American System-Built Home, architecture, kitchen

The Kitchen Then and Now: 1917 vs 2014


American System Built house kitchen floor plan

Finding some of the original cabinetry in the garage felt like quite an accomplishment but it’s only half the battle. Maybe even less than half. It’s probably only a quarter of the battle. In order to re-install the original cabinetry in the kitchen, we’ll need to change the floor plan back to the original layout … except, of course, we’ll want to keep the mod cons that were added when the kitchen was rehabbed back in the 1970’s. And therein lies the problem.

As you can see in the original floor plan for the kitchen (the blueprint on the left), the original kitchen cabinets that we found in the garage would be installed on the right side of the room. Looking at the layout of the kitchen right now, you’ll see that the refrigerator has now been placed in that space. At present, it looks like this:

the kitchen as-isIn order to replace the cabinetry in their original location, we’ll need to relocate the refrigerator. Referring again to the old and new floor plans, you’ll be able to see that a dishwasher is now placed where the refrigerator would have originally been located. As we’re not willing to give up the convenience of the dishwasher, we’re left pondering how we can make this work.

One thought is to replace the U-shaped cabinetry with a row of lower cabinets under the window. (We’re actually leaning toward doing that anyway.) We could then center the sink under the windows (as it is now) and place a dishwasher on that wall. That may free up enough room to put the refrigerator back in its original location.

Another option would be to cut into the closet wall to create a built-in refrigerator:

should we create a built-in refrigerator in our American System Built home?

This is not ideal for a couple of reasons. For starters, we not keen on changing the original layout of the house. Secondly, this would mean losing much of the space in the coat closet. We actually use that closet often – for our own coats, jackets and bags as well as our guests’.

It’s going to be quite some time before we’re ready to tackle this project and maybe we’ll come up with a better solution in the meantime. Perhaps we could switch out the big refrigerator with a smaller unit? Maybe we could find some other built-in refrigeration system that could work somewhere in the kitchen?

If you have any ideas of your own, feel free to share them. We’re open to all suggestions!

Images: This American House

You Might Also Like


  • Reply Will 05/20/2014 at 3:45 pm

    can you relocate the dishwasher next to the stove? then the fridge can go back to the original spot… or would you consider purchasing an under-counter fridge/freezer (which I love because you can fit full party platters, etc in there) which could be installed on the long wall of cabinets where the fridge currently is and still keep all that nice counter space?

    • Reply Jason 05/21/2014 at 7:47 am

      We have indeed considered an under-counter fridge. We could then keep a full sized refrigerator in the basement or garage.

  • Reply Dan 05/20/2014 at 8:40 pm

    I like the original floor plan. I’d go back to that and put the dishwasher under the counter next to the sink (where it should be anyway).

    • Reply Jason 05/21/2014 at 7:48 am

      Yes, putting the dishwasher next to the sink would be ideal. There wouldn’t be much room for a dishwasher with a swing-down door, however. We’d probably have to opt for a drawer dishwasher to make it work.

  • Reply Chelly 05/21/2014 at 1:17 pm

    I was thinking you could put the dishwasher next to the stove as well. The one issue I see with getting rid of the U layout for a straight row of cabinets on the sink wall, is that both ends will have significant wasted space where you wont easily be able to access the contents of the cabinets – unless you do those corner cabinets that swing out from the adjacent cabinet door (wow, that is not written well, but i don’t know how else to describe it.)
    As for the dishwasher, you could even consider getting a smaller, 18″ dishwasher to save a little space.

    • Reply Jason 05/22/2014 at 7:35 am

      Yes, Chelly, we probably end up with a smaller dishwasher to make the most of the small kitchen. I like the idea of corner cabinets … maybe that would work!

  • Reply Greg 06/01/2014 at 12:07 am

    Sorry can’t remember what the new (old cabinets) look like but was wondering about moving the fridge to the stove location and retro-fitting a cooktop/ oven setup into the newly re-installed cabinets on the long wall opposite the sink would lose some of the cabinet space but allows you to keep the dishwasher and sink where they are now, make a feature of the cabinets and cooking space and solves issues of accessibility and doors opening into the room etc.

  • Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.