1960s-era kitchen modernized using recycled materials.
By Laura Cameron-Behee
Step into my newly renovated kitchen, and you may well feel like you’ve stepped back 100 years. When we bought this 1910 house back in 1999, my husband, Roland, and I knew it would need a lot of work. But the neighborhood was perfect for our growing family, and we felt up for the challenge of restoring the home’s original charm.
I learned during my research (I’m a historian) that the home had been through many owners and changes. I especially looked forward to remodeling the kitchen and laundry area, because a 1960s update had left it with poor traffic flow and inadequate wiring. The turning point in the project came when I got kitchen designer Chandra Sadro involved. We’d become friends during my time on the Everett Historical Commission, and with Chandra’s vision and skills, our vision became real.
Now We’re Cooking!
A wonderful 1950 Wedgewood gas stove I found in a local antique stove shop anchors the kitchen. Big enough to handle all my large pots and canning equipment, it’s even inspired me to learn to bake bread!
Beyond the stove, Roland and I had a long wish list—a breakfast nook, a pantry, sunroom, laundry and a bathroom with a shower. Chandra, working with our contractor, bumped out the footprint a few feet into the backyard, so our breakfast room could also serve as a sunroom.
I love the sunroom phone nook—it reminds me of one we had in our first apartment, in a 1920s building. And yes, that old black dial phone—my grandmother’s—still works! The millwork in our new bead board ceiling and backsplash matches the original. And a local company custom-made inset cabinet doors for us.
Our new countertops are made of Lyptus, a sustainable hardwood developed for fast harvest to avoid depleting old-growth forests. It takes little care. We rub it monthly with mineral oil, and any stains can be removed with light sanding. I considered hardwood floors, but opted instead for easy-care linoleum.
A Real Find
Maybe the most outstanding example of our “reuse and recycle” motto is that big, deep 1920s sink, a casualty of someone else’s kitchen update. It was just sitting in the alley, and I talked the homeowner into parting with it. All it needed was a little cleanser and new fixtures. The doors and hardware were also salvaged, as were the bathroom fixtures. We recycled some lighting fixtures as well.
Guests sometimes question how I can live without a microwave or dishwasher.
I don’t! Look closely—the microwave is hidden above my blue canisters, to the left of the stove. A cabinet front left of the sink conceals my dishwasher.
I’m just delighted at how well our back-to-the-future renovation turned out and at how much easier it’s become to host our big family get-togethers. I’m not sure Mrs. Isabella Waddingham, the original lady of the house, would recognize her kitchen today. But, I have to think she’d approve.
Click here for a better look at Laura’s kitchen layout.