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Old 02-14-2009, 11:55 PM   #1
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Old Kitchens

I don't really know where this belongs. I live in a house built in 1854. I have all the modcons, but there are some times when the layout of the house or the fact that we have no central A/C, or that when it hits below zero ... well, anyone else have an old house, and how do you deal with the problems?

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Old 02-15-2009, 01:39 AM   #2
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Old House

My house in Eureka, NV was built in 1878.
It has been completely remodeled inside. Lowered ceilings, wall to wall carpet, etc. We heat with a pellet stove and electric baseboard heaters. Closing off the part of the house that we don't use.
Very large kitchen, with a 6 ft. electric baseboard heater. It takes for ever to heat when the temp is in the 20's or colder. I have been known to assist it with the oven, using caution.

We only go there from May to October. We are at 6,481 ft. and get snow the first week are so most every May We have had snow in June and September.
Break out the "WOOLIES".

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Old 02-16-2009, 08:26 AM   #3
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As I said, the main part of our house was built in 1854. I do not know when the kitchen addition was put on, but have it on previous owners' children's word that it was there around the turn of the century. We have baseboard heat, which judging from other previous owners was probably put in during the late 60s (1960s that is!), before that the house was heated by a coal or wood burning stove in most rooms, and fireplaces in what was the front parlor downstairs and what we use as the master bedroom upstairs (the oldest part of the house). The heat was not able to keep up, though, in the worst weather last month. I started supplementing it with the oven, as you describe, but do you know what works better? get all four burners at high, and put a pot of water on each burner, and let that water boil (refilling periodically). While you're at it, this is a good time to make a hearty soup or stew. Oh, a good time to ladle out some of that water for a cup or pot of tea. Warms the kitchen better than the oven, and adds some much needed humidity to the air. As in many old homes, the bathroom is attached to the kitchen, and that room is at the end of the house and really gets cold. I often wake at o'dark-thirty and start a load of laundry to keep the water flowing, then go back to sleep. On the worst days this winter, I run the shower in that room on high and hot until the room is full of steam. Yes, my water bill will be a bear, but probably cheaper than what some around town (most of us live in 100+ year old homes) are paying for frozen and burst pipes.
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Old 02-16-2009, 08:29 AM   #4
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I remember living at high altitude in Nevada. I remember learning to cook, but having to look for special recipes for baked goods. Mom was sicker than a dog when we first moved there, for some reason it didn't affect us kids (I've had altitude sickness once since then, only when I've flown to a high altitude location; when we drive it is gradual enough that it doesn't affect me).
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Old 02-16-2009, 08:37 AM   #5
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You might be able to install electric heat wrap tape on your water pipes and can add RV antifreeze to your drain traps and toilet tank.
Sounds like you might have room for and benefit from having an Aga cooker in your kitchen-
http://www.agafoodservice.com/1766.htm
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Old 02-16-2009, 10:03 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by justplainbill View Post
You might be able to install electric heat wrap tape on your water pipes and can add RV antifreeze to your drain traps and toilet tank.
Sounds like you might have room for and benefit from having an Aga cooker in your kitchen-
A home with an Aga cooker can use less energy than one without

A few years ago I had the pleasure of dining in a stone cottage in rural Derbyshire England, and the cottage had an Aga....I asked to come back and take a photo of it, it was incredible.....pricey but really really nice.
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Old 02-16-2009, 10:27 AM   #7
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I'm not sure when my house was built but it was not originally built with central heat. It had a pot belly stove and there is stilll a whole in the kitchen where the original piping went from the stove in the kitchen to the central "room" in the hopes that the heat would circulate from there. My house is literally a star and the "room" is the center of a 5 pointed star. It's been upgraded but every six months we have to patch cracks in the drywall and repaint (or ignore the big cracks). Central heat was put in and the current owner put in an amazing heating/cooling system and insulated the heck out of the place. The sound is horrid, I can't hear the television in the kitchen and they share a common wall. It's a quirky little house but I like it.
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Old 02-16-2009, 12:25 PM   #8
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A few years ago I had the pleasure of dining in a stone cottage in rural Derbyshire England, and the cottage had an Aga....I asked to come back and take a photo of it, it was incredible.....pricey but really really nice.
Sure wish I had room for an Aga in my tiny abode but I guess it's better suited for cooler climates or people with more powerful A/C.
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Old 02-17-2009, 05:38 AM   #9
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An Aga? Have you priced them? You must live in a different financial zone than I do! It wouldn't be practical anyway, don't they stay hot all the time? I don't have central A/C and summers would be a bear. They are lovely, though. I went to a store somewhere (can't remember where, I think maybe in Indiana) that was geared to people who don't or can't (don't because they are Amish; can't because they live out in the boonies) use public utilities. The stoves (Aga was just one brand, there were several) were so beautiful, but very, very, very expensive.
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Old 02-17-2009, 06:43 AM   #10
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The Aga is usually kept on all the time. That's why I mentioned A/C. Guess it's a matter of priorities; I'd rather have an Aga than stuff like cable TV, central A/C or a fancy boat. You should be able to shut an Aga down for the summer.
Glad to hear you've at least seen one.
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Old 02-17-2009, 07:02 AM   #11
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Back to your original post, with respect to lack of air conditioning; you may be aware that some folks of modest means used to have a summer kitchen in the basement. A lotta rich folks housed their summer kitchens in separate detached buildings and the super rich (FDR types) had summer homes in places like northern Maine/Canada eg Campobello.
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Old 02-17-2009, 09:43 AM   #12
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I grew up in a home that was over 100 yrs old (way back then!), and I loved it. My dad was very handy, and he put in new wiring and insulation, built kitchen cabinets and such. But while an old house has a lot of charm and personality, there are things you have to learn to live with, like clanging radiators and cracks that keep reappearing in the ceiling.
Kinda like us older women...if you can look past the crow's feet and varicose veins, we can be quite charming.
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Old 02-17-2009, 09:04 PM   #13
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The building we are in is circa 1850. There are two downfalls to the kitchen. Three actually if you count the windows. There are only two electrical outlets in the kitchen, one for the fridge, one over the counter. None on any of the other walls. The water is another problem. the cold water pressure is non existent. If I have to fill a stock pot with cold water, I use the bathroom sink. If anyone in the house, upstairs or down takes a shower, does laundry, anything, no water trickles out any tap. The windows are so old, they rattle with the slightest breeze. Most of the walls are all cement. I need to get special nails to hang anything.

The good? The wndows are huge, I love them. The ceilings are high, the rooms are large. I've learned to adapt. Not that I don't curse once in a while.
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Old 02-17-2009, 10:23 PM   #14
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Hello. I am surprised to see how many live in older houses. I live in two houses, one is an old cotton plantation (1850) deep in the country and the other on the outside of a small town (1853). Neither one had a kitchen in the house originally, as they were detached because of the fire hazard. The distance was not considered much of a problem as both had ample servants at that time. The kitchen was moved into the raised basement of the plantation in the 40's, and the original kitchen was used in the house near town until the late 1970's when it was abandoned and the kitchen moved into the old dining room wing.

As I am a great respecter and lover of period architecture, nothing has been done to either kitchen for convenience sake. Things are placed in respect for original windows or doors, fireplaces, etc. And yes, I have fireplaces in both of my kitchens. (I even have a fireplace in the bathroom at the plantation.)

It is quirky to be sure, but inasmuch as I have lived in them pretty much my whole life, it doesnt seem that unusual to me. The trade-off is that both houses are almost totally original, I have huge windows, period moldings and beautiful fireplace mantels, wonderful large rooms with great proportions and 13 ft ceilings in the house near town and 15 Ft in the country.

To me it is a fine trade-off, and certainly none of my friends has a kitchen with anywhere near as much atmosphere as either. I do have to be careful how many appliances I turn on at once as the wiring is still not heavy-duty in the kitchen area, although that is on the "Master Plan."

Another upside (not often needed, however) is that about once every 3-4 years when we have a terrible power outage in the middle of winter, and once during Hurricane Katrina, I have no problem cooking. The last big winter storm we were out for 8 days, and during Katrina it was 13 days. I just used the fireplace and it was no big deal.

Usually if I have some city folks coming I will make a fire in the kitchen fireplace just for the atmosphere for them, although I dont do that all that all the time for myself. A kitchen in an old house is different, but I just accept is as part of a total package, and see it as a better-than-fair trade-off.
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Old 02-17-2009, 11:07 PM   #15
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Your houses sound wonderful! Unfortunately, the current owner, or someone before him, chose to paint all the baseboards, window mouldings, doors, on both floors a very dark blue. If I live to be 100, I couldn't strip it all by myself. I'm sure your kitchen ( and the rest of the house) have great atmosphere, and it seems like you really enjoy it.
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Old 02-18-2009, 12:02 AM   #16
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I love old houses. I would like to see pictures. I live in a small apartment.
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Old 02-18-2009, 11:22 AM   #17
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My house was built in 1872, and my kitchen was once a separate building, connected to the main house by a covered walkway. The walkway area was enclosed and now houses a bathroom/laundryroom and my computer nook.

I was lucky--someone else rehabbed the kitchen about 20 years ago, so I have a relatively modern kitchen with nice oak cabinets. I don't have enough electrical outlets, of course, or a phone jack. And because the original kitchen was built without a crawlspace or cellar, the plumbing is under the floor, and only accessible by cutting holes.
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