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B&A: A Gut Reno and a New Layout Make a Cramped Kitchen Way More Usable

by Contributing Author

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Very old homes often have attractive original details, but they may also need some quirky additions, thanks to previous homeowners’ tastes and design trends. Carissa Demore, leader of the Historic New England Preservation Service, once told AT:

Homeowner Libby Gudz Reynolds can testify. In her 1808 house, known as the Joel Aldrich House of 1808, the kitchen is her one such room that has been modified over time for modern living, and Libby and her families also chose to change to suit their needs. “I think the kitchen was remodeled by her previous owner in the 1990s,” Libby explains. “It’s fair to say that the layout and storage in this kitchen weren’t efficient.”

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The room had eight different doors, none of them the same size or height. And the room—as you can tell by the eight doors—was a good size, but cut in half at the bar height counter.

“All the appliances were gathered in one small area,” says Libby. “The kitchen sink was about five feet wide. It was old style, all-in-one with slatted sides, but the sink basin itself was very shallow and the 1990s chrome faucet was loose. It was hung by threads, and the cabinet was well made and definitely looked like it was custom made, but with so many tiny drawers and tiny cabinet space, I didn’t know where to put things.”

Libby adds that some drawers didn’t close completely because the back of the drawer was stuffed with insulation. Additionally, the cherry wood countertop was sticky to the touch and uncomfortable to use.

Libby and her husband Nate remodeled their kitchen with a major undertaking with the help of electrical, plumbing, drywall, tile and countertop installation experts. “A kitchen with dark blue cabinets around the room, a large island with contrasting wood cabinets, no top cabinets, and some old wooden floating shelves with beautiful but functional pieces. We had a solid vision,” Libby says.

After demoing his old kitchen in 2018, Nate purchased and installed new deep blue cabinets from Lowe’s. “There were a lot of challenges due to the number of doorways and windows we had to work around,” recalls Libby.

Two challenges with historic homes: two-century-old wiring and plumbing in walls, and installing new cabinets and new islands on uneven floors.

“The house is a post-and-beam structure with plank walls. “With a 2×4, there’s room for wiring and plumbing in between. We have no space, literally just an inch-thick slice of wood lined up across the wall. You’ve plastered over it and you have your walls.I’ve installed clapboards on the outside.There’s no room for anything, not even insulation.”(Hence the aforementioned drawer obstruction.)

Libby and Nate learned to build a wall out of 2x4s by watching YouTube videos. They did this in two places. That way, you have room for additional insulation to keep the plumbing and some outlets and switches from freezing.

“This 1808 house didn’t have level floors,” Libby says. “The island installation was particularly fun and interesting,” Libby says. “The counter on the stove-facing side of the island is a standard height, but on the other side of the island the floor is quite sloping, so we had to buy bar-height stools to accommodate the height difference. had!”

That said, the island is now one of Libby’s favorite places. “I like the layout and the space we have to gather around the island,” Libby says. “The only thing I would have done differently was ordering the paneled finish sides of the island cabinets.”

One of Libby and Nate’s other favorite parts of their new kitchen is the floating shelf above the stove, made from old floorboards in their attic.they said Rhode Island Monthly they didn’t want to polish them too much They wanted to show off some of the original details (including the old nails hammered in!) to pay homage to the historic home. ‘ says Libby.

To bring the kitchen into the 2020s and ready for everyday use, we installed quartz countertops, marble backsplash, and brass hardware. The new lighting has a mid-century vibe and focuses on a giant island of furniture. A far more functional piece than the previous half bar height, which previously had a counter-height peninsula. ” I added a lot of plants to complement the style.

“I am most proud of the fact that my husband and I make a great reno duo,” Libby says. I am confident that we can meet the challenges of

What advice would you give to someone who wants to change their kitchen? “Don’t be afraid to jump into the kitchen reno!” she says. You can learn a lot by watching YouTube.

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