Renovate an Arts and Crafts Kitchen
by Allison E. Beatty
Old House Web Columnist
The Arts and Crafts movement introduced many interesting architectural elements, such as stained glass windows, finely crafted moldings, and unique hardware. As you plan a kitchen renovation in an Arts and Crafts home, look for ways to incorporate these elements and stay true to your home's roots.
The Right Contractor
One of the most important aspects of this type of renovation is the contractor. The contractor you hire should have an eye for period designs and be passionate about preserving the character of your home.
When faced with a decision about removing a stained glass window to make room for more wall cabinets, you want a contractor who suggests ways to reuse the window. He or she also should have a general knowledge of the time period and the types of architectural details used. For example, the contractor should know the difference between a Victorian kitchen, with its fuss and detail, and an Arts and Crafts kitchen, which features much simpler styling.
The contractor also should be able to use carpentry skills to incorporate Arts and Crafts details into standard cabinetry. While there are many cabinets on the market that fit the general style of this time period, they may not have the level of customization you want. You may like a beadboard panel inside a lighted cabinet--a charming accent. Or, you might desire custom molding on the cabinets to match woodwork in adjacent rooms. These home improvement touches can make a world of difference in the overall design.
Kitchen Cabinets Are Key
The kitchen cabinetry is another important element as it may be the most highly visible part of your kitchen. The wood and the doors you select should reflect those used in the early 1900s, when this style was popular.
Among the options for wood are maple, hickory, and pine. Many renovators turn to the more rustic knotty pine common in that time. The pine often is sealed with tung oil to create a warm, period look. Another popular option is maple, which can blend with the old maple floor that probably lies under layers of linoleum in your kitchen.
The style of the kitchen cabinets should be traditional, but not too fussy. Many Arts and Crafts homes have cabinets with recessed panel doors. They feature framing around the door panel that adds a clean, classic look. This door style is not as ornate, however, as those with raised panel doors and arched tops.
Many homes built around the 1900s featured natural woods such as maple and oak on the floors. This was true in the kitchen as well, as home owners had not yet been introduced to low maintenance products such as vinyl.
If you're lucky enough to have the original wood floors, talk with a floor refinisher to see how they might look with a little sanding. Otherwise, consider new wood with a satin finish that will furnish an elegant yet comfortable look. Knotty pine or wide plank wood floors also fit that time period.
The Detail Is In the Lighting
There were many interesting light fixtures created during the Arts and Crafts era. Many fixtures featured remarkable metal accents, colored glass globes, and divided light patterns. If you cannot find authentic ones through salvage yards and estate sales, look online or in stores for current models that mimic the old styles.
You may want pendant lights with pewter detailing over an island or a ceiling fixture with stained glass accents. In many instances, a simple fixture with scrolling or a geometric pattern will do the trick.
As you shop for lighting, consider the other fixtures in your home. When possible, try to tie in the metals, color tones, or designs so the kitchen blends with the rest of the house.
Metal took on new meaning during the Arts and Crafts period. Many craftsmen toiled away at intricate copper heating vent covers or pewter cabinet hardware. Luckily, there are many companies that make those types of products for today's homes. These accents can make the difference between an ordinary kitchen renovation and a top-notch Arts and Crafts masterpiece.
As you plan your Arts and Crafts renovation, remember that the details often make or break a good design. A beadboard ceiling, a stained glass cabinet door, or a copper light fixture could just push this home improvement project over the top.
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