Q: What are some ideas for capturing the vintage look for a kitchen renovation?

A: Preservation of old homes is a favorite conversation of owners of vintage homes, and now you even hear conversations about restoring a kitchen to its former glory.  To appreciate more vintage design elements, let’s talk a little bit about kitchens of old.


What were kitchens of old like?

In prewar designs, kitchens were work areas plain and simple. Everything in the kitchens was freestanding, from the huge cast iron stove, the sink on porcelain legs to the icebox and a table that doubled as a workspace. Those that were modernized in the 1950s, ’60s, or ’70s often held even less appeal than the ones before. The countertop, flooring, and ceiling materials in them were no match visually as the hardwoods, linoleum’s, and metals they replaced.


Today we want to capture the flavor of the kitchens we imagine our great-grandparents loved and enjoyed. Homey, warmth and filled with the aroma of good cooking. Fortunately, replicating the mood of a vintage kitchen in an existing space has never been easier. As demand for kitchen accessories that are older grows, so has the availability of period materials.


Here are several ideas you might consider to achieve a vintage look and feel:


·         Architectural salvage and well-designed reproduction hardware and appliances are relatively easy to locate. 

  • Resources for old-fashioned pieces can be found by perusing advertisements in many home design magazines and inquiring at local antiques’ shops and architectural salvage companies.
  • Cabinets, more than any other single element in the design, determine the look and feel of a kitchen so choose your cabinets carefully. TAC have many ideas for your vintage look and feel so make sure to let us help guide you.
  • You can check with architectural salvage companies as they often stock vintage cabinets in wood or metal. These cabinets mix well with freestanding antique or reproduction pieces.
  •  An antique dresser or a dry sink adds charm as well as semi-customized items like plate racks and open shelving. 
  • Stone countertops are compatible with old-fashioned kitchens as long as the stone is honed to a soft finish, and not sleek and modern. Vermont soapstone is one popular choice.
  • For flooring, designers usually recommend hardwood.
  • On the ceiling, pressed metal makes quite a statement, particularly when left in its natural state. As an alternative, try heavy Anaglypta paper, a cream-colored wallpaper embossed in a variety of period patterns. It is less expensive to have installed than pressed metal and once painted, achieves a much similar effect.
  • Finding authentic looking stoves and also refrigerators became easier in the mid-1980s when the country look was blossoming. Our grandparents’ stoves have all been refurbished and are easier than ever to find. No matches needed!. Though most old stoves are white, some occasionally turn up in cream, green, or cobalt blue. 
  • Hoods are more difficult to find to match your stove since they were not around one hundred years ago. Try buying wood and blending it into the upper cabinetry.
  • Vintage style hardware is the icing on the cake for the finishing touch on your period look kitchen. Designers suggest antique brass, satin nickel or a blackened finish. The hardware makes the whole kitchen look as if it has been there for years just like the rest of your vintage home.


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