Text by: Nancy E. Berry
Designed by Doug Gest of Doug Gest Restorations in Hartland, Vermont, this country kitchen in a reproduction 19th-century farmhouse in east central Vermont offers a mix of salvaged and period-inspired elements to create authenticity.
What They Wanted
A classically styled kitchen in the vernacular of the region’s historical homesteads.
What They Did
To re-create the past, Gest dismantled the frame of an early 19th-century Cape scheduled to be demolished in Sunapee, New Hampshire, and moved the timbers to the building site a state away. Once the spruce beams had been reassembled, Gest designed the kitchen.
Interpreting The Past
To foster a historical feel, he specified salvaged heart pine flooring and 12-over-12 windows with traditional mortise-and-tenon joinery and true divided panes fitted with salvaged antique glass. “The windows are larger than they would have been in an old farmhouse to allow more natural light,” Gest explains. “The exposed hand-hewn beams in the ceiling offer patina and texture to the space.” Despite the classic look, Gest’s clients wanted the kitchen to be efficient and modern. “The client wanted the kitchen to flow into a dining space—not the typical layout for a true period house,” notes Gest. “This kitchen is more of an interpretation rather than a carbon copy of the past.”
Gest modeled the cabinetry after 19th-century butler’s pantry cabinets. “I designed the upper cabinets to resemble freestanding wall cabinets as opposed to built-ins,” he says. The cream-colored cabinets have a recessed panel and glass-paned doors with a simple bead mold. The cabinet brackets are designed with an ogee profile—an S-shaped curve detail found on old cabinets. Gest and his clients chose a truly traditional Vermont material—soapstone—for the counters and the double sink.
For additional workspace, Gest designed a handsome farmhouse worktable inspired by antique versions in lieu of an island. The 36-inch table is made of old pine planks salvaged from a barn floor, and was finished in satin polyurethane to waterproof the surface. A wood-burning hearth just off the cooking area, bordered with antique brick and topped with an 18th-century pine mantel, warms the kitchen and furthers the Old World ambience.
Creating a Baker’s Paradise
The owner loves to bake, so Gest incorporated a bake prep cabinet with a 30-inch marble counter. “Marble is a great traditional material for rolling dough because the surface stays cool and is easy to clean,” notes Gest. “The prep area is also 6 inches shorter than the standard 36-inch counters in the rest of the space, so rolling and kneading dough is easier.” The marble counter is strategically placed under a window so the homeowner can enjoy views of the gardens and hills beyond.
A Modern Touch
The greatest design challenge for Gest was incorporating stainless steel appliances in the period-inspired kitchen. “I have to admit, I was skeptical at first,” he says, “but the modern appliances work beautifully in the space.” Gest designed a large stainless steel French Bell range hood with straps and a pot rack to match the six-burner stainless steel Wolf range. The range hood conceals a modern exhaust blower. A Sub-Zero fridge is tucked between built-in floor-to-ceiling pantry cupboards. Dual deck-mounted bridge faucets in a brushed stainless steel finish coordinate with the appliances while offering a period silhouette.
Getting Lighting Right
Another modern design challenge was lighting. “We didn’t have enough space in the ceiling to incorporate recessed lighting, so we added lights on tracks that the client could set where she needed them,” says Gest. The design also includes undermount cabinet lighting. “Part of the craft of designing period-inspired kitchens is to interpret how historical styles and modern amenities will fit together,” says Gest, who melds the past and present beautifully in this well-crafted vintage farmhouse kitchen.