A timeless kitchen is what you need if you’re tired of periodic remodeling.
A timeless kitchen will NOT look dated or tired, or look like yesterday’s trend and technology.
Everyday someone comes out with a new product or design that the advertisers insist you absolutely need.
Appliance technology is always being improved and that new improvement also comes with a new swanky look.
It seems like colors and styles are trendy one year and outdated the next therefore without a timeless kitchen we will all get caught in the never-ending circle of remodeling, and that’s expensive.
Every room of the house is vulnerable to the remodeling craze but the kitchen is the most susceptible. Kitchen remodeling is the most expensive and frequently remodeled part of the house. It is the one room of your house that will also increase the value of your home and most of the investment will be recouped when sold. Additionally, dated kitchens do not sell a house. Potential buyers are hesitant about the additional expense. Why? Because they feel they have to!
On average, homeowners report that a kitchen remodel costs $20,556. A smaller project between $10,000 and $15,000 may include painting walls, re-facing cabinets, upgrading the sink, and installing a tile backsplash.
Outdated kitchens have a dingy, unpleasant feeling. They are usually remodeled every 20 years or so. This cycle keeps the home improvement businesses making money while the cost can weigh heavy on the homeowner. Many times it may seem like a homeowner is finally getting caught up with remodeling debt and it’s time to do it again. Keeping up the resale value creates a sacrifice of vacations and other places this money could be used.
But what if I told you that periodic kitchen remodeling was an expense you would never have to deal with? You could save a ton of money, help protect the environment, not add to landfills, and have a beautiful timeless kitchen that will last forever.
Save Money & the Environment With a Timeless Kitchen
You can say good-bye to remodeling your kitchen with a Vintage, Classic, or Retro, (whatever you prefer to call it) Timeless Kitchen.
The short answer is to match your kitchen to the period and style of the architecture of the house.
Once your kitchen is brought back to the age of your house it will remain a timeless classic.
A vintage or retro kitchen will never be “out of date or out of style” again.
It will be cool, interesting, and fun, as a result your guests will remember it and tell others about it – believe me.
The goal here is to make your kitchen interesting.
When someone visits your home an interesting kitchen will stick in their mind. It can be classic and timeless or trendy. Both are impressive. Old kitchens have some quirks and that’s the best thing about them –their character.
If it is trendy with the latest colors and high-tech appliances like out of a decorating magazine, your guests will be impressed but this is not what you want because in 20 years you will relive the expense of another remodel.
A vintage restored kitchen is classic and will surely impress your guests and will last a lifetime. The money you would spend periodically can be used for something else.
A Timeless Kitchen Looks Like it’s Always Been Part of the House.
The timeless kitchen should be true to the period and style of the architecture.
When you see the outside of your house, your inner senses sets you up to expect an interior that relates to the exterior. You may not think so but your mind does. If your house is traditional and your interior is modern, this creates an internal mental conflict. Your mind experiences the same problem if the exterior and interior match but the kitchen does not.
Think of it this way. You don’t want a building to look like a Mexican restaurant on the outside and look like a steak-house in the inside.
The best way to achieve a timeless kitchen is to restore your kitchen to the date of your house. Yes this is the extreme and great if you are a purist. For those that cannot do a full restoration there are other options.
If your house was built in the 1800’s it would be difficult to create a historically accurate kitchen although it CAN be done and it would be extremely impressive. Remember though that this 19th century kitchen experienced an evolution of remodeling just as kitchens today so you may be best choosing a later period.
I chose a 1920-30’s kitchen for my 1910 Victorian for at the time it was better for me to modify the existing cabinets instead of tearing them out for free standing furniture.
Kitchens built during the early to mid 20th century are relatively easy to restore. The latest kitchen I would restore would be that from the 1970’s.
What if I have a house from the 1980’s?
Although the 1980’s had their coco brown period, this style is not yet classic or timeless. Wait another 10 years or so until the style can become classic. Another option is to follow the style of the house. If it is Colonial try to make the kitchen more true to the style and period. To do this right you need to hide anything contemporary and show off the period items
To accomplish a timeless kitchen one thing you must never ever do is to create an open kitchen floor plan. Here are 11 Reasons Against the Open Floor Plan.
8 Steps to Make a Timeless Kitchen
Period appliances, cabinets, sink & faucet, counter top, floor, walls, lighting, table & chairs are the 8 topics you will need to focus on to produce a period timeless kitchen.
The following is a collection of articles written mostly by “The Old House Journal” magazine on these eight topics. This material differs depending on the period of your kitchen and cannot all be explained here or I would be writing a book for each decade of kitchens. My best advice is to work from old photos doing a search online for “1930’s kitchen” for example. Old photos or ads are best so you don’t duplicate someone’s restoration mistakes or short-comings.
1 – Kitchen Appliances
- Hide or cover your microwave and other small appliances. Unless they are antiques, they are sure to date your kitchen.
- Find a period stove .
- Get a reproduction refrigerator, hide it behind a false front or make your refrigerator look like an antique icebox with our DIY instructions.
The following are articles that will SURELY help you. Some great timeless kitchen photos too.
Fire & Ice – Kitchen Stoves and Refrigerators – OHJ
Kitchen Classics – Vintage appliances add the perfect touch to a period kitchen– OHJ
Cold Comparisons – a quest for a period refrigerator OHJ
Big Chill – Retro kitchen appliances
2 – Kitchen Cabinets & Hardware for a Timeless Kitchen
For a timeless kitchen, cabinets must be period style. For an early 1900’s look, cabinets should have face-mounted kitchen cabinet doors. Crown Point Cabinetry makes a nice style but their overall kitchen’s are NOT period. They have some flavor but not nearly enough.
Understand that before 1927 most kitchens except for the very trendy did NOT have built in cabinets. There was only free standing furniture. Built-in’s were in the pantry. Crown Point took the cabinet style from the pantry and brought it into the kitchen. This is fine but not authentic. It depends on how far you would like to go with this.
Kitchen Doors, Drawers and Details – OHJ
The Kitchen Furniture – OHJ scroll to page 47
3 – A Sink & Faucet for a Timeless Kitchen
There are many reproduction and salvaged sinks available. This is another focal point of your timeless kitchen. A period looking faucet is also important. Remember that there was a separate hot and color faucet until 1945 when mixers were introduced to combine the two.
The Kitchen Sink – History & Evolution – OHJ
Kitchen Sinks & Countertops – trendy or timeless
4 – Timeless Kitchen Counter tops
This is where most people fail. Avoid the trendy granite tops.
Laminates We Love – OHJ scroll to page 49
5 – Flooring for a Timeless Kitchen
Congoleum Kitchen Flooring – OHJ
6 – Walls and Wainscoting for a Timeless Kitchen
The sanitary kitchen did not arrive until around 1910. Walls were dark wood wainscot before they were painted white. Colorful wallpaper was popular in the 1940-50’s. This information is covered in the other links.
7 – Lighting for a Timeless Kitchen
Try to resist recessed or track lighting.
Shedding New Light on Old Kitchens – OHJ
Kitchen Lighting in Context – OHJ
8 – Timeless Kitchen Tables & Chairs
This is the easy one. No need to explain this.
My advice is stick to the basics. Let your kitchen be what it was meant to be – the original design, colors, and style. Protect the landfills and environment and save money. Have a period kitchen.
Other Kitchen Articles:
Recreating the “Modern” Kitchen 1899-1930 – OHJ
Retro Renovation – Mid-century Kitchens
Old House Kitchens – It’s in the Details – OHJ
Kitchens of the Future Past – OHJ
I know that this is a lot of reading to do but you need to do it right and research as many articles as you can.
A timeless kitchen will save you lots of money in the long run and be a joy to have. Do your research!
After reading all these articles you may want to subscribe to The Old House Journal here .
I always crack up when people say “we want our new kitchen to be green/good for the environment” while ripping out everything that was there before and sending it to the landfill. Just stumbled upon a site you might enjoy with fabulous architectural photography of fabulous old houses and buildings: https://vanishingsouthgeorgia.com
Ken Roginski says
I love that site!
Great post! I love your kitchen, the cut glass on the cabinets is such a great idea
great article and timely as we are about a month out from starting our kitchen. In keeping with the 1880 period in which the house is built, so goes the kitchen.
Debbie Garrison says
I have a 1910 home. I have been told that they did not use upper cabinets than. I do not have upper cabinets and I do not see any signs of upper cabinets.
My house was built in 1950. It has the original metal cabinets and stove. The stove is wide and has a side by side large and small ovens. The stove works great, but the oven door needs work. I LOVE my metal cabinets. My daughter is 7 (we moved in when she was 3) and we can use magnets and hang her art work all over the kitchen. And it is a huge kitchen.
Alex Vitorino says
I think if you’re putting your house on the market there is some risk involved with this. Some potential buyers want the modern kitchen. Of course, if it’s for your own enjoyment go for it!
Then they can go buy a modern house.
I love your blog! I’m redoing a 1908 bungalow kitchen. It’s all IKEA, right now and the cabinets are falling apart at only 15 years. We plan on installing period black and white porcelain tile, inset cabinets from cliqstudios (check them out)! and soapstone countertops with a matching sink. The appliances will be modern, but I like that old/new look.
John Elsner says
I’m glad you reposted this, again. Great, inspiring ideas. Cliqstudios does Crown Point style cabinetry at a fraction of the cost, fyi.
How does one find local contractors and/or designers who are knowledgeable about period kitchen renovations?
Ken Roginski says
Good question and not an easy one for sure. Unless you stumble on a specialist from an article in The Old House Journal I recommend doing your own research and read all books on period kitchens you can find. Looking at vintage photos in old magazines and catalogs are the best. Here is a good book to follow for a period kitchen. https://www.amazon.com/Kitchen-Plan-Book-Participated-Architectural/dp/B0019QJRJY/kenroginskihisto
Gregg Zuman says
Great overview of kitchens. One glaring omission: stove!
Gordon W Subject says
I am 69 yrs old and have always enjoyed growing up with the old style country farmhouse with the kichen
having a sink area, a wood burning stove with a reservoir that heated water as long as the fire was burning.
We had a couple of Hoosiers cabinets to bake at, cut up meat/vegetables, as well as a cabinet for the dishes. I still long for these simpler times when people cared more for their family and neighbors!!
Please add me to your newsletters list, i am interested in any articles about older style country farmhouse
homes. Thank you, Gordon Subject, Houston Texas.