Before & After & After Again, Part 3: a Kitchen

Oh my, do I have a lot of thoughts and opinions about kitchens. Let’s just say that I have always been very rebellious towards keeping up with the Joneses, and have never wanted to live my life by spending crazy amounts of money on things they say I should be doing/having. I swear I must have a lot of Yankee blood because I love saving money. I like spending it too, but not as much as figuring out a way not to have to.

This kind of attitude does not bode well with modern kitchens. Kitchens have gone from a very utilitarian space to a status symbol in between the Victorian age and the present. But the weirdest part is no one is really cooking in them these days.

And don’t get me started about open concept! I like being by myself when I’m working, but my kitchen is also big enough for others too. I don’t “feel trapped” in there because instead of sitting around whining and inventing problems I took care of it! I put a tv with my movies in it and I have a set of computer speakers on my fridge to plug my phone into for music or podcasts. I invite my family to come cook with me and everyone helps clean up when a meal is over. I also made it my room since I’m in there a lot. I decorated it how I liked, and made sure I had a comfy chair and a heater. Viola! I love my kitchen! But it wasn’t always that way…

Part 1: 1980s-2007   Before We Lived Here

I’m not going to pretend, I actually really like the kitchen the way it was here. I like the blue and the “normal” linoleum (you’ll see why later!). The blues matched the breakfast room decor right next to the kitchen. Things I did not like were the hardware on the cabinets, the tiny drop-in stove, the laundry put in the pantry, and the peninsula.

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Here is the breakfast room looking into the kitchen.

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Part 2: 2007-2014   Living With What We Had

I have to say, honestly, this is my kitchen at its worst. It was dark, didn’t work or flow well, the appliances were broken and the floor was ugly. Also, the doors were missing. I think that’s really weird. If you want an open doorway, just open the door! Here I am, burning up in 112 Fahrenheit weather with no air conditioning doing the inspection so we could close on the house. It’s a very unflattering picture but I want you to see this part of the kitchen!

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The two cabinets here would be moved to the butler’s pantry for storage.

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This stove, ugh. Only 1/2 of 1 burner worked. We couldn’t just buy a new stove. The whole counter and cabinets were built around this 29″ drop-in nightmare. We got another on Craig’s List and replaced it the first week we were here. It cost us $40.

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Part 3: 2014-2019   An O’Keefe & Merrit and Bringing Delight into Our Kitchen

The biggest driver in change for our kitchen was getting our vintage range. I have talked about our O’Keefe & Merritt many times on this blog. I was definitely overwhelmed at times thinking of all that needed to be done in this one room. I just took it one step at a time. The first thing I did was to buy appropriate glass handles and knobs for the cabinets. I bought a few every pay-day until they were all replaced! This small change had a really big impact!

We also found the doors! One was wet and warped in the carriage house, one was in the basement. Both had paint all over the hardware. I cooked it off in an old crock-pot and we re-hung the doors. So. Much. Better.

Later we bought our stove. Were we ready for it? No. But we forged ahead by the grace of God. It sat on the dining side of the kitchen for the better part of a year. We had it hooked up to our gas line for the heater in the summertime. We had a garage sale to raise money to get it installed permanently.

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The best thing was getting this peninsula taken out. It was always in the way and dictated exactly what stove we could have. I love that we were able to recycle the cabinets. The uppers went into the butler’s pantry to hold laundry stuff. The lowers were put together to sit on the left of our new stove.

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We had to add to this bump-out because it wasn’t wide enough for the stove. It looks like a chimney is behind it, but it is actually the drain pipes for the upstairs bath.

Because of money, we had to keep the supremely laughable, ugly faux alligator skin vinyl floor. We patched it where the cabinets had been. Here are the old cabinets from the demo that we re-made! This made me so happy!

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Other small things that made big impacts were getting better lighting (including LED plug-in strips under the cabinets), and fun retro accessories.

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As much as I love kitchens I love play kitchens too! Ours is next door in the butler’s pantry. When I was growing up a friend of mine had hers in their breakfast room next to the kitchen and I never forgot how much I loved that!

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This book became the biggest help in planning a period-appropriate kitchen. It has Victorian kitchens too!

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A planning page in my journal!

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We also painted the kitchen a cream color. Unfortunately it’s a little more yellow than I like, but it’s a heap better than the weird green!

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Loving the Susan Branch influence here with my Beatrix Potter people in the window and some plants.

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Our sweet Abbey keeping warm as we bake bread. I’m so ready to get a new floor. It’s so torn up we have to put these mats over it to keep from tripping.

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More leaks. Sigh, LOL!

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Part 4: 2019-Present   A New Floor and “Reading” Our Kitchen

I was sooooo crazy happy when the alligator floor left. It had outlived it’s fun and hilarity LONG ago! I would never have chosen it, but had to live with it for 7 years. The coolest part of this demo was seeing the imprint of the house’s ORIGINAL 1907 kitchen! See these two lighter boards? They are fill-ins. There used to be a wall here with a doorway. This was the original butler’s pantry to the house. Also see the dark/blackish marks on the floor flowing through the doorway? That is extra glue, probably put there to keep linoleum down in this high-traffic area. It’s cool to see where people walked 100 years ago.

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My favorite thing to do is to “read” old houses. It’s like clues in a treasure hunt.

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There is a big chimney stack behind the current fridge. See the lighter square on the floor under the fridge? That is where the original range stood!

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On the left side of the missing wall are three holes. That is a classic clue that a sink was here.

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Some of the floor patches we were clueless about, like this green one. It might have been old termite damage. See the tiny hole under the missing wall on the right side of this pic? It was for a gas line. You can also see the lighter spot where the range originally stood. So that tells us that this kitchen was not changed when they stopped using a wood-burning stove. (The hole above is part of the holes for the sink.) Again you can see the walking pattern and where they put more adhesive on the floor.

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It’s very hard to see here, but right by the cabinet is another set of holes that tells us there was a sink here. Which set was original? I really don’t know!

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These two big holes were probably for a radiator. There was also a weird old electric line close by these. It turned out to be for the servant’s bells.

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We found old termite damage in the pantry. Using what I know about how houses ran at the turn of the century, and this big clue I am guessing that the icebox was in this pantry. It has an outside door so ice deliveries could be made without bothering the servants. Iceboxes had drip pans. Drip pans overflow. Water is essential for termites. Viola!

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A breath of fresh air.

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Good-bye map of old kitchen. Hello new sub-floor!

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The beauty begins. We chose VCT because it has a 30 year life and it was 88 cents a square foot!

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Yeah, we made cookies during all this. Mrs. O’Keefe is on moving wheels!

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All done and the cat traps are working!

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Bathroom next! Bye!

-Jaime

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