Cottage Kitchen Gets New Hues

She kept simplicity of historic cottage kitchen but added new hues, more storage.

By Rina Larabie, Port Credit, Ontario

After Kitchen Photo

After Kitchen Photo

We acquired a piece of our village’s history when my husband, Ray, and I bought our farmhouse cottage in 1997. Built around 1908, the cottage once housed workers from the former brickyard across the street. It’s the last original building in the village from that era, so we were thrilled to get it.

But our little treasure needed big improvements. We had to insulate, rewire, replaster and put in new plumbing. And then, we tackled the kitchen.

The narrow 10-foot by 12-foot room was short on counter space, and the cabinets were too high for me (I’m barely over 5 feet tall). When we moved the old refrigerator, which hid one of the three windows, we found that the entire corner of the kitchen sagged! (Old kitchen photo shown below.)

Before KitchenOur only option was to demolish the room and start over. As we tore down the old kitchen, we tried to be environmentally friendly. We gave away the old cabinets and appliances, recycling everything except the shingles, flooring, insulation and concrete.

Considering our home’s heritage, Ray and I chose to keep the kitchen the same size while making it more economical. Our art backgrounds (Ray creates typefaces and video game animation, and I’m a costume designer/seamstress) came in handy when fashioning the new space.

Long and Lean

I drew up plans for a galley-style kitchen, with long counters on two sides, a patio door centered at the back and a widened doorway into the living and dining room. Instead of three windows, there’d be just one above the sink.

With a new foundation in place, we installed the same beech laminate flooring as in the living room. It’s easy to clean and reflects sunlight beautifully.

Because the flooring “floats” on a layer of foam, my legs don’t get tired when I stand for long periods of time. It doesn’t, however, provide any traction for our two cats, “Pepsi” and “Megan,” who spin and slide across the kitchen.

The clean lines of our Shaker maple cabinets, with brushed nickel handles, make the kitchen feel larger. They are mounted lower than the old cabinets so they’re more accessible for me.

Stove PhotoThe cabinets over the stove and flanking the sink feature glass doors and halogen lights to show off my cobalt-blue glass collection. The lights give the room a warm glow when we’re not using the ceiling light fixture.

Now there’s ample storage space for everything from measuring cups to cookbooks. I even added removable valances above the cabinets to keep extra platters out of sight.

On a Roll

Cart PhotoI love the conveniences we’ve added, too. Metal racks inside the cupboards keep things organized. Lower cabinets have roll-out drawers to store heavier items like mixers, pots and bulk ingredients. There’s a handy roll-out towel rack next to the stove and a tilt-down drawer in front of the sink.

The countertops, which run the length of two walls, provide ample work space. But I find standard counters uncomfortably high for mixing ingredients and rolling out pastry, so I wanted a pull-out work surface. Everything I proposed proved costly, so instead we found a roll-out cart that fits perfectly under the countertop.

Patio PhotoMy blue, yellow and white color scheme was inspired by a pretty marmalade label that I turned into a picture and mounted on the refrigerator. A yellow-and-blue print clock and switch-plate covers, blue countertops, a blue task light over the sink and my glass collection add touches of color to the white walls and appliances.

Other fun accents include my mom’s pancake plate perched over the patio door between two bees (for our last name, LaraBIE), and a Shaker chalkboard I made from a small door.

I pull the roll-out cart in front of the patio door so, while I work, I can admire my raised box flower garden and the hammock swaying in the breeze on our pink granite patio. In warm weather, Ray and I just slide open the patio door to barbecue on the landing.

The improved layout, added storage and little efficiencies have streamlined meal preparation, whether I’m cooking for company or just the two of us.  And by keeping the room small and homey, we’ve retained the historical feel of our cottage. Thanks for stopping by!