Erica credits her parents for her love of old things — and for her thrifty ingenuity. They were “restorers and keepers of many … beautiful Victorian buildings,” she says. “Memories of late night trash picking … learning to wallpaper a room at the age of 7, and rescuing tin ceilings from abandoned buildings are all things that have made me the salvager I am today.” So, it’s not surprising (to us) when she also declares, “When looking for a home I was praying not to fall in love with one that had a newly marbleized, stainless steel kitchen that I would have had a hard time tearing out.”
In fact, an 1888 house found its way to Erica… and one of her first major projects was replacing a failing and nondescript particle-board kitchen. Taking a vintage jadeite color drainboard sink and cabinet as her cue, she created a happy kitchen that seems right at home in its 123-year-old skin. Read on for her story, resources, a bathroom renovation too, barkcloth dresses and 17 more photos –>
Well, I finally did it! I purchased an 1888 home in historic Peace Dale, Rhode Island, after a year of looking and a lifetime of being a bit of a nomad.
After of renting and doing work on other people’s buildings, I could finally feel like all of my efforts would be towards something I didn’t have to walk away from.
My parents were restorers and keepers of many of the beautiful Victorian buildings in the heart of Providence, Rhode Island. Ingenuity, the love of old things and hard work are something I was brought up with. Memories of late night trash picking in our old stake bed pickup truck, learning to wallpaper a room at the age of 7, and rescuing tin ceilings from abandoned buildings are all things that have made me the salvager I am today.
When looking for a home I was praying not to fall in love with one that had a newly marbleized, stainless steal kitchen that I would have had a hard time tearing out. As luck would have it the house that turned out to be just the right one had no kitchen to speak of. When I moved it it consisted of a broken stove, a leaking sink and a few of the most horrible partial board cabinets barely attached to the wall. Perfect! It took less than a day to empty the room with no more than a hammer and a good friend.
I had been collecting pieces of this dream kitchen for over 3 years prior to owning the house and I am proud to say everything but the toaster, the blender and the Formica used for the counters has been salvaged or was second hand.
The metal cabinet with the enameled Jadite sink, which is my absolute favorite part of the kitchen, was inspired by love of the one that I washed the dishes of up to 30 guests in a week-end in our summer home on Hog Island in Rhode Island. Needless to say I spent a lot of time at that sink. The joy that I felt, and I’m sure most will think this is odd, at finding a Jadite colored sink for sale by a lovely girl in Maine (only 200 miles away!) was over the top! The jadeite sink came that way! It’s original. Lucky girl I am! I really love my sink!
The appliances started with an old aqua GE that I fell in love with and bought on ebay. It was the real deal and was kept in the home of an older gent who hardly cooked so it was like new.
What a beauty! The wonderful push button controls, lights and bells and whistles all worked.
As it sat in my basement waiting for a home I began to search craigslist for a refrigerator and then there they were…a Northstar stove and refrigerator.
In robin’s egg blue, like new. Wow! Now this was getting exciting. I called and sent the money off (they were an amazingly good deal!) to complete strangers with no guarantee or idea how I was going to get them to me. It all worked out great, and there is now a very happy lady in Florida cooking on the aqua GE.
The solid wood keystone cabinets with their fabulous original hardware came from a kitchen that was being torn out in Pennsylvania, the state in which they were made…and they are dreamy. They work like a charm and fit perfectly into the layout, having to only have one built using a left over door and a custom one made to fit to go over the stove.
The cabinet color, like a lot of the colors I have in my house is something I made up myself and had the awesome and very patient guy at Sherwin Williams make up for me. I believe it’s a darkened version of actual jadite dishware. I actually took the hood of the stove to the store so they could color match it to do some of the trim in the kitchen. I’m really crazy persnickety about color!
The cabinets and boom-a-rang counter top were made and installed by a musician friend of mine with a lovely voice who sang beautifully while he worked making the experience a delight. I am still amazed at the ease in which all of the components fit into the space and how wonderfully workable the kitchen is. I love to cook and I couldn’t be happier cooking in it! 🙂
I put in the black and white bathroom as well …
… from a section of one of the bedrooms.
I noticed the post on barkcloth you put up (my favorite). I’m a seamstress and thought you might enjoy seeing a picture of the dresses I’ve been making. No, the girl in the dress isn’t me. That’s just a little side business I have.
Enjoying the reader stories as always. There are so many of us out there! And it’s always great to see what people are doing!
Thank you for sharing, Erica. Your kitchen is adorable and by my count, at least four shades of green: (1) Jadeite in color, (2) Salvaged and recycled = Better for the environment than manufacturing something anew, (3) Salvaged and recycled = Thrifty — I’ve heard the new “American Dream Home” is one that’s paid for — sounds about right to me, and (3) Well, making us green with envy, of course!