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Stepping back in time

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In renovating their kitchen, the owners of this 1950s home wanted to retain the original design integrity, but make it more practical for modern needs

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While we may admire a particular design aesthetic from the past, often the practical detailing doesn't really measure up to the needs of a more contemporary lifestyle.

The owners of this home, designed in 1948 by Wellington architects Plischke and Firth, loved the 1950s-era styling of the kitchen, but needed more space for a growing family. The old kitchen was small and dark, so designer Daniel Woolley suggested opening up two rooms to create one larger space for a kitchen, dining area and homework or study space. Windows and doors now link this area to the garden.

The owners wanted to re-use some of the existing cabinetry in the new kitchen, but with more practical features. Part of the old cabinetry was carefully removed, restored and refitted along one wall of the new kitchen, with pull-out flour bins installed behind the original doors. New cabinets were finished to match – a hand-painted finish mimics the original joinery, and handles are in a 1950s style. For convenience, doors and drawers feature modern soft-close runners.

Booth seating has a 1950s look, as do the hanging cabinets with glass sliding doors over the peninsula bench. These are positioned higher than the originals, and used for display rather than storage. A freestanding stove has a retro feel and the refrigerator and freezer are integrated into cabinetry. Behind the clear glass splashback, the wall is finished in a brightly coloured 1950s-style wallpaper.


First published date: 28 May 2010

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Credit List

Kitchen designer Daniel Woolley, Hearth Ltd (Wellington)
Interior designer Eleanor Steel, ES Design
Kitchen manufacturer A1 Joinery
Oven and cooktop Smeg from Kitchen Things
Ventilation Asko Powerpack from Kitchen Things
Refrigeration Liebherr integrated refrigerator/freezer from Kitchen Things
Dishwasher Fisher & Paykel DishDrawer
Splashback Bridey Farrell wallpaper behind glass
Cabinetry Hand-painted with Resene Juniper and Rice Cake paint
Benchtops Stainless steel; Laminex White Flint, Laminex Tetra Ice
Flooring Existing tongue and groove
Lighting Vintage lamps and undercabinet fluorescents
Sink Reginox Princess 80
Taps Methven Nilo Pillar sink faucet
Table Custom booth in vinyl finish
Windows and doors Double glazed from A1 Joinery