Ack! Demolition at our house starts Monday, so it’s probably about time to start filling you in on our renovation plans!
Wendy Hodgson via Old House Journal
I’ve honestly been wanting to renovate this kitchen ever since we moved in 7 years ago. It’s located in “ell” of our house, between the main house and what used to be the barn (now garage with family room above), and is comprised of historic space + a 1970s bump out. The previous owners renovated it to its present state from what had apparently become 4 tiny rooms!
At this point, renovating is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. Our second faucet is taped together and shoots water out with the force of a fire-hydrant (usually soaking me in the process) …
… our pantry roll-out shelves have fallen down so many times (despite my putting lighter weight items on them and repairing the tracks) that now I just leave them….
… and only 2 out of 5 burners work on the stovetop.
A few more before pictures:
Please don’t Pin these!!!
We’re very fortunate that the space gets beautiful light from both sides and overlooks our pond, and there’s a huge amount of storage! But, while generous in size overall, the room is effectively divided in two halves by a large island/closet which makes for a long dining area with underutilized corners. Furthermore, thanks to some very weird construction from prior renovations/additions (’70s? 2000s? Who knows?!), the ceiling height in the dining area is 6.5″ and the windows are below eye level.
In the above cross-section, you can see our current ceiling. There’s a false ceiling under the main roof line, topping out at 6.5′ on the right side.
Above is our current layout, as I detailed in this post from so long ago when I first started brainstorming this renovation. You can see how the room is divided in 2.
Overall, my goals are:
- Re-inject some historical character with surfaces, color, pattern, and details that match the rest of the redecorated house.
- Carve out a “keeping area” with comfortable seating and a wood-burning stove overlooking the pond, by removing the center island/closet & using a center table instead of an island.
- Raise the ceiling in the “keeping area.”
- Make our same footprint work much harder by transferring much of our storage to the redone laundry/pantry (also a part of this project and which I’ll discuss in another post).
The new ceiling & layout will look something like the below 2 images:
Early drawing of the new cross-section above. My idea is to make the 1970s addition look like a converted porch (like in this post).
I worked with architect Sandra Vitzthum, whose work I have long admired and whose projects frequently appear in Old House Journal (this is my favorite), on the concepts and working drawings. It was she who thought of “reimposing the historic structure [i.e. using the historic part of the ell as the working kitchen] in order to break it.”
I loved that idea!
See how putting the refrigerator in a new corner reimposes the ell? Brilliant, Sandra!
The range will now move to the dining room wall and the kitchen table will be in the center of the room. Our final layout has changed a bit from the above, but not too much.
I’m SUPER excited to be opening up the already sweet country views with walls of windows on both the sink and the keeping room sides!!!
Here is my working design board.
My idea is to paint everything — cabinetry, walls, trim — in pale taupe and then layer on the pattern! I’ve looked for lots of “fresh classic” elements, from historically-inspired lighting mixed with a glass sputnik chandelier, a wood-burning stove that veers just a little modern, and that gorgeous range in blue! I’m hoping I can replace our dining chairs, but that remains to be seen.
More details as we go along!
I’m working with Lisa Muskat of LKM Design to create the kitchen cabinetry and overall design. She also works on a ton of old houses — her own 1790 house is gorgeous!
In the below drawings, you’ll notice few “layers of implied time” that I detailed here.
On the far left is the furniture-look, stained wood pantry, whereas the rest of the cabinetry will be painted. We’ll also be changing the doors on the pantry to a raised-panel style, both to make it look separate and to reference the raised paneling that still exists in a couple other areas of the house.
Most of our everyday dishes will go in the hanging shelf & plate rack unit on the right. The big base cabinets will hold most of my baking/roasting and cookware. I’ll probably also forgo a big backsplash on this main kitchen wall in favor of a simple 2″ splash in the countertop material, like this:
This house probably used to have up to 7 working fireplaces. All that remain now are one in the library and a closed up one with a mantle in Thing 1’s room.
The historic ell at one time housed our home’s summer kitchen and wood shed. I wanted to create an “implied stove alcove,” as if there had previously been an open fireplace into which a range was inserted as technology evolved, with a faux mantle with raised panel millwork above the stove to cover the vent.
Since we are have very little counter space, the set-back upper cabinets on either side of the range are only 10″ deep. The base cabinets are 28″ deep (instead of 24″), allowing 18″ of counter upon which I can set pans when I need to.
To the right of the range wall, under the half-window, is a space where I can find some vintage piece to house my mixing bowls.
I’m super excited about my “new” antique table!
It’s solid cherry and weighs about 200 pounds, heavy enough to use as a work table! It was hard to find one in the 78-80″ length I needed and at least 34″ deep. (So many of them are 30″ and that’s just not a very comfortable depth.) I imported this one from England, using one of my sneaky tips for antique shopping.
Lastly, it has a DRAWER, and as I’m sacrificing so many in taking out the island, I wanted my table to be able to store my silverware.
So, what’s my dilemma, you may ask? Seems like I have most things figured out, right?
I need to order upholstery — the sofa and chairs — like, stat. One thing that is new to most people when they work with a designer for the first time is realizing how long it takes to get new furniture made. Most upholstery workrooms run lead times of 6-12 weeks after receipt of fabric, depending upon the vendor.
That means that August is the drop-deadline for most Thanksgiving orders, and even that’s pushing it!
I know! I know!!! These are the decisions I help clients with all the time! But it’s SUPER hard for the decorator to decorate for herself!!!!!! I see it happen with lots of my colleagues 😉
The Handsome Husband wants things comfortable, I also want them to have a slightly worn-in, overstuffed historic look. I also want a dressmaker skirt (or slipcovers) on the chairs, because I think the fabric I chose would look beautiful and relaxed that way.
I’m debating between these combos of chairs and sofas. Don’t pay attention to the fabrics!
I love the tufting on this chair with the beautiful skirt. I also love the “settee look” of this sofa, but it’s deep enough for relaxing. Historic seeming, but up to today’s standards of comfort.
I love me a funky chair!!! but the HH thinks it looks really uncomfortable. I guess women are a little more willing to sacrifice function for form, or else we wouldn’t wear high heels. Anyway, I’m hoping to see these chairs in person at High Point, but that isn’t until October! Another settee-like sofa, but with a higher, square back. Love the sweet arms!
Relaxed, Hamptons “cottage” looking slipcovered chair paired with a tufted sofa with straight legs. To me, this chairs says “I belong on a converted porch.” I’d love to get some tufting in somewhere, so I liked this sofa!!
What would you do????? Any favorite combinations? Mix and match? Please help!
Meanwhile, I’m completely freaking out because our current kitchen is only half packed and we have only today (Sunday’s spoken for) to finish up. With all the advice about surviving a kitchen reno on the web (and you have to remember that this kitchen cuts off our access to the other half of the house!) you’d think we’d have our “makeshift” kitchen all ready.
Yeah, right! It’s summer. The kids are home. There are vacations. There are jobs. We’re winging this puppy.
One of the trade-offs of living in the country is that there is no such thing as Uber Eats. Or dinner delivery of any kind.
You are most welcome to stop by my house unannounced with food!!!
Let me know your thoughts! Any words of wisdom? Help for the upholstery quandary? I need to make a decision this week! AHHHHHHH!!
‘Til next time!