Restoration in Vintage Homes
Preservation of old homes is a favorite conversation of
owners of vintage homes but rarely do you hear talk about
a kitchen restored to its former glory. These beautiful
historical homes we have grown to love and appreciate, did
not have the kind of kitchens we expect today. Historical
kitchens today are antiquated, inefficient and poorly laid
In a typical prewar model, kitchens were work areas plain
and simple. Everything in the kitchens were freestanding
from the huge cast iron stove, the sink on porcelain legs,
the icebox and a table that doubled as a workspace. Those
that were modernized in the 1950s, '60s, or '70s often
held even less appeal than the ones before. The
countertop, flooring, and ceiling materials in them were
no match visually as the hardwoods, linoleum's, and metals
they replaced. Appliances were disappointing at best with
their dismal colors.
Today we want to capture the flavor of the kitchens we
imagine our great-grandparents loved and enjoyed. Homey,
warmth and filled with the aroma of good cooking.
Fortunately, replicating the mood of a vintage kitchen in
an existing space has never been easier. As demand for
kitchen accessories with a patina of age has grown, so has
the availability of period materials. Architectural
salvage and well-designed reproduction hardware and
appliances are relatively easy to locate. Resources for
old-fashioned pieces can be found by perusing
advertisements in many home design magazines and inquiring
at local antiques' shops and architectural salvage
Cabinets, more than any other single element in the
design, determine the look and feel of a kitchen. To give
a kitchen a historic feeling, designers caution against
filling the kitchen with modern built ins. Architectural
salvage companies often stock vintage cabinets in wood or
metal. These cabinets mix well with freestanding antique
or reproduction pieces. An antique dresser or a dry sink
adds charm as well as semi-customized items like plate
racks and open shelving. Painted wood cabinets may warp
when stripped so be advised to try one cabinet door first.
Metal cabinets should be stripped, buffed, and lacquered
to prevent them from rusting.
Stone countertops are compatible with old-fashioned
kitchens as long as the stone is honed to a soft finish
not sleek and modern. Vermont soapstone is one popular
For flooring, designers usually recommend hardwood.
Linoleum, maligned for years, is making a comeback. Unused
rolls of vintage linoleum from the '20s to the '50s can
often be found at salvage companies or at specialty
On the ceiling, pressed metal makes quite a statement,
particularly when left in its natural state. As an
alternative, try heavy Anaglypta paper, a cream-colored
wallpaper embossed in a variety of period patterns. It is
less expensive to install than pressed metal and once
painted, achieves a much similar effect.
Finding authentic looking stoves and also refrigerators,
became easier in the mid 1980s when the country look was
blossoming. Our grandparents' stoves have all been
refurbished and are easier than ever to find. No matches
needed!. Though most old stoves are white, some
occasionally turn up in cream, green, or cobalt blue.
Hoods are more difficult to find to match your stove since
they were not around one hundred years ago. Try buying
wood and blending it into the upper cabinetry.
Vintage style hardware is the icing on the cake for the
finishing touch on your period look kitchen. Designers
suggest antique brass, satin nickel or a blackened finish.
The hardware makes the whole kitchen look as if it has
been there for years just like the rest of your vintage