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Tuesday, April 10, 2007


A lot of the projects that I do, are renovations of older homes that people have bought. I am a huge fan of these places, there is something about the scale and detail of these houses that make them very special. The challenge becomes, though, how do you make a room, like the Kitchen, feel like it is in context, while still making it modern enough to fit a contemporary lifestyle. For me it is important that this room feel like it is part of the original structure of the home, without feeling like an overly romanticised pastiche.

Here are some tips that you might find helpful in recreating a period kitchen:

  • Pick one or two decorative elements that evokes the style you are trying to create, more than that and it will look like you are trying too hard. Use these elements throughout the kitchen.

  • Try to use surface materials that are true to the style (very few kitchens of the twenties and thirties used granite), try looking for slate or stainless steel counter tops.

  • If Stainless Steel counter tops are out of your budget, then Stainless appliances will do the trick.

  • Try to avoid things that are very fashionable at the moment, like vessel and apron sinks, they will date your new Kitchen quickly.

  • Use a different material on the back splash, than on the counter top, this is very typical of the period.

  • Although recessed lighting is very efficient in this situation, try to use a couple of pendant fixtures too, especially ones that have a vintage feel to them. There is a great selection at www.circalighting.com .

  • Try to find something cool for the floor too. I am a fan of Linoleum, but in Kitchen above we used Terrazzo which is another old world material.

  • The Cabinet Hardware is another opportunity to create your style. I find a great selection at www.crowncityhardware.com try using butt hinges on the doors as they are more old world feeling than the modern Euro hinge.

  • Another interesting idea is don't paint the kitchen all the same color, maybe make the island another color. I use the rule of thumb, that if the Island is the same color as the rest of the Kitchen, I can change materials (maybe do a wood top), but if the Island is a different color, then the surface materials, remain the same throughout.

  • Years ago while reading a Martha Stewart Magazine, I read about a tip where you paint the inside of glass fronted and open cabinets a contrasting color. It makes the contents really pop. This has now become a staple for me that I have used to great affect.

Well, Good luck with your Kitchen adventures!


J Lee said...

great post!
i'm actually doing a kitchen re-design right now in a 100 yr old house and the clients want to go moroccan!

that first kitchen photo - beautiful!

Jennifer Ramos said...

wow lucky you, congrats. I guess hard work does pay up. Keep reaching higher.
Good luck.
Jennifer Ramos


Anonymous said...

I love the clean, classic look in the first kitchen photo. Do you happen to know where they got the cabinets?

Mark Cutler said...

The cabinets were all custom made by a firm in Los Angeles. The design of the cabinets was done by me, glad you like them.

The Peak of Chic said...

I like that you are a fan of linoleum. I love vintage linoleum, used in the right kind of kitchen of course!

Anonymous said...

Can you tell me what material was used for the countertops in the first photo?

Mark Cutler said...

The countertop in both photo's is actually a slate that is available in slab. I had originally wanted to use Kirkstone, but I couldn't find any that I liked.

susan said...

Very good advice....very beautiful design work. :-)

Maison Lunatique said...

I totally agree with this Mark. Too often the original architecture of a home is not taken into consideration. There are many ways to make a home 'contemporary' without tearing out original features. (Original features that would cost a fortune to replicate today) Sadly,I think the trend in Ireland now is to simply add a glass box to the back end of a house no matter what the house looks like. PS. I really love that kitchen

Monica said...

I love the putty paint color on the cabinets. Would you mind sharing?