My Mom sent me “Shop Drawings for Craftsman Interiors, Cabinets, Moldings, & Built-ins For Every Room In The Home” for an early birthday present. A section titled “Kitchen Nook” caught my eye. I have often wondered why our house didn’t have a kitchen nook or as I have more commonly heard it referred to, a breakfast nook?
Many bungalows in our neighborhood have breakfast nooks and I’ve always been a little jealous that we don’t have one.
“If space allows, every house should have a nook-a delightful little space off the kitchen for breakfast or lunch, a place for kids to do homework while dinner is being prepared, the ideal spot for coffee and conversation.”
The accompanying illustration originally printed in Gustav Stickley’s The Craftsman magazine really got my attention. The placement of the nook was in the exact spot where one our of our built-in cupboards resides. The illustration shows a very humble opening in a wall with simple molding around the opening, nothing eleborate – almost like box with a window added onto the side of a kitchen.
Why is this in any way significant? On the other side of the wall is a small half-bath that is exactly the same width as the cupboard. We know this room is original to the house but couldn’t figure out it’s original purpose? It never made sense to me why there was a small room off the back of the house that could only be accessed from the outside, off of an open back porch.
It makes more sense that this room (currently our downstairs half-bath) wasn’t open to the outside but was really a nook off the kitchen. There is room enough for 2 built-in benches with a table between them. The existing window would have been perfectly centered on the wall over table.
It is possible that the nook was removed to add a bathroom downstairs and a built-in cupboard was placed in the opening to add more storage in the kitchen. If this happened, it would have been a change made fairly early on because the cupboard is very well crafted out of Douglas fir, although it’s in rather poor condition now.
Changes that were made after the original owners sold the house were not well crafted and usually haphazardly pulled together out of available materials. Although, it would not have been out of character for the original family to have made changes to the house. We have on record that they added an upstairs sleeping porch in 1916 and built a garage in 1918.
What is interesting is that the molding around the cupboard is different from the other built-in cupboard in the kitchen. This molding matches the molding around the doors. To me that suggests that the this could have been an opening (because the molding matches the doorways) for a nook.
While the molding on the other built-in is flat and matches the molding around the windows.
It seems odd that the moldings on the two built-in cupboards are different. In person, the built-in cupboards are similar but not exactly the same. This leads people to ask if the built-ins are both original or to question if one was added later? The truth is we don’t really know. Up until now I had thought they were both original.
One reason why I’m not completely sold on the idea that the built-in cupboard and bathroom behind it were originally a nook is because of a baseboard molding running along the back wall inside of the cupboard. The other built-in cupboard also has this baseboard molding. If the built-in was added later why would they bother to put in a baseboard?
This also leads me to wonder if perhaps both built-in cupboards were added later? Why would either of them have baseboard molding? Was that common?
It is challenging, but fun, to try to figure these things out so many years after the fact.
More photos of breakfast nooks