Renovating Historic Kitchens
Everyone wants to look at the wonderful architectural legacy of our historic communities, such as in Chagrin Falls; Conversely, most people want to live in an updated house with rooms that flow and an updated kitchen. To achieve the second goal without losing the first, it takes some ingenuity and a lot of respect for the original craftsmanship and appearance. Interior walls including bearing walls can be opened up, and we have found that if half the wall becomes an opening then rooms will successfully connect. One great aspect of many historic homes is the high ceilings, which creates a sense of space even in tight floor plans.
If an addition is needed, the scale of the new must not dwarf the scale of the old (say, eighteen-foot wide gables on a historic Victorian). And the addition must not ‘blend’ into the old form to create an elongated or stretched side view of the house – extensions should read as their own, discrete elements. Finally, the entire floor plan should be considered as an integrated whole – in other words, the front/ original rooms should remain a vital part of the finished product.
Kitchens are often the center of attention during the renovation of a historic home. Old kitchens tend to have small counter spaces with little space to move in between. Below, we have examples of our kitchen renovations which preserve the historic uniqueness of each home, while giving it breathing room for modern life.
1936 Monte Copper Tudor
This beautiful Tudor home in Shaker Heights, Ohio was updated with minimal exterior impact. The family room was the trickiest element of the design because it was removed from the kitchen by several steps down through a thickened wall. Without eliminating the transition, we transformed it into two sets of steps spilling around a central cabinetry piece. This geometric puzzle of cabinetry gives openness with glass cabinets over a kitchen buffet, while gracefully serving the family room side with an elegant bar area.
1910 Walker and Weeks Traditional
Built in 1910 in Gates Mills, Ohio, this home was missing a functional kitchen or any connected spaces. A beautiful butler’s pantry, office, walk-in pantry, sitting nook, kitchen, and informal dining space were woven into a comfy living zone. An updated back entry and bathrooms were also included in the project.
Chagrin Falls Italianate
This home lacked any sort of functional or visual connection between the front of the house and the spacious family room area in the rear. Using strategic interventions (i.e., moving a stairway), we opened sightlines through the entire house while placing the kitchen in an ideal, central location.
While it may seem daunting to imagine a kitchen transforming from cramped to spacious, you can see from our examples that it is entirely possible. With an expert on your side, the historic kitchens of the past can be shaped into modern living spaces; all of this can be achieved while respecting the history of the home.