Old House Journal - - Contents - By Donna Pizzi

A mint-fresh 1920s kitchen with all the right de­tails.

A keen re­gard for pe­riod de­tails by a Seat­tle home­owner re­sulted in this kitchen de­sign. “Noth­ing drives me cra­zier than an old house that screams ‘re­mod­eled’ . . . I wanted this kitchen to look as if it were orig­i­nal, with a few newer ameni­ties.” That was home­owner Amy Pelly’s in­ten­tion as she ap­proached re­design­ing the kitchen in her 1925 Seat­tle bun­ga­low. In­te­rior de­signer and for­mer col­league Toni McKeel helped lay out the kitchen based on Amy’s list of core el­e­ments: clas­sic checker­board floor­ing, a vin­tage stove and sink, and pe­riod cab­i­nets.

Ar­chi­tect Bob Fong pressed for an 11' bumpout ad­di­tion be­hind the kitchen to ac­com­mo­date a ca­sual din­ing area. “I strug­gled with los­ing the win­dow over the sink,” Amy says; but Fong con­vinced her to aban­don her plan to build a tiny din­ing room to the left of the counter. He as­sured her that she would get enough nat­u­ral light from new side win­dows and French doors.

Con­trac­tor Jim Healow was in­dis­pens­able, Amy claims. “For a solid year and a half be­fore we started, I ag­o­nized over ev­ery de­tail. Jim’s pa­tience was re­mark­able. He even re­con­structed the arch be­tween the din­ing area and the kitchen af­ter I de­cided it should be more pro­nounced.”


The Wedge­wood stove is from the 1950s. (The new hood matches tiled coun­ter­tops and back­splash.) A lo­cal sal­vage yard yielded a vin­tage sink in good con­di­tion. “Use eBay to furnish a pe­riod kitchen—it’s faster and more pro­duc­tive than driv­ing around,” says the home­owner. Search en­gines pointed her in the right di­rec­tion.


It was the owner’s idea to add an arch, so com­mon in houses of this pe­riod, be­tween rooms to make the ad­di­tion look orig­i­nal. Cab­i­nets were built in the style of the 1920s and brush painted, not sprayed, for the right fin­ish. A bak­ing cen­ter is two inches lower than coun­ter­tops, lend­ing an un­fit­ted look.


Hard­ware and lighting are vin­tage or ac­cu­rate re­pro­duc­tions. Coun­ters are fin­ished with 4" hex tiles with a crack­led glaze and a black bull­nose. In the break­fast room, sur­face-nailed white oak floor­boards were cut nar­rower than to­day’s stan­dard to match floor­ing in the rest of the house. Un­der­sink cup­board doors are vented.


The checker­board floor is an ear­ly20th-cen­tury clas­sic, and prac­ti­cal to boot: it cam­ou­flages dirt and is easy to clean. This one is made up not from linoleum tiles but rather af­ford­able VCT or vinyl com­mer­cial tile: im­per­vi­ous, long-wear­ing, and com­fort­able un­der­foot.

A small ad­di­tion pro­vided space for a break­fast room while de­liv­er­ing am­ple day­light into the late 1920s pe­riod-in­spired kitchen.

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