In last month’s post about the B&B’s innovative floor washing system, you may have noticed some features unusual for a residential kitchen designed and remodeled just after 1980.
Like, what’s with the (over?) abundance of appliances?
Well, when we bought this house in 1978, we had five kids, and weren’t ruling out the possibility of a couple more (which happened), and the burnt orange kitchen (with a pantry that took up way too much room) we inherited just wasn’t going to cut it. So Bill (who trained as an engineer) got out his drafting pencils (this was 1980, after all) and designed the kitchen of his dreams, based on logic and reason as well as aesthetics. He wanted it to be beautiful, but above all, it had to be functional. So, he started by figuring out how many meals would be prepared and eaten in that kitchen before he and Katy suffered(?) empty nest syndrome, and came up with 186,000.
He figured with a family of 9, 2 stoves, 2 dishwashers and 2 sinks was only practical for a couple of reasons. First, when one inevitably broke down there was a backup (“no washing dishes in bathtubs,” as he says), and second, a larger family needs larger capacity. The two stoves, for instance have been a real blessing on holidays; we don’t have to worry about staging in the ovens and can bake at two different temperatures at the same time. And we get together as a family of 25 or so every Monday night, so two dishwashers are a real help.
He also included a trash compactor, so we wouldn’t be taking the garbage out daily. Given 2 stoves, he built a serious vent hood. The fan is powered by a 3/4 horsepower washing machine motor with 3 speeds built in and has a powered vent on the outside of the house. It’s loud, but really effective, and you don’t have to worry about a draft in the winter.
There’s plenty of counter space. The peninsula offers a large stretch of unbroken counter with nothing over it, and accessible outlets on the back. There are flood lights in can fixtures over it for great lighting, and the undermounted sink has a garbage disposal so you can scrape scraps right into it.
Katy wanted a sink big enough to bathe two grandbabies in at a time, and that’s what she got.
You’ll notice the microwave, next to the door in this picture, has a large surround. Bill bought Katy a $600 microwave before he started remodeling the kitchen, and it was originally mounted there. In the last 35 years microwaves have gotten significantly smaller (and cheaper!), so he put in a frame to support the smaller microwave within its larger space.
Storage is another must in a kitchen. There are 4 rows of storage (all custom-built) on this wall. The cabinets under the ceiling are the soffets and store things that just don’t come out that often, like holiday dishes. Next are relatively standard upper cabinets, but with hidden hinges and fully adjustable shelves. (Bill made the middle upper cabinet on this wall as a dumbwaiter to the second floor where the laundry room is, but after everyone moved out changed it into a regular cabinet.) Next, at counter level, is the original toaster garage, liquor cabinet, meat slicer, and another cabinet. Under the counter is all wide, fully opening drawers with metal slides that hold 100 pounds. There are only three cabinets at this level in the entire kitchen: under the sinks, and one for large cutting boards and cookie sheets, etc to stand on edge.
The rest are (custom-built) drawers of varying depth
and configuration depending on what Bill thought might go in them.
This one is up above, I know, but look how deep it is, and it goes all the way back!
Another thing important to a kitchen is adequate lighting and power.
These are the switches by the back door, including outdoor lights and basement lights.
This is by the door into the kitchen from the front of the house. It controls task and ambient lighting at different levels, the sconces in the eating area, and the winch for the floor washing system. Everything is dimmable, and everything is controlled from this one panel. At its brightest, you could probably do surgery on the peninsula, if you were so inclined. (We discourage guests from doing surgery in our kitchen, btw.)
The power outlets are similarly available, both on the walls, under the upper cabinets, and in the cabinets where appropriate, such as the toaster garage and the meat slicer cabinet.
The peninsula also acts as a divider between the working and eating areas of the kitchen. The working area is clean surfaces, white appliances, a classic blue and white color scheme, and very modern. The eating area is all warm woods and sconce lighting, reflecting the style of our historic Victorian home.
However, it’s not all traditional. Bill wanted to use every inch of space, so he cut off the top of the cavernous stairway to the basement, and made it into a play loft for kids.
It has its own lighting and stairs, and is a place for kids to be under supervision without being under foot. And it’s definitely kid-sized. The grandchildren have as much fun up there as the kids did.
And Bill used the space under the loft’s stairs for a set of drawers. Did I mention he wanted to use every inch of space?
This last picture hearkens back to the floor washing system blog entry again. Here’s how the seatbelts that hang the table from the ceiling look at their under-table attachment point. In case you were curious.
So that’s are kitchen. If a lot of this looks familiar, take a look at the current trends in kitchen design, and you’ll see that Bill was way ahead of his time. The extensive use of oversized drawers, the lighting, having more than four burners, the clean lines, extra storage, all of these are things that people want in kitchens now. And I can see why; they make the B&B’s kitchen a delight to use.
This kitchen was two years in the making, and worth every minute.