1928 kitchen remodel options

cbriskin01June 14, 2013

Hi Everyone,
I'm new to this forum and need some suggestions. We are finally ready to remodel kitchen.
Dilemma 1: Plan to do a complete gut except that my husband wants to keep the original back wall cabinets from 1927 and have them refurbished. One of the dilemmas, however, is that our fridge is in the back entryway and the only place where there is room for it in the kitchen is on the back wall where the cabinets are. This means that half of the cabinets would have to be pulled to insert the fridge there. I like the convenience of having the fridge in the main room, but don't want to lose the symmetrical look of the original cabinets. We have lived with the fridge in its current location, but I like the idea of moving it and putting a small bench and storage boxes there for boots. Our contractor said that when we sell the house (7 years) buyers will prefer having the fridge next to a counter. Any thoughts?

Dilemma 2: We are moving the sink into an alcove by a window and our contractor suggested tearing down the partial wall where the sink is now and building a two level peninsula connecting the front room/DR with the kitchen.
This kind of appeals to me, but I wonder if I really need such an open space since the front room already has a nice open feel to it. I like the idea of a counter, but we don't entertain that much. And when we do, the kitchen is a mess. Any thoughts on that? See pictures below

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cbriskin01

Picture of fridge in entry

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 1:11PM
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cbriskin01

Picture of fridge in entry

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 1:12PM
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cbriskin01

View of kitchen from dinning room of wall that would be torn down and replaced with peninsula. Not sure if I want to do that. I like the semi-private nature of kitchen, and wouldn't mind saving bucks. But....it might still be nice.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 1:15PM
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liriodendron

I would keep the kitchen separate from the dining room.

Opening them up together is a current trend. I predict it will pass, eventually, and then people will be closing the spaces back up.

You have an old house. It has rooms. Don't fight that.

If you want help on layout, please post a measured floor plan (sketched on graph paper is just fine.)

Include dimensions of all things.

HTH

L.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 1:48PM
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karen_belle

ITA with liriodendron. Post the layout of your whole first floor.

I also agree with your DH that those cabinets are very nice looking. Have you tried to figure out if they can be relocated?

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 1:52PM
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valinsv

Your house looks charming with tons of character. As you consider your kitchen remodel you will need to find a contractor that with help you make your space more functional yet preserve the character of your home. I agree opening up the kitchen is not right for your home. Your DH is right those cabinets are lovely and should be preserved, perhaps elsewhere in your home, even the dining room. Getting the refrigerator in the kitchen proper would be high on my priority list as well.

Post a floor plan with measurements and I'm sure you'll get a lot of suggestions.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 2:02PM
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localeater

I agree with your husband the back wall of cabinets should be saved- they are gorgeous.
I do not agree with the contractor who thinks you should have an open floor plan. The re-design of your kitchen should be a cohesive plan in light of the rest of your house. Your house is a vintage treasure. IMHO an open floor plan is disrespectful to your home's bones.
I suggest posting a floor plan sketch with measurements. The layout gurus on this board will find the right place for your fridge.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 2:04PM
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Holly- Kay

Your cabinets are to die for! They are stunning and I agree that you need to go with the flow of the house. Don't try to turn a silk purse back into a sow's ear. You have a beautiful period home, please don't attempt to modernize it by fighting the architecture of it.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 2:15PM
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navi_jen

I wholeheartedly agree with everyone here. Your home is gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous...and I would not trade the flow, the original woodwork and those cabinets for anything. Here in New England, homes like your command a premium price precisely because folks have held onto the character of the house.

Heck, if you demo those cabinets, I'll gladly take them off your hands...I have a renovation in which I'm trying to put the character BACK into an old house whose soul has been demo'ed.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 2:15PM
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cawaps

Wow, those are some beautiful cabinets. Small wonder your husband wants to keep them. I'm with Lirodendron on keeping the wall. A closed off kitchen is more in keeping with the age of your house, and if you aren't eager for an open floor plan, I wouldn't do it.

There are lots of creative folks here who can help with your refrigerator problem, but we need a floorplan with measurements. The pics are only giving me a partial picture of the kitchen layout.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 2:32PM
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cbriskin01

Wow, what quick responses. Thank you for your comments. You have helped me reconsider the peninsula idea. Don't need it. And...yes we will restore the cabinets. As for the fridge in the back entry way, it might have to stay there. I will put together a floor plan so you can see the layout of the kitchen better.
Thanks again. I agree that preserving the character of this old house is important and that the cabinets and woodwork are what attracted us to it initially.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 2:53PM
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Gooster

I will add somewhat a dissenting voice -- your contractor is right in one respect, you must get that refrigerator out of the entry. Even in a historic home, having the main fridge in another room is a big liability (not to mention the dw blocking the door). That said, you should not take down the wall unless you have a dining room space elsewhere, and you avoid taking down those cabinets -- but they might be able to be relocated and reused in a plan that fits everything in.

Post a floor plan and the experts will come up with all sorts of ideas. Include the surrounding spaces -- like the entry/mudroom and dining room -- you may be able to steal space without opening the entire room.

This post was edited by gooster on Fri, Jun 14, 13 at 16:12

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 4:09PM
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LoPay

Keep the cabinets ! Can the wall behind the DW be changed or the door widened so that the area where the fridge is becomes part of the kitchen?

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 4:52PM
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pricklypearcactus

Wow. Those are some gorgeous cabinets! Your DH is absolutely right to keep them. I agree a layout would certainly help. I agree that there is no reason that you need to tear down the wall between the kitchen and the dining room, especially if you like it how it is now. It fits with the house and to some extent might lose some of the incredible charm your beautiful home has.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 5:37PM
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threegraces

OMG - do not touch those cabinets. Just don't do it!

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 5:40PM
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rosylady

If your contractor is suggesting tearing down that wall and putting in a peninsula, it makes me wonder if he is the right guy to work on your house. Tearing down the wall would take away so much of the character of your house.

I also agree with everyone else, those cabinets are beautiful and should be preserved.

Post your floor plan here and the kitchen layout gurus here will help you figure out where to put your fridge.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 6:42PM
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rosie

My contractor was wonderful, and he brought many fine subs with him. He and some of them, considering themselves experts in "what is done," gave me very sincere design and finishes advice. The advice was almost entirely to copy the lower-to-mid-budget usual in the area; at best it was boring (standard tract-home finishes) and occasionally struck me as even more inappropriate than replacing a wall with a peninsula might be for your home.

None of these people are designers. Notably, they had never heard of many finishes and layouts that had been discussed on this forum for years, and it was clear than none ever read about what was happening in their field outside their town.

So, please be careful about assuming your contractor is as competent a designer as he is at making construction happen. OTOH, it's of course really good to have his opinion on viability and costs before getting too invested in an idea.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 8:20PM
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wolverine2

Your house looks so much like mine! (We even have the portable dishwasher right now! :) I have a 1920 with similar woodwork and entry to the kitchen. We were debating opening it up too, and I'm glad to hear the chorus saying not to do it- that's what we decided too, though I never posted pictures so more people were suggesting opening it. It would destroy the character of the house though. So thanks for posting because it validates our decision! We start our demo in July.

I love the cabinets- would be a shame to lose them- there's no where else the fridge can go? I look forward to seeing the floor plan!

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 8:44PM
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katy-lou

Omg omg omg. Those cabinets!!! Agree with others here - keep the cabinets and the wall!

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 8:53PM
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threegraces

We knocked out a wall between our kitchen and a seldom-used back bedroom to open up our kitchen. People asked is if we were going to open it up to the dining room and I was like NO! I like my rooms separate. I get so annoyed with HGTV and people thinking everything needs to be one giant room. People on all those shows act like compartmentalizing is a design crime. Sometimes open concept improves function but don't knock down walls just to knock down walls.

I like to be able to close the doors to the back half of the downstairs and keep my toddler corralled while I cook. I'm with you, I like for my guests not to see my dirty dishes when we're in the dining room or living room.

People here will be able to give you some stellar layout advice and come up with solutions a contractor would not.

There's a beauty in old construction that cannot be replicated in new houses - keep the gorgeous character of your house while improving function. I don't know if that buffet in the dining room is built in, but you could use the money that would have been spent on knocking out the wall to build a gorgeous period-appropriate buffet that would hold a ton of lesser-used things if you lack kitchen storage and then you could find room to put your fridge in your kitchen.

Again, don't touch that wall of cabinets and that great window with the cool shelf above (wanted to do that in our remodel). You already have what a lot of people try to emulate when they remodel.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2013 at 7:55AM
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1929Spanish

I didn't read all the responses, so some of this might be repetitive.

I would say you need an architect/designer to tell you what to do with your beautiful old home, unless your contractor has a speciality in old homes.

The reason I say that is the contractor will tell you what people are doing today, not always what is right for you home. I believe that old homes can be updated, but nice ones shouldn't be "modernized".

You're lucky to have the beautiful cabinets still in tact and looking so pretty. All but one small corner cabinet had been removed from our house when I bought it.

My suggestion is to leave the wall and the back cabinets. Without seeing the rest of the kitchen, I'm not sure if you can solve the fridge, but maybe a professional can give you some ideas. Otherwise, the few extra steps to the fridge is worth it to save the character of the home.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2013 at 8:52AM
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needinfo1

Didn't read the entire thread, but we have a kitchen that we remodeled using a mix of the older cabinets like yours and having a carpenter custom build new cabinets to match. It worked out really well, and no one other than us can tell from the outside which are originals and which are new. An approach like this gives you the flexibility to perhaps rearrange things somewhat because you can repurpose or reposition the cabinets.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2013 at 9:34AM
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cbriskin01

Here is my not so good floor plan of the current kitchen. We want to move the sink to the alcove beneath the window and install a dishwasher. As you can see from the photos that I am also attaching, there really is no room for the fridge in that alcove if we install sink and DW.

We want to install counters around the stove so we have more room for food prep. Currently we prep everyhting on top of the portable dishwasher. Unbelievable, I know.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2013 at 12:50PM
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cbriskin01

Here is the alcove where we want to install counters, cabinets, sink and DW. I know...it is a mess right now. We wanted to see what was under the wall paper. Food and kitchen appliances needed a place to go before we figured out what to do with kitchen, thus the lovely steel rack.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2013 at 12:54PM
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cbriskin01

One last picture of our ugly kitchen...the stove and current sink configuration. As you can see the old kitchen cabinets are the best feature in this outdated kitchen. Can't wait to start tearing out everything (except cabinets). We don't see a way to bring the fridge into the kitchen. We are meeting with another contractor before we sign any contracts.
By the way, the basement stairs are behind the stove, and the only heating in the kitchen is a radiator in the corner tucked between the sink and stove. That will be moved, but not sure to where.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2013 at 1:00PM
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LoPay

Would the stove work in the aclove under the window? Even if you had to raise the window a bit, you wouldn't have to move your plumbing. Then you could put the DW and fridge on the wall against the basement stairs.

This might leave room for a small portable work table that you could use like an island.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 9:28AM
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navi_jen

Some general suggestions.

1. Close up the window from the kitchen to the DR. Not letting in a lot of light and it's killing that wall space....which you absolutely need. I hate removing original features, but this one (if it is original) just stinks.
2. Keep the current design of the sink under the alcove window
3. Put the fridge on the wall that abuts the DR, as far to the DR door as possible.
4. Move the stove closer to the door to the back hallway, to avoid the door 'conflict' between the stove and the fridge. Should be minimal expense, since you're keeping it on the same wall.

Sorry, without mocking it up, that's a rough approximation, but you get the idea.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 9:57AM
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cawaps

I was thinking the same thing as navi-jen, although I probably would put shutters over the pass-through rather than closing it off entirely. I had a pass-through that was wallboarded over and I regret it, but with your space constraints...I'd use the space but maybe leave the pass-through there for some future remodel.

I looks from the dining room pic like you can't move the kitchen/DR door toward the window--that was my other thought, but it looks like it is already in the corner of the DR.

If you got a cabinet-depth refrigerator an recessed it into one of the 4 foot walls, could that work?

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 11:07AM
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donaleen

Very nice cabinets. Do keep them. Did you consider putting the fridge in another room (pantry, or something)? My last house had the fridge outside the main kitchen (but close). I really liked that. I don't like the built in refrigerator look and I don't like how fridges look, so out of sight is what I like. I lost that battle in our current kitchen. My DH was unwilling to change the kitchen layout.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 12:31PM
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rosylady

I agree with Donaleen, I like the fridge where it is. If you had a large kitchen I would say move it, but yours is so small, the fridge is only a few steps away. I like it out of sight.

I wouldn't worry about resale. As you can see from the responses here, there are a lot of people out there who appreciate old houses that have been maintained in their original condition.

I have an old (100 years) farm house that was remodeled many times over the years. I am now trying to put the kitchen back to what it may have been originally. It is so expensive to re-create period craftsmanship and details, and that's if you can even find someone who even can/wants to do it.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 1:38PM
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cbriskin01

Thank you for your suggestions. I'm not sure moving the stove to the window alcove would work...wouldn't the hood block the window? i looked at moving the fridge into the windo alcove, but it won't fit against the window wall which is only 21 inches wide on either side of the window. I'm starting to agree that leaving the fridge in the pantry out of sight, might be best the move. I know the window takes up wall space, but I like looking into the DR/LR when I'm cooking, especially when there are guests.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 1:51PM
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LoPay

You could position the hood high enough over the window. Browse Houzz to find an example. I've seen some post here with that set up too.

When the house was built, where would the icebox and stove been placed?

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 3:42PM
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valinsv

This may not make sense, but just have to ask anyway, but is it possible to bumpout the upper right corner in your present layout, where it is presently notched out? If that north wall is to a backyard that could be one option to create more useful and contiguous wallspace to work with and open up a whole another set of possibilities to work with.

Short of that, if you do weigh all the pros/cons and decide to keep your refrigerator in it's present location, I'd recommend putting a set of paneled refrigerator drawers (under counter) next to your sink; on the side opposite your DW. While not ideal, it would at least give you a convenient spot for your produce and frequently used perishables next to the sink where you'd be washing and prepping. Is the window high enough to put the sink under it? Those lovely original cabinets look like they would hold a ton of storage!

I'm also not a fan of the peek-a-boo window in your kitchen. Is it original to your house or added on later?

I'm not sure if you mentioned it, but do you have good ventilation for your stove?

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 5:07PM
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catbuilder

I didn't have time to read everything, so maybe this has already been mentioned. It is very likely that those cabinets are built in place, and as such it would not be a matter of taking them down and relocating them (like we can do with newer cabinetry). It would mean dismantling the cabinets and rebuilding them in a new location. You need someone who is skilled in both building the cabinets and removing them without damaging them.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 5:23PM
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donaleen

I like that idea of a small fridge of some sort in the kitchen for prep things and another fridge for other things (drinks, condiments, freezer, snacks). That would work well. It could be under counter or an apartment sized fridge.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 6:04PM
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Linelle

Of all the less than ideal or inconvenient kitchen features I can think of, having a fridge out of the main kitchen would be among the least I'd care about. I tend to get everything out of the kitchen that I need for prepping at one time, same with putting things away. It's not, oh this, now oh that. A little annoying, but it's not like I'm constantly interacting with my fridge.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 6:18PM
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camlan

"When the house was built, where would the icebox and stove been placed?

Don't know about the stove, but there's a good chance the icebox would have been right where the refrigerator is now.

Right by the door, so the ice man could bring in a new block of ice without carrying it, dripping, through the house. Not in the kitchen, so that if someone* forgot to empty the drip tray in the ice box, the water wouldn't flood the kitchen.

My dad grew up in a house with the ice box in the mud room next to the kitchen. When they had to put in a new kitchen in 1938 (because lightening struck the house and burned out the kitchen), they did many things--turned one of the pantries into a powder room, changed the coal stove to a gas stove--but when they decided to buy an electric refrigerator, they put it right where the ice box had been.

In the Boston area, there are a great many houses from the 1920s and earlier where it is clear that the ice box or refrigerator was at one time in the back entryway or mudroom. I rented a unit in a 1920s three-decker, on the second floor, that had a back door opening from the kitchen to a back stairway, and from there to a sleeping porch. On the landing of the stairway was an electric outlet, oddly placed rather high on the wall--but perfectly placed for a fridge. And the ice man would have been able to bring blocks of ice up the back stairs easily, back when there was an ice box there.

* It was my dad's job to empty the drip tray every night. He sometimes forgot, and his punishment was washing the kitchen floor the next day.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2013 at 9:45AM
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Sweetdee

I just came across this thread and have to add : we too are planning a kitchen remodel in our 1928 Spanish revival home! Our kitchen/dinning room looks exactly like yours and we were considering taking out the wall between and adding a range island, facing the dinning room. After getting a few bids and giving things more thought I began to have doubts about removing the wall as it would remove so much wood work original to the home as well as character and charm.
After reading the responses I'm convinced it would be a mistake!! I'll try to post some photos.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2013 at 12:44PM
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ControlfreakECS

You have a little door to the left of the window where you want to put the sink. What is behind that door/wall? Can you push out a bit into that area?

    Bookmark   June 17, 2013 at 12:46PM
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Sweetdee

Here's a pic of the wall between the kitchen and breakfast nook. That is the wall I'm going to remove now, and leave the range to face the nook. Make it the gathering place for kitchen watchers!! Notice the fridge is in the mud room!!
I could use help with cabinet colors!! We are putting in marble, new sink, etc. The floors are red oak ( in the kitchen). I ideally want dark on the bottom with lighter cabs on top. Any suggestions are welcome!

    Bookmark   June 17, 2013 at 12:51PM
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Sweetdee

Sorry, I don't mean to hijack your thread!! Got excited when I saw a fellow old home owner :).

    Bookmark   June 17, 2013 at 1:16PM
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rosie

There are answer for developing within the existing available space, but if your budget would allow more than reorganizing it, perhaps, as 1929Spanish suggested, at least consulting a qualified architect would be worthwhile to look for a way to improve while preserving your spaces.

Just for instance, not to be scary with someone else's budget, but while thinking "if only" for moving the DRM door, I started wondering if the staircase could be reconfigured or moved. If the stairs up started a few feet back, for instance, the kitchen could share its doorway. And so on. That's probably a big no, but what are the possibilities? There has to be at last one good one, maybe 2 or 3 minor changes, that those handicapped on the far side of a screen, without even a floor plan, much less site plan, can't begin to guess at.

ITM, I think it's great that you have such a good place for your refrigerator. You know, they're such big clunks of machines. We're used to the space they take up and how they look now, but we'd be horrified if they were a new invention that we had to somehow fit into previously nice kitchens; not as bad as trying to assimilate them into our living rooms would be, but still a visual and space-gobbling disaster. I can just imagine a tsunami of anguished posts to this forum. Just a way of saying I think you're fortunate to have a very convenient but distinctly separate niche for yours. :)

    Bookmark   June 17, 2013 at 1:22PM
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cbriskin01

I don't mind at all. I think it is really interesting to hear how other people in similar homes deal with renovation. Camlan, I think you are probably right about the placement of the icebox where the refrigerator now stands. We are meeting with another contractor next week to get another bid and some ideas. We started looking at countertop materials and floor samples. If there is hardwood under the floor we will refinish it. We are thinking of porcelain floors also. Not sure about countertops. Granite perhaps, although we are thinking of a nice slab of carrara marble for the refinished cabinets since that counter space would not be used much for food prep. I have carrara marble in the bathroom and love love it. Also thinking of color schemes. I'm drawn to warm greys and blues that work well with the birch cabinets.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2013 at 9:45AM
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debrak_2008

When I saw your kitchen I thought of this kitchen by a fellow GWer.

Here is a link that might be useful: Sayde's kitchen

    Bookmark   June 18, 2013 at 10:37AM
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cbriskin01

Were you thinking of Rosie's kitchen or mine (the original pictures posted)? I love the subway tile behind the hood. Great looking kitchen.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2013 at 2:09PM
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honorbiltkit

In renovating a small 1923 foursquare, I could not afford a sleek Liebherr or any other refrigerator that would not call undue attention to itself in a small kitchen. Ultimately, I put Darth Vader (very large and vaguely menacing) into the reworked pantry that is off the short hall that passes the back door and leads to the basement steps.

The fridge is five steps from the kitchen sink, and there is landing space for taking things out on counters closer than that. I had misgivings, but it turns out to work fine.

In order to save those cabinets of yours, I would be wiling to put a fridge in the basement or perhaps the next county. They are smashing and, like the gumwood cabinets Sayde and her husband so brilliantly saved, they might well be set off by honed pale marble. Try a sample piece on various counters when your kitchen is reconfigured; the tenor of the natural life makes a big difference.

Best of luck.

Here is a link that might be useful: Hiding Darth Vader

    Bookmark   June 18, 2013 at 2:56PM
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donaleen

Very well put, honor...I agree wholeheartedly. This is turning into a very fun thread!

    Bookmark   June 18, 2013 at 3:37PM
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Sweetdee

Sadye's kitchen cabinets look a lot like your,Cbriskin01. Very, very pretty wood. I wonder if there's pretty wood under the paint in my kit. I'm going with honed marble and subway tile backsplash. Contractor coming to sign on Thursday. Exciting. I think if you could keep the fridge out of the kitchen is best. They are ugly. And you can always move the cabinets, I would think. Carefully.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2013 at 7:51PM
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