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Before-and-After Showhouse Kitchen
A 1913 Tudor-style kitchen gets a respectful renovation
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From porch posts to ornate iron brackets, other people’s castoffs are John K. George’s inspirations. For more than 25 years—long before others were recycling—this college history major turned interior designer has been salvaging and reusing materials in his design projects. “My love of history is interwoven with a strong respect for well-built and well-designed historic buildings,” George says. “Plus, as one of five kids raised in a very frugal family, I have practiced green remodeling, salvage, and dumpster diving since before they were considered virtues.”
The Virginia designer demonstrated his respectful approach when renovating the kitchen of a 1913 Tudor-style home for the Richmond Symphony Showhouse. Originally built by a family to honor its Scottish heritage, the house features a brick-and-timber exterior, wood-paneled interior walls, and other details typical of a British country house.
The kitchen, however, was all-American, circa 1970s, with vinyl floors and blue plastic laminate countertops. “The original kitchen was a large room with great windows but the finishes and appliances were very tired,” the designer says. “I wanted to show how we could create an attractive and beautiful space without the conventional gut-and-start-over approach.”
George’s first chore was peeling away multiple layers of vinyl and linoleum flooring. “It took a lot of muscle and elbow grease, but it was well worth it,” he says. “We easily sanded and finished the original pine flooring, which was absolutely beautiful, with watermarks and stains that made for an incredible patina.”
The designer preserved most of the kitchen’s cabinets but bumped up their historic charm by adding moldings on door fronts, vintage-looking bronze hardware, and fresh coats of paint in a muted green. A previously humdrum built-in china hutch was painted red using a dry-brush technique to simulate a timeworn patina, and it now looks like a cherished antique.
The ceiling also got a makeover. George tapped a Richmond reclaimed-lumber business, E.T. Moore, to install a coffered ceiling using salvaged antique wood.
Antique Gothic porch posts and brackets that George found at Caravati’s—one of his favorite Richmond salvage dealers—flank the new range and are a nod to the house’s Tudor styling.
Another find at Caravati’s was a turn-of-the-20th-century porcelain sink, which George upgraded with a new faucet in an oil-rubbed bronze finish. Slate countertops around the room’s perimeter replaced the blue plastic and are another period- and status-appropriate material for the home.
Vintage light fixtures recycled from a church were encircled with hand-forged bands to create a one-of-a-kind pot rack and light fixture above the wood-topped island. The table-style island is also a study in recycling—made of old, wormy pine beams wrapped with hobnailed iron banding.
George incorporated 21st-century technologies, including energy-efficient appliances, compact fluorescent lightbulbs, and a water-conserving faucet, proving preservation and progress can beautifully cohabit.
Photography: Ron Blunt
Produced by Eileen A. Deymier
Richmond Symphony Showhouse
Interior designer: John K. George, John K. George & Co., 3000 W. Clay St., Richmond, VA 23230; 804/560-1717.
Sink (porcelain); architectural fragments for range surround; island/dining table (fabricated from wormy pine beams and hobnailed iron banding); materials for pot rack/lighting fixture: Caravati’s Inc. Architectural Salvage, 804/232-4175, caravatis.com.
Wood plank-and-beam ceiling: E.T. Moore Mfg. Inc., 804/231-1823, etmoore.com.
Slate countertops: Virginia Slate Co., 804/282-7929.
Countertop fabrication: Park Stone Granite and Marble, 804/755-6888.
Faucet (vintage-style water-saver bridge faucet): Moen, 800/289-6636, moen.com.
Ceramic tile: Morris Tile Distributors, 804/353-4427, morristile.net.
Re-fashioning cabinet doors; cabinet moldings (custom): Siewers Lumber & Millwork, 804/358-2103, siewers.com.
Cabinet color (“Homestead Green” #AC-19): Benjamin Moore & Co., 888/236-6667, benjaminmoore.com.
Cabinet hardware (solid bronze): Emtek, 800/356-2741, emtek.com.
Cabinet shelving (recycled plate glass): 4-D Discoveries Glass Co., 804/897-6340.
Gas range; vent hood; dishwasher: Whirlpool, whirlpool.com.
Accessories: Anne Marie Elles, Trappings, 804/353-5378, trappingshome.com. Flooring (restored original pine flooring, finished with soybean poly): Costen Floors, 804/527-2929, costenfloors.com.
Ceramic subway tile and accessories: American Olean, aotile.com.
Tile installation: CL Jones Tile & Marble, 804/514-9233.
Retro blue countertops and outdated appliances show that this kitchen was crying for an update. Designer John K. George maintained the layout of the original kitchen while breathing fresh new life into it with a richer palette and environmentally sound amenities. Details on the following slides.
Perimeter molding was applied to the existing cabinets, which were painted and glazed for an aged look. New Emtek bronze hardware completes the transformation.
The ceiling commanded no attention in the original kitchen; combined with the blue walls, it only served to make the room icier.
The striking new coffered ceiling was fabricated from salvaged materials, reflecting the house’s historic features while adding eye-catching texture and design elements.
Salvaged porch posts and brackets were installed on either side of the new range. The Gothic arches reflect the Tudor styling of the house and give the range wall added importance. Adding a simple black frame to the backsplash with diagonal tiling helps it stand out against the surrounding brick pattern.
A single light fixture casts a lonely glow on the kitchen island, with the chilly palette interrupted by the avocado refrigerator, an artifact from the disco days.
A new energy-saving, stainless refrigerator replaces the former, whose hue moves to the cabinets to complement the rich tones of the remodeled kitchen. Lofty twin light fixtures warm the space and provide an overhead focal point. Details on the following slides.
Refrigerator: Whirlpool, whirlpool.com.
Vintage church light fixtures and hand-forged iron straps were combined to make a distinctive and functional pot rack and light source.
Decorative iron brackets with timeworn finishes support the island’s salvaged pine-beam countertop and add texture and character to the kitchen.
The table-style island was crafted from salvaged wormy pine beams and wrapped with hobnailed iron banding. The island’s top is mounted on a trestle table base that was finished with a glaze to replicate an aged patina.
Designer John K. George saw merit in the design and function of the china cabinet, but its colors were off-putting and lackluster.
Nondescript cabinets were painted red to create a focal point breakfront in the renovated kitchen.
Breakfront color (“Caliente” #AF-290, applied with dry brush technique over white): Benjamin Moore & Co., 888/236-6667, benjaminmoore.com.
“I don’t like doing anything cookie-cutter,” designer John K. George says, “And one-of-a-kind vintage pieces give a house authentic character.”