Simple Updates for an Older Victorian Kitchen with a Modern Twist

From on February 26, 2008 in Kitchen Remodel

victorian kitchens

Out with the old and in with the new - the saying just doesn’t ring true in a Victorian kitchen. All that history can translate into a modern-day space with lots of character and charm. It’s more about striking a balance between grand Victorian style and simple contemporary tastes.

Let the history of the Victorian kitchen inspire you
. It’s already got a track record for being a place of rebirth. While the Victorian era was taking place in the late 19th Century, the Industrial Revolution was changing the way people cooked, preserved, and ate their food. It was a time when cheese graters and potato peelers made their first appearance, along with canned food and can openers. The electric range was also new on the scene, along with the aluminum saucepan. So rather than living in a Victorian kitchen that resembles a museum, let it continue to be a place of reinvention for you. Here are some simple updates to help get your own ideas flowing.

white kitchen cabinetsCreative Cabinetry

So your Victorian’s still got its original board and batten cabinets in medium-toned wood with a grainy surface. You want to keep the rich woodwork but make the look more modern. If you want to keep the original cabinets, try accenting them with elegant details. For instance,

  • Add a flat trim to the cabinet faces
  • Reface, then brighten them with fresh paint, with insets in a complementary color
  • Convert some higher cabinets into glass-covered display racks
  • Replace the hardware with new pulls or use decorative knobs
  • Replace the original countertops with something new, such as marble or slate

Victorian kitchens are blessed with high ceilings. If you are replacing the cabinets altogether, you have the option of building up with taller cabinets for more storage.

Lightening Up

Victorians used dark colors, which complemented the richness and opulence exuded by their homes. The typically large Victorian kitchen can open up all the more with some brightening techniques, such as the following:

  • It’s not uncommon to find wallpaper in the Victorian kitchen, with something along the lines of a dark burgundy and olive green enmeshed with a busy cream print. One suggestion – replace this with lighter paint, but translate the flowery theme of the original paper to the details of the room. For instance, use wall moldings with an ornamental flower trim, put up light, lace curtains with a flower print, or insert a flower emblem on your cabinet knobs.
  • Dark vinyl floors imitating a brick print are typical in older Victorian kitchens. But what’s underneath? You may be pleasantly surprised to find the original pine or even stone floor. These can be refinished in their natural coloring for a cozy, modern Victorian kitchen.
  • Since you replaced those countertops, what about a new backsplash? Beadboard might complement the Victorian country aura, while aluminum can take it to the next stage.

victorian detailsDetails, Details

After all, that’s what Victorian homes are known for. You’ve got those gloriously tall windows, now what are you going to do with them? What about placing an awning window on top with stained glass? Or utilizing the space underneath higher placed windows to create a window seat? Of course, there’s always the well-suited possibility of new trim. And we haven’t even gotten to faucet finishes and sink types…but you get the idea. Hopefully, by now, you have many!

If you’re ready to get to work on your Victorian kitchen, trust your ideas to a reliable kitchen contractor who’s passed stringent CalFinder certification standards. Our service to homeowners is free. Tell us about your project, and we’ll get you started with free estimates.


How to Restore and Decorate a Victorian Kitchen