Layers of “Implied Time” — 10 New “Old” Design Elements for an Unfitted Kitchen

After 7 years of waiting, the beginning of our “Remodeling a Remuddle” renovation is only weeks away!

I’m starting to dig in deep to the particulars of this project with my GC, architect, and kitchen designer. I admit, I’m a little late in the game here. I’ve been working on client projects, and my own has gotten pushed to the back burner. Such is life, right?

We originally intended to do the whole “remuddled” side of the house and give it the “historically-inspired” twist that we’ve taken with the rest of our 1790 Federal farmhouse — the kitchen (half of which is in the historic ell with a 1970s bump-out), the minuscule mudroom, the laundry (tucked into the barn-turned-garage), and the 1970s master bedroom and bath addition.

Unfortunately, the whole project was thrown into tizzy when it turned out that we would have to take half the roof off the kitchen because it wasn’t structurally sound. Needless to say, the budget basically doubled for the kitchen alone.



We were faced with a decision —

  1. Proceed with renovating the areas as planned and just get the whole thing done (albeit with less attention to historic detail … even as much as we could afford, which, believe me, is not “historically accurate”) or,
  2. Shrink the scope of the project, but do it right.

So many times I’ve see additions or renovations where I feel more emphasis was placed on capturing the most square footage possible rather than creating less space but doing it with detail. I knew I’d never be satisfied with a half-done job, so we decided that the master bedroom and bathroom will have to wait for another year.


Hopefully that year will come someday. But if it doesn’t, well, then the areas that the family uses most have been addressed.


In the coming weeks/months, I’ll go into detail about my specific selections. But right now, here are 10 new “old” design elements I’ve been coveting from unfitted kitchens over the last 7 years that have actually made it into the final plans!


1. Freestanding, Furniture-Like Pantry

10 New "Old" Design Elements for my Unfitted Kitchen
Grit & Polish via Instagram


With an absolute premium on storage space since we are demo’ing our 15-foot island/closet in the middle of the kitchen, I’m going to have a new, custom pantry created for most of our dry food storage, rather than using something vintage or antique. However, it will look like an absolutely separate piece of furniture, having a stained finish and a different, raised-panel door panel style than the rest of our built-ins.


2. Center Table

10 New "Old" Design Elements for my Unfitted Kitchen
Studio Peregalli via Mark D. Sikes


This post about center tables vs. islands has been a popular one. I have always wanted a center table, preferably with a drawer for utensils (to free up a base cabinet drawer for other things!). It just seems so homey.

While I LOVE my current pine table — which is also an antique and has a fabulous bullet proof finish — I wanted something really heavy if it were going to serve as both work table and dining table. I found one, a gorgeous cherry table from England, and even saved about $1,000 using one of my 7 tips for buying vintage furniture.


PS: Both my antique pine farm table and the reproduction ladder back chairs I bought for it are currently for sale. Send me an email if you’re interested.


3. Marble Counters

10 New "Old" Design Elements for my Unfitted Kitchen
for the love of a house


Yes, I want marble. Etching and staining be damned.


I have been in love with marble counters ever since I visited Joan’s kitchen in this post. She has the most comprehensive review of living with marble counters I have ever read.

As Joan says, “The most compelling thing I can say to you if you are trying to decide whether to use marble in your kitchen is to remind you that it has been used in France for centuries, and the French are the quintessential experts on all things good in design and in the art of living well!”


While I’ve recommended Neolith and quartz for a number of clients for counters in more newly built homes, something so “perfect” in its finish would be out of place in a house like mine, which leans 3″ to the north and has so many random, purposeless curiosities like defunct heating vents, mismatched crown moldings, more door knob styles than you can shake a stick at.


Lastly, I’ll be using a type of white marble that is less porous than many others. But more on that in another post.


4. A Stove Alcove

10 New "Old" Design Elements for my Unfitted Kitchen
DeVol Kitchens


This post about stove alcoves roused a few passionate opinions, and quite rightly so. They can be difficult to work with if you don’t have a work counter directly opposite or a healthy dose of counter to either side.

However, our house probably had at least 6 fireplaces in it at one time, and now only has 1 working fireplace and a closed-off fireplace in Thing 1’s room. Part of the kitchen resides in our home’s historic ell, which probably served as a summer kitchen and woodshed in a former life. I really wanted to create the look of a former-fireplace-converted-into-a-stove-alcove for the kitchen.

I’ve worked with my kitchen designer, Lisa Muskat of LKM Design, to create an “implied alcove” (read the  post to see what I mean), where the sides are a very shallow depth and the base counters are actually a little deeper than normal so that I can still rest a hot pan or pot beside the stove.


5. A Plate Rack

10 New "Old" Design Elements for my Unfitted Kitchen
via Better Homes & Gardens


I’ve always loved the above kitchen, which I also featured in this post on the happiest color for your home.

We’ll be moving all of our everyday dishes and cups to a single hanging open shelf/plate rack unit to the right of the dishwasher. Will this require whittling down our collection of mismatched dishes? YES! But honestly, I’m looking forward to it. I’ve measured everything, and I think it should be perfectly adequate for our family of 4. (Almost everything we have is in a single wall cabinet anyway.) Any extra dishes for when we have guests will go in the base cabinets or in the dining room china cupboard.


6. Pot Rack Over the Range

10 New "Old" Design Elements for my Unfitted Kitchen
faithmd via Instagram


In my quest to maximize storage, I’m taking to the walls! I have 5 or 6 pans that currently reside in drawers that we’ll be hanging over the 48″ range. And while it would be awesome to have a bevy of beautiful copper cooking tools like in the above pic, I take heart in the fact that the below rack with stainless steel pans via Aimee Clark still looks wonderful.


10 New "Old" Design Elements for my Unfitted Kitchen
Aimee Clark


7. Rise and Fall Pendants

10 New "Old" Design Elements for my Unfitted Kitchen
Hendricks Churchill


10 New "Old" Design Elements for my Unfitted Kitchen
Nancy Fishelson


I LOVE rise & fall pendants, which use a counter weight to allow for an adjustable height. I used them in this studio room for a writer/artist that’s in progress. For my kitchen, I’ll be using AQUA pendants over the center table. Can’t wait to reveal them to you!


8. Wide Pine Floors

10 New "Old" Design Elements for my Unfitted Kitchen
Olde Tyme Craftsmen


The part of our home that is original has wide plank pine floors. One drawback to solid wood floors for many newer homeowners is that the boards can shrink or swell with the changing humidity, creating gaps between planks and squeaks, etc. They also may see these gaps as difficult to clean or unsanitary.

I guess I won’t win any Mr. Clean awards. Again, my house has so many foibles — including quarter inch gaps in the current floor — that I don’t much care about gapping or squeaking or the occasional crumbs that only our dog can get at after a fair amount of licking (dogs are awesome for toddler cleanup, btw).

Also, the fact that pine is so soft and dents easily doesn’t bother me either. Our floors have so much “character” and patina, I love it. Honestly, if we ever refinished the floors, the newness would stress me out.


9. A “Converted Porch”

Layers of "Implied Time" -- 10 New "Old" Design Elements for my Unfitted Kitchen
Jeffrey Bilhuber

This will be in the side of the kitchen where the roof has to come off.

We’re creating layers of implied time that weren’t there before. So, we’ll be creating the feel of a converted porch from the 1970s kitchen bump-out, keeping the existing footprint, still having a shallow slant to the roof, and lining the entire pond-side wall with windows. We’ll also be placing a wood stove in front of them to make it feel as though it had once been a screened porch that was winterized.

In reality, this space was never a porch, just an addition with a 6.5′ ceiling and bad rafters. I’ll be keeping these windows bare to maximize the light and view.


10. Painted Finishes


As I detailed in this post about freshening up antique homes,  color is huge for me. I’ve never forgotten this taupe kitchen…

Layers of "Implied Time" -- 10 New "Old" Design Elements for my Unfitted Kitchen
Ramsay Gourd


… and this green kitchen.


Layers of "Implied Time" -- 10 New "Old" Design Elements for my Unfitted Kitchen
Tiffany Eastman


My home has a color palette of blue, berry red, taupe, and hits of green which I’ve slowly been spreading throughout the house. I’ll be continuing that color story in my kitchen, with taupe cabinetry in the main room, and a bright grass green in the the laundry.


Any favorite elements of yours? Any I should include and haven’t thought of?

10 New _Old_ Design Elements for an Unfitted Kitchen


I’ll be back next time with a tour of a marble quarry right here in the US! Stay tuned!


Home Glow Design Shop on Chairish

4 thoughts on “Layers of “Implied Time” — 10 New “Old” Design Elements for an Unfitted Kitchen”

  1. Such a good post – RICH with concise info. My home is a 1984 ranch but even so I felt this was a primer on how to get that homey, lived in feel that is so comfortable.

    1. Thank you, Julie! Glad you enjoyed. We used to live in a 1950s ranch, and I grew up in a 1970s “colonial.” I think you can have a homey feel, regardless of the era of your home.

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