The Shaker style has been aptly described as timeless, and it fits harmoniously into just about any home, including this classic Cape. In this kitchen, Hiller used Shaker details such as flat-panel doors, simple hardware, and maple countertops to blend in with the architecture.
are one of the most convincing details you can incorporate into a kitchen, when appropriate, to make it look period-authentic. A variation on the flush kick sometimes used for sink cabinets or Hoosier-type built-ins features a cutout curve. Many kitchens from the 1930s have toe space along the main run of cabinetry, usually painted black, but with the face-frame stiles at the ends of each run extending down to the floor. In cabinetry designed for a more formal, furniture-like appearance, it may be more appropriate to use a full plinth.
Many early 20th-century kitchens had painted woodwork and cabinets. If you plan to paint your cabinets, consider using an oil-based enamel, rather than water-based, applied either by brush or spray. Milk paint is an alternative, particularly appropriate if you're going for an authentic Shaker look. One disadvantage with painted woodwork, especially lighter colors, is that it tends to show dirt and grease stains.
On the other hand, you may wish to disguise dirt and signs of wear by using the figure of your chosen wood to distract the eye. Some early 20th-century kitchen cabinets were made of fir and finished with shellac. You can come veiy close to this look by using amber-colored shellac in the finishing process. I often use a coat of shellac over dye and pigment stain to impart a wonderfully aged look to new wood. After scuff-sanding the shellac, I apply two or three coats of oil-based polyurethane.
For those who want to get deeper into kitchen design, two resources are Bungalow Kitchens by Jane Powell (Gibbs Smith, 2000) and The Elements of Style by Stephen Calloway et al (Mitchell Beazley, 1996). □
Nancy Hiller designs and builds cabinets and furniture in her shop in Bloomington, Ind.
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