Creating a New Kitchen in an Old House. Part One.
The Cross House was built in 1894.
While 1894 living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms, and even bathrooms are not radically different from the same rooms today, kitchens are. And few people owning an old home would want a period-correct kitchen.
Kitchens in 1894 did not have refrigerators (which became common post-1920), dishwashers (which became common well after WWII), or microwaves (1970s). Nor central air. Nor a flat-panel TV on the wall. Counters were lower than they are today (36-inches is now the standard, but I prefer counters 1-1/2-inches higher). In 1894, cabinets were few. Today, people have cabinets galore.
Most significantly, for all houses but the most modest, kitchens in 1894 were the territory of servants. Today, this is rare to the point of nonexistence, and home-owners now live in their kitchen.
Because 1894 kitchens (or any pre-WWI kitchen) were the domain of servants, they were as plain as could be. Today, kitchens are often the fanciest in the house, and certainly the most expensive per square foot.
In pondering how to create a kitchen in the Cross House, I have been researching historic kitchens. I have also been looking at a lot of new kitchens in old houses.
And one thing slaps me in the face. Almost without exception, I find archival images of historic kitchens fascinating & fabulous. What a cool room, I think, in awe, as I stare at image after image and drool. However, almost without exception, when I see a new kitchen in an old house I kinda grimace. Sometimes I cringe. I almost never think: Well done!
It is rare to find an intact kitchen from before WWII. Yet intact butler’s pantries abound. Curiously though, few people take cues from their intact butler’s pantry in fashioning their new kitchen, even though their stated intention is to create an age-appropriate kitchen.
Well, will you join me in a walk through time? In Part One of…A Kitchen Adventure!
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