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A Bungalow Kitchen Comeback

These Denver owners overcame indecision and bad advice to bring back their bungalow kitchen. By Sarah Hilbert | Photos by Mark W. Welch

    Salvaged and restored, the wall of cabinets and 6' sink are the centerpiece of the room. The owners prefer a versatile farm table rather than an island.

    The 1920 Arts & Crafts bungalow in Denver had good bones and little remodeling when Reed Weimer and Chandler Romeo bought it in 1998. Only the kitchen was in sore shape—it was oddly configured with multiple doorways, and had garish wallpaper and inadequate storage. A homeless refrigerator was stowed in another room. Chandler and Reed knew what they didn’t want—a kitchen island topped the list. And they held out hope that they could keep the original layout along with an exceptional (if tired) wall of cabinets over the big porcelain-on-cast-iron sink. With architects, friends, and contractors offering conflicting advice, however, indecision kept the project grounded for nine years.

    Then a fortunate turn of events helped them nail down the right approach. Author Jane Powell was planning a Denver lecture stop and agreed to a weekend stay with Chandler and Reed. (Bungalow Kitchens is among her many books.) They credit Jane with showing them “that we needed to keep it simple and to reuse as much as possible.”

    Keeping to the era of the house informed design decisions, but the owners give as much credit to the expertise of their contractors, nearly all of whom live in historic neighborhoods nearby. Reed says the decision to hire local experts was obvious: “It lends itself to the Arts & Crafts philosophy. . . tapping into a community of skilled artisans and crafters who know old houses.”

    Cabinetmaker Robert Clesen has hero status in this household. Bob meticulously restored the original cabinets above the oversized sink, fashioned flanking base cabinets (to add storage and a hidden dishwasher), and made compatible new cabinets for the rest of the room. Door frames were retained but remade for efficient use: the old reach-in pantry/broom closet became space for the refrigerator, and two doors in a corner were converted into a spice shelf and additional cabinet and counter space.

    The remodeling brought back the room’s spaciousness and lets in lots of light. New cabinets at left match originals over the sink.

    The couple’s diligent salvage hunts brought in elements that lend historical accuracy—and charm. “We had so many little voyages to go on, local and not local, to do this kitchen,” Chandler says. Salvaged items include the Florentine glass for the new cabinets, which matches that of the original cabinet doors; wood to patch the existing pine subfloor; and hardware including drawer pulls, hinges, transom mechanics, and push-button switch plates.

    Nine years of dreaming (or fretting?) plus six months of remodeling created a kitchen with the efficiency and vibrancy that comes with careful planning and execution. Rocky Mountain sunshine pours into a generous space where Chandler can cook and host her baking classes. The room went from dated to modern without losing its history. Homey comfort reigns.

    Sources

    Cabinets: Robert Clesen, (303) 477-9634
    Tiles: Seneca Tiles
    Hardware: Rejuvenation
    Range: Viking
    Butler’s sink: Kohler
    Faucets: Chicago Faucets
    Paint: Benjamin Moore (cabinets and trim, ‘Windham Cream’; upper walls, ‘Golden Lab’; lower walls, ‘Sherwood Green’)

    Published in: Old-House Interiors July/August 2011

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