• February 18, 2004

Kitchen Before

Our 1912 bungalow kitchen prior to restoration

Before and After, Kitchens


I have begun planning, or trying to plan, the best way to restore our kitchen. It’s a little tricky for several reasons. We have 3 doors leading into the kitchen on 3 different walls, 2 large built-in cupboards, and really no easy or inexpensive way to expand the space due to bathrooms, a stairway, plumbing and heat runs to the second story behind every wall.


On the south facing sink wall, a tile backsplash, counter and under the counter cupboards were added some time in our home’s past. They block part of the original built-in cupboards on the east and west walls.


I want to rip out the tile and MDF cupboards and plan on restoring the original built-in cupboards and having new doors made for them. The current doors are cheap MDF replacements of the originals.


I would like to have smaller cupboards on either side of a new sink to house the two modern conveniences that I am not willing to live without; a dishwasher and the microwave.


The fridge is visible from both the den and back porch, not the most attractive view. I have considered insetting a 24″ deep fridge into a wall to keep it from sticking out into the kitchen so awkwardly. The problem is a stairway on the other side of the fridge wall prevents us from insetting the fridge in its current location. Moving and insetting the fridge next to a built-in cupboard is an option but would leave us with a displaced stove.


The stove is overlapping part of the doorframe.


I am most unhappy with a large drainpipe next to the stove that has an unattractive box built around it. The original plaster wall was cut when updates needed to be made to the pipe.


There is also an equally ugly box on the ceiling hiding two water pipes. The water pipes can easily be moved inside the ceiling, so that is not a big deal.


I’m feeling a little bit at a loss and locked into our existing layout. We could remove one of the original built-in cupboards to solve some of these space issues but that really isn’t an option I’m considering. I want to keep those cupboards and I love all the storage space they provide. Is that unreasonable?


All suggestions and ideas are welcome.

Here is a link to a diagram of the kitchen.

Comments { 19 }
  1. Kristen

    Could you maybe map out a rough floor plan of the kitchen (indicating obstacles) and scan that in? I’m having a hard time getting “the whole picture” from your photos. I’m not sure where your back porch is in relation to the kitchen, but is there any possibility of taking some space from that and/or (not the best solution, I know) locating your fridge out there? Recessing it might be the way to go. I recessed mine into an old pantry doorway because the kitchen had never had a fridge before. I wouldn’t have minded it out on the landing of the back entryway, but it stuck out too far (the space was designed for an ice box) to use the back door. I, too, long for a dishwasher but I’d have to rip out my original bottom cabinets because they’re only 14 inches deep. I may put one out on the landing where the fridge once lived someday …

  2. heather


    Hi! Good idea about the diagram. Maybe that will make things clearer?


  3. Teri

    I have pictures of what we did with ours — similar situation, but ours now looks like it’s built in (12″ pantry cabinets on each side and a 33″ refrigerator cabinet above). If you email me at this address I can send you pictures of what it came out like (it’s still progressing, but not done yet).

    Keep up the great work,

  4. Jenny

    I have a 1922 bungalow and am trying to figure out what to do with my tiny kitchen with 3 doorways. I don’t see the finished kitchen on this website…or maybe I havnen’t looked through it enough yet. I’m dying to know…how did your kitchen turn out?? Please post a pic if you haven’t done already.


  5. Heather


    Sadly, there is no after picture. Our kitchen still looks like the pictures in this post. I will have my dream kitchen (someday!). Hopefully.

    Best of luck with your kitchen.

  6. mopar

    First of all, let me say you have a beautiful kitchen and house and your restorations are incredible.

    Here is what I would do if this were my kitchen: Keep the original cupboards (obviously). Rip out the new crap. Put in a freestanding salvage farmhouse sink (about $300). Switch the fridge and stove. If that’s not affordable (or practical), trade in your wonderful vintage stove for another just like it only slightly narrower. Uncover that stupid pipe and let it show (or build a new housing and plaster it). Keep using your table as counter space. Put in linoleum (perhaps the real thing, and you can do inlays).

    Someday when you can afford it, if you still want it, you could build in a short painted wood counter next to the sink and put a dishwasher under it, with a marble or soapstone or wood top. Don’t overlook the beauty of a bit of subway tile, perhaps behind the stove, if it fits.

    See “Bungalow Kitchens” and “Photographs of New York Interiors” at the Turn of the Century for examples.

  7. Elissa

    I just found you blog today! I love the work you’ve done on your house so far. My fiance and I have a 1915-ish bungalow with a similarly difficult kitchen to plan. We have 5 doors, 3 windows and a chimney in an already narrow kitchen. Unfortunately, ours was completely remodeled in the sixties with none of the original cabinets or fixtures left. Would it be possible to move the heating vent on the left by the door? Maybe then you could put the fridge there, somewhat tucked behind the door to make it less obtrusive and keep the circulation path clear at the “bottom” end of the kitchen. Or, even better put the stove in that location so it can look a little less cramped and put the refrigerator where the stove is.

  8. Valerie

    Is there a possibility to removing a doorway and making it a wall so that you have more options? Maybe the “small doorway”? You could always reconfigure a staircase, but that will add tons of $$$$ to the process. Can these appliances be put into the built-in cupboards? And, it think your woodwork/cupboards being the same color as the other woodwork would be BEAUTIFUL. in fact, we are planning on staining our existing cheap cupboards the same color as our woodwork to make the space look congruent through the whole house.

    My husband and I own a 1912 Bungalow in Iowa and we LOVE our house, but not our kitchen so I am in the process of reading through you blog to get ideas. we just knocked out a portion of the wall between the diningroom and kitchen. that is as far as we have gotten. I am sorry to say our kitchen is in better shape that yours, however, we are dealing with layout issues and VERY OLD (possibly original?) wiring. YIKES. Good luck. I enjoy this blog very much.

  9. Judi

    Do you have completed pictures of your kitchen? Our house was built in 1912 and looks similar. We are in the middle of a kitchen remodel and I am looking for ideas. Paint colors and possibly tile.

  10. Marilyn

    We have a 1914 bungalow with a beautifully renovated kitchen done by previous owners. The kitchen retained its original footprint, including three doorways. One very clever idea that was used was to put an island in the middle of the kitchen to house the dishwasher and prpovide counter space for working. There was never enough room for a table in this footprint, and there still is not, but the island is used daily as an eating counter. (Also includes a tray cupboard and a small drawer.) Just a thought to put in your mix.

  11. CD Wilcox

    My wife and I are in the same boat. Our 1910 C.B. has the same kitchen layout. (Also upstairs bathroom)

    I will try to link some pictures if you send me an email.

  12. Heather

    Hi Dave,

    I’d love to see your pics. My email is: [email protected]

  13. candy

    I have a 1920 bungalow. Kitchen has three doors and looks like yours. We have decided to take the entire kitchen, bath, pantry hall and back porch off the house and building all new but staying with the design of the rest of the house.

  14. Cassandrea Martinez

    I guess still trying to figure out your kitchen huh? I’m no interior decorator but can the heat vent be moved? If you could then maybe moved it closer to built in cabinets and put fridge there. sink area needs to be totally demo’d. smaller sink cabinets with a small dishwasher built in. can your windows be changed to a small bay window(building next door looks really close)? Moving your plants to window would free up counter space. Built ins are wonderful! don’t lose them. Replace doors def on top cabs but 1 of the bottoms could build in a wine rack. Def move the pipes above the stove and install a venthood with maybe shelves/cabinet above. Just suggestions coming from a person living in garage apartment with a 7×10 kitchen with 2 doors entering it! best of luck.

  15. Jane

    I’m not quite sure what the kitchen layout is, but if you do want to access both built-in side cabinets, how about adding a nice size island instead of cabinets under the windows?

  16. Lianna Hooper

    I spent a glorious Sunday reading through every bit of your blog like a good book….I laughed, read some postings to my husband and tears over the loss of Lulu. Loved your writing style, humor, details and photos. We just purchased a 1911 craftsman in Bellingham Wa. Thank god, no painted wood! We have a kitchen restoration to do, three doors on three walls as well as bathrooms and basement. I look so forward to your kitchen reno. Now 8 years later, has your vision for your kitchen changed? Your colors are perfect. I also look forward to your landscape design. You should write a book! All the best, Lianna

  17. Jcg

    I’m glad to see you’re back. I love your house. Keep up the great work!

  18. Lianna

    can you believe it has been nearly 8 years since your first kitchen post response! You guys are an inspiration!

  19. Anastasia

    What about removing those counters and recessing your fridge in one of the built ins? It looks like you have one against each wall. Then you could have a smaller counter with sink under that window, which would give you access to the fridge, the remainder of the built in cupboard, and you could have a leaf off the right side of that counter for food preparation that could have a nice prop on a hinge underneath it. Gives you some counter space back, and solves your fridge and built in problems.

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