Kitchen Storage in the Early Home

What these kitchens, from Massachusetts to Ohio, have in common is a preference for antiqued surfaces and open storage. Bowl and plate racks, plain shelving, glass-fronted cabinets, and old cupboards with doors left open offer pretty and practical display.

Photographs by Franklin & Esther Schmidt

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Placing shelves on walls was easy enough for the roughest carpenter. In this Ohio house, good design uses closed cabinets and scallop-end display shelves, all in mustard-color milk paint for a warm glow. The open corner displays crockery and ceramics and other practical items. The plain window treatment adds color and movement.

1. A craftsman in the way of fine carpenters and furniture makers who came before, the owner of this house was happy to find a true original, a Massachusetts Federal. He made the colonial-style cabinets with their distressed finish. Open shelving displays vintage (though not antique) ceramics and dishware. The owner built the apothecaries, which hide small appliances; he also refinished existing glass-fronted cabinets to match. His wife made the woven runner tacked up over the window with rosehead nails.

2. Centered between custom cabinets is a display niche, with shelves that hold the family’s collection of antique salt-glaze crockery and assorted boxes. An early painted country table doubles as a tabletop and kitchen prep area. The table is also used for casual meals. Early houses had similar setups, where display and storage met.

3. A bowl rack becomes an object of beauty in this house in rural Ohio, built in colonial style. Hand stitched and hand built are keys to the look. Every object in the room is unique, antique, or handcrafted, with the varied textures of brick, wicker, wood, and metal. One door in the cupboard is often left open to add display space.

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