East Enders transform small, dark kitchen in historic home
It’s always a challenge to remodel and update a kitchen in a house that’s more than 100 years old. How modern do you want to go? How contemporary should the finishes be? How can you blend the old with the new?
David and Marsha Canright were faced with these questions two years ago when they decided the tiny galley kitchen in their East End historical house on the island no longer was workable. The kitchen was dark and confining, and a huge amount of space was allocated for the washer/dryer and air-conditioning equipment.
“The kitchen was terrible,” Marsha Canright said. “Our plan was to make better use of the space.”
And they were successful. The square-shaped room in the back of their 1905 three-story house was transformed into a workable, bright contemporary kitchen that’s easy to maintain and accommodating for both chefs working at the same time.
The first task was to rip out everything and take the walls down to the studs. The Canrights kept one west-facing window and salvaged the antique wainscoting. But the rest was gone.
Island-based designer Ilse Benard gave the Canrights good guidance and kept the project on time and, most importantly, on budget. Benard made suggestions and incorporated the Canrights’ desires into the plans. The project took about six months, but the end result was worth the wait.
To start, they brightened the space by placing a huge window over the sink. And they added a partial glass door with a vintage transom over it. They covered the wall around the big window up to the ceiling in bright, white subway tile. They installed a single-bowl stainless steel farmhouse sink into the custom-made cabinet. They chose a black and white granite countertop for all the surfaces.
Because the Canrights enjoy cooking, they wanted to invest in high-end appliances. They chose a Viking gas range, which also doubles as a convection oven, and nestled it into an interior wall adjacent to the large, stainless steel refrigerator.
In the center of the room, they had a prep area island built, with a small rinsing sink and more drawers than they knew what to do with. They painted the cabinets a light gray but stained the island a light cherrywood color that blended with the rest of the room and the floors.
They had a special cabinet built for the microwave and a niche carved out — and plumbed — for a Miele espresso coffee system, which is still on their wish list.
Because Marsha Canright doesn’t particularly like overhead cabinets, there aren’t any, except in the wall units. The only things hanging from the ceiling are two large Restoration Hardware light fixtures, which hover above the island. The rest of the lighting was created with more modern can lights in the 12-foot-high ceilings.
The one original window was decorated with a large, three-section stained-glass window, purchased in Round Top and tracing its history to a once-upon-a-time bar in southern England. An aged, rustic bench acquired decades ago in Austin and now positioned under the window gives the Canrights’ cats a place to sun themselves all day.
With the new configuration, there was enough room for a dining table and easy access to a staircase leading to the second floor.
Flooding from Hurricane Ike in 2008 destroyed the original pine floors. But, with the help of Scott Hanson from Antique Warehouse in Galveston’s downtown, the Canrights were able to replace the flooring with reclaimed wood from a nearby house from the 1890s that was being torn down.
“This kitchen is functional and easy to maintain,” Marsha Canright said. “We really have a better flow in the room now and much better use of the space. However, I wouldn’t do it again.”