PDX Kitchen Revival Tour - Here Are Pictures

johnliu_gwApril 16, 2011

SWMBO and I toured almost all of the houses on the Portland Architectural Heritage Center's Kitchen Revival Tour today.

Prior discussion here: http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/kitchbath/msg0313121221117.html

It was very interesting, especially if you have an eye for vintage detail. What I mean is: some of the kitchens were beautifully restored and some were small and still needed some work. It is not a tour of expensive or showy kitchens. It is of kitchens interesting, in whole or in detail, from a vintage, period context. And it certainly is that. I saw some details I've never seen before.

I'll post some pictures next, but here is a thought on layout. In general, the layouts were not great. Most kitchens had only a single sink, boiling water would be carried across the room, work space was limited, counters and sinks were too low. Where the original kitchen survived for 90-100 years, I can understand leaving it alone. In the cases where the kitchen was being rescued from a prior remodel, I'd probably have tried to improve the functionality.

I'd say my favorite parts were the pivoting drawers, the library ladder, the two awesome ranges, and the black-edged tilework. You'll see what I mean in the succeeding posts.

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This homeowner wanted, not a period-inspired, but a period-authentic kitchen. All unfitted pieces and, if the refrigerator had merely been replaced by an icebox, it would have pretty much been a time trip back to 1909. And you know, it wouldn't be so tough, as long as you're okay with handwashing.

This woman was full of style. She could have made a FEMA trailer look cool.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 7:46PM
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This kitchen was installed in 1920, then remuddled in the 1970s. The owners removed the '70s stuff, had cabinetry built to match the '20s bits, and kept the tile work, which was more colorful than I'd expected for 1920.

I didn't get many pictures as this kitchen was quite crowded during our visit.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 7:50PM
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This was one of the coolest kitchens of the day, and you'll see why.

The owners have been restoring this 1909 house for many years. For example, all the built-ins and wainscoting and ceiling beamwork in the dining room had been ripped out. The husband custom-built and replaced all of it.

The kitchen had a passageway/butler's pantry with a hammered copper sink.

The kitchen is unfitted. I'd have raised up the work table and sink, myself.

But forget about that, check out this range! Triple ovens, warming oven, grill-a-vater, broiler, and lord know what else. I'm sorry for all the Capital and Bluestar fans, but nothing being made in the US today holds a candle's worth of cool to this beauty. You'd have to import a gilded French monster to get a second look when the King is in the building.

The tile below the belt trim is not - it is plaster, scored to mimic tile.

The refrigerator lives behind those icebox styled doors, and the freezer drawers live behind to icebox styled drawers.

And this rolling library ladder - also homebuilt - takes care of the ''too high to reach'' storage.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 8:06PM
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I didn't get good pictures here, it was too crowded, but this was a nice kitchen too. The counters were all old-growth wood, very clear and fine-grained, or soapstone. The bar counter shown in the picture borders a small breakfast nook. Nice subways, gray-green base cabinets and cream uppers.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 8:12PM
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I'm not that into MCM, but we did go see one. If I understand MCM homes, this is a pretty darned cool one, with a killer view of the West Hills.

Some of the original tilework had survived; the owner is going to replace the 2000's granite with repro tilework. Someone with more money than sense had built a blocky box for a giant (50''?) refrigerator without realizing that the other corners in the kitchen are bullnosed; that may get rectified too. All in all, this house seems lucky to have its current owners.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 8:21PM
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This house was built by the same local builder as the 1951 house above.

The pivoting drawers were something new to me. After the drawer pivots open, the lid is raised. I expect these were for flour and the like.

I loved this glass internal window, from kitchen to dining room, which is also a pass-through.

Round corners and hex tile, cool.

By the way, this was a Marmoleum house, and most of the houses already posted were as well. Seems to be a very popular material for period kitchen buffs.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 8:27PM
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So Charming! Thank you for the photos. They are lovely. Those uber-ranges show up from time to time on old stove websites and sometimes ebay or CL. Depending on what kind of shape they are in, I've seen them listed between 5 -15 K. .... D R O O L .....

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 8:32PM
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This house is right in my neighborhood, a few blocks away. It looks very familiar to me, being the same style, just two years younger, about the same size, and also a four square although with some enhancements. The built-ins and trim and beams all look familiar, but these are the original unpainted wood, whereas ours have been painted.

So it is sad for me to realize that this is what my kitchen may have looked like, for some period. This house had its ''new'' kitchen installed in 1930.

Here are stone counters after 80 years of hard use. Patina much? So, when you're in hysterics over the dirty spoon touching your polished marble counters, remember: (1) it isn't supposed to look ''like new'', (2) spoon or no, that counter can outlive you.

The range in the kitchen is pretty nice, but this one is being restored and will soon take its rightful seat on the Throne.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 8:39PM
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Last house. Whew. I'm just going to show the interesting trash swing-outs and the black-edged tile counter.





Sorry for the bandwidth hogging. I have some more photos if anyone wants to see a particular detail, email me via GW and I'll email the photos if I took them.

What all the has meant for our kitchen ideas - I'm not sure. We're still processing . . .

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 8:45PM
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First of all, thank you for thinking of ALL of us, while your enjoyed your tour. It was very nice of you to share your day with us and it's much appreciated!

As for myself...I love all the tile! Thanks for taking so many pictures and now that I've seen such great examples, I'm really excited about using ceramic tile for my perimeter countertops :)

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 9:15PM
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Thanks for the post! I grew in Portland and stayed there until I graduated from Reed! Last summer we considered moving back, but decided to stay put.

Anyway, its great to see people appreciating the great value in the historic homes. Glad we were all able to join you on the tour!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 9:46PM
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The tile in the last house looks very art-deco. And I love the wood beam ceiling in the house before that. But my favorite is the ginormous range, fantastic.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 9:51PM
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Great pictures, thank you for sharing them!!

I notice that 2 houses have the arched doors under the sink. I've never seen that before. Is it regional for kitchens that age?

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 9:57PM
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Thanks you so much!

Delightful. The ranges are awesome.

Sad to think how many kitchens like that have been ripped out.

Although the first photo gave me a little pause, is someone going to come in my house some day far in the future and moan because I took down the line of mid-air mid-room hanging cabinets over the peninsula???


    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 10:22PM
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Love that tile in the MCM houses. Thanks for sharing these photos.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 10:33PM
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So, random observations.

White bulbous sinks, tile countertops, and site-built cabinets seem pretty essential to the look of these kitchens. The only kitchen where the cabinets actually look to be new is the green and cream one. The handmade ones don't seem new because they're built the same way as old ones.

That sink opening under the arch is pretty nifty; I've never seen that feature anywhere else. It was probably related to the idea that prevailed through most of the last century that plumbing had to be ventilated. They seem crying out for curtains attached to the doors, however, so you could still use the space for trash, storage, or whatever.

That 1930 kitchen is very interesting, for a few reasons. One is the way the uppers on the wall join together, 4 at once, without stiles. That feature reminds me of my friend Ellen's kitchen, though this is nicer. Those are raised panel doors--could that part be older? And some have no knobs, so I can't figure out how they open. Also, that kitchen has a lot of interesting door and drawer configurations below--the huge drawer on the right, along with two bread boards and a skinny little cabinet. I can't figure out what is to the right of the sink, right below the run of three drawers. Another breadboard? Finally, the green window wall has me stumped. I thought it was architectural glass tile, but it seems to have metal rails in between.

These are all great, johnliu--thanks!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 11:00PM
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Re open cabs below sink: perhaps another reason for that feature was to allow sitting on a kitchen stool while dishwashing?

I love the swing-out doors - already trying to figure out if I can use that in my reno! Think it will be particularly useful in situations where oddities (of design, internal obstructions, etc.) compromise full cab depth usage. To maximize space usage (on an island for instance) you could have two of them swinging off diagonal corners on adjacent sides, but nested together within the box when closed. Don't know how it would work, yet, but what if one had them operated by foot pedals: step on thingy > they open, and stay open until released; or step-and-lock them open until another tap released them to close automatically? Great possibilities.

Interesting to see that in the two recently-done cabs (the guy who re-built what had been removed and the four-square with the blue cabs) the cabinetry has much crisper, more delineated edge treatments and trim details. Doesn't clash with the older work at all, but clearly is of this time period not earlier.

Thanks John, for taking the pics and making time to post them. Was well worth the many refreshes need to download all the pics. (Your pics are fine, it's just I am seriously band-width challenged here in the sticks.)


    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 12:04AM
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Very much appreciate this blast from the past, Johnliu.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 1:03AM
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I think that once upon a time, plumbing was thought to benefit from ventilation. Two of the homes had the open arch under the sink, and nod had mesh screen there.

I don't know what exactly are in those base cabs in the 1930 kitchen. I was getting burned out on kitchens by then. The walls are seamed with aluminum strips, which also line the corners. There was a lot of aluminum trim in the spice cabinet, bathroom, kitchen corners, etc. I have some more photos of that.

Where new and old cabinetry joined, it was always pretty easy to tell. The old is subtly beaten up, dented, thick old paint. The new is square and smooth even though brush painted. I guess they could do a better job refinishing the old - sanding or planing corners sharp and faces smooth, stripping old paint, etc.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 2:20AM
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Oooh, I live in Medford, and I'm so envious of your trip around P-town!! What a stove! I wish I'd known, and I'd have zipped up there to drool along with you. Thanks so much for this post: a true delight. A feast for the eyes!

    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 3:02AM
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a lovely eye-opening trip! thanks for taking us along.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 7:15AM
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I love the niches above the sink! Gonna steal that detail.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 9:07AM
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My old kitchen had mesh in the doors under the sink, because there was a big old radiator there. But those were added when the PO redid the kitchen in the 50's. The arched doors would be a more elegant solution for that.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 10:02AM
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In the 1930's kitchen -- "I can't figure out what is to the right of the sink, right below the run of three drawers. Another breadboard?"

(I think you mean left of the sink, right?) That caught my eye, too. Could it be a lower pull-out stone board for kneading/rolling dough? By comparing with measurements with my kitchen, I'm guessing that that board (if that's what it is) is at most 28" off the floor. I'm short, and even I find that a little low. Perhaps it's a board that's meant to be set on top of the counter when you're rolling your dough, so that you don't get a hex pattern on the top of your cherry pie (as someone cautioned against in the recent thread about tile counters.)

And about "the huge drawer on the right, along with two bread boards and a skinny little cabinet" -- the huge "drawer" has a hinge at the bottom, and so looks like it opens down like an oven door. Also, it seems to have a (metal?) label/tag. Could it be/was it once some kind of appliance?

Thanks, johnliu, for sharing all this with us.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 10:31AM
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Niches in tile walls RULE. There. I said it. It's just true. Totally agree with you, Lazygardens.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 10:52AM
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Wow, what amazing pictures! Thank you so much for posting these.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 11:31AM
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Thank you, thank you, thank you, John! That range in your 20:06 is one to dream about, and the kitchens all beyond nifty.

Thanks again,


    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 11:40AM
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So what neighborhoods are most of these located in? Irvington, NW or SE or a combination of all? Cool tile work and I love the one where the homeowner is redoing all the built-ins.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 8:03PM
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Thank you so much for sharing! These were fabulous to look at!
Makes me remember my Grandma's kitchen. They bought the house in 1940 and the kitchen was original when my dad and his brother's sold it in 2000. It had white cabinets, big white double sink, loved the tile counter top.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 8:18PM
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Thanks for posting this. I love the sink cabs with the arches, the killer vintage stoves and the hex tile aqua and white floor. The person who was placing the built ins and wainscoting sure did a gorgeous job too.

I have serious house envy after looking at all these pix. Talk about classic styling.....

    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 8:45PM
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The houses were mostly in NE and SE PDX, the Tudor was in NW.

SWMBO's reactions: She wants a floor of small white hex tile with gray or black grout. Counters of black-edged tile with white field tile. Concealed refrigerator and dishwasher.

My reactions: I like her floor idea, although I suspect we may find restorable wood under the slate that is there now, and Marmoleum is now in the running. Open to at least investigating tile counters, though still inclined to steel and wood. I've become more conscious of the overall look of my house (the most recent post in the ''let's see the rest of the house'' thread) but don't have any ambitions of being on a future year's Kitchen Revival Tour. More and more intrigued by an eclectic, unfitted look. I'm not terribly drawn to the vintage one-piece cast-iron sink/drainboard, although if a dishwasher could fit underneath, I'd be more interested. Definitely liking the wall-mount faucets. I'm feeling more tolerant of ''patina'' and less interested in glossy, seamless, and matchy-matchy looks. I don't share her interest in concealing appliances. I do like the vintage ranges more and more. Two of the houses had rolltop desks, one of my personal faves. Reinforced my personal disinclination toward pastel colors.

I liked getting a peek into the style and non-kitchen interests of the owners. I talked with one guy for half an hour about old tube amps and vinyl.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 9:55PM
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thanks for sharing your pictures, johnliu. a couple of the kitchens almost made me teary-eyed. not sure why.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 10:34PM
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These pictures are incredible. Thanks. Wish I could've seen them in person, but does help confirm what I like and dont like as we are making decisions about redoing our kitchen. A couple questions.
Does look like several w/marmoleum, which we are definitely doing. Just struggling w/tile - probably a checkerboard, or sheet - a heavily splattered grey-blue which seems kind of neutral. See any checkerboard patterns? Didn't notice any in the pictures. Just not sure if this will help the kitchen look, or become too distracting.
Love all the tile countertops. This to me makes the look, but from other posts, sounds like we will really need someone who knows what they are doing.
What about that library ladder? So cool, and would be awesome for me as I'm short and we are adding storage space by having our cabinets go to the ceiling. Assume I'll just be getting a good step ladder to push around to reach those things - and of course will be putting less regularly used things there. Did the ladder look like it would just get in the way? I assume it was in a smallish kitchen.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2011 at 10:10AM
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