Monday, April 11, 2011

Kitchen Revival Tour

Mr. & Mrs. F's Laurelhurst bungalow kitchen was last remodeled in the 60s. There is no dishwasher so they are going to do a kitchen remodel to update it and add a deck in the back yard which would be accessible from the kitchen. Although they already have a design established with Mr. Z, she and I thought it would be fun to go to this year's Kitchen Revival Tour. The tour is organized by the Architectural Heritage Center which is close to my heart because my father began his stained glass career in Oregon working for Jerry Bosco and Ben Milligan. When I was working for Craftsman Design and Renovation we had clients featured on the tour.
We left the boys with our husbands and headed out in their Smart car. We decided to start with the houses on the other side of the Willamette to a house in Beaverton. It was a 1949 Ranch, but the interior is completely Moderne. This house is so intact; the kitchens and baths are untouched and they are fabulous! The kitchen is paneled walls and ceiling in Marlite and the breakfast nook has the original chrome and glass table and upholstered banquets. A glass curio shelf divides the nook from the kitchen work space. Perfect inlaid linoleum is underfoot. The main bath is destined for, with original pink and blue Marlite paneling, floor tiles, and fixtures. The best part of this house in my opinion was the master bathroom. A fabulous chrome and Marlite dressing table and glass block. I am positively smitten! Who wouldn't want to get ready here? This house was a perfect fit for the homeowner too. Her mid-century collections and wardrobe are destined to live here. I caught another case of basement envy when I saw their basement bar. So fun! I also enjoyed the balustrade and the coved cork on the stairs.The theme this year seemed to be hex tile countertops. House after house had colorful hex tiles in some application. There were two houses on the tour by the architect Kenneth Birkemeier, the first of which was his home. Nestled on Alameda ridge on the North side of Fremont St. this 1951 mid-century brick house had an incredible view made all the more wonderful by the gorgeous overcast weather we had. I was remarking to Mrs. F what a beautiful day it was and another tour goer laughed at my Oregonian-ness. But, hey it was warmish, dry, and cloudy with a bit of sun peeking through. Anyway, while I'm not a Ranch girl, there is something to be said for floor to ceiling windows when the house has a view. The main countertops in this kitchen have been replaced at some point with a fat granite slab, although the cabinets are original. The upper bar and one of the lesser used side countertops retain their original blue hex tiles. It was in this house that I ran into a couple of former clients. Theirs was one of the kitchens we featured on the tour. The wife volunteers for the AHC so it wasn't surprising to meet them on the tour. We chatted about how I now have two sons and am busy but enjoying being a homemaker. They told me that they really missed me on their second project after I retired because things ran so smoothly on my project. I guess my replacement wasn't as organized as they would have liked. I must confess that their complement really made my day! It is so nice to be appreciated!
The second Birkemeier house was a 1949 Cape Cod with more intact kitchens and baths. Powder blue hex tiles on the kitchen counters, curio shelves, and wavy scallop trim along the crown are all original and make for an adorable workspace. I also enjoyed the light filled, adjacent breakfast nook. Another awesome pale pink and powder blue tiled bathroom has escaped destruction. The next house in Laurelhurst was my favorite. The 1913 Arts & Crafts house was under restoration by the new owners and is full of wonderful stained woodwork. The bi-swing door from the dining room leads into the most awesome depression era butler's pantry. Oh how I would love a house like this! The interior of the cabinets and the walls are paneled in Marlite. A pantry which used to house the refrigerator has been thoughtfully converted into a half bath. In the kitchen they solved the dilemma of cabinets too shallow to accommodate modern appliances by installing dishwasher drawers instead. A perfect solution because it would be a shame to lose these aqua and white tile countertops.There was one house from Sunnyside in which a back porch was converted into a breakfast nook in a very similar way to what I would do in our bungalow kitchen... the only difference is we don't have a back porch so we'd need an addition to the original footprint. The following house on the tour was a 1905 bungalow in Richmond. The house had a bizarre addition n the 1970s resulting in a very mismatched kitchen with Depression era tiled countertops with diagonal knotty pine paneled walls. The most recent remodel replicated the 1920s cabinetry, refurbished the hex tile countertops, and refinished the sink. There were some parts of the kitchen that I liked, but the whole space was still very odd; there is a view into the loft above. I do adore these swinging doors under the sink though.The last house we visited was a 1909 bungalow with Marmoleum Click flooring. I have a low opinion of DIY floating floor systems because they always sound so hollow and look so fake to me. But I was impressed with the Click, the seams were very tight and not noticeable. I was planning on a really involved design for Marmoleum in our kitchen, but would not invest in that now since we will probably move. However the DIY vinyl tiles are falling apart and must be replaced before we sell. I think the Click would be a good solution for us.
I always enjoy these glimpses into other vintage houses. I'm still not sure what the future will hold for us. If we stay I need a breakfast nook and mud room addition, if we move I need a butler's pantry. If it were plumbed I think I'd be in 7th heaven.

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