WARNING: A RANT:
There is something which quite vexes me!
On the fabulous Old House Dreams, for example, a house will be shown from, say, 1905, but with a 1950s kitchen.
And people will comment: Oh! I would need to tear out that kitchen and install a period-correct one.
I read (and hear) this ALL THE TIME.
- The people who state this will 100% guaranteed NOT install a period-correct kitchen. They will install a wholly modern fitted kitchen with every possible gadget and convenience, and all hyper-glamorized to a point where their new kitchen will be THE most visually dramatic in the whole house. This new hyper-kitchen will look NOTHING like a kitchen from 1905.
- And in the process, a true period kitchen, the 1950s one, will be thrown into the dumpster. ARGH!!!!!!!!
I always rush in to defend (as do others) these 1950s kitchens (or 1930s, 1940s, 1960s, and even 1970s) if they look in good shape and are of high quality. These are period kitchens. Their replacement will not be.
Oh, and look at what some idiot did to this extraordinary period kitchen. Be prepared to scream.
Rant over. Normal programming will now resume…
I greatly enjoy pouring over images of historic kitchens. This does not mean that I am ready to commence with the restoration of the Cross House kitchen, or even that I will recreate a truly period-correct kitchen. It just means that I enjoy the process of learning about old kitchens.
When I purchased the Cross House in 2014 I had zero idea of what an 1894 kitchen looked like, or what a 1894 stove looked like, or an 1894 kitchen sink, or what refrigeration was like in 1894.
I know now. And learning about all this has been great fun.
A while back I did a series of posts about historic kitchens. People seem to greatly enjoy these posts.
Wanna have some more fun?
1870s? This is the kitchen in the astounding Armour-Stiner house, which is likely the finest house restoration in America. I am uncertain how much of this kitchen is original and how much is recreation. If the former, wow. If the latter WOW! Note very simple gas lighting. Built-in range. Wood floor. Tall hot water heater. The plaster cornice is highly unusual for a kitchen. Almost unheard of. Image courtesy Joseph Pell Lombardi.
1880? This house was on Old House Dreams. This is a pretty good recreation. The plain walls and the color are accurate. The two-tone wainscoting, too. The sink is post-1915, as are the INCREDIBLE double ranges. The gas/electric sconces would have been gas in 1880. The gas chandelier is, I think, fancier than would have been normal for an 1880s kitchen. The tile flooring is not correct for 1880. Still, I give the effort high marks. To me, the kitchen could pass for a 1920s update of an 1880s kitchen. And I am fine with that.
1899 (date of image). Note the built-in cast-iron range, and a freestanding range (far right). This appears to have been typical for the period, although I do not know why. Why two ranges? Note also how low the built-in range is. The gas lighting is very plain, and has two glass smoke bells hanging from the ceiling. A small sink is in the corner and with a small drainboard. It is also interesting how the sink is placed right in front of a window, and its backsplash simply covers up the window. Is the “rug” linoleum? Image courtesy Museum of the City of New York.
1899. Very simple gas/electric lighting. Two ranges. And each was obviously intended, rather than the small one having been added later. The range hood is metal, as I think all range hoods should be (today, people often have a hood mimic cabinetry). Image courtesy Museum of the City of New York.
1899. Nice detail of the above kitchen. Looking to the hot water tank. The floor appear to be terrazzo. I adore terrazzo. Image courtesy Museum of the City of New York
Circa-1900. very simple gas/electric lighting. Subway tile walls (fashionable today!). Tile flooring. TWO sinks! Are those hot water heaters high up on the walls? Love the miles of piping. The range looks like the very acme of modernity. Image courtesy Museum of the City of New York
1900? Tile floor and walls. Cast-iron range. Love the light fixture. Sink with wood drain boards. Image courtesy Museum of the City of New York.
1903. Andrew Carnegie Mansion, NYC. The lighting is all electric with just a hint of fanciness. Two ranges. And that is some island! Image courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York.
1914. Hot water heater in corner. Small sink. Laundry tubs to right. I like the inclusion of a rocking chair. Image courtesy Museum of the City of New York.
1916. This remarkably intact kitchen was on Old House Dreams. The house recently sold and I would be very surprised if the new owner did not gut this treasure of a kitchen
Circa-1925. Too delicious. The 1920s was the last decade when kitchens would comprise free-standing components. In the 1930s built-in cabinets with built-in sinks and ranges designed to fit in between cabinets became standard. A “fitted” kitchen. A late 1930s kitchen would be considered modern today. Note floor tiles, subway tile walls, electric lighting, and refrigerator (refrigerators for home use were introduced in 1913). I do not know where the sink and range are, but the refrigerator seems miles from them. Image Courtesy Museum of the City of New York
The main aesthetic theme in all the above kitchens is SIMPLICITY.
And nobody does this with new kitchens.