Kitchen Design Tip: Making New Kitchens Fit Old Spaces

By: Mark Clement , Contributing Writer
In: Old Houses, Old House Construction, Home Improvement Tips, Old House Musings

One of the trickiest projects in old houses weaving modern kitchens into old spaces.

Even as little as a half century-ago people had cast iron coal and wood-fired stoves for heating and cooking. Indeed, I’ve heard the story from many people who shut parts of their houses down in winter to maximize the heat from these heat sources. Indeed, in my own home, while prepping for our new kitchen I stripped plaster from the chimney and found the old stove-pipe hole.

The reason for the recent history of heat boils down (get it? Boils…anyway…) is the fact that not only do we have more appliances these days, but they don’t lay out the same way the old ones did making it a challenge to get the kitchen to keep true to the old house pedigree but work as a modern kitchen should.

To put a fine point on it, the issue often plays itself out not at the stove, but at the sink. See, any kitchen without a sink centered under a window that’s–roughly–in the center of the room calls negative attention to itself.

Kitchen Deisgn Solutions

The solution, after this long list of problems, is at once simple and complicated: move or alter the window. In the most recent kitchen I’ve done, I shrunk two double-hungs into a single casement window. This enabled me to shift the pluming the few inches I needed and changed the perceived center of the room. Now, unlike the old kitchen, the new kitchen not only has a modern range, but a dishwasher and counter space.

The cabinets can keep things like a vintage house. The appliances can help us lead a modern life. And the whole thing was the result of a simple design trick followed up by a lot of hard work.