my 'new' kitchen with no cabinets/one of a kind

mrsd1957May 23, 2007

I've posted on "old house" forum, but this forum was fun to read. I inherited an 1874 house, the kitchen is 14' by 15' and there are no built-ins. I will not be putting in built-ins. An armoire (now in the hall) will be my "everyday" cabinet for dishes, glasses, etc. A microwave cabinet will be pots/pans storage. Another smaller microwave cabinet (with the unfunctioning top shelf removed) has a butcher block top, a drawer for utensils, and two shelves for storage - crock pot, electric fry pan, etc. The buffet will hold silverware, and what ever is left over. The pantry will hold all food stuffs. Everything I decided to have in the kitchen can fit on top of the kitchen table (my mom's dining room table). In another room - the small (1940's) china closet will hold my "china", wine glasses, etc. The house I'm in now (bought in '78 as a newlywed and then raised 4 kids in) is 6' by 12' with one cabinet over the dryer, the cabinet/drawers with the sink in it, the washer, the 24 yr old moveable dishwasher w/butcher block in front of the washer (like an island), a built-in corner hutch, the microwave stand w/shelfs above and below, the stove, an apt. sized freezer, and the fridge. there's also a closet sized pantry (under the staircase). People are always amazed that I can prepare huge meals, feed "armies", and raised 4 kids in this kitchen. I guess I'm just the freak that doesn't want acres of cabinets and counter space. The more drawers I have, the more crap I'll put in them. Now my DH on the other hand - "don't throw out that broken Mr. Coffee - I can take the hot plate, attach it to that broken broom stick, stick a big magnet on the bottom, attach an electrical cord and presto we've got an oil pan heater for the car".

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This reminds me of houses in the UK where they don't have built-in closets but use freestanding wardrobes for holding clothes.

And on the UK house buying shows, a lot of the kitchens don't have built-in cabinets either. The buyers are always asking if the cabinets stay with the house or will be taken by the seller.

I wonder when built-in closets and kitchen cabinets became the normal thing here?

    Bookmark   May 23, 2007 at 10:33PM
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Well, my guess: over 100 yrs ago they didn't build closets because they didn't need them. They owned a few pieces they wore for working, and a set of "good going to Church" clothes. In the middle income houses (no servants) they didn't own all the stuff to fill cabinets. In the wealthy homes, they had servants to take care of the owners and the guests - so more dishes, pots, etc. In my "new" home the 1950's free standing Sears Kitchen cabinets are still there. The metal ones with formica (I think) tops, these aren't in salvageable shape, but the big sink cabinet is. I wish they all could be saved - how cool would that look!

    Bookmark   May 24, 2007 at 9:00AM
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My 1893 Victorian -- had small closets upstairs in the bedrooms --original to the home. The kitchen had been totally gutted when I bought it so I don't know about that. The home was a wedding gift from Fredrick Weyerhauser (Weyerhauser Lumber) to his daughter -- so it was a tastefully done showplace.

My 1906 Craftsman style apt. had 2 closets in brs, 1 linen closet, 1 kitchen closet, butler's pantry and built-in china cabinet but no kitchen cabinets.

My current 1890 farmhouse had one closet under the stairs -- no built-ins and the bath was added in the mid-40's. The kitchen consisted of a wall-mounted sink.

In plan books that I have from the period -- the earliest I see kitchen cabinets is in the mid-20's. But not all the plan books show the interior details. That book is fascinating -- shows built-in laundry center (hidden ironing boards) and spacious linen cabinets. Very bungalow styled homes.


    Bookmark   May 24, 2007 at 9:24AM
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remember that line from Field of Dreams--"If you build it, they will come"?

I always think of that, and how easy it is to get more stuff if you have a place to put it. There's a corollary to Murphy's Law: "A mess expands to fill all available space." Sort of similar.

And of course, your wisdom: "The more drawers I have, the more crap I'll put in them."

Since you don't have banks of cabinets, you have only the kitchen supplies you need.

The "unfitted kitchen" is one of the new design trends in kitchens, a return to the kitchens of Hoosier cabinets.

I will say that I want ENOUGH counter space, but only a little bit more than I currently have would actually be useful.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2007 at 9:44AM
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Hi Talley Sue,

I'm sure that you know exactly how much more counter space would be useful to you, but what you said just reminded me how much more sleep we all need: "just ten more minutes" LOL! (or is it "ten minutes more"? ...not my mother tongue)

Maria in Athens, Greece

    Bookmark   May 25, 2007 at 2:07AM
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One house I grew up in had almost no closets, but we used the wooden "wardrobes" that were common when the house was built. Nicer examples of these are usually called armoires, but these were very basic painted pieces of furniture.

The other house had very small closets in the bedrooms, but really huge walk-in closets at the front door, at the top of the stairs and in one room that may have originally been a bedroom or a children's playroom/family room. I know the house had been added on to over the years, but those large storage closets seemed to be original - at least the elaborate woodwork around the doors matched the rest of the house. I would give anything to be able to see that house in its original appearance.

mrsd - your kitchen sounds much like another house I lived in as a child. The pantry was great. There was a counter in there that we did all the baking on. Enjoy your new space!

btw, our DH's are kindred spirits. Mine has made more than one such gadget. I think he has more fun cobbling it together than buying the more normal components to make one - or even buying the thing itself.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2007 at 6:48PM
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