Ask OHJ

Missing a pantry; sources for a country table and chairs.

Q: Our kitchen and (former) pantry were made into one open-plan room in the 1970s. When do you return to the original floor plan, and when do you leave the remodeling alone? —Joyce E. Boyd, via webinar

A: Should you go back to the kitchen-plus-separate-pantry configuration? Here’s my thought process:

You inherited this change, and it’s not obligatory to go back to the original. Furthermore, the 1970s owner may have had a good reason: say, the kitchen was too small for a dishwasher, the pantry blocked access to the backyard, extensive rot needed repair, etc. And the current plan may be working fine for you.

Pantries are ubiquitous in farmhouses, even if it’s only a few shelves in a cool corner of the house. 

Gross & Daley

Then again, the room may “feel” remodeled, and stuck in the ’70s. It may not offer enough storage. These would be reasons to explore taking it back to the original plan. If blueprints were filed in your town or county seat when the house was built, look there for those plans. Otherwise, you can usually find hints during careful demolition, clues like marks in the flooring showing where a wall once was, or a capped drain showing the original position of the sink. But you don’t want to start taking things apart unless you’re going forward with remodeling.

Pantries offer lots of capacity while hiding clutter, the dog bowl, and the occasional beverage cooler or microwave oven. In surveys of new-home owners, asking their top wishes in the kitchen, a separate pantry is in the top five. The National Association of Home Builders reports that 85% of homebuyers consider a pantry essential or desirable. So you wouldn’t be wrong to add one. Look at the space you have, to see if adding a pantry would leave you with a workable kitchen.

Search the words “pantry” and “pantries” at oldhouseonline.com to find
photos of original and new ones. —Patricia Poore


A brown checkerboard floor, antique appliances and lighting fixtures, painted cabinets, and a kitchen table create a convincing period kitchen. (Photo: Troy Thies)

Q: We are remodeling our kitchen and I would like more information on the table and chairs shown on OHJ’s July 2020 cover. The look is simple and farmhouse. Do you know where to purchase these items? —Susan Lessick, Anaheim, Calif.

A: Homeowner Rich says the quarter-sawn oak table was custom-made by a local cabinetmaking company, Modern Design of Cologne, Minnesota (moderndesign cabinetry.com). Despite their name, they were good with period details, even modeling some on an old roll-top desk in the client’s home. They added spice drawers and pullout cutting boards at the ends.

The chairs are Liberty Furniture’s Farmhouse 24″ Windsor Back Counter Stools in Oak (still available at home livingfurniture.com). Windsors are classic, of course, and Rich says the rounded backs mean that straps and bags don’t get snagged on chair posts. —the editors

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Tags: OHJ April 2021

By Old House Journal

Founded in 1973, Old House Journal is the original authority when it comes to old-house restoration, traditional house styles, period kitchens, bath & kitchen restoration, DIY projects, gardens & landscaping, and more-- from Colonial and Victorian through Arts & Crafts and Mid-century Modern homes. 

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