Spaces 4 Living

An Architect's Idea Book: Sharing ideas and inspiration to help create beautiful living spaces.

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1920’s Kitchen

I have been jostling back and forth the idea of renovating my kitchen. Our 1924 house still has a lot of character left, which is why I fell in love with it. The house has been through a few hodge podge  renovations mainly in the 1950’s. Some of it is good and some bad. The kitchen looks tired but for the exception of lacking a few modern conveniences, it functions quite well.  My initial thought was to revamp the whole kitchen…work from a clean slate. But the more I live here, the more I like its old charm. This house would not suit an uber-modern kitchen. Not impossible, but just a preference.

They just don’t make them like they used to. You’d be hard pressed to achieve the details of the era without a skilled carpenter. Most kitchens in the 1920’s and 1930’s were built on site, hence the reason why many of the cabinetry components are not sized exactly the same. But then that is the beauty of it.

The hallmark white found in kitchens and bathrooms of the time is a reflection of society emerging understanding of germs and the resultant sanitary craze. Albeit, they thought you could “see” germs more effectively on a white surfaces.

I want to show a few examples of some wonderful vintage kitchens circa 1920-1930. Some of them have been remodelled, some original and others are new to look old.



The image above is a fine example of reworking with what you have and promoting its beauty. The gorgeous inset cabinet doors are a design highlight of the craftsmanship of the age as well as the pulls and lock style.  The vintage O’Keefe & Merritt Stove (circa 1940?) is a great centrepiece complete with custom hood that covers a standard extractor hood fan with a drywall/ plasterboard box and added trim. The marble counter top ties this kitchen into the present as well as hiding the quintessential piece of our era…the dishwasher!



This 1920’s bungalow has a lovely remodelled galley kitchen. The expansive craftsman style windows are what makes this room sing. Although the cabinets are modern, the layout and open shelves are sympathetic to the architectural style.



This kitchen had a low ceiling which the architect opened up to create a much loftier space with A vaulted ceiling and exposed decorative beam and collar ties. The vintage stove is a great centrepiece once again, but not to worry, the charm would still be achievable with a modern cooker or range. A contemporary Aga would look amazing without detracting the overall style of the room. The slim 2×6 tile in a herringbone layout and gives a wonderful texture to the backsplash and still adheres to the white on white palette of the era. The tiles appear to be more artisan and slightly irregular than the typical mass-produced subway tile. Which in itself is a statement of the arts and craft (craftsman) philosophy. The island adds another layer of character to the kitchen. It lends itself to be a separate piece of furniture and replicates the limestone of the floor.


This kitchen is surprisingly within a 200 sqft new addition. This is a bit too “vintage” for my own taste, but you have to commend the designers integrity. It is complete with bead board wood panel walls, pull-out integrated cutting boards  and scalloped woodwork at the sink doors. Even the accessories look vintage.

There are no hard and fast rules of how far you should restore your interior (unless it is a listed historical interior). Restoring does not mean that you have to do without the mod cons, if you look each kitchen above has an integrated dishwasher, so why not a wine fridge?  Anything is possible, it is only a matter of how far you wish to push the envelope.  Enjoy exploring the options.

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