December 3, 2010
My Old House: The Kitchen
When you walk into the main part of my house from the mudroom, you enter the room that I think of as its heart, the kitchen/dining room. Here is where I cook my meals (the prep is done in the pantry, which I'll show in the next post) and eat them, where I sit with my cup of tea or coffee, reading. I don't know if I spend more hours here, in that gray chair, than I do at my desk or in my studio/tv room, but it feels as if I do. I had mentioned in a comment on the mudroom that it was the spiffiest room in the house, and here you can see the old painted fake wood paneling on walls, the composite ceiling, the almost-ancient linoleum tiles on the floor. But it has its charm and I love it.
Where you see the gas range is a large alcove where there used to be a huge chimney with 3 fireplaces––for kitchen, living room and back room––that heated the house in years past. Now the woodstove, which I wrote about here, sends its smoke up a new chimney.
Turning toward the right, you can see my drop leaf dining table, with another between the two front windows. You'll notice that I don't have any matching chairs in the house; I bought them one by one in the days when you could get nice old wooden chairs for 5 or 10 dollars. I'd like to point out the wainscoting under the windows: it runs across the entire room, which is about 13 feet wide, and is 2 feet high, all one board! The wonderful thing about this house is that very little had been done to it, so all the original woodwork, hand planed, probably from first growth forest, is still here. I spent several years stripping the woodwork (using non-toxic stripper) throughout the house of generations of paint. What remains is a mottled array of color.
On the right, the artwork is firstly one of my hooked ruglets, then a painting by Tom Leddy, with two paintings by G. Roy Levin under that.
This next view shows the old hutch which I had bought while still living in New York City; it works perfectly in this house. The refrigerator is on the west facing wall alongside the door to the mudroom. This kitchen arrangement, with the stove on one side of the room, the fridge on the other, and the sink in the pantry, is not the most efficient, but I'm certainly used to it.
Artwork seen here to the right of the window: Leonard Dufresne, Gwen Fabricant, the shoes by Susan Jane Walp, then the small abstraction by Jim Long, G. Roy Levin's painted clothespins, and along the railing, cows by Helen Rabin. To the right of the hutch are some of my works, a small sculpted Sacred Heart by a student at LSU, where I taught some years ago, and a tiny cityscape by Dag Fyri.
As winter approaches and the sun lowers in the sky, light enters further into the room. The house faces south, so I receive some passive solar heating on nice days.
An old ladder back chair is usually my clothes tree for sweaters worn around the house, as it's a bit too fragile to use often for seating.
Here are two still life arrangements, of pottery on the hutch, and metal objects atop the woodstove, punctuated by a digital kitchen timer, which I cannot do without.
I wanted to show this picture of the door to the mudroom because of the history in its surface, evidence of the past that I find very touching. There are deep vertical grooves in the wood one or two feet above the floor, which must have been made by a dog, or generations of dogs, scratching at the door to get out.
And below are two details of the variegated colors showing on the woodwork, remnants of different layers of paint laid down over nearly 200 years, with dark red as the base color. The details make beautiful little abstract paintings, enlivening my funky little house.