“Nothing drives me crazier than an old house that screams ‘remodeled’ . . . I wanted this kitchen to look as if it were original, with a few newer amenities.” That was homeowner Amy Pelly’s intention as she approached redesigning the kitchen in her 1925 Seattle bungalow. Interior designer and former colleague Toni McKeel helped lay out the kitchen based on Amy’s list of core elements: classic checkerboard flooring, a vintage stove and sink, and period cabinets.
Architect Bob Fong pressed for an 11' bump-out addition behind the kitchen to accommodate a casual dining area. “I struggled with losing the window over the sink,” Amy says; but Fong convinced her to abandon her plan to build a tiny dining room to the left of the counter. He assured her that she would get enough natural light from new side windows and French doors.
Contractor Jim Healow was indispensable, Amy claims. “For a solid year and a half before we started, I agonized over every detail. Jim’s patience was remarkable. He even reconstructed the arch between the dining area and the kitchen after I decided it should be more pronounced.”
1. PERIOD APPLIANCES
The Wedgewood stove is from the 1950s. (The new hood matches tiled countertops and backsplash.) A local salvage yard yielded a vintage sink in good condition. “Use eBay to furnish a period kitchen—it’s faster and more productive than driving around,” says the homeowner. Search engines pointed her in the right direction.
2. THE BIG STUFF
It was the owner’s idea to add an arch, so common in houses of this period, between rooms to make the addition look original. Cabinets were built in the style of the 1920s and brush painted, not sprayed, for the right finish. A baking center is two inches lower than countertops, lending an unfitted look.
3. THE SMALL STUFF
Hardware and lighting are vintage or accurate reproductions. Counters are finished with 4" hex tiles with a crackled glaze and a black bullnose. In the breakfast room, surface-nailed white oak floorboards were cut narrower than today’s standard to match flooring in the rest of the house. Under-sink cupboard doors are vented.
4. SIMPLE AND CLASSIC
The checkerboard floor is an early-20th-century classic, and practical to boot: it camouflages dirt and is easy to clean. This one is made up not from linoleum tiles but rather affordable VCT or vinyl commercial tile: impervious, long-wearing, and comfortable underfoot.
You won’t hide your stand mixer if it’s in an evocative period hue like KitchenAid’s Aqua Sky, a 1930s color popular again in the 1950s. See also their Almond Cream, a bisque color good in a period room. Artisan Series 5-qt. Tilt Head Stand Mixer, through kitchenaid.com
Green paint will tend toward grey, blue, or yellow with very different effect. Light, minty greens from C2 Paint include these and more. Lichen is adaptable, Ginkgo a bungalow-era color, while Retro Lime conjures 1950s–60s kitchens. c2paint.com
The classic over-the-sink, swing-spout faucet with a soap dish is available once again from American Standard. Made of brass and chrome-plated, it’s the Heritage Collection two-handle wall mount (spout comes in choice of three lengths). Porcelain lever handles are ADA-approved. americanstandard-us.com
The breakfast room has a vintage-style ceiling fixture with a dropped pan and multiple lamps, popular after the turn of the 20th century. An accurate reproduction: the ‘Abington’ from the American Vintage Collection featuring fixtures of the 1910s and ’20s. revivallighting.com