Text By: Nancy E. Berry
After 24 years of cooking in a tiny, outdated kitchen, Gretchen Hartzog and her husband, Larry, were ready for a change. “The 1920s Shingle-style cottage in coastal Maine hadn’t seen an upgrade in decades, and the existing kitchen wasn’t functional at all,” notes architect Dennis Prior of Precedent Designworks in Bremen, Maine.
What They Wanted
Gretchen longed for a space where she could cook large meals for her family and friends could congregate. She also wanted to display her extensive collection of Damariscotta pottery. The goal: A traditional cottage-style kitchen that was unique—with design elements that no one else would have.
What They Did: Showcased Vintage Appliances
After researching shops in the New England area, Gretchen and Prior found a refurbished white enameled, chrome-plated cast-iron 1933 Magic Chef at Erickson’s Antique Stoves in Littleton, Massachusetts. The range has eight burners, two baking ovens, two broilers, and a warming oven—perfect for creating large gourmet meals during the holidays. While in the shop, Gretchen also spotted a white enameled 1920s Frigidaire that coordinated perfectly with the stove. She had to have them.
Researched Safety Rules
Prior then designed the kitchen around the appliances. The massive five feet by five and a half foot stove needed proper ventilation, so he placed it on an exterior wall and designed a large range hood for ventilation. “Older stoves have different insulation than today’s models,” he Prior, who allowed a five-inch space between the stove and the built-in cabinets to meet safety codes. Behind the stove, the wall is finished with subway tiles in Tiffany blue, one of Gretchen’s favorite colors. The same color reappears in beadboard on the upper cabinets.
Infused Traditional Style
Prior designed simple face-framed cabinetry with maple doors, a hearty material that takes paint well. Inspired by the feet of the Magic Chef stove, he designed a similar profile for both the cabinet feet and bracket detailing. “Display shelving was key to the design,” says Prior, who introduced both open and enclosed shelving into the space. The built-in cabinetry resembles pieces of furniture—a dish cupboard and hutches—that would be found in older homes.
Chose Historic Materials
A center island and the perimeter countertops are topped in honed black granite for a period look. “The white cabinets and black counters complement the vintage appliances rather than compete for attention,” notes Prior. Beadboard on the walls and ceiling maintains the cottage aesthetic; the floors are covered with Douglas fir boards, a material found in many coastal homes. A breakfast nook adjacent to the kitchen overlooks the garden and the rocky shoreline beyond through a set of French doors.
Showcased Antique Collections
Gretchen personalized the space with her china collections: German Meissen and English Bourne & Leigh porcelain mingle with custom-made French faience pottery soup tureens in the china cupboard. Open shelving throughout the kitchen showcases the colorful Damariscotta pottery collection she’s amassed over 30 years. Even broken china found its way into the design: Prior created a removable panel at both ends of the island on which Gretchen could design mosaics from the more than 100 pottery shards in her collection.