We have spent the last ten months working on our Folk Victorian Kitchen, and it’s FINALLY done! A mostly unfitted, historically inspired, victorian kitchen for our 1905 farmhouse.
319 days. That’s how long we have been working on this Victorian kitchen. We’ve had trials, troubles, and tribulations. We’ve had the highest highs and the lowest lows and yet….it’s done.
Welcome to the official reveal of our historically inspired, Folk Victorian kitchen. There is so much to cover in this room that we’ll have to come back in several other posts, but today I want to show you the space, the layout, and how it all works together.
Without further ado, please join me on the tour.
Victorian Kitchen Layout
The final layout for the kitchen is QUITE a bit different from what I thought it would be. But I can’t honestly be upset about it.
The kitchen is very large, nearly 15’x15′ plus a two foot pantry bump out. Though it does have four doorways and two banks of windows, we actually have a surprising amount of wall space.
The working side has all our cabinets, sink, appliances, pantry, and work table. This half of the room is for cooking and preparing food. Everything to make the kitchen function tucks in to this 125sqft area making it super efficient.
The other side has my drop leaf kitchen table, chairs, and my wicker settee. If you’ve never had the thrill of napping on an antique settee in a kitchen before, let me just tell you it is a TREAT. Couch in the kitchen. Highly recommend.
The layout works really well. Two people can work in the kitchen without running into each other. A full party can sit at the table and the settee and socialize with the cook without ever being in the way.
This serves the same purpose as today’s great rooms – to let whoever is in the kitchen not be completely isolated. But of course, this seems a bit more historical. And fun.
I did a whole post on our historic cabinets, so I will only touch on them briefly. They are solid wood cabinets that my husband Brandon built.
The face frames, doors, and drawer sides are made from 3/4″ thick poplar. The drawer fronts are made from pine. The cabinet sides and shelves are made from 3/4″ plywood with edge banding. The looked like solid wood once I painted them white.
Once all of our kitchen things are officially moved in to the cabinets, and I was SHOCKED how much space we had. I even have some partially empty drawers. Most of our daily dishes and utensils are in the right cabinet. Baking things and specialty dishes are in the left side.
A full kitchen organization post is coming, but with a little planning and some creative paring down, these four simple cabinets hold everything we need in a kitchen. Plus…they look GORGEOUS.
The countertops are red oak. The wood actually came from the property where Brandon grew up, which gives me all sorts of fuzzy warm feelings.
The counters themselves are a little over 24″ wide and 24″ deep. Not a ton of space, but if you diligently keep it clean, it’s more space than you think.
Below each counter is a pull out bread board. These are also read oak and extend about 18″ to add a little more surface area if you need it. That thing on the left is a towel roller to dry your hands. I found this one at an antique fair and made the towel portion out of a feed sack.
In total I have two counters, the side of my stove, my work table, and even the drainboards of the sink for counter space. It is more than enough room for what I do in my kitchen.
The Farmhouse Sink
I’ve talked about this sink before, but it’s so beyond amazing that let’s talk about it again. I originally purchased a left corner sink for our different kitchen configuration. But as soon as we mocked it up in the space I KNEW it was wrong. So I went looking for a different sink.
This one showed up on Facebook marketplace four hours away. I seem to be good at finding excellent things not near us. What drew me to this particular sink out of all the others was that it had its original mounting brackets, original legs, AND was only $100. Fully expecting Brandon to say no, I showed it to him.
Love of my life that he is, Brandon was all for it. We hopped in the car the next day and made the 9 hour round trip to pick it up. It weighs roughly the same as a herd of cows, but we managed to wrestle it in to the back of the car.
Having used it for the last month, it is an absolute dream. All my dirty dishes go on the left side of the sink. I grab and wash them in the middle. Then set them to dry on the right. I almost never physically dry dishes. We just put the clean pile away each time we go to wash the next set of dirty dishes.
A completely unexpected bonus of the sink is having a “dirty” counter space. When baking or cooking, I inevitably end up with a spoon or spatula that has food on it, but I’m not done with it. Usually I grab a plate or bowl to set this in. But now I just set it on the sink!! Any mess can be wiped down and into the main basin.
I also use the drainboards to prepare messy food like meat or to open canned goods that might splatter. Though it may not seem like an extension of counter space, it absolutely is.
A quick note about refinishing, I didn’t have the sink refinished. I heard one time from a woman who ran a scrap yard that refinishing sinks doesn’t always last well. That scared me off enough not to want to try. I scrubbed this sink down with Soft Scrub and used white appliance touch up paint to fix any obvious rust along the front edge. Otherwise, she’s all natural.
Vintage appliances have been on my radar for a few years now. Though we decided to scrap the dishwasher for now, we still needed a stove and a refrigerator.
Let’s talk about this fridge. Frugality is a core part of my personality, but I’m not just after saving money. When I buy things, I look for not only the best priced item with the longest expected life span from the time of purchase.
This space is really shallow, less than 30”. And as I started looking for a new option, I got really grumpy. Even the counter depth ones were too deep, not to mention expensive.
I held out for a while on the refrigerators because I just didn’t want to deal with the defrosting process. That’s such a hassle right?
Well…first off no. It’s not. It’s a chore, like cleaning the toilet. You just do it.
And second…did you know that frost-free vintage refrigerators are a thing? Allow me to introduce my circa 1958 Westinghouse Frost-Free refrigerator with freezer.
I found this one on Facebook marketplace. The seller was the most wonderfully enthusiastic mid-century modern collector. We pulled up with our trailer, hopped out of the car, and he goes “You do know what you’re buying, right?” With the BIGGEST grin on my face I said “YUP!”
We paid $100 for this fridge which worked, but needed seals. We put another $200 replacing those, changing out the fan, and touching up the cosmetics. It also weighs a bloody ton, and it’s a miracle we got it in to the house without killing ourselves.
I suspect it’s a little low on coolant because it gets slightly grumpy in these hotter months. But honestly, it runs great for something so old. AND we can fix it.
It works, it holds temperature, I did the energy calculation and it’s shockingly on par with some of today’s fridges. All in all, $300 for a working, fixable, beautiful fridge is 100% a win in my book.
A Victorian kitchen would most likely have had a wood or coal burning stove as the cooking element. That wasn’t quite in the cards for my taste. Wood burning stove AND no air conditioning? My love of history goes only so far.
Instead, we went vintage. Super vintage.
I started looking for a stove shortly after we purchased this house. I had a super specific list of requirements. Wide with burners on one side, electric, knobs not switches, white, simple design, low profile back, under $500, the list went on and on. I looked and looked and looked, but everything I found just wasn’t right. Too tall, too broken, too weird, too Jetsons, none of them were right.
Fed up and getting anxious, I put out a call on instagram. I said “I need a vintage stove. I can’t find one. Help.” And someone sent me the link to this one.
When I finally see the right thing after months of searching, I get this flood of adrenaline. It has the burners, the knobs, the clean lines, the simple design, the reasonable price. It had EVERYTHING.
With just one problem: it was 7 hours away from us. Whoops.
I, once again, fully expected Brandon to say no, because who drives 7 hours one way for a stove?? But to my complete and utter shock, he loved it. He said let’s go get it. So we got up at 5am the next morning and drove 16 hours round trip in one day to retrieve this stove for $260.
As soon as I saw it I knew this was meant to be. And it was completely worth it. The right side is an oven which fully fits my turkey roasting pan. The three other compartments are storage drawers to hold pots, pans, and lids. And the surface on the side is perfect for setting hot pans, letting cookies cool, or even (as I recently discovered) kneading bread.
We replaced the cord with a four prong grounded plug and inspected all the wiring before using, but this guy runs like a champ. The oven temperature runs about 25 degrees hot, so I just keep a thermometer in the oven to keep an eye on it.
Hold with me for an entire kitchen organization post, but let’s just say I LOVE THIS PANTRY.
When we pulled up the subfloor in this kitchen we discovered the outline of an original pantry. Though not entirely surprising for a true Victorian kitchen, I certifiably lost my mind to discover it.
The original pantry was actually about a foot deeper than the pantry we built. I tried my best to keep the original footprint, but it really made the work flow terrible. Not to mention the door was on the side instead of the front effectively killing the use of the sink wall.
Despite my best efforts, we decided making a slightly smaller pantry with a front facing door would give this kitchen the most functionality. The pantry we built is a little over four feet by five feet. And it works HARD.
The lower cabinets hold our appliances and cookbooks as well as conceal our electric water heater. They also give us a little bit of counter space for dropping groceries, making a sandwich, or using the toaster and microwave.
Above the counter is our wall of shelves, and this is where we store most of our food. Over the last six months I’ve thrifted most of these baskets and jars to hold everything we use regularly.
Oh what’s the little door? I’m glad you asked. I have zero evidence this is something that existed at the turn of the century but it feels like something that might have. This door opens into the upper cabinet in the kitchen.
In the winter I like to use a plate warmer to take the edge off of chilly plates. I wanted to be able to get a plate and set it on the plate warmer without leaving the pantry. So…tiny pass through. We cut the door after installing the beadboard so the lines match up pretty perfectly.
I came up with one last storage trick in this space. Whenever we build a room, I try to think of ways to use every square inch of space including the walls. Just inside the door we built this stud cavity canned good shelf. It’s roughly 12″ wide and 4″ deep with shelves spaced every 6″. With the cans staggered slightly I can fit four per shelf or 48 cans total.
Because everything is stored only one can deep, I can see exactly what I have at a glance along with what I’m running low on. It also takes up virtually no space because it’s within the stud cavity.
For not being very big, this pantry holds a lot of food and other items. We probably could have gotten more storage space if we chose to get rid of the original pantry window. But HA. That was never an option. Of course I love the kitchen as a whole, but I definitely find myself coming in to the pantry to just stand. And admire.
Lighting a Victorian Kitchen
I struggled with lighting quite a bit in this room, partly because this house wasn’t originally electrified. I believe it first had electricity run in the 1930’s.
But we still needed lighting in this Victorian kitchen! I decided to go with mostly antique lighting reminiscent of the late 19-teens.
Two mismatched sconces hang on opposite sides of the room. They don’t throw off a ton of light but they are enough to cozily see by at night. I just love that they don’t match.
Over the sink I found this antique pendant light with a coordinating shade on eBay for $60. The bottom of the shade is 20″ below the ceiling which works great for our 8’4″ ceiling height. It is just enough task lighting to work at sink.
Lastly, because I’m not completely impractical, we put this new schoolhouse light in the center of the room. I love this light fixture so much this is actually the third one we have in the house.
It is inexpensive, beautiful, and good quality. I put a 200W bulb in it which is more than enough to light up the entire room.
The GLORIOUS paint color. This buttery ochre yellow scared so, so, so many people. With good reason!! It’s a LOT of color. But…I ADORE it.
The color is, of course, a custom match. I mixed half and half Butterscotch Ripple and Amaretto Sour by Behr (house paint color post coming soon). It is the perfect warm, buttery, rich, smooth yellow color, and the kitchen LOVES it.
The trim, cabinets and ceiling are Behr’s Ultra Pure white straight from the can. The walls and ceiling are satin, and the trim and cabinets are semi-gloss.
The pantry is, also, a custom color. I originally had different colors picked out. But when I mixed up my own tinted primer using some of the left over study color, we had to do a quick costume change!
The cabinets, trim, and shelves are the deeper color mix. I also mixed the wall color by adding some white to the cabinet color.
The Victorians weren’t particularly subtle. While this may not be an exactly historic color for a Victorian kitchen, it seems in the right ballpark.
I’ve never been afraid of color. In fact, I live for the drama of a bold room. This kitchen? I’m LIVING FOR IT.
Victorian Kitchen Furniture
The key element of an unfitted kitchen is that it’s…unfitted! True unfitted kitchens have nothing fixed in place except maybe the stove and sink.
Obviously in this kitchen we have a little bit more cabinetry (because I couldn’t find anything unfitted to fill the space). But other than the sink wall and the pantry, everything else in the room is free standing.
Antique Wicker Sette
This settee absolutely had to go in this room. Completely non-negotiable.
My great-grandmother’s wicker settee has been in my parents kitchen my entire life. We spent our time as kids on it, watching my mother cook, recovering from sickness, having movie nights with popcorn.
My mother, knowing how special this settee is, kept her eyes peeled for another one. She’s very fair that way and wanted to make sure she could pass a settee to both me and my brother.
She bought this settee over 15 years ago and held on to it until I had a house. Now that it’s in the kitchen, it probably will never leave this spot. Which is perfectly fine with me.
Drop Leaf Kitchen Table
The next piece is my five-leg drop leaf kitchen table. Again, my mother has one! I was on the look out for my own table with leaves for quite a while before I found this one in an antique shop for $175.
It is mostly cherry with oak leaves. Fortunately the kitchen is large enough I can keep all three leaves in the table. The drop leaves on the ends flip up if I need more space or seating.
The chairs I collected this summer at our antique fair. They’re vaguely mismatched carved bottom wooden chairs that were fairly common through the late 1800s in to the 1900s.
These tables are so easy to find on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist, usually for under $100. And if I ever need more room in the kitchen, I just take out a leaf!
Drop Leaf Work Table
Can you tell I love drop leaf tables? I had originally intended to use the Wake Table in this space, but it is honestly just too big. (Don’t worry though. I have big plans for that puppy in the dining room.)
I needed something smaller. Still drop leaf, still narrow, just a bit smaller. So I set about scouring the classified listings to see what I could find.
A mere 47 minutes after it was posted, I found this little gem. It measures 20″ wide, 36″ long, with two 20″ drop leaves. It has the cutest little drawer, adorable turned legs, and was an astounding FIFTY DOLLARS.
I jumped in the car and immediately went to get it. It sits in the middle of the room in front of the sink and stove.
We drop groceries here, pull up the drop leaves to hold extra ingredients, and whatever else we need it to do.
Plus it just looks…really cute.
Victorian Kitchen Details
Decorating this room had me a little bit stumped. Unlike a lot of kitchens, I have two blank walls ready to fill up with pretty much anything. But filling them with art or useless decor just…didn’t do it for me.
In many of the Victorian kitchen pictures I looked at, practical and useful items covered the walls. Pots, pans, shelves, lids, aprons, all sorts of things that would be very useful in a kitchen. That should be a good starting point for my wall decor.
Last year I purchased these three beautiful brooms from a local broom maker. They work shockingly well as brooms and are visually gorgeous, so I wanted to display them. Each broom is hung on a small nail within easy reach and easy to get to. Excellent start.
My collection of cast iron pans has also been growing (and I do intend to cook on them eventually). Most practically these would be hung by the stove for easy reach. But my primary wall space near the stove holds my antique hand towel roller. That is simply too gorgeous to replace.
Instead I added the cast iron pieces to the wall. They’re between the settee and the table so easy to access. They look beautiful. And they feel old fashioned. I will get around to using them at some point…just haven’t started practicing yet.
After the brooms and cast iron, I hunted around my house for other items that were both practical and beautiful. My brother made me this little peg shelf years ago which is the perfect place to hang aprons. This tea chest is a family heirloom and honestly will probably hold my tea!
I finished the common wall behind the table first, then came to a grinding halt over the settee. What to put there?
I tried several different mirrors and pieces of art, but it all felt affected and impractical in a kitchen. But then I remembered this clock. I purchased it years ago at an antique fair for $20. It had no inner workings but the wood, face, and compass rose were beautifully intact.
I purchased a cheap battery clock kit and taped it to the back of the face. It doesn’t tick, but it does keep time. Perfectly practical for a kitchen.
Before and Afters
Let’s go through some before and after pictures. The full kitchen before post is here, but let’s look at some side by sides. YES. These are all the exact same angles.
The Stove Wall
The Sink Wall
The Common Wall
Victorian Kitchen Resources
We didn’t purchase a ton of new items in this kitchen, but below are links to anything new we did buy.
- Ceiling Light
- Door Hinges
- Cabinet Hinges
- Flour Jar
- Sugar Jar
- Fly Swatter
- Knife Strip
- Shop Towels
- Trash Can
The Victorian Kitchen
I could not be more thrilled with how this room came out. It embodies everything I want in a kitchen. Efficient, flexible, beautiful, historical, unique, everything I could ask for.
I think we skewed a little from our original goal of a 1905 kitchen and landed a bit more 1915. But the functionality and the beauty of the final result are such perfection I can’t even bother to care.
Thank you for following along on this wild ride of kitchen renovation. We have many more ahead of us including the next project on deck – the dining room. So stay tuned.
Thanks for reading today, and I’ll see you next time!
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