Essentials for the kitchen

Discussion in 'Your Vintage Home' started by BlueTrain, Jun 8, 2016.

  1. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    I always liked them the best of any part of the loaf, especially as makins for a toasted cheese sandwich.
     
  2. scotrace

    scotrace Head Bartender Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,222
    Location:
    Small Town Ohio, USA
    My 1930ish kitchen is very small. I use a breadbox shaped like a mailbox, with a rounded top, that opens at one end with a flip-down door. I never buy bread. With local Amish bulk food stores, I can get the price of a loaf down to about 30 cents so I make all the bread myself.
    Counter space is non-existent. To open some of the lower cupboards, you have to move the stove away from them first. That's where the seldom-used stock pots go. It's a really dumb arrangement but I can't figure out how it would have ever been different. The house is pretty much untouched from the time it was built, except for second floor modifications that closed off the attic stairs to make a closet. Now you have to get into the attic via a crawl hole that is narrower than my shoulders.
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2016
  3. sheeplady

    sheeplady I'll Lock Up Bartender

    I think a lot of kitchens are poorly designed. Our current kitchen''s work area is the same size as our 1940s house was (the kitchen was bigger, but it was mostly an empty "eating area"). But our current kitchen is so poorly designed that two people can't work in it.

    I often see poorly designed kitchens in magazines. I think it is because very few cook anymore. My favorite example was a picture of a couple in their kitchen with their double wall oven beside them. The couple were both quite short, they would have needed a chair to access the upper oven... and the controls were mounted above the top oven.

    They mapped out the work triangle in the 20s and 30s. They understood that an efficient kitchen saved time and labor. When I designed the kitchen for our new house I brought my plan to the architect who suggested moving things around. I mentioned that it was a work triangle and he asked me, "what's that?" Gah.

    Also, he failed to pick up on the fact that I designed a left handed kitchen and kept saying things like the dishwasher and fridge would open the "wrong way."
     
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  4. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

    Messages:
    12,767
    Location:
    New York City
    Having just finished a full kitchen renovation - I can only emphasize all your spot-on comments and advice. We spent a ridiculous amount of time studying architecture and kitchen design - both of the period (as we wanted our kitchen to reflect the apartment building's 1928 date) and what works to make a kitchen efficient as my girlfriend truly cooks and bakes and uses the kitchen all the time.

    In addition to the triangle, work space, movement space for two, height of counters and cabinets (and their knobs, etc.), a lot of thought and on-paper trial and error went into thinking about drawer and cabinet locations so that you'd have pans near ovens, for example, and then there was a ton of work put into internal cabinet design so that you could maximize efficiency by, for example, having slots for those pans.

    Lighting, air flow, venting also come into play. As do the materials themselves - cost, ease of cleaning, durability, etc. We hired a designer by the hour to come in for one half day and give us some thoughts. Nice guy, but we had already done so much work and read so much that we used one or maybe two of his minor ideas as all his "big" ideas we had either done or explained to him why they wouldn't work in our space.

    To be fair, if someone wasn't insane like we were - and didn't spend a crazy amount of time researching all this on their own - then a guy like the designer would have been worth the money as - in the end - you don't want to do a full renovation and realize you made some very common mistakes that any professional would have prevented. And while, overall, the kitchen is great, we did, of course, make a few mistakes / miss a few things that neither we, the designer nor the architect (who by NYC law had to review our plans) caught. I'm told that is pretty much par for the course.
     
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  5. Paisley

    Paisley I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    5,353
    Location:
    Indianapolis
    I learned about kitchen triangles when I studied drafting in high school. Now it's "work areas," probably because modern kitchens look like they have a 30' triangle. Anyone who thinks a large kitchen is a necessity should look at the galley on a luxury train--I wrote about the subject a few years ago here.

    In Breaking Bad, the refrigerator door opened the wrong way at the Whites' house. They must have bought it used--it was a left hand door where a right hand door (standard) would have worked better. I always wondered why Walt never reversed the handle. It only takes five minutes (I used to do it at Sears warehouse).
     
  6. BlueTrain

    BlueTrain Call Me a Cab

    Messages:
    2,073
    I had an aunt (the one named Cleo) who had a refrigerator with a door that opened either way, from the left or the right. Never saw another one like it.

    When we remodeled our kitchen something like ten years ago, we fretted over the cabinet arrangement, since the window was too far in one direction to allow a symmetrical placing of cabinets above the counter. Then, we happened to see the exact same layout in an advertisement and that was the way we ended up doing it. We also had a counter with an overhand for eating at, using stools to sit on. But before we decided on how to do it, we made a large cutout of the countertop (with the overhang) to see if it would work. That's how we decided on the basic layout of the countertop and we've been happy with the result. Actually, there weren't a lot of different ways to do things without some major relocation of plumbing or the window. No other room in the house has the design problems the kitchen has, although the bathrooms come in at a close second, probably.

    I grew up in a house with a very old fashioned kitchen, although it was large or so I thought at the time. There were no built-ins, only a cast iron enameled sink over a metal cabinet, with another bolt-on metal cabinet above. There was a pantry, however, something you usually only find in larger houses. But I'm always struck by how modern some older kitchens were, with lots of cabinets and counter space. They even appeared in movies, even ordinary Three Stooges movies.
     
  7. sheeplady

    sheeplady I'll Lock Up Bartender

    I totally agree with this. By fortune, I've lived in enough places that I've learned what I like: lots of drawers (mostly drawers), no upper cabinets (I'd rather have a pantry), and storage space that is specific to what I use. There's certain things I have because of the way I cook that I need storage for, but that other people would never use. For instance, we don't drink coffee, so there is no need for an automatic coffee pot, but I love my tea, so we'll put in a 220 V European outlet for an amazing electric kettle.

    Although I use a knife, sizzors, and pen with my right hand, I am left handed, and feel most comfortable in a "left handed kitchen." One apartment I lived in I *loved* the kitchen. It was like everything was designed for me... putting away the dishes was *so easy* and well, I loved the fridge. There was absolutely nothing about the kitchen that was that special, everything was from circa 1960, but I enjoyed using it unlike any other kitchen. One day I'm standing at the fridge and I notice that as I open it, my left arm is not crossing my body and getting in the way, as it normally does on most fridges. I look over at the dishwasher, and it is to the left of the sink. Suddenly I understood why I liked that kitchen so much, because everything was set up for a left-handed person to use.

    For our next kitchen, we plan to live in it for a year or so without traditional cabinets before we build anything. (We do everything ourselves, it will take that long to get started building cabinets and save up for the wood and additional equipment.) During that time I am going to find out HOW I use that space. We lived with a hotplate and no kitchen sink for 2 years before, we can do it again.

    We also plan to box up all our kitchen stuff in the basement, so I will be forced to go to the basement to get anything I want. Anything that hasn't made it's way into the kitchen in 2 years... well, I don't use it, so no need to store it. The remainder will get donated.

    Unfortunately our vintage fridges open right handed and there's no easy way to switch, I have been told. I guess one can't have everything....
     
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  8. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    Some makes of refrigerators in the Era were available in right or left-hand variations. My Kelvinator, a CD-7-R, is a righthanded model, but it was also available as a CD-7-L, with a lefthanded door, at no extra cost.
     
  9. BlueTrain

    BlueTrain Call Me a Cab

    Messages:
    2,073
    We have a number of things that rarely get used, plus other things, like the blender, that get used regularly but not frequently. We've never acquired the fancier pieces of kitchen equipment like bread makers or built-in grills. But we still have way too much stuff--for the storage space in the kitchen. Much of it is glassware but that has an automatic shrinkage characteristic. The delicate pieces invariably go first and one went this morning, a victim of a heavy tumbler only a couple of weeks old. Such is life.

    Some kitchen accessories, like wooden spatulas and things make good souvenirs and I make a point of using them and anyway, they take up little room. Beyond that, the kitchen's fairly complete.
     
  10. Huh ... apparently we have one of those match dispensers at the farm. I probably didn't notice it since it's at eye level ... and behind the stove. :rolleyes:

    [​IMG]
     
  11. greatestescaper

    greatestescaper One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    293
    Location:
    Fort Davis, Tx
    My new home was built without any a/c. The roof has a cupola, and all our fans are set to blow air up, rather than down, to aid airflow. It's actually been great getting used to the heat, keeping the air flowing to remain cool. That said, our kitchen can keep to hot to store canned goods, and the like, therefore, my wife and I have started making plans to build a root cellar. After the greenhouse goes up, the root cellar and a smoke house are the next projects. Following that, I think an outdoor kitchen is in order.
     
  12. BlueTrain

    BlueTrain Call Me a Cab

    Messages:
    2,073
    At one time, some houses had a kitchen in a separate building but probably few after 1800. And likewise, there are references to "summer kitchens," too, although I do not know how they differed. The house in the country where one of my wife's grandmothers was born was built before the Civil War and had an interior layout that was little different from today and had a ground-floor kitchen in pretty much the place you would put one today. In fact, the room still functions as a kitchen, only with modern appliances. I was able to see the basement when we visited there last year and I am trying to recall if there was another kitchen in the basement. I think there was, although I'd call the area "under the house" instead of a basement.

    The house where her grandmother lived the last of her days supposedly had a summer kitchen but I have not seen the inside of that house, which is in town and has been considerably modified since her grandmother lived there. Needless to say, none of these houses has air conditioning.

    Mt. Vernon, Washington's home in Virginia, has a cupola but I'm not sure if the design intent was for cooling purposes or not, but I have been in the cupola. I've also been in the basement (more like "under the house" again). Mt. Vernon's kitchen is in a separate building.

    Houses in town these days are usually surrounded by lots of paving, which tends to make everything hotter.
     
  13. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

    Messages:
    12,767
    Location:
    New York City
    We bought in a 1928 apartment building, in part, because the apartment was designed when built to address warm temperatures in a pre-air-conditioning manner. The airflow is incredible in this apartment as we have (you free-standing homeowners don't have to think about too many of these things) large windows that face two different directions, windows in the bathrooms and kitchen, high ceilings so the heat can move up, and incredibly thick walls that keep the place well insulated.

    Also, the general flooor-plan allows for the free movement of air. This is our first year in, but so far, while we have three, essentially, window units, with fans and our windows open a lot, we've hardly used them despite some pretty warm weather. And as you note, your body does adjust a bit if you allow it to.

    Here's the funny thing, there are a total of 60 apartments in our building and when I look up from the street we are, most of the time (almost always), the only (really, the only) apartment with our windows open. Based on the loud humming I hear, I assume everyone else is using air-conditioning which is a shame as I think they are just stuck in the modern mindset of "it's warm out, turn on the AC;" whereas, if they gave their wonderfully designed pre-airconditioning apartment a chance, they'd see that they don't need it nearly so often.
     
  14. Haversack

    Haversack Practically Family

    Messages:
    982
    Location:
    Clipperton Island
    Summer kitchens tended to be found in rural houses or those with enough land to have substantial gardens. The idea was that the summer kitchen was where all the canning and preserving would take place. Since canning involves large amounts of boiling water you didn't want all that steam to heat up and humidify the house's interior. Ideally, the summer kitchen would have large, screened windows on three sides with a shared wall with the regular kitchen where the plumbing and flue stacks could be shared. One house I worked on in Eugene, Oregon also had a dumbwaiter in the shared wall that could be accessed from both the regular and summer kitchens. This allowed the freshly canned foods to be taken directly to the basement for storage and sent up later for use. The house and this feature was built in 1927.
     
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  15. Haversack

    Haversack Practically Family

    Messages:
    982
    Location:
    Clipperton Island
    One kitchen storage feature that you see in pre-WWII houses and apartment buildings in California is a type of cupboard that has screened shelves and exterior ventilation at the top and bottom. Dubbed 'California Coolers', these built-in storage cabinets replaced root cellars and basement pantries. (Most houses in California do not have basements as foundations do not have to be dug deep to get below the frost line.) While nowadays most of the vents to these cabinets have been closed off, you can still see the framing trim around them on older houses and apartments. They come in pairs, tend to be square, and are spaced about 4'-6' apart vertically. Ideally they were located on the north or shady side of the building. Sometimes, as on my grandparents' house on the ranch, the lower vent opened into the crawlspace and the upper was piped through the roof.
     
    Edward likes this.
  16. Studebaker Driver

    Studebaker Driver One of the Regulars

    I'd like to make 2018 the year I finally get the kitchen at least partially "done". The house was built in 1911 and the bones are good. The counter height is great (39"), the sink is fine (installed 1938), but there is little in the way of blank wall space. Finding room for the fridge (GE Monitor top) is going to take some doing. Prior owner had the stove and fridge side by side, but the stove is too big and too hot for that now. Everywhere else in the room has something on it. There are three doors coming into the kitchen and they take up a lot of wall space. The sink and counters take up one whole wall, the stove, the door to the dining room and counter take up a second wall. The door to the back bedroom, built-in ironing board and door swings take up the third wall and the door to the back porch and archway to the breakfast nook take the forth wall. Maybe a little wing wall in the arch will give me enough room to park the fridge. Originally the icebox was on the back porch.

    Beyond the fridge scene, most of my problems can be solved with prep and paint of ceiling, walls and cabinets (under-counter cabinets installed in either 1918 or 1920, over counter cabinets installed in 1961.

    BUT, I am stuck on flooring. What kind of floor... bamboo? processed hardwood? Linoleum? Marmoleum? Bare pine tongue and groove (original)? Linoleum was installed in the 1938 re-do (when they raised the counters and new sink) and they glued the lino down with asphalt-based cement that is thick, black and is hard as diamonds. The backer peels away leaving a fuzzy mess fixed in the immovable black adhesive. I could be happy with the pine, but I don't think I'll ever get that asphalt off. So what are authentic-minded people doing for floors?
     
    vitanola likes this.
  17. vitanola

    vitanola I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    4,134
    Location:
    Gopher Prairie, MI
    I have had great luck re-creating the effect of some inlaid linoleum patterns using standard Vinyl Composition Tile. I choose pattern which consists of three to five different shades of blocks and set up the radial arm saw to trim the tiles to ths appropriate size, say 2 5/8" squares. Trim up hundreds of pieces, a chore who h takes surprisingly little time once one has set up and then lay your adhesive and begin laying tileI.
     
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  18. Edward

    Edward Bartender

    Messages:
    20,091
    Location:
    London, UK
    When I moved into my flat, the original 50s kitchen was long gone. I did eventually redo it in a classic-but-hopefully-timeless way (mostly approaching a shaker style, but I went with solid, black granite for the worksurfaces as lower maintenance than solid wood, as as I wanted a jawbox, it had to be some sort of solid). I had to remove the original built-in larder to create enough space. It all works, though, and is fairly sympathetic to the building.

    In terms of gadgets, we don't do too many. A slow cooker, not a new idea; a Foreman grill. We got rid of the microwave a year or two ago because it was too big and never got around to buying a smaller one - now we don't feel any need for it. I had to throw out my deep fat fryer years ago and have never replaced it. Herself has put the kybosh on that; I'd like to be able to do chips at home occasionally - especially as the last traditional place that does real chips (rather than "fries") near us has now disappeared.

    Growing up, my parents always had a 'bread bin' - bread goes stale and hard if you leave it out; it also goes stale faster (even if it doesn't bluemould as quickly) if you keep it in the fridge. In Ireland it's still normal to eat bread with everything. I used to go through three of four slices with every meal. Now we try not to keep read in the house with regularity because it's limited on the diet I'm on, so no need for a breadbin in my place. Still very common, though. My grandmother swore by a ceramic one.
     
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  19. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    Yep, I did this on a much simpler basis in my own kitchen several years ago -- I used mostly solid green with a geometric inlay of cream to match the rest of the kitchen. VCT is incredibly durable, and when polished up makes for a very period-looking floor. Plus it's got enough bounce to it that your feet don't get tired when you're doing the washing, and if you drop a plate there's a good chance it won't break.

    VCT is also very inexpensive compared to other types of flooring. I did the whole kitchen for about $200, and I completed the job in a little over a weekend.

    My kitchen, originally laid out in 1911, has a small pantry with a walk-in larder that the elderly couple who lived her before I did converted into a small bathroom with a toilet and shower. These are currently disconnected, but I left them in place as insurance against the day when I can't get up and down the stairs. Meanwhile the larder makes for a good storage closet for the ironing board and the vacuum cleaner and the mops and pails.
     
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