Saturday, January 9, 2010

Working in the Scullery

Our house is over 100 years old, and, we fondly refer to the odd space between the kitchen and dining room as "the scullery."  Since the space is open at both ends it is not quite a pantry, and, since there is a giant, 7 foot long slate sink that takes up the majority of the space, "scullery" it is!

While this may sounds like a "throwaway" term it certainly is not.  The "kitchen" proper houses the refrigerator and stove, but, also includes five doorways and two windows and is not the most practical of spaces for working (that remodel is next on our list!).  The scullery, although narrow, houses the only cabinets in the kitchen, the only sink, the dishwasher and the only counter space!  Makes this little area quite important to us, and, foremost on our kitchen renovation list.  The photos above show it just before the most recent remodel.  We had already demolished part of the lower cabinets to install a dish-drawer dishwasher (an initial investment; traditional styles simply would not open in the narrow space!). The slate counters were also salvaged materials installed in place of laminated plastic that was there when we moved in.  The tall closet to the far end was part of this remodel; completely demolished and replaced with a trash drawer, counter extension, bookshelves and a new storage cabinet above.

Of course, once we committed to this project, we realized that every drawer had to come out, every door had to come off and every single plate, dish and cup had to be relocated.  It was a week of take-out for certain!  I tried, at one point, to make a simple meal and it was a BIG mistake!  Renovating the kitchen is a special type of challenge.

To maintain the integrity and history of the home, we wanted to use both similar and salvaged materials when remodeling.  This pair of oak and glass cabinet doors originally opened as-shown; from the center of one cabinet.  We decided to use these salvaged doors as the single cabinet doors on our "new" cabinets to keep an authentic "period" look to the kitchen.

The cabinets were designed to fit in the space to either side of the sink, and, to accommodate the vintage doors shown above.  To begin, the side panels were cut and channels added towards the back of each.  When the cabinets were assembled, beadboard panels were slid into the back channels and secured with glue to create beadboard back panels for each cabinet.

Rails were cut and placed along the back of each cabinet.  These were secured with both glue and screws and attached to both the back and side panels of the cabinets.  Channels were pre-cut to allow easy addition of the remaining shelves once the cabinet "boxes" were hung onto the walls. The side rails were intentionally extended beyond the top and bottom of the cabinet to create a surface onto which the frame can be attached later.

Cabinet screws were pre-drilled into the back of the cabinet walls so that they could easily be screwed into the existing rails to secure the cabinets with one-hand before continuing to secure at several other areas.  The rails were attached at studs to the walls and corresponded to the rails at the back of the cabinets.  Once the cabinets were "hung" onto the wall rails, they were attached both into the rails, and, all the way into the wall studs as well as several other locations.

As previously-described.  Once the cabinets were hung, glue was added to the slots on each side and the shelves were tapped straight into the cabinets.  Once dried and secure, front frames were built to accommodate the vintage cabinet doors.  The entire scullery was painted, then, the painted doors were hung into place.  The existing beadboard cabinet doors were all given new hinges and now hang straight, and, all close properly (old house luxury).

I thought I had more "in-progress" photos but I am either mistaken or they are misplaced.  Here is the final product with cabinets completed (vintage hardware courtesy of eBay).  New light fixture  - with great vintage look - was purchased from Schoolhouse Electric.  All paint (previously discussed) was from Lowe's and worked just great.  The new curtains are made from vintage linen toweling fabric (lucky local find, though, at the time of this post, similar fabric is available here on Etsy.). 

Our cookbooks have been in the back hall, and, our trash in a giant ugly trash bin in the middle of the floor for the past three years, so, adding beadboard-lined shelves and a hideaway trash cabinet all attractive and within easy reach is heaven.

A close-up of one cabinet.  Sorry the shots are all at an angle.  The entire room is about 5' wide and the walking space is about 2 1/2' wide so there is not a lot of room for great pics!  Take our word for it though.  We are so, so happy with the renovation.  Keep watching, as the crazy kitchen is next!


  1. Gorgeous makeover and colors! In the old days, weren't those little off-kitchen spaces known as pantries? We lived in several early 20th-c Providence apartments that had them, always with the sink included.

    I would so love to have $$ for a total kitchen re-do. Sigh!

  2. Beautiful space, love the colors & light fixture! As a renter I envy great makeover pictures, I wish I could add a splash of color to my apartment! I am glad you appreciate the history of your home and include that in your remodeling.

  3. Love the colors and the new cabinets!

  4. It looks amazing~~what a color! I love your little book~nook, you guys did a great job! My trash is always outside the door it's supposed to be in because we get lazy and just leave it out. Your set up is soooooooooo much better!


  5. One day I'd like to have a kithchen remodel but until then...I will live vicariously through yours...gorgeous! And green is my favorite color did you know?


  6. My friend has a kitchen very similar and the portion you refer to as the scullery, they call the butler's pantry. Maybe they call it that because it sounds wealthy, I don't know. In any case it's a unique space that you have clearly made the most of. LOVE IT!!!

    Kewpie's Farmhouse

  7. It looks fantastic! I'm so jealous, I have melamine cabinets I tried to crackle paint and that was just a MISTAKE... but I got a giggle at your comment about all the photos being at an angle - now you know how I feel taking pictures at Salvage Chic; seems I am always contorting myself to try to get a straight on shot but it never works out.
    Can't wait to see what you do with the kitchen!


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