There is a point of contention in our family. A schism.
And it involves a crucial room in our new home: the kitchen. More specifically, one wall in the kitchen.
For me, a home this old is sacrosanct. Each stone and brick, so much older than I or anyone in my family is, deserves the kind of reverence that I’ve never felt and will never feel for my elders. For me, it is blasphemous to think of so much as shifting a nail that has been in place for more than 200 years.
My family, for the most part, agrees. We are keeping all of the original floor tiles, the doors, the windows and their shutters, the idiosincracies of a crooked bread oven, a window that is not quite centered, and niches that seem useless but which make the house “The House”. But I can’t get them to side with me on this one kitchen wall. It’s three against one, because even my sister has crossed over to the Dark Side.
The “problem” is that Victorian houses, especially those in the countryside, were built to have small rooms. This is because heating a large room or something as horrific as an open-concept would have been cripplingly expensive. They kind of still are. It requires central heating or mountains of firewood, none which were tenable in the 1800s in a moderate household.
Our house is surprisingly large, taking all of this into consideration. It has high ceilings and long rooms that would have been tough to keep warm, because as most of us learned in elementary school, heat rises.The kitchen is of a good size, as well. It’s just very Victorian, so it is completely separate from the living area. Which is a probalem for my mom.
To be fair, she is the one who spends the most time in the kitchen. She cooks every meal, every treat, and she doesn’t want to be shut off from the rest of the family. She wants to be able to prepare a Christmas meal while still being able to watch a movie with us in the next room. I understand that.
It doesn’t make the arch my mom, dad, and sister want to chisel into that wall any easier to swallow.
I know. It’s just an arch. It’s not like they’re bringing down the entire wall. But it still pains me and I can’t help it. I’ve lost this battle, though I am being the sorest loser possible to see just how small an arch I can make it.
In any case, I wanted to introduce you to the kitchen itself. It is the fulcrum of the house, of course.
This is the entrance from the new part of the house. Those peach tiles, which are not very old at all, are coming down, and will probably be replaced with white subway tiles. The kitchen walls will be a light gray.
Over the door, there is a beautiful wooden beam that we will restain and seal but which we will not cover with plaster or paint. Look at the thickness of the wall and the beam.
When we first saw the house, we talked about removing that stove hood, about moving the location of the future stove entirely, but we’ve recalibrated. The hood stays, painted and framed with wood, and the stove will go right beneath it, as the house expects.
One of my mother’s obsessions is farmhouse sinks. On this property, we’ve found a number of them, made of different materials. This one, as you can imagine, stays right where it is. Though the cabinet will be another one and it will be painted a grayish-blue.
One of the jobs we’ve had recently is to see how much plaster we can keep. Since there has been water damage in some rooms, we have to carefully look for wet walls. This job is a bit easier in this room, since the wall in which we found the bread oven will not have any plaster at all. My two hands, a spatula, and a hammer have bent to the task of leaving all of those stones and bricks visible.
It looks rough, still, and I promise no one has been sitting in that chair staring at the wall like every haunted house movie you have ever seen. You just have to imagine it with the uncovered wooden ceiling beams, gray walls, and a scrubbed accent wall.
The window, too, will be painted a light blue. (If you look out of that window, you see a sheer drop.)
The kitchen leads into a small room that we have named “the pantry” and that is exactly what it is going to be.
That second, darker, door leads into the living room/family room.
The pantry is a thing of beauty, with the same tiles as the kitchen. We have a chandelier that we will hang in here, in this tiny room, to bounce light off the glass jars of flour, sugar, and spices. It will be a little jewel of a room.
Though now we have piled wood inside it. Not glamorous, but necessary.
Yes, that little square of a room has three different doors. We’ll be transforming the one to the outside into a window, though, so that there is a good amount of fresh light.
Our huge dining table will go near the cellar door (which is below the doomed wall) and one of the tables that we found in the mill’s attic is sheer perfection for kneading.
That huge cream one.
We will also use some other pieces of furniture as cabinets. Why buy new pieces when the house has provided suggestions?
I don’t doubt the kitchen will be a beauty. Good bones, good taste, and good furniture (with a heavy dose of creativity) will work wonders.
I’ll just have to hide myself away when they start chipping into that poor wall.