Most people covet the latest technologies for their kitchens, but Kate Grussing isn’t one of them. The freelance textiles designer bought her 1941 home in St. Louis Park’s Minikahda Vista neighborhood in part because she fell in love with its original Roper range. Grussing knew the postage stamp-sized kitchen would require renovating to make it more functional for her family—with 11-year-old twin boys, she at least hoped for a microwave and a place for them to perch while she cooked. But she wanted the Roper, with its porcelain exterior, two full ovens and built-in minute timer, to drive the style of her new kitchen. Jean Rehkamp Larson, principal at Rehkamp Larson Architects in Minneapolis, a friend of Grussing’s from college, was only too happy to bring the vintage vision to life.
❶ Breathing Room
Grussing hunted for appliances that would play along with her Roper range, which had a six-month makeover at a Roper “spa” in Arizona. She picked up her vintage-look Elmira appliances at DirectBuy. Rehkamp Larson then designed a “wing” off the back of the home to allow for light on three sides and convinced Grussing to limit the upper cabinets to one wall. That allows the wonderful refrigerator, range, and hood the breathing room they need to stand out.
❷ Head to Toe
Remember photos of great old working kitchens? They were tiled from head to toe, as if you could just take a hose to the whole thing for cleaning. Grussing wisely installed marble subway tile all the way to the ceiling for that old-time working kitchen feel, but it works just as well in today’s kitchens. Give it a try; you get a lot of bang for the buck.
❸ Mix Master
Rehkamp Larson added plenty of little somethings to take this kitchen from ordinary to extraordinary. The home’s exterior includes scalloped trim, which she adopted for use on the island, hood, and feet of the cabinets. The metal grill inserted into the cabinet doors below the sink is another period element, and Rehkamp Larson was lucky enough to find cabinet hinges and pulls that are almost identical to those used in the original kitchen. If you are renovating your own vintage kitchen, study photos from the past to discover design details that will add panache.
Alecia Stevens is a Minneapolis writer and interior designer.
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