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Some Light on the Matter

May 20, 2011

Peeling back the layers of our significantly altered kitchen, unearthed just one original feature that had actually survived intact - the 4 inch wide, clear pine, strip floor. We found it covered by unfinished pine boards. Removing these knotty planks early in the process was a bit of a nightmare as they were fastened with large, copper, ring-shank nails. We had to knock off the heads of these hard gripping buggers, pry the boards up, wiggle and break off the stem, then set the remaining nail with a wallop.

Though not our preferred floor, these extra wide boards would prove useful; with their 7/8ths thick dimension, they were perfect for recreating baseboard and trim.  Once they were off - their nails laid to rest - more difficulty ensued. The original floor was once covered with composition tiles laid down with a tarry glue. In a closet upstairs we found a box of 12' x 12's (complete with receipt), that matched an old photograph of the kitchen floor. They were purchased in the 1950s by way of the Sears catalogue.

The tiles were long gone, but there adhesive stubbornly remained. Little by little over several winters (whenever I had a minute), I took a heat gun and scraper to the floor. The laborious task of removing the gooey black substance brought to light an unpainted center with a light grey, roughly painted, 16 inch wide perimeter. This was a clear indication that there was once a linoleum rug (common in the 1930s).

We also noticed notches in the floor where the door casing had been. An L shaped molding called 'back band,' seemed the likely culprit. It was often used in those days to dress up trim and is still readily available. We chose to wrap our new doorways and windows with this finishing detail and were later given several old photographs of the original kitchen that verified our decision. As each piece went up the old cook space began to take on a distinctive 1930s appearance.

We painted the whole room (walls, ceiling and trim) Putnum Ivory, a warm beige color that relates to the original yellow hue while evoking the aged look of an off-white oil that has darkened over time. Once the final coat had dried, we could reinstall our lighting.

Gathering period fixtures appropriate to an old kitchen was an ongoing process. We kept our eyes peeled for bargains at yard sales, antique shops and salvage. We decided on a single sconce with a down-pointing glass shade to complement the sink and a pair of art deco inspired wall mounted fixtures (bare bulb), to illuminate the countertop. These matching porcelain (clamshell) sconces flank the picture window and were mounted in line with the brown counter outlets below.

The overhead light was a magic moment. One day while visiting our neighbor, we leaned back to admire her overhead light. Installed in the 1950s, it had a chrome canopy with a patterned glass shade. We liked it generally but thought that something in porcelain would be more appropriate for our 30s era kitchen. The very next day at a local antique shop - I rounded a corner and there it sat on a table - only $20 to boot. The glass resembled a faceted diamond and it had the porcelain canopy. A little cleaning and rewiring was all that was needed to ready this pretty jewel for its new role as a ceiling centerpiece.

The light over the kitchen table was another matter all together. I had something particular in mind; a nickel plated pendant (with a Bakelite switch), hung with an off-white cloth covered cord from a porcelain ceiling canopy. You rarely see them in antique shops or salvage because the cloth cord gets brittle after a hundred years and is generally not up to code. I already had an antique green enamel porcelain shade; all we needed was the right light. Reproduction was our best option. We purchased a brand new fixture (the only one in our home) from period lighting specialists, Rejuvenation. Though not a great deal of money (about $115), the "Skidmore" still cost more than all of the antique lighting in the rest of our home - combined.

(click photo to view larger image)

(comments = 1)

 

I like your approach and way of you thinking, it is really unique and also awesome.
So beautiful and awesome images you have .

 

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