January 25, 2014

Design History – The Great Kitchen Remodel

I’ve started calling our kitchen plan, the fifty-year kitchen. It has been fifty years since the last kitchen remodel and I’d like to think this year’s remodel will last another fifty. The house was built in 1928 and according to city records, the one and only kitchen remodel was completed in 1964.

The kitchen has two doors, one door between the kitchen and dining room and one door that leads to a small stairs and hallway to an outside side door and then down to the basement. The dining room and basement doors align and form a little hallway space. The rest of the kitchen is 11 1/2 by 7 1/2, with two windows, approximately centered in each outside wall.

From what I’ve been able to piece together, the original, 1928 kitchen, had a large freestanding stove under one window and the sink under the other window. It probably had a freestanding cabinet with an ice box, or it may have had an early refrigerator. Using the very handy Ikea drafting tool, I put together a rough estimate of the original kitchen layout and also found a drawing on-line of a kitchen from that era. The kitchen had red oak wood floors, matching the rest of the house, and a two-way swinging door between the kitchen and dining room.

In 1964, the doorway between the dining room and kitchen was widened to make more of an open-plan space. A wheel-chair accessible island extended from the kitchen into the dining room. At the same time, the sink was moved to be under the other window and stove shifted to the stairwell wall. This provided a long span of countertop, but left some dead space in the corners. The 1964 design did not include a dishwasher.

The kitchen and dining room floors were covered in large black and red vinyl tiles in a checkerboard pattern and walls were tiled with large ceramic subway tiles in a salmon color. One wall of the dining room was also covered in wood paneling. The photo below was the view from the dining room into the kitchen when we bought the house, most of the tile floor had already been removed and replaced with the current rolled vinyl.

1964 kitchen island

After we purchased the house in 2010, we rebuilt the wall between the kitchen and dining room and added a standard 30″ pocket door with colonial grill. I also matched the original wood doorframe trim and baseboard. Since then we have also added chair rail and crown molding. The pocket door still needs a little more trim, but I’ve been waiting until after the new kitchen is in, because we may need that doorway to be as wide as possible to get all the cabinets and appliances into the kitchen.

The photo below is from the same spot as the photo above, showing the dining room wall. By adding the wall back in we were able to maximize the available space within the kitchen. In our new plan, the sink is back where it was in 1928. The stove stays where it is today, but instead of being freestanding it will now be a slide-in range with cabinets and countertop on both sides. We are planning to restore the oak floors and put in a standard size white subway tile. Having the countertop extend along the dining room wall will give us a great amount of workspace plus extra storage. We are also adding a dishwasher between the fridge and the sink. It will certainly be the nicest kitchen we’ve ever lived with and I’m very much looking forward to cooking in it.

2014 kitchen pocket door


  1. It’s fun to imagine the history of your old home. Your design looks very efficient with a nice “work-triangle” between the sink, refrigerator and stove. I think it will be a classic that will last even more than 50 years!

    Comment by Arielle — January 25, 2014 @ 6:10 pm

  2. Thanks Arielle! Yes, I think the triangle workspace is going to work well for us.

    Comment by Marijka — January 27, 2014 @ 9:15 am

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