eldrenkamp gave him just that—with one big change.
The kitchen now flows directly into the breakfast room, which retains a handy sink but gave most of the plumbed area over to a new half bath. The embossed metal ceiling, original iron stove, and pine floors remain. In fact, without a close look, you might not know that a major renovation took place here. Says James, "That's exactly how I wanted it."
Curvy brackets add a graceful, old-fashioned detail at either end of the snack bar. Meanwhile, cabinet-door panels and a custom surround help the fridge blend into its surroundings.
Refrigerator: Sub-Zero, Inc.
Range: Wolf Appliance, Inc.
Sink: Elkay Manufacturing Co.
Granite and soapstone countertops: Louis W. Mian, Inc.
Subway tile: Pratt & Larson
Recessed lights: Philips Lightolier
A bracketed shelf running along the top of the old stove wall proudly displays heirloom transferware plates, while keeping them out of harm's way.
The nonfunctioning coal stove goes to work as a handy spice rack and storage area.
Perhaps the room's most striking feature, the existing embossed metal ceiling tiles required only a fresh coat of paint.
The former boardinghouse's 290-square-foot kitchen was closed off from a breakfast room with another kitchen of its own.
The original kitchen has new cabinets, appliances, and prep space, and now connects to the breakfast room, which kept a sink.
1. Cut an opening between the kitchen and breakfast room to improve
traffic flow while preserving the original kitchen's footprint.
2. Walled off where the second kitchen was (putting the space to use as a powder room) and built a new storage/sink wall.
3. Added a new worktable that evokes vintage kitchens while accommodating the existing windows.
4. Put in an island with a double sink, dishwasher, and second oven for improved work flow, more prep space, and snack seating.