1 House 100 Years

Preparing For The Centennial Of A Place That Matters

Month: October, 2012

The kitchen as a center of a home’s activity (or the challenge of unwelcome visitors)

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This wall formed the other side of the galley style kitchen. Although you can’t see it clearly from this photograph, the refrigerator blocked about a quarter of the bedroom doorway. Between the cabinets and countertop to the right and the refrigerator on the left was a covered over brick chimney.

The challenge here was to provide enough refrigerator space. The cabinets and countertop had to be sacrificed to make room for the refrigerator, but they have been reused nicely in the garage. The exposed brick chimney would add some authentic character even though it divided the wall space in half.

The initial demolition here and there revealed that the best course of action was to completely gut the kitchen. Everything was removed right down to the wall studs and floor joists. I can’t think of a good way to describe the feeling of looking at my kitchen completely demolished kitchen.

There was something about the hollow banging sound of walking across loose plywood on the floor joists that made me wonder if I would ever get it done. Still I had to remember that the kitchen had needed much more than a coat of paint and a new sink drainpipe.

This was unnerving too because in the first month living in the house before any kitchen demolition at all, I was awakened by an opossum noisily scrambling around in my kitchen. It had been using a hole in the floor boards under the sink to steal free meals from me!

He had eaten well because he could barely get his rear end squeezed back through the hole! So what do you do when you’re barely awake and there’s an opossum stuck in a hole in your kitchen floor? I don’t think it’s a question ever addressed on “This Old House.”

That was “small potatoes” compared to the evening that I came home just in time to find two raccoons climbing down the bare kitchen wall studs from the attic like they owned the whole place. All of this certainly proves that the kitchen is the center of a home’s activity.

This photograph was taken Spring 2007.

Kitchen, west-facing wall (before)

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After the bathroom renovation (to be shared later), the kitchen was next on my list. Along with the sunroom (completed late 2011 to early 2012) and the dining room (current project), the kitchen is the base for three connected rooms that allow for real company to visit casually and comfortably.

This photograph shows the kitchen the way that it first looked. The entire western wall was taken up by a cast iron sink with large drainboard areas and electric range. One of the great things about the range was that it had a regular oven and a smaller sized oven.

It was not until the night of closing day that I happened to be checking around under the sink and found that the drain pipe had rusted out below floor level, and all the water from my endless “testing everything out” had just been making a puddle under the house.

Although the sink and range were both full of vintage character, the drainboards on each side just did not feel functional as true countertop space and the range stovetop was totally electric. To me, there’s nothing like a gas stovetop to heat fast and control boil-overs and flame-ups!

The range was taken away from the roadside and is being happily used again in another neighborhood home. The sink went to the electrician who certified that all the knob-and-tube wiring had been removed and was no longer a fire hazard. It works great on his fishing pier!

This photograph was taken Spring 2007.

Handcrafted Auction Discovery

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I went to an auction with my mother Saturday evening and was able to get this book for $5.00. Well, actually $5.75 with the 10% Buyer’s Premium (13% if you aren’t paying with cash) and 5% Sales Tax. You will always pay more than what you have bid. It’s true.

I wish that I could say that I knew ahead of time that this item was going to be at the auction, but I can’t. I wish I could say that I knew ahead of time who Elbert Hubbard was, but I can’t. My interest was captured by “Roycroft Press.”

Being familiar with Roycroft furniture from the Arts and Crafts Period, I can however say that this was an item I wanted! Its worn but treasured appearance really spoke to me. The decorative emblem on the cover and the hand binding were additional carefully crafted details. Nobody else wanted it.

Elbert Hubbard visited England in 1892 where he met William Morris who greatly influenced his ideas. After returning to New York, no one would publish his work so he just started publishing himself by founding Roycroft Press, named after two English publishers whose name means “King’s Craft,” indicating high craftsmanship.

A quotation from painter John Ruskin provided the Roycrofter Creed:

“A belief in working with the head, hand and heart and mixing enough play with the work so that every task is pleasurable and makes for health and happiness.”

Now I just need to build a coffee table to go under this handsome book since that seems to be the Hubbard and Roycrofter thing to do!

http://www.roycroftcampuscorporation.com/ Roycroft Campus Corporation website.

http://www.gutenberg.org/ Project Gutenberg website. Search for “Elbert Hubbard” and download eBooks for free. (These can be opened in iBooks on iPhone or iPad.)