Old school kitchen solution in real estate

palimpsestJune 8, 2013

This house is on the market (pictures from PruFoxRoach), and the house is being marketed as Location x 3.

(Which is what it's got going for it, at almost $600K. It's not in very good shape)

Anyway, these houses are small, and in the 19th c. when they were built, if you cooked in the house it was in the basement.

I made the kitchen photos black and white because the color scheme is unfortunate and distracting. This brick floor is probably brick on the dirt:

Here is essentially the entire first floor of the house. The realtor is probably standing on the threshold of the front door. You can see if you had a kitchen here it would be all kitchen. That is the back door in the other corner and the glass room is a 1960s-70s addition.

Here is the kitchen, entered down the basement steps behind the grey door next to the fireplace:

Notice the elevated area with the baseboard heat in the left hand corner:

You step up into it as a dining area:

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Is there a question in here? Sorry I don't understand the point of this post. Are you thinking of buying this home, showing us a bad kitchen, or??

    Bookmark   June 8, 2013 at 4:18PM
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No question, just showing it. Does there have to be a question?

These houses originally had the kitchens in the basement if they had kitchens at all, and for a good part of the 20th century (the first three quarters of it), they often got left there even when renovating. And infill houses in the neighborhoods were commonly designed with basement kitchens from the 1960s to the 1970s

Most people would not do this now, but to some extent it saves the entire living space from being a giant kitchen.
I would probably not want a kitchen in a basement such as this, and many of these rather raw kitchens have disappeared in subsequent renovations.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2013 at 4:38PM
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That floor would be cold and dank if it was on dirt. Did they do these remodels without lifting the brick and doing something under it?

I remember those days. Ingenious, eclectic architectural fixes like that glass addition were exciting and artful. No matter how they may seem now, they had it all over tearing out a wall and adding in some decorative columns.

Seriously? I'd try to live with that kitchen before I'd settle for living in a kitchen. :)

    Bookmark   June 8, 2013 at 4:54PM
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I grew up in a very Italian neighborhood of the Bronx. Most of the houses on our street were brick 2 family non-attached houses built in the mid 1940's. They were narrow with a very small kitchens and equally small LR and DR on the main level. They had street level 1 bedroom apartments which were pretty dark due to small window spaces.

By the 70's, most people had converted them into single family houses. Took out the kitchen on the main level and made that into the 'company only' LR and DR. Downstairs on the street level was the kitchen and family room where the family spent 90% of their time. This kitchen reminds me alot of those kitchens.

My family kept the house pretty intact remodeling the kitchen in the 70's(autumn gold appliances!) and getting really good rental income from the basement apt.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2013 at 4:57PM
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These basement kitchens are often pretty cold and dank. They have a kind of dirt "smell", often. Here is another one that was on the market a while back, with original fireplace exposed:

It had a tiny light well made out of the old street bulkhead

    Bookmark   June 8, 2013 at 5:05PM
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That's really interesting. Before air conditioning, it would have been much cooler down there, and you wouldn't heat up your main living area with cooking.

You could put a one-wall kitchen on the first floor with those big doors that side across to cover it, like in Europe and some metro apartments. But then your dining area would take a big chunk of the living area.

I guess it is all about location, if this lists for $600K.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2013 at 5:14PM
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Where are these, Palimpsest?

I remember in my hometown, when I was "tween" or thereabouts, there was still a home on the main street that had a dirt floor in the kitchen addition. The original house dated from the early 1800s. My dad told me about it after making a home visit to the elderly occupant.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2013 at 10:23PM
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Philadelphia. The first in the fitler square area, the other in the queen village area.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2013 at 10:36PM
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Oh, my. I live in a house that still has a dirt-floored room. It is on the first floor, off the kitchen and serves as the wood-storage room (house still heated only with wood, and until 1990 wood was only cooking fuel) and as the cold room to store some kinds of food (aging hams, for instance were/are hung from the rafters).

I have made a "floor" in it by laying down vapor retarder, woven polypropylene weed barrier, two layers of shipping pallets, topped with exterior plywood, which I have painted in a cheerful checkerboard faux marble pattern. I mostly did this because the level of the floor (once I hauled out the almost two feet deep and 150 years of compost-ing wood and bark debris and assorted skeletons of long-deceased beasties) was about 18" below the level of the kitchen floor. It was a pain to step up every time I hauled wood into the house.

I think my temporary floor is a great improvement. Eventually we may get around to doing something more formal. Or not.

Hey, it meets the old-house standard of being a fully reversible change!


    Bookmark   June 8, 2013 at 11:09PM
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The house I grew up in had an unfinished basement with a dirt floor. I totally know that dirt smell! We had a separate freezer down there and that was where we kept mom's canning. So we kids were always running down to the basement for something for dinner.

I like the glass addition.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2013 at 11:23PM
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Back when my husband was a professor at one of Phila's universities we looked at a number of row homes in Society Hill.

We came very close to buying a home like the one pictured above (but I will say better preserved) and it had a kitchen in the basement (and a brick floor like the one above).

On the whole it was a very cozy. In row homes, such as these (we also looked at what would best be described as a federal mansion on Pine - also in Society hill and it had a gracious amount of space, and to this day I regret not buying it) space is at a premium. And I liked that the basement had the kitchen the second floor a "living room" and the upper floors bedrooms.

From an old-person-knee point of view these homes aren't for the weak but they really are wonderful if you don't have that problem.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2013 at 8:44AM
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I suspect that one of my bathrooms may have the original packed adobe floor under the modern vinyl.

We haven't done much exploring there.

But an adobe house with the original local brick on packed dirt floor sold in a flash last year. They upgraded the floor by lifting the brick, removing some dirt, installing insulation and a sub-floor heating system. it's cozy.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2013 at 10:55AM
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We just looked at this in person. It's been empty for about 5 years which is rather promising with regards to it's overall condition because it is not overly-deteriorated for being empty that long.

The kitchen floor is definitely brick on the dirt. The kitchen smells like being out in the woods, without the trees and just the earth smell.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2013 at 1:15PM
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Well I love it. Though I don't know how I would go about "fixing" the floor. Maybe seal it up somehow and put in a heated floor. But I know that were live out in DelCo that would be impossible with our high water table.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2013 at 7:08AM
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