A Vintage Cottage Kitchen


Deciding to not sell my house right away has resulted in extreme laziness regarding the finishing touches to my kitchen. Everything is now functional; who needs toe-kicks, thresholds or shoe moulding, really? Plus, I’ve been busy with more pressing concerns: my dissertation, editing Roy Underhill’s delightful, funny and thought-provoking “Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker! (A Novel with Measured Drawings)” and copy-editing Peter Galbert’s book on Windsor chairmaking (which is wicked good).

Also, I’ve been out of town a bit, and the cats don’t give two paw swipes about how the kitchen looks; to them, it is merely the room in which food is always available…and treats are in the offing therein if they meow at me in a pitiful enough manner (read: in any manner).

While in North Carolina two weeks ago, I stayed in the the cottage above. It’s on Roy and Jane Underhill’s mill property, so it will be no surprise to learn that being there feels much like stepping back 80 years in time (despite the Internet service, air-conditioning and plenty of hot water).

Roy has been renovating the cottage (which I believe is where the keeper lived when the mill was in operation) for several years now, and the kitchen is almost done. Last year, I recall there being a late 70s refrigerator and stove; now, it’s decked out with period-appropriate appliances. When I do get around to selling my house and tackling a new rehab (preferably before my knees give out completely), I’d like to match the look of the appliances to the house’s period. But I like Victorians; it’s hell getting blocks of ice delivered these days.


Adorable – but it doesn’t fit a boxed 12-pack of Diet Coke.

The “new” cottage refrigerator is adorable – but it hearkens back to a time when there weren’t as many readily available items that require cold storage…or maybe I need to cut down on the number of wine, Diet Coke and malt-liquor beverages I keep on hand.

The stove, however, is awesome – despite gas rings that are either fully on or off, and must be lit with a match. It did a fine job of heating water for morning coffee and evening tea – though past experience leads me to suspect the oven temps are a bit inconsistent (we had a similar stove when I was a kid).


The rest of the cottage is decorated in a similar vintage nature, with period furniture, overflowing bookshelves, a wood stove for heating (I’ve never been there during cold months…are there cold months?) and an old typewriter at a window overlooking the woods and stream behind the trees.



Plus, there is a bust of Shakespeare beneath a picture of a cat. I felt right at home.


But now that I am home, I suppose I should attach that last piece of base moulding and get started on the toe kicks, backsplash, etc. Or not. Another few months of ignoring the missing/unimportant bits, and I’ll forget about them. How do I know? I finally completed the bathroom trim two days before putting the house on the market last summer. That renovation was otherwise finished six years ago.

About fitz

Woodworker, writer, editor, teacher, ailurophile, Shakespearean. Will write for air-dried walnut.
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12 Responses to A Vintage Cottage Kitchen

  1. tombuhl says:

    Wonderful post on your guest accommodations as well as philosophy of remodeling Fitz-style. One tiny quibble. That typewriter in the window does not look old by the standards of my style book.

  2. Paul Smith says:

    Great cottage! I would love to have such a place to “hermit up” in.

  3. bsrlee says:

    For a stove aka range, I’d recommend an ‘Aga’ – still available new from the UK and they even ship as far as Australia, so the US should be no problem – a friend has one in cherry red.

    I used to get a nice U.S. ‘Arts & Crafts’ renovation mag a few years ago and it was full of retro-styled fridges in a multitude of colors (including cherry red), but more 1950-60’s looking than Roy’s top evaporator model – bigger capacity too. If I was feeling really energetic I might be able to find you a working kerosene or gas fridge if you were into primitive or just hurricane proof.

    • fitz says:

      Oh, I love Agas. But I’m in publishing…Agas are for corporate titans and Wall Street wunderkinds.

      • bsrlee says:

        Double Aga, 2 ovens and 8 burners…purchased by a nurse. She is about your height but a bit wider, likes cats & also has a thing for collecting degrees – couple of Masters in History so far but no PhD yet. Seems the trick is to get a trip to the UK and buy locally, they ship to all the former British Colonies 🙂 Maybe you should get a gig as Chris’ assistant on one of his German jaunts.

  4. How is your dissertation coming? Would you put a chapter or two here? I would like to check it out.

  5. Rich K. says:

    Nothing like living in the woods. Peace,spiritual awe of nature and inspiration. The right fireplace will keep warm and cozy in the winter. You can also add some medicinal beverage (brandy, bourbon or flavor of your choice) to your coffee for a little internal warmth. Can’t beat living in the woods.

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