A Kitchen Gets Modern Flow With Major Savings
Removing a wall and adding period touches transformed the kitchen in this 1850s cottage—and sweat equity saved them big bucks
Few rooms are more appealing than a bright, open kitchen that invites family and friends to gather round. So after Tracy Stephenson Shaffer and her husband, Doug, gutted the makeshift cooking space in their 1852 cottage in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, they wanted to connect the kitchen to an adjacent family room, using a peninsula with stool seating on one side to delineate the two. The open-plan configuration would also keep the focus on the crowd-pleasing 1950s Chambers stove that inspired the room's vintage style.
Fortunately, the couple was willing to take on most of the work themselves, with plenty of help from Tracy's dad, who salvaged the original heart-pine floor and built the Shaker-style cabinets. Sweat equity freed up funds in the couple's $15,000 budget for new wiring, plumbing, and gas lines, as well as a $2,600 overhaul of the old stove. With one wall down, two dreary rooms became one cheery family room kitchen with a separate table for playing games and doing crafts with their young daughter, Sara. The new space, together with the mini mudroom they created in an entry alcove, honors the history of the home and functions much more efficiently, says Doug. Which is another way of saying that they nailed the period look and got the family-friendly upgrade they needed, too.
The birch plywood cabinets and detailed vent hood surround were built and painted by wife Tracy's father. The countertops are Crema Marfil marble. Husband Doug made the mudroom bench from salvaged wood.
The old kitchen had a smattering of metal cabinets and not much else.
The existing 210-square-foot kitchen was walled off from the family room and had a makeshift layout with almost no counter space.
1. Removed the wall between the kitchen and family room, eliminating two door swings, and built a peninsula with cabinet storage for games on one side and cubbies
for cookbooks on
2. Raised the existing window
10 inches so that it sits just above the backsplash behind a new farmhouse sink.
3. Created a mini mudroom in the
3½-by-5½-foot entry space with a narrow bench, baskets, and coat hooks.
4. Relocated the stove to form a work triangle with the new sink and the fridge, which was also relocated. The configuration required rerouting plumbing and gas pipes and rewiring.
5. Added a table and
chairs for a breakfast area that can double as an additional prep zone.