Saturday, January 09, 2010

When is a Change a Foot

A change is a foot when it is my kitchen. The kitchen was the second room completed in the house and now this is the 3rd change I’ve made to it. The first change was the biggest and done almost immediately. I originally had a round kitchen table in the middle of the kitchen. The design of the kitchen relies on mostly free-standing cabinets and does not have a lot of counter space for its size. The idea was that the table would double as both eating and food prep space.

That didn’t work out. A table at eating height is too low to do food prep on and sitting while doing food prep doesn’t really work either. So the table came out and I built an island. I love the island. One end has a place to sit at, so one can still comfortably eat in the kitchen. It has lots of room for food prep, and it has a small sink with disposal.

A not so elegant shot of the island

The other changes have revolved around a small alcove. The alcove is an area in one corner of the kitchen that is roughly 4.5 feet wide and 3.5 feet deep. It is to the left of the old phone in the photo above. It is really a part of the porch and for a long time I thought they enclosed a small section of the porch. This turned out not to be the case. I won’t go in to the details about how I know it is a part of the original floor-plan, but it is. Originally, there was a narrow window in the alcove that looked out on to the porch. The question has always been, what do I do with this space.

Early on I bought a cabinet at a local salvage place that was the perfect size for the space. It was almost a perfect fit. However, that ended up going in the butler’s pantry, mainly because the place that I chose for the refrigerator was not working out. This was one of those situations where the design worked on paper, but not so much in real life.

In the alcove

In the butler’s pantry

So the cabinet went in to the butler’s pantry and the refrigerator went in to the alcove. That happen last spring and it is not working either. It is just a really awkward spot for the refrigerator, mainly because of where the stove is. It is really because of the location of the second stove. Yes, I have 2 stoves in the kitchen. One is the stove I cook on and the other is an over-the-top 1890s cast iron stove. They sit side-by-side in the kitchen.

The 1890s stove is eye-candy of the Nth degree. The thing is just a work of art. It has been professionally restored and it is in almost “as new” condition. I love the stove but it has got to go. I thought about putting it back in the alcove, but at the end of the day, that really wouldn’t work either. What it comes down to is that the alcove is pretty much dead space for most things. Essentially, I have 3 large things that need to go in this one area and there are only room for 2. I have 2 stoves and a refrigerator, so logic dictates that one of the stoves needs to go. The cast iron beauty is the one that is the most dispensable.

The original cabinet was really the ideal thing for the space, but it is too late to go back to that now. I could build another cabinet, but I honestly don’t need any more storage space. At this point I’m sure there are a half dozen people ready to leave a comment saying that I can never have too much storage. Honestly though, between the kitchen and the butler’s pantry there are 25 cabinet doors and 21 drawers. Six of the doors are more than 4-feet high. There are also more cabinets in the laundry room. I don’t need any more storage in this are of the house.

What I decided to do was build a desk, instead. I got the idea when I was watching The New Yankee Workshop on PBS a few months ago. The project that week was a kitchen desk. As soon as I saw that it became an obvious choice for this area. Why the heck didn’t I think of that. This desk will have a computer and phone. A single wide drawer for pens, paper, phone book, etc. I really don’t need a formal office, so this will be where I pay bills and take care of other things of that nature.

Antique on the right. Reproductions on the left.

Waiting on the marble

The desk occupies the entire width of the alcove and is a little more than 2-feet deep. For the top I will use some of the left over marble from the dining room cabinets. I had to buy an entire slab of marble for the dining room, even though I only needed a piece that was roughly 8X2 feet. The rest has been collecting dust on the fabricators back-lot for the past 6 months. I used salvage redwood for face-frame, drawer, and carcass, and I just happen to have a left over antique drawer pull that matches the other hardware in the kitchen.

The reproduction cast iron brackets are a close enough match for the antique originals on the island, but the quality of the reproduction brackets is not any where close to being a good enough. First off, the reproductions are not a perfect 90 degrees. I also had to grind off casting leftovers off the backs. If I had tried to mount them as-is they would not have been able to be flush to the wall.

The worst part was the screw holes. You’ll notice on the antiques, the holes for the screws are in small, extended areas that stick out on either side. This is so you can get the head of the screw past the design of the bracket. Not so on the reproductions. It was almost impossible to mount a screw on some holes on the reproductions. In two areas I had to grind the head of the screw down to almost nothing to get them to mount. Next time I scour for antique originals.

Now I can call the stone fabricators to come out and create a template for the marble counters. After that, it will most likely be weeks more of silence on the blog.


Eastlake Victorian said...


Your kitchen is amazing! I'm drooling over all the great details, the wainscot, floors, stoves, and your handiwork and cabinetry skills are fantastic! I know that some older homes have awkward spaces that seem to not really fit in to the modern lifestyle. But I love the idea of the desk in your kitchen alcove! Sometimes, just living in a house for awhile brings on an eventual solution. Great job! Too bad the old stove needs to go. Someone somewhere will be able to put it to good use.


Anonymous said...

Are the brackets on the eating end of the island the antiques or reproductions?

Greg said...

Thanks Pam.

3beards, The brackets on the island are the antiques. They were originally made to support a marble sink. The reproductions that I used on the desk are really made for shelves.


Casey said...

Your kitchen slightly reminds me of my mother-in-laws. Like you she has the restored cast iron stove and free standing cabinets. Does your cast iron stove work? My mother-in-law only uses hers and seems to love it. Also, have you ever thought of using an old Hoosier in your kitchen? They are great for storing/space and the counters (which generally pull out) are great for food prep!

Greg said...

Technically the cast iron stove works but the chimney that vents it needs repair.

Casey said...

Gotcha! I was thinking it was converted to use electric or gas! :-)

NYCmoldRemoval said...

Usually many corners of the house are needful of renovation and we get lazy or tired of doing them.But you have done your kitchen beautifully.

Manhattan Mold removal

Dave said...

Great idea for that space! I actually saw that episode as well and really liked how the show added in that desk on the kitchen remodel. It all came out quite nice. My wife keeps telling me... "see how easy it is??"