If you’ve been following along on ye olde Instagram, you’ve probably seen that the kitchen looks QUITE A BIT DIFFERENT than the last post I made about it.
This is a joyous occasion. However. Changes naturally spawn questions. So without further ado, let us get to some answering.
Q: What is your kitchen timeline?
Based on my spreadsheet…we should have it finished some time in June 2020. I’m comparing it to the speed we’ve worked on other rooms. The master bedroom took 4 1/2 months and the study/bathroom/mudroom took a year. So we average four months per room…this is a more complicated room…so I’m giving it 8 months to be safe.
Q: What are the dimensions of the space? Is it noticeably larger after demo?
The kitchen is kind of Tetris-piece shaped. But the overall usable area is roughly 15’x17’. In other words IT IS ENORMOUS. We gained a lot of space during demo. First, we gained about 2” on each wall all the way around when we stripped away the layers of wall board and drywall. Second, we gained a good 10” of space when we took down the wall surrounding the drain pipe. So yes, the space does feel way bigger!
Q: Speaking of that drain pipe…what the heck is going on with it?
The black pipe is/was the drain for the former upstairs bathroom. Instead of building it inside the wall, they just ran it outside the tongue and groove. Then built a false wall around it out 10” and hung cabinets on that. Your guess is as good as mine.
The waterlines that supplied this bathroom ran through the kitchen…outside the walls. Whatever. But since we demoed and took those pipes out, the upstairs bathroom is no longer functioning.
We do have plans to put an upstairs bathroom back, however. So while we are building the kitchen, we will take down this waste pipe and rough in a new one inside the walls. We will also run venting pipes and water supply pipes while we’re at it. Then when we get to the upstairs bathroom, all the plumbing will be ready to go.
Q: How’s the floor? What are you going to do with it?
The floor is…rough. When they installed the Behemoth fireplace, they mercilessly hacked away the flooring around all four sides. However, we love a challenge. So we will be fixing and repairing the missing pieces of floor.
I don’t think I’m going to go to the effort of feathering in the new boards. It’s part of the house’s history. So we’ll make the patch out of matching wood, sand it and poly it, and call it a day.
Q: What was the indent with the window again? And what are you going to do with the window?
That DELIGHTFUL little window was part of the original pantry. You can see the outline of the pantry walls on the ceiling and floor. We are going to put the pantry back, but the original configuration is a bit of a nightmare for work flow. So we’re going to be making it a bit smaller and switching the door location.
However, that charming as all get out little window will be fully restored and uncovered. I know light in the pantry may not be the greatest idea, but this house was built without electricity. So the window would have allowed for natural light in the pantry during the day. And I mean, come on. Who DOESN’T want a pantry window?!
Q: What are your plans for the chimney? Will it be exposed or not?
Sigh. Here’s the thing. Much like shiplap and diagonal cladding, chimneys were not really meant to be exposed inside the house. From all of my reading of kitchen and house keeping books, at the turn of the century cleanliness was of the utmost importance. And speaking from experience, brick is HARD to keep clean.
Furthermore, this fireplace is a coal burning fireplace. You can tell because the firebox is so small. It would have had a cast iron insert that would fill with coal and then get warm, radiating heat out in to the room. Because the firebox is so small, the chimney and fireplace is also pretty darn small. It would look weird and forced to my eye to have it exposed.
Q: Are you going to make the fireplace work? Why not take it out?
No we are not going to make it working. I am absolutely terrified of fire in this house. Not open candles etc. But a fire hidden in a place that I can’t see. I don’t know what is in these walls that could ignite, but I don’t want to ignite it. We will stabilize the chimney so it doesn’t deteriorate. Then it will be sealed up for another generation to restore if desired.
THAT BEING SAID. It’s actually in remarkably good structural shape (missing back not withstanding). It would hurt my heart to the extreme to take it out. And it would only gain us about 8 square feet of space, plus it’s a MASSIVE project to remove a chimney. That’s not worth it in my book. So it stays…snuggled safely behind a wall.
Q: What’s your deal with fire? Do you have a traumatic experience? What about a gas or electric insert?
I don’t have any trauma with fire (at least not in this life). My concern is that when we are all finished with this house, we will have put over $100k, 15,000 hours, and four years of our lives toward it. I know most wood or gas stoves are safe on their own, but accidents do happen (especially during installation). I can’t in good conscience jeopardize all that money, work, and time going down the drain for a little ambiance. The risks are just too high for me.
We have a fire pit and a wood stove in the garage. I’ll burn out there if I want to.
As for inserts…they all look fake to me. No matter how real they are. When someone comes out with or finds me a Victorian coal insert imitation electric heater, I’ll be all over it like mold on bread. But until then I might as well just snuggle up to a space heater (which I do).
Q: Are you putting a mantle piece or anything where the fireplace was?
I am a SUCKER for a good mantle so YES. The fireplace originally opened on to the dining room side. So we will be putting a mantle and hearth back on that side much like we did in the master bedroom. The fireplace will not work, but I’ll have a mantle to decorate!
Q: It looks like there’s a wall missing. Is it going back?
Yes! When The Behemoth was installed, they took out both a wall and a closet that separated the two rooms. The door between the dining room and the kitchen was on the right side of the fireplace and there was a closet on the left. After much hemming and hawing, I have decided that we are going to flip the door location.
On the left side of the fireplace (where the closet used to be) there will now be a vestibule. On the fireplace side of the vestibule there will be two walk through doors. The walk through will be the size of the original closet.
In the middle of the walk through there will be a TINY tiny tiny closet. Like 15” wide tiny. I’m going to build a door from beadboard that mimics the one we have in the front hall. This will be the perfect closet for storing vacuums and other cleaning supplies.
Plus, I’ve read many times in the old kitchen books that there should be a separation between the kitchen and dining room if possible. Though very tiny, I believe this little closet could reasonably be considered that separation.
On the right side of the fireplace, we will rebuild the wall but back about 18” from where it was originally. We will steal a bit of space from the dining room, but I am ok with that. We need a place for the fridge to nestle, and I think that will do nicely.
Don’t worry if you can’t envision it just yet. Layout post coming…at some point. Probably when we uncover the rest of the floor.
Q: What type of molding would be historically appropriate? Was there crown?
Oh good! I get to soapbox! Kitchens 99 times out of 100 did NOT have crown molding. And when you learn why, you can giggle with me at the absurdity of seeing crown in modern ‘farmhouse’ kitchens.
Crown molding is fancy molding that connects the walls to the ceilings. Traditionally this was shaped out of plaster and was highly decorative with many little nooks and crannies and details.
Now. Kitchens were work rooms. They were hot, steamy, greasy, sooty places of work. And as such they were an absolute nightmare to keep clean. Do you think any cook would reasonably want something that is difficult to clean? NO.
Furthermore, crown molding is reserved for only the best public spaces. It’s a decoration and an ornament. Except maybe in a few select VERY FANCY circumstances, the expense would not have been made for a work room such as the kitchen.
So NO. Crown molding is not historically appropriate. We will be going with a simplified version of our trim in this room I think, similar to what we did in the mudroom. It will be painted semi-gloss white.
Q: Will you get a vintage farmhouse sink and stove?
Oh yes. And what’s more? I already have both.
Q: Will you be using accessories that are less modern or just try to hide them?
Here’s the deal. I fully intend to use this kitchen. It will not be a museum. It will not be 100% period correct. It will be what a 1905 kitchen may have looked like if 1905 Victorians had all the same appliances we do today. I am using a 1921 sink, a 1951 stove, a 2018 refrigerator, and a 2019 dishwasher. This kitchen must work, that is the top priority.
That being said, I did take a real, good, hard look at what appliances I can live without every day. And the answer? Most of them. I don’t regularly use the blender, toaster, microwave, toaster oven, mixer, or any of the rest. So we are wiring up the pantry to accommodate all those appliances. They will be on a middle shelf and easily accessible. But they won’t be out on the counters cluttering up the space.
Plus this has the added bonus of helping keep the historical look going.
Q: Kitchen rugs, yes or no?
Yes. Double yes. All the yes.
Q: Curtains in the kitchen?
Eh. Not really a curtain person per say. But I did discover THESE MAGICAL THINGS called portieres while browsing this old catalog. And I feel like I need them somewhere now.
Q: What are you most excited about for the kitchen reno? Have you started buying furniture yet?
I have started buying furniture. And that’s what I’m most excited about. What I love most about this kitchen is that almost everything that is going in the kitchen I already have.
I am using my kitchen table and four chairs that I already have. I will be reusing my settee. I have something to store dishes in that just needs to be restored. I did purchase a drop leaf harvest table (still figuring out how to get it shipped). And everything else we’ll be making from wood.
I also love that the unfitted kitchen leaves me free to change up my layout if I want to in the future. Because I really like to change my mind a lot.
Q: What are you doing for cabinets and counters?
As previously discussed in the kitchen design, we will only have one small run of cabinets between the stove and the sink. Those cabinets will be solid wood and built the way they used to make them. Brandon will build them.
For counters, absolutely nothing modern looked right to me. And the million different strips of butcher block drive me NUTS. So instead, we’re going to use long, wide, biscuit joined planks of wood finished with Waterlox. It shouldn’t be very expensive so I can change my mind in the future if I want to.
Q: What color are your cabinets going to be?
Jury is still out but yellow is giving me heart eyes at the moment.
Voila!! I’m so excited for this kitchen. Aren’t you!?
Stay tuned next week. I’ll be listing out all my go to kitchen reference books!