Most bungalows, American Foursquares, and Tudor Revival houses had kitchens built for use by the housewife (not just servants). Kitchens may have been small but they were integrated into the main floor plan, and they had built-ins and electricity. Putting a sympathetic new kitchen into these houses is easier than remodeling a colonial or Victorian one.
Do you want a true bungalow-era kitchen, or are you leaning toward a fancier kitchen of the Arts & Crafts Revival? Original kitchens were often small, plain, and utilitarian—with a floor of linoleum, softwood, or tile, a wainscot of beadboard or white tile, and simple painted cabinets. This is an easy and affordable room to re-create, even when you upgrade the hardware and lighting.
Revival kitchens reflect the changing role of the kitchen since the bungalow era. The kitchen is no longer a utility room, but the center of the house. It may have a second prep area, a wet bar, a home office, a breakfast area, and a television. Then and now, related rooms include a back hall or mudroom, a bathroom, and one or more pantries. If you are building a new home or extensively remodeling an old one, it makes sense to build a more public and finished kitchen.
Common sense should prevail: why spring for professional appliances if you eat out five nights a week and use a microwave on the other two? On the other hand, if you’re always in the kitchen making a mess, don’t use fussy and hard-to-clean details and materials. That said, revival kitchens are often beautiful spaces with furniture-quality cabinets accented by art tile, handsome light fixtures, forged and cast hardware, and decorative textiles.
Suggestions, Not Rules
Over the years, kitchen designers and our editors have often repeated this advice to those planning a kitchen renovation or addition.
• Keep it in scale! You don’t want it to look like an estate kitchen with a bungalow attached. Stay on the original footprint, perhaps borrowing space from a back hall or pantry. Additions should be proportionate to the house; sometimes just a few feet, bumped out on the rear or side of the house and with windows for extra light, is enough.
• Simple is often better. First of all, the room will have a more timeless “period kitchen” look if details are borrowed from historic kitchens, or the pantry or hall—rather than copied from high-style details in the dining room. Second, a simple kitchen is easier to clean!
• Use several different counter surfaces. That’s more historical than installing linear yards of matching laminate or granite—and it’s practical. Pick something nonporous near sink and stove, butcher-block for prep, perhaps a marble slab for baking or pizza making. You may even be able to save on remnant or salvaged material for small areas.
• To get a timeless room that doesn’t follow fads, don’t go all-white or all-black; do consider black and white plus color. (Black soapstone or granite with creamy painted cabinets is a winning combination.) Use some naturally finished wood for the floor, cabinets, or a piece of kitchen furniture. Add color with tiles, wall paint, a retro stove, or collectibles.
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