Built-ins that Blend In
Design kitchens that complement older homes without being a slave to tradition
Synopsis: When designing kitchen cabinetry for older homes, it pays to pay attention to architectural details. Arts and Crafts-style cabinetry, for example, is typified by frame-and-panel construction and simple details. And while Shaker cabinets also are simple, they have a dramatically different style, from doors and drawers to hardware. At the other end of the spectrum, the built-ins in Victorian homes are notable for their elaborate embellishment, complete with arches, finials, carvings, and other ornate detailing. Nancy Hiller, who designs and builds cabinets for period-style kitchens, shares her expertise for those who want to build new kitchen cabinets that blend gracefully into older homes.
As a designer of cabinetry for period-style kitchens, I specialize in work for clients with homes built in the late 19th and early to mid-20th centuries. People come to me not for strict reproductions, but because they want their kitchen or other cabinetry to fit harmoniously into an older home. Whether I’m adding to existing cabinetry or designing a kitchen from scratch, it pays to follow some basic guidelines. Although the cabinets shown on these pages were built for 19th- and 20th-century homes, the same principles can be applied to other periods.
When designing cabinetry for an older home, familiarize yourself with the house and its architectural details. Ask yourself: When was the house built? What is the architectural style? How are period elements expressed in the original doors, trim, and built-in cabinets? You may be adding to the original cabinetry rather than replacing cabinets added at a later time, so the trick is to tie in the new with the old. Clients often ask me to design cabinets that will look like the rest of their kitchen but will function more practically.
Consider raising the height of the counters
Old kitchens have counters…