More in Small Kitchens

Pouring Light and Modernity into a Sad, Small Kitchen

In a turn-of-the-century bungalow, the kitchen is carefully planned — and furnished — to look unplanned.

California bungalow kitchen; after
Photo by Shelley Metcalf
1 ×

 

Buying a rundown 1898 Arts and Crafts-style bungalow in Coronado, Calif., was, Patricia DiCicco's family insisted, a supreme act of folly. But Patt ignored their skepticism. She'd always loved old houses — there aren't many of them in California — and she fell for this one right away. "Most people considered the place a teardown," she says, "because it needed to be completely overhauled from top to bottom. But I saw its potential." Patt's passion is not lost on This Old House's former host, Steve Thomas. "I grew up in a bungalow in Berkeley, and there's something about that style that epitomizes home," he says. "I can see why she wanted to rescue this place." Coronado, a long-established resort community on a peninsula between San Diego Bay and the Pacific Ocean, was initially developed as a haven for the elite. Old-timers told Patt that her house had been designed by a noted local architect, William Sterling Hebbard. For Patt, whose primary residence is in Palo Alto, the town looked like the ideal spot for her and her husband's retirement. Until that time came, they and their sons could use the bungalow as a getaway on occasional weekends; she also hoped to rent it out for most of the summer. A born optimist, Patt bought the house in December 1998, and secured her first renters for the following July. The timetable gave Patt and her crew about six months to get the house into move-in condition. Big tasks included a complete rewiring and replumbing. And then there was the kitchen: It might have worked for previous owners, but Patt didn't want to cook in it.
Buying a rundown 1898 Arts and Crafts-style bungalow in Coronado, Calif., was, Patricia DiCicco's family insisted, a supreme act of folly. But Patt ignored their skepticism. She'd always loved old houses — there aren't many of them in California — and she fell for this one right away. "Most people considered the place a teardown," she says, "because it needed to be completely overhauled from top to bottom. But I saw its potential." Patt's passion is not lost on This Old House's former host, Steve Thomas. "I grew up in a bungalow in Berkeley, and there's something about that style that epitomizes home," he says. "I can see why she wanted to rescue this place." Coronado, a long-established resort community on a peninsula between San Diego Bay and the Pacific Ocean, was initially developed as a haven for the elite. Old-timers told Patt that her house had been designed by a noted local architect, William Sterling Hebbard. For Patt, whose primary residence is in Palo Alto, the town looked like the ideal spot for her and her husband's retirement. Until that time came, they and their sons could use the bungalow as a getaway on occasional weekends; she also hoped to rent it out for most of the summer. A born optimist, Patt bought the house in December 1998, and secured her first renters for the following July. The timetable gave Patt and her crew about six months to get the house into move-in condition. Big tasks included a complete rewiring and replumbing. And then there was the kitchen: It might have worked for previous owners, but Patt didn't want to cook in it.
2 ×

PROBLEM

 

PROBLEM

California bungalow kitchen; before
Photo by Shelley Metcalf

The kitchen, like most of the rooms, suffered from misguided — and cheap — attempts at modernization. "It was so depressing," says Patt. When earlier homeowners added bathrooms on the second floor, they simply snaked the plumbing lines above the windows over the kitchen sink and boxed them in behind 18-inch-high soffits. When they needed more cupboards, they stuck them in willy-nilly. A skimpy peninsula bisected the 12-by-20-foot room, and three layers of linoleum covered the floors. Worst of all, virtually every window was blocked. Those over the sink faced a laundry shed; two others were covered over by an exterior lean-to that housed the water heater; yet another had been sealed off after a stove fire. While all this clearly needed fixing, Patt decided she'd rather live with the kitchen's inconvenient location — it connects the house to the backyard — than alter the footprint of the house. "Because this isn't her everyday kitchen, Patt was willing to make certain compromises," explains Steve. SOLUTION
To ready the room for its facelift, Patt gutted it and ripped out the shed, the lean-to, and the windows, which she restored and reinstalled. The demolition resulted in a brighter space, but it also revealed that the Douglas-fir floor — which ran in three different directions beneath the linoleum — couldn't be salvaged. Patt chose a high-pressure wood-look laminate to replace it: "I wanted a floor I wouldn't have to worry about with renters or my kids."
3 ×

 

California bungalow kitchen renovation; floorplan
The renovated kitchen fits squarely within the old footprint. The cabinet run on the window wall thins out to accommodate a doorway. A pantry cabinet fills in for an old walk-in.
Patt, who designed the new kitchen layout herself, created a modern version of the so-called unfitted kitchens authentic to the Arts and Crafts period. In those kitchens, layouts followed no plan and virtually every appliance and cabinet stood alone. In Patt's update, she ran lightly stained, Douglas-fir Shaker-style cabinets only along the sink wall, and the sole built-in appliances are the dishwasher and a grill. The refrigerator and range, placed against the opposite wall in the same positions as their predecessors, stand independently, as does the table that centers the room. "A busy cook might find the layout frustrating," says Steve, "because you have to go around the table to get anywhere — but it serves this family's purposes." To make the arrangement more attractive to her renters, Patt factored in a small second sink near the dishwasher to handle the extra glassware a family typically uses during the summer. Patt had been searching for a 1940s-era stove when a friend back home offered her a second-hand commercial-grade refrigerator, range, and hood at a great price. Her husband rented a truck and drove them down. Patt particularly likes the refrigerator, because it is only 24 inches deep. But at 48 inches wide, it is hefty: "It took three guys to move it in here," she says. FINISHING TOUCHES
To enhance the unfitted look and complement the stainless-steel appliances, Patt placed a 30-by-72 inch kitchen table with a stainless top in the center of the room; it doubles as a work surface, taking the place of a traditional island. A Craftsman-inspired lighting fixture provides task lighting for food preparation as well as overall illumination for dining. To display her cookware, Patt bought moveable wire shelving on wheels. For the countertops, she chose a stonelike porcelain tile. The backsplash is tumbled marble in a similar hue. "The transformation of the kitchen — and the rest of the house — has made believers out of Patt's husband and sons, who've come to love the place as much as she does," says Steve. Her house, Patt adds, is now "a small piece of history preserved, too."
 
 

TV Listings

Find TV Listing for This Old House and Ask This Old House in your area.