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Historic Kitchen

Listing #3350   Listed on: 06/14/2011

Company Name: Hudson Cabinetmaking, Inc.

Contact Name:   Russell Hudson

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A half hour south of us , there is a very small, rather old town. It has only a half dozen or so roads. One of those roads is called Old Schoolhouse Rd. and on that road is the original building… the Old School House. Although not a large structure, all it’s architectural details (both inside and out) are bold and from that period. (1860 to 1880). The first floor’s ceiling height is twelve feet with it’s windows beginning three feet off the floor and continuing to within a foot of the ceiling. I’m assuming that eight foot tall windows allowed a good deal of sunlight to illuminate the single, interior classroom. This historic structure is where our client’s family lives.

About 10 years ago, they expanded a small room in the back to accommodate what was to become their ‘new’ kitchen. They have good taste and wished to maintain the old building’s integrity. I spent some time designing cabinetry that could be described as somewhere between Shaker and a 'farm house look'. No fine detail. Bold, heavy frame and panel faces. Very utilitarian / a no-nonsense, sturdy, functional kitchen. I happen to love this look. Great to have people who like what you like to build.

As an aside, I have a few books about Shaker furniture. I find it ironic that in their adherence to modesty, to remain austere, their religious aversion to decoration, … they ended up creating buildings and furniture that, to this day are revered for their timeless beauty. Anyway, the carpenters who enlarged the room, installed pine floors as might have been done back then (allows the wear and tear to show-up quickly) and beadboard wainscot on the lower third of the walls. Then, my sons and I went about building and installing the cabs.

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This above photo displays the strong, simple detailing we incorporated. We adjusted the proportions by increasing the width of the frames for the doors, drawer faces and side walls. This leaves a somewhat smaller panel in each of their centers. I always like to finish the cabinet’s bottom edge with a piece of molding. Here we simply placed a square piece of 3/4" stock ‘wrapping-around’ the cabs. Also notice there is no molding profile on the inside edges of any of the frames. The fact that every face (surface) on the cabinets are frame and panel is enough decoration by itself.
 To give it a bit more detail (but not too much), we chamfered (45 degree beveled) wherever a cabinet’s outside vertical edge was exposed. Notice this bevel doesn’t run the entire height, but rounds out 3″ from top and bottom. 
All this to achieve detail w/o it appearing too dainty or overly fanciful. Even the ‘fireslate’ counter tops (matt finished and natural in appearance) are left square on their outside edge but eased slightly (not sharp) to remain soft to the touch. These are the counter tops we all had in our high school science labs.

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The wall cabinets possess the same detail with the addition of hand-made support brackets (corbels) and the cabinet’s top edges are finished with two, staggered square trim pieces (to act as a crown).

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The wall cabinets possess the same detail with the addition of hand-made support brackets (corbels) and the cabinet’s top edges are finished with two, staggered square trim pieces (to act as a crown).

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On an opposite wall we included a small unit for cookbooks.

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The island’s counter top we made from 2" X 8" rock-maple planks / looks so much better than commercial butcher block. A refuse bag sits beneath this opening cut in the surface. Over-sized legs (6" X 6") support the counter’s cantilevered (over-hung) edge for seating.

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The Old School House has just received Historic Landmark Status. I’m pleased we were asked to maintain it’s authentic character… and I love the way it turned out.

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Russell Hudson /

Viewer Comments:

Posted By: bill s     [06/15/2011]
Love the colors and the style! Nice job!!!!

Posted By: Chris     [06/15/2011]
Very nice. Did you make the BB top or did you buy it out? Has anyone ever used John Boos Buthcher Blocks?

Posted By: Russell Hudson     [06/15/2011]
I made the top just like a table top.

Posted By: Pat     [06/19/2011]
I like the look created by stepping the inset doors/drawers back from the face frame. Works nicely with the stepped crown and bottom moldings.


Posted By: Jim Galvin     [06/20/2011]
Nice kitchen, what's the finish on the cabinets?

Posted By: Russell hudson     [06/20/2011]
Brush painted.

Posted By: Simeond     [06/25/2011]
Russell: Just beautiful. I love the look - late 19th C, shaker influence - and beautifully executed. Did you research the period or anything? How think are your doors? I'm just starting to research historical accuracy for my own kitchen (probably won't get to it for a while) in a late 19th c home and I'm leaning toward a design much like yours. The cabinets in place now, which have been there since at least 1910 (but not necessarily original) are similar style, just with a raised panel. Also, they are inset and face-frame, except for at the bottom, where they entirely cover the frameless base of the uppers. Do you have any insights on this???

At any rate, beautiful work!

Posted By: Russell Hudson     [06/25/2011]
Are you saying that your cabinet doors (for the wall cabs) have no rail beneath them?
If so, you could create a horizontal piece (rail) below it but I would only try to do this if everything is to be painted. Too hard to match really old wood otherwise.

Posted By: Russ     [06/25/2011] other words create a bottom edge (lip) that runs underneath the entire cabinet(s) on the wall / could be done for floor cabs as well. / or cut doors bottom edge and insert a rail. Too hard to summarize here. Send me a drawing if you'd like.

Posted By: ED Perkins     [06/27/2011]
Nice! We do both commercial and residential work and have a small shop. We are starting a restoration soon of an 1806 house that actually was part tavern in the day owner wants everything period. I personally am looking forward to tackling the kitchen, my favorite part of a construction project.

Posted By: Russell Hudson     [06/27/2011]
I look forward to seeing your project post after completion, Ed.

Posted By: rusty borders     [06/29/2011]
Coincidently we’re looking at putting similar style cabinets in our home in Georgia. We’re thinking of mixing colors. A green similar to yours with a muslin color. Yours are beautiful and the tops go great with them. Fantastic job, thanks for sharing.

Posted By: brandon collins     [07/07/2011]
Nice looking kitchen. Love the chunky plain design. How far do you finish it in the workshop? Do you finish it to primer or with a color coat and just one brush coat when everything is fitted ?


Posted By: Russell Hudson     [07/07/2011]
It was raw when installed. We just arranged to have the painter in the following day.

Posted By: Kimberly     [09/14/2011]
I am in love with the color choices! what is the color green? I have been looking for a shade and this comes to an exact match of what I want. Wonderful kitchen!

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