The “Unfitted” Kitchen

Rimforsa carts from Ikea. Two of my future freestanding counter units

My 1920s kitchen seems to have been remodeled at least twice over the years. From what I can tell it had work done in the mid 90s and the 1970s. Originally, our circa 1924 kitchen didn’t have a refrigerator but instead had a counter height ice box. Coal burned in a stove. It’s a kitchen that has attempted to modernize for decades and each time has missed the mark.

When our stove broke down, we knew it was time to once again remodel the kitchen. My first thought as I glanced around at some 1970s custom and additional 1990s custom cabinetry was “what a waste!” The thought of ripping everything out and starting fresh while sounding fun also sounded wasteful. However, the 1990s remodel already tried to put a face lift on an old dated kitchen and it was terribly impractical. The single basin sink was miles away from the garbage can. The prep area shared too little space with landing for the sink & stove. The refrigerator was stuck in the very center of the kitchen and was a monster in size and proportion. The cabinetry while custom was falling apart. I was down to one functioning drawer.

I started to ask myself the question, “When did it become necessary to remodel a kitchen?”. Answer: the 1950s. Yup until 70 years ago, we were content. Sure we updated from open flames to wood to coal and from cellar to icebox, but for the most part we were content. WHAT CHANGED? The answer: Built in cabinetry! YUP counter tops and built in cabinets are the culprits. It was discovered that if you built them in, you didn’t have to provide backs, legs, and construction became cheaper. Before this point, everything in a kitchen was free standing. Kitchens had kitchen tables, hoosier cabinets, hutches. Built in cabinetry let alone built in appliances were not yet introduced. Also it was marketed to housewives around the 1950s that they needed the newest and latest kitchen trends. Gross! I thought. I don’t want to have an HGTV kitchen. I don’t want something just because it has been marketed to me. Or do I? My appliances were breaking. My kitchen layout was not functional.

Rebuilding my kitchen was necessary, but how could I do it in the most practical and historic way? Obviously I’m not going to go back to an icebox. Even though I might have spent hours searching for under-counter refrigerators…..Not really available for normal Americans just yet. As much as I’m tempted, I’m not going to get a 1920s stove. What I am implementing is a fully free standing or as REMODELISTA coined an “unfitted kitchen”. Instead of cabinetry that’s builtin, it will be furniture that is movable or removable as the need arrises. I’d like to think that I’m awesome, and I am. But maybe not as original as I’d like to claim. We are all victims to our times, and it seems my unfitted kitchen while not the norm is an up and coming trend.


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