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Period Details

Next to the closet, the wall jogged back 12 inches. We would have liked to have pushed it far enough back to install 24-inch base cabinets, but we couldn't, for a couple of reasons: It contained plumbing, and the space on the other side was occupied by a built-in china cupboard that served the dining room.


Since a built-in dining room cupboard made 24-inch-deep base cabinets on the kitchen side of the wall impossible.


The author instead designed shallow apothecary-style cases. Continuous trim ties them to the adjacent closet.

So we decided to fill this area with custom-made 12-inch-deep cabinets designed to resemble the apothecary cases found behind the counter of a 1930s-era soda fountain. To add to the vintage effect, we used punched-tin panels in some doors; they are available from Country Accents (570/478-4127, for about $10 each.


To create a period look, some of the cabinet doors were fitted with inexpensive punched-tin panels.


Cubbies in the narrow cabinet to the right of the prep sink feature hopper-style doors.

The cabinets along the kitchen's exterior walls are more conventional but feature the same traditional details: inset doors and drawers, ball-tip butt hinges, and old-fashioned glass drawer pulls (House of Antique Hardware, 888/223-2545, We helped make the units look old by ordering them primed and then brush-painting them on site.

Doors and windows are trimmed with the flat casings found elsewhere in the house; to unify the room, we added a simple crown around the upper cabinets and walls.

Recycled sink. Down the wall from the apothecary cabinets — where the corner sink used to be — we installed a wall-hung prep sink that the clients bought at a recycling center for $75. We rebuilt the valve assemblies, but to maintain the vintage look we did not rechrome the faucet or reglaze the porcelain.

To the right of the sink we installed a tall wall cabinet with cubbies — most with downswing doors supported by chains. The cubbies serve the oven area and hold spices and baking supplies. A small counter on the base cabinet provides a work surface.

Lighting and electrical. The owners purchased vintage light fixtures and had them rewired by a local shop. Modern light switches would have looked out of place, so we installed UL-listed reproductions of the old push-button-style switches (Classic Accents, 800/245-7742, We still had to use modern GFCI receptacles, but — as with the switches — we made them appear older by trimming them with raw brass cover plates.

Appliances. The refrigerator is a restored vintage appliance, as is the kitchen's centerpiece, a 1948 O'Keefe & Merritt range. Because an exposed range hood would have looked too modern, we used a wall-vented hood liner (Vent-A-Hood, 800/331-2492, that we concealed within the cabinetry.


Vintage appliances serve as focal points; the range's exhaust hood is concealed inside cabinetry above the stove. The Marmoleum floor's border echoes similar borders on hardwood floors in the rest of the house.

Cameron Habel is a remodeling contractor in Oakland, Calif.