Into the 1980s for a 1909 kitchen Essay

Restoration was the goal for most of this 1909 Portland house. Butwhen it came to the kitchen, owners Linore and Larry Allison wanted toexpand the space and incorporate contemporary conveniences withoutinsulting their house’s period ambience. “We didn’t wanta stage set cluttered with fake-antique gimcracks,” they explained.”So we took a good look at the straightforward use of materials inthe rest of the house and applied what we learned to 1980s kitchentechnology.” Remodeled by Benchmark Design, the kitchen with its adjoiningbreakfast room now covers a generous 230 square feet. A wall betweenthe original kitchen and a small pantry came out, while all other wallswere stripped to their studs for new wiring and plumbing.

Gypsum boardreplaced plaster and lath. A bay was pushed out for a small diningspace. Along the back wall, seven tall, small-paned windows opened theview to the rear garden. Eastern maple, finished with polyurethane, wasused liberally–as flooring and cabinet trim–for durability and for itsperiod look. On the lower cabinet doors, grooved paneling, like thatfound in the original kitchen as wainscoting, also reflects the past.Tall baseboards, used throughout the rest of the house, have beenwelcomed into the new kitchen: they now accommodate registers for theforced-air heating system, and here and there conceal hidden drawersthat pull out on full-extension glides. Counters are topped with 2-inch square ceramic tiles, except for a28- by 32-inch marble slab recycled from a bank and used for pastryrolling and candy making.

Details such as the suspended glass-shadedlight fixtures and the maple-framed panels around the face of the rangehood also recall earlier decades, without looking like period cosmetics.


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