I am SOOOOO excited for today’s REVEAL!!! (Didn’t I say that just a couple of weeks ago about my green Butler’s Pantry/Laundry combo? Well, it’s true today, too!) I’m guess I’m just excited to reveal this whole project, because more than any other, it’s one that I dreamed about for years, and it’s finally DONE!
Project #HGDRemuddleRemodel Kitchen/Converted Porch
This renovation was had it’s fair share of challenges from a design perspective, but the kitchen was really challenging. It is comprised of the old ell that connected the main house to the historic barn (now garage, laundry room, and “barn room” — our family room — up above) and a 1970s bump-out.
The whole space was initially divided up into 4 separate rooms during the ’70s-90s, but was combined into a single kitchen in 2003. However, the roof had been constructed in such a way that the ceiling height over the bump-out could only be 6.5′ high. We had wanted to raise the ceiling, but the rafters wouldn’t support the weight. So, though we originally wanted to renovate a master bedroom for ourselves as a part of this “unmuddle,” we decided to shelve that project until a future year and rebuild half of the kitchen roof and pond-side wall to allow for higher ceilings and more natural light to flood the space.
A few “before” images to jog your memory.
This is the part that was the original kitchen ell.
The 1970s bump-out is the left side of the image above. I don’t know how many laps I ran around that 15′ of cooking island/oven wall/closet in the 7 years we were in this kitchen.
The bay window above is actually below eye level.
It was a difficult decision. The roof ate up a lot of budget. But our kitchen is the center of the home, and leaving that ceiling at 6.5′ would have made upgrading the rest of the space pretty pointless.
Our biggest priorities for this project:
- WINDOWS!!!! We wanted to open up the view to the pond out back and take advantage of the through light on both the north and the south. It meant losing a lot of upper cabinets, but we gained some storage in the Butler’s Pantry/Laundry.
- A sitting area with a wood stove. In the old kitchen, everyone congregated there, but no one had a comfortable place to sit.
- Better flow — I got really tired of running around the 15′ of the cooking side + wall oven + closet.
- Make the whole space more stylistically appropriate to the rest of the 1790 home by adding “layers of implied time.”
Layers of “Implied Time”
Just as with the Butler’s Pantry/Laundry, I sought to instill “layers of implied time” (read this post for the backstory) to this area of the house that had been largely stripped of its historic character. Layers like:
- Creating a faux rough-hewn beam and placing it at the same point where the old ell would have ended before the bump-out was added. (We actually found the original beam in the ceiling, but it was so chopped up from multiple renovations that it wasn’t usable.)
- Making the bump-out look like a “converted porch,” as though it had first been added on as a porch and then enclosed in later renovations, complete with a wood burning stove and large windows.
- Creating an implied “stove alcove.” This ell most likely housed the summer kitchen, and there would have been a hearth somewhere.
- 2-over-2 windows. Everywhere else in the house has 18th c. 9-over-6s, but we’re pretending that this ell and then porch were added on in the 19th c., and they would have used 2-over-2s at that point.
- Wide plank heart pine floors in a warm stain, with D nails hammered in for character.
- “Unfitted” elements like:
- A center table rather than an island.
- A pantry made to look like a furniture piece (I tried to find an antique that would fit, but we need exact measurements and huge functionality). It has a different door style than the rest of the cabinetry and is a different wood species.
- A plate rack.
- A pot rail over the range.
- Paneling on the fridge to make it blend in.
- A vintage-looking stove.
Let’s get to the pretty stuff!
All photos by Eric Roth.
The focal point of the kitchen is obviously that GORGEOUS blue Elise range by Aga, which I sourced through Baron’s Major Brands. For as long as I’ve been married, I have wanted a range with 2 ovens. I often like to cook multiple dishes for dinner that require different temperatures and different cook times. This 48″ range is a dream, and also has a broiler & 5 burners, the center one of which boils my pasta pots of water in a super quick amount of time. I had to get slightly smaller cookie sheets to fit in the 24″ ovens (these work perfectly), but nothing else has had to change. I love that the appearance harkens the various French ranges on the market but looks a bit more streamlined — and WAAAAAAAAAY more affordable. Like half the cost. Perfect fresh classic & easier on the wallet. Love it..
I had coveted these aqua rise & fall pendants by Hector Finch for years (trade only). They actually come in REALLY handy over our center table. When we’re standing and using the table as a work station, I can raise the pendants 6″ so that we don’t hit our heads, and then lower them back down to the perfect height for when we’re sitting.
The cherry table is an antique that I found on 1stDibs. I needed just the right dimensions to fit the space and allow the appropriate clearances in front of the stove and refrigerator, and I also wanted a utensil drawer. This thing weighs about 200 lbs. The bench is custom and covered in a funky indoor/outdoor fabric by Perennials. It makes me think of Kit Kemp. This is where everyone wants to sit!
Here’s the view into the Butler’s Pantry/Laundry combo. To create a sense of more spaciousness (and to allow as much room in the laundry room as possible) we removed the wall and door between the kitchen and the laundry room. This move was an inspiration from Sandra Vitzhum. Sandra is a Vermont architect whom I’ve long admired for her work on antique homes. When we were in the planning stages, I reached out and consulted with her to determine how to best split up the new space. Now you can see why I wanted to have the washer and dryer hidden behind a skirt! I didn’t want to stare at them all day from my pretty kitchen!
I chose an integrated refrigerator and dishwasher drawers from Fisher Paykel. (The refrigerator is one of the best priced integrated ‘fridges I’ve found.) I have no problem with have appliances exposed in an unfitted kitchen (see this post), but as this would also be our main sitting/gathering room, I didn’t want to be looking at a lot of stainless steel. The stove was appliance enough.
The refrigerator floats on its own without counter next to it. Unusual in modern kitchens, but not so in antique homes where the icebox often stood solo when it was first introduced. Nevertheless, I haven’t found it to be a problem not having a counter next to the refrigerator, as I usually just put things down on the work table just opposite.
Here’s a little tip I’ve discovered when you have an opinionated husband who wants to be a part of the design process — give him a few things he can “help” decide upon, and for each of those things, give him a couple of pre-approved (by you!) choices!
My Handsome Husband chose the sparkly dandelion-like chandelier — the Dunkirk by Hudson Valley Lighting — in the sitting area. He liked it best because he thought it felt “optimistic.” 🙂
He couldn’t be happier with the little wood stove, which sits higher to allow for a good view of the flames. As much as I love the Scandinavian wood stoves out there right now, I felt their modern lines weren’t right for this project. Man, I looked and looked and looked for the perfect stove. The first one I chose was cast iron, but was discontinued a few months before were to begin the project. I found this steel one from Pacific Energy. It had almost the same dimensions and look (just in steel), but the box allowed for bigger logs. It has been a workhorse! And it’s totally comfortable to sit near it without getting overheated.
The custom lampshade is by Cruel Mountain Designs and was made from some sari silk I found on Etsy.
This double brass floor lamp is so beautiful … and so perfect in between 2 chairs! It weighs a TON. The chairs are custom and made to look slipcovered, but aren’t! They are covered in a super durable and bleach-cleanable performance fabric. We have a huge hydrangea bush right outside those windows, and when I discovered that hydrangea fabric a couple of years ago, I earmarked it for this project!
The narrow rattan magazine table is a vintage item I found on eBay.
I bought this painting at auction 4-5 years ago, and it’s one of my most treasured pieces. We had chickens for a number of years (before a weasel killed 3 flocks in a row). The colors inspired this space.
As I discussed in this post, I used window treatments strategically in this space. The unlined natural shades, purposely done in a hue similar to the walls, bring the height of the windows down just a bit, while letting in beautiful light. The custom and lush (but simple!) drape on the right side of the French doors to the screened porch create softness and coziness without adding a lot of contrast. Overall, they create a serene-yet-soft envelope for this side of the room.
Here is the settee that I decided upon way back when I asked for your help in choosing! The blue fabric is actually a little seersucker stripe that is SO New England and very inexpensive. The bench seat I had covered in this fabulous Schumacher fabric. Balancing saving and spending!
The tilt-top side table is vintage. I liked that the height was higher than a usual side table — I wanted it to look a little like furniture that was just “gathered” from places around the house to be put on the porch.
We needed to have a small office area for bill pay and computer work. I looked long and hard for a vintage secretary desk that had 2 doors instead of drawers (so that I could hide our printer underneath), but never found one. This one by one of my vendors fit the bill and came in this beautiful Swedish gray painted finish. Floor lamps work wonders for secretaries. This one is a good price and has a beautiful antique gold finish. I switched out the shade.
I love cube ottomans! They just come in sooooo handy. I had this one made by my local upholsterer to have nickel handles for easy transporting and this 3.5″ tape trim. The fabric is another bleach-cleanable performance fabric — a remnant I scored on eBay.
More vintage items with quirk! I loved this little antique Heywood Wakefield chair I got off of Craigslist for a song. It tickled me to have this custom cushion with the kicky little skirt made in the funky dotted fabric (I think it’s discontinued now.) The painting, which reminded me of our annual spring trips to NYC and Central Park, I found on Everything But The House.
There are those stunning Vermont Danby marble counters! (Read this post for the whole backstory, including my tour of the quarry. So cool!) To answer your questions about stains, etching, etc. I have had no staining, and there have been crushed & juicy raspberries on these counters. Vermont Danby is naturally harder than most imported white marbles, and so much less likely to stain. My counters do have some etch marks, despite taking the usual care with cutting boards, and I don’t really care.
Marble a living material and tells a story, while being cool and silken to the touch. We live in a house that slopes 2″ to the north; we have unevenness, dings, and dents everywhere. I’m ok with interiors that are lived in. Absolutely nothing you can buy for your home is absolutely bullet-proof, no matter how durable and how well you care for it.
The walnut cabinet serves as our main pantry, as well as the area where we store our small appliances. All the custom cabinetry was designed by LKM Design in Bedford, NH. We had differentiated this cabinet to make it look like a furniture piece, using raised panel doors to contrast (and make it seem from an older period) with the recessed panels of the main cabinetry style.
As a money saving measure, I just had the microwave placed on a shelf below the counter rather than having it built-in or using a microwave drawer. This is the one appliance I didn’t hide. You don’t notice it too much, and I thought, “Well, I’m going for ‘unfitted.’ This will just be my unfitted microwave!” This one by Panasonic is pretty simple, but has an inverter technology that heats very evenly. I’ve been very happy with it!
My mother-in-law got us the evergreen stand mixer (a hard color to find!) when we moved into this house and finally had room. I use it every week!
One of the things on my wish list was a farm sink. Aren’t those hand & dish soap dispensers from Urban Ember cute! I hadn’t ever seen labels quite like them before, and the walnut caddy was perfect.
I prefer a single hole pull-down faucet. Yes, a bridge faucet would have been more to the period, but when my hands are gunky, it’s nice to only have to flip one handle. The pull-down option (rather than a side sprayer) means fewer things to clean around when I’m wiping up the counters. This faucet also comes in a touch-free option!
One thing on my wish list was a fireclay sink. I saved money on the faucet and splurged on this classic one. It felt so good to the touch, and no others I found had quite as thick walls and the beautiful curve in the front.
The plate rack I wanted! It was definitely a form-over-function choice, especially in a kitchen with limited cabinetry due to the windows, but it was one I chose to make. As it is, this unit still holds all of our everyday dishes. I chose porcelain dinnerware, because of the durability. Unfortunately, this collection with the little aqua edge has been discontinued, but it still comes in solid white, gray edge, and black edge.
(I am SO MAD at myself for not buying extra!!!! But we’d been bleeding cash, and I just didn’t want to spend any more. Now I’m hosed if I break a plate! Note to self — next time buy an extra set of 4!!!)
The backsplash tile is glazed thin brick by Fireclay and blends beautifully with the paint color. I wanted it to look like a painted-over hearth. I love the subtle variation.
Here are a few other accessories from the kitchen that I use everyday! Not everything made it into the pictures.
Time to get dinner on!
Having this space done before we entered into the claustrophobia of COVID was amazing. We live in this space every day — homework, gathering, computer work, meals (obviously), hanging out. It’s colorful and cheerful, and yet airy (I hope, anyway! That’s what I was going for.). And it flows from the rooms that I decorated years earlier.
See you next Saturday!