Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Aga stove

Oh my. So I'd never heard of Aga stoves before. They're a strange beast. They come from England, where they've been made since the 1920's. The original Aga cooker is an amazing piece of cast iron and fire...still more or less what it was back then. Except in the states you can't buy wood or coal fired cookers. It's not exactly a stove...it's on, it's radiating heat 24/7. It's really fascinating. Really. This video (VINTAGE MARTHA STEWART!) is the most thorough introduction to the Agas I've found. It's about 10 minutes long, but watch it anyway.

In the end, though, we decided that the appeal seems to be limited to cool climes like England and other places with no hot humid summers. It could work in Massachusetts, I suppose, but it seemed tempting fate and climate change predictions to spend more than a car's value on a cooker that we might not want to use for 4 months out of the year...luckily, though, Aga makes more than just cookers.

Enter the Six-Four. Exit a wad of cash.

And it was supposed to take 12 weeks to arrive, but it showed up after about 4 weeks. And it is awesome. We got propane hooked up for the gas burners on top. We're learning to adjust to the four smaller electric ovens. And it's so dang pretty.

Kitchen Design Class!

The next step was figuring out what on earth I'm doing... The more I look at kitchens the more I realize how much I don't know about designing a kitchen, more or less from scratch. I've always liked the aesthetic at Claw Foot Tub, a local Amherst home goods store, and I'd heard good things about Mary Moore Cathcart, the owner and designer there. So I popped on over to their web site, and what should I discover but a listing for a kitchen design class, 5 weeks long, starting THAT WEEKEND? Well that seems to be screaming FATE! I emailed to sign up, and then, lo and behold, I'm the only one to sign up! But she's going to run the class anyway! On my schedule! Wha?
We met at my house first, back in October, and talked through the decisions ahead, the current layout of the space, what we wanted to get out of the new kitchen. By the end of the first meeting, we had a rough sketch of a floor layout:
kitchen plans
On our next meeting, we visited Cowl's Building Supply to look at cabinets and floors and Arrow Tile to look at, well, tile. We had a third meeting in the shop, where we talked more details, such as appliances, countertops, more precise measurements. This is where I learn about the existence of the Aga stove, a discovery that deserves its own entry.
As the ideas take shape in my head, I find that I can't operate with just a floor plan. I need a wall plan as well. And since I have photos of the stove and hoosier cabinet, I incorporate them into the sketch. I'm trying to get a sense of what the heck this is going to look like...

kitchen plans
kitchen plans
Eventually, we find a sink (thank you Andrea and Chris! We know you never planned to install it anyway!). It's a 52" wide farmhouse sink, a sizable beast that changes the layout of the north wall a bit:
kitchen plans

Monday, February 6, 2012


For the last couple years, I've been bookmarking photos of kitchens I like, looking for inspiration. Here's a sampling of stuff I've bookmarked, to give a sense of what I'm going for:
from my Houzz ideabook -- this is stuff I've collected in the last two months, mostly open shelves, sliding barn doors, walk-in pantries, etc.

Then there's my delicious.com kitchen bookmarks, going back much further in this process--lots of farmhouse kitchens, unfitted kitchens, storage solutions, kitchen island/tables. (sorry, no fancy widget for it)

And also my new favorite, Pinterest (though much of this is imported from delicious, so there are plenty of repeats.) Here's a screen shot from tonight, but check the link above and it may look a little different...

Floor plans

In the photos of the last post, it was probably difficult to figure out how they all fit together. Here's a floor plan of the kitchen before we started the remodel:
kitchen floor plan-before
As you can see, the main cooking area formed a channel, making it difficult for more than one person to cook at the same time and hiding the cook behind this big wall of cabinetry. While there are times I do want to hide in the kitchen, unfortunately, the kids could always find me there.
Our main goals in the resign: to make a more aesthetic kitchen (we suspect the kitchen was last redone in 1950-something) (and not by some mid-century modern design genius) that allows for a more fluid and flexible space. To be more functional for the way we cook in this century, while subtly evoking the time period when the house was built.