1930s-style heritage kitchen

Shallow tower cabinets are positioned either side of cabinetry, countertop, cuisine classique, home, interior design, kitchen, real estate, room, window, gray
Shallow tower cabinets are positioned either side of the large window in this remodeled kitchen with a window seat and original double-hung window.

It is a common conundrum. How do you respect a style from times past, yet cater to modern living? Are the two even compatible?

The answer to the latter is a resounding yes, and this project shows how both worlds can come together in harmony.

Architect Gregory Thomas of CG&S Design-Build says the 1890s Victorian house is on the National Register of Historic Places, but the existing kitchen did not complement the era of the house. Nor did it suit the needs of the clients.

"The kitchen had been built some time in the 1970s," he says. "It was poorly designed, lacked adequate storage, and was in a state of disrepair. However, the owners wanted to keep the basic floorplan, and they needed to retain space for a casual dining table."

Thomas says the existing kitchen was gutted, apart from the Saltillo terra cotta tile floor, and numerous repairs undertaken to the structure, walls and windows. Plumbing was reorganized, the electrical system upgraded and new fiberglass insulation added to the walls and floor. The team could then turn their attention to the design detail of the kitchen.

White kitchen with exposed brick chimney, blue walls, cabinetry, countertop, home appliance, kitchen, major appliance, real estate, room, gray
White kitchen with exposed brick chimney, blue walls, marble countertops and Saltillo terracotta tiles

"The owners already had '30s-style dining chairs, which helped to determine the look," he says. "This was conceived as a pre-World War II design from the late '30s, with modern updates. For example, we chose flush-inset, face-frame cabinets with flat-panel doors that reinforce the historic connection. The hardware on the lower cabinets is also evocative of the era."

The cabinetry includes symmetrical display shelving that wraps around a backsplash above a large farmhouse sink.

"The off-white subway tiles and Carrara marble counters contribute to the austere, yet clean period look," says Thomas.

Symmetry is also provided by two shallow tower cabinets either side of the window. The tower closest to the exterior door functions as a children's drop zone for school bags and sports gear, while the cabinetry on the other side of the window provides much-needed storage for dishes.

"We also added a window seat, built of longleaf pine to match the table," says the architect. "This can be used as additional seating for the dining table."

Symmetrical, traditional-look cabinets in remodeled kitchen with open cabinetry, countertop, cuisine classique, home, home appliance, interior design, kitchen, refrigerator, room, shelf, shelving, sink, wall, gray, teal
Symmetrical, traditional-look cabinets in remodeled kitchen with open shelving, an arched moulding and two light sconces and farmhouse sink. Off-white subway tiles form the backsplash, while the counters are Carrara marble.

A key element retained in the remodel was the original brick chimney that served a furnace. The exposed brickwork introduces a strong textural look, and complements the terra cotta tiled floor.

Period lighting further enhances the authenticity. Rather than using inappropriate recessed lighting, Thomas specified different fixtures that look as though they were accrued over time. These include pendant school-house fixtures that fit the '30s aesthetic. Mounted sconces and an acorn pendant are more Neoclassical, as if from an earlier era, in keeping with Victorian ornamentation.

Despite the period flavor, the kitchen has a cheerful vibe thanks to the sky-blue walls. These enliven the room, ensuring it is a space where family and friends love to gather.

Credit list

Restoration architect
Gregory Thomas AIA, CG&S Design-Build (Austin, TX)
Cabinet company
Amazonia Cabinetry
Cabinet hardware
Push Pull Open Close
Backsplash tile
American Olean
Kohler Parq; with Kohler Wellspring beverage faucet
Oven, refrigerator and dishwasher
Finish selections
Mark Evans,
Paint grade, face frame
Carrara marble
Kohler Whitehaven farmhouse
Existing Saltillo terra cotta
Benjamin Moore
Grand Openings, Kolbe

Story by: Colleen Hawkes

Photography by: Tommy Kile

30 May, 2014

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