Thursday, June 21, 2007

A Steampunk Kitchen



A steampunk kitchen is a challenge. Victorian kitchens were dark, hidden spaces not the center of a home kitchens are today. I recently ran across this kitchen in an early 90s design book --
Mary Gilliatt's Shortcuts to Great Decorating (the kitchen itself was designed by Pedro Guedes)and immediately thought it would appeal to steampunk aficionados.

What makes this kitchen steampunk, to me, is the wonderful woodworking and the cluttered "laboratory" feel of it.

The cabinets, I'm afraid, are custom work, and would require finding a local woodworker to manufacture for you (unless you happened to be particularly talented yourself in that way). The closest I could find online were craftsman style cabinets at kitchen design stores like Mosaik Design in Portland, Oregon.

I did find a pair of concertina arm brass lamps, like the ones pictured, at an online antiques site for -- gulp -- £358 pair.

The white marble counter top? Again, pricey, but available at most kitchen design places or even your big box home improvement stores. Apartment Therapy had a good article on white marble counter tops a while back.

Gooseneck faucets are easy to find. Here's one at online retailer Plumbing World.

What about the clutter? Do you really need my suggestions on that? I'd get a test tube spice rack. Store your pastas and beans in plain sight or in glass doored cabinets in old fashioned looking glass jars. Fill in with neat containers found in thrift stores or antique shops.

Spending this kind of money on a kitchen doesn't quite strike me as a steampunk approach to things -- where's the reuse? Where's the do it yourself? If you like the look, I'd suggest a lot of patience and looking at unfinished furniture stores, Ebay and architectural salvage yards. I think you could create something with a similar feel -- perhaps with a commission to build a spice rack like the one towards the left in the picture -- with quite a bit of ingenuity.

14 comments:

Sara said...

I think you could achieve a look with a similar feel (although certainly not exactly "similar looking")in nearly any kitchen for pretty cheap.

Remove the cabinet doors & hinges (be sure to save them in case you decide you don't want to have to keep your cabinets neat all the time!).

Visit thrift stores in search of old/fancy boxes, bottles and etc. Old wooden jewlry sized curio cabinets are just the thing, and can often be had quite cheap. Look for old tackle-boxes, tool-boxes and similar as well. Call your grandpa and offer to clean out his garage. :)

Paint or stain some of the boxes, if they are ugly looking.

Also keep your eyes open for cool old dishes which are routinely less than $5 a box. A couple of mismatched victorianesque sets mixed together would be lovely.


Next, transfer all your pantry goods into your boxes, bottles and jars. If you ask everyone you know to save their jars for you, you can collect a surprising number in various sizes quite fast. (Another trick: raid the recycling bin in an apartment building). Wear gloves.

Build a small under-cabinet shelf (as pictured). You could also put small lights under the cabinets (wired or batteries, depending on your handiness)

When you have a large selection of bottles, jars, boxes, etc, arrange all of your stuff on the shelves of your cabinets. If the cabinet shelves are moveable, stagger them to make it look less regular. Mix tacks of dishes with pantry items.

For th countertop, depending on budget/own-vs-rent considerations and etc, you can either use real stone, fake stone, butcher block or etc. I think the matte black finish they put on lab-tables would be easy to duplicate (although slightly out of period, but evocative). If the counters are plain and/or wood or stone looking, I'd leave them alone.

Enjoy your new kitchen.

ps-Despite the ordering above, it seems most sensible to begin collecting things well before you remove your cabinet doors.

Sarah said...

I think apothecary jars would be neat as a substitute for the sort of jars you use for flour and sugar. ttp://www.amazon.com/Glass-Apothecary-Jar-15-Inches/dp/B000E3TP2W

A more affordable way to get granite countertops is to get the sort that fit over your current countertops, like a veneer. http://www.granitetransformations.com/home.html

I think that filling your kitchen with little boxes and such would kind of be a pain in the ass. I think it would look neat, but I think I would never want to cook in my kitchen again. However, it might be nice for a few cabinets to be done that way. You can also, after taking off the cabinet doors and hinges, hang little curtains over the openings.

Sara said...

Hi Sarah (and sara -- is it just me or are there a lot of us?) I like all these ideas -- Sara, you've got lots of good ideas for doing this style yourself, which is much more steampunk than my ideas. (I felt like I needed to add some content other than "I saw this cool picture of a kitchen"). Sarah -- I added your apothecary jars to the kaboodle shopping list -- I agree they are very steampunk looking. I was a bit disappointed in the granite countertops -- I really like the white with strong black veins in it, and none of their's quite fit the bill.

I saw this awesome brass kitchen island light today at Home Depot, but I can't find it online. It's this one,
but in brass instead of silver.

Sara said...

Someone named Sara(h) said:
"I think that filling your kitchen with little boxes and such would kind of be a pain in the ass. I think it would look neat, but I think I would never want to cook in my kitchen again. However, it might be nice for a few cabinets to be done that way."

I actually agree, but it might be nice to put some stuff in jars and boxes. Rice and noodles and whatnot. It would keep out mice/bugs as well.

Laura said...

To add to your shopping list:

Lab Glass and Vessels for teacher's budget prices from American Science and Surplus
http://www.sciplus.com/category.cfm?subsection=4

I'd recommend their Bomex separatory funnels with ground glass stoppers and petcocks.

labware by modus
a pricy addition to the "lab" feeling you're wanting to create in your kitchen.

http://www.unicahome.com/p13695/modus-designs/home-lab-13-element-kitchen-kit-by-modus.html

Art supply stores often have reasonably priced lab equipment and Archie Mc Fee's occasionally has gasmaks and surplus lab equipment on sale (along with other essential items)at http://www.mcphee.com/categories/list.html

starrschaos said...

I love ebay and such sites sometimes. I think this would be perfect in a good Steampunk kitchen. though i prefer the look and clean feel of glas as few copper and brass containers like this would be wonderful. http://cgi.ebay.com/8-PC-VINTAGE-COPPER-CANISTER-SET-excellent-find_W0QQitemZ230163514291QQihZ013QQcategoryZ20654QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

Happy said...

I am currently building a green house and am planning on creating a steampunk style in as many areas as I can for this.
One thing that I plan on creating is a plumbing system that will allow me to direct water to different areas of the green house. I'll be using a complicated series of pipes and valves to achieve this effect. I also plan to incorporate some pressure meters on the different pipes for no other reason than it would look cool.
I thinks that this would be pretty cool in your steampunk kitchen as well.
For an example of what I'm talking about, watch the first part of "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets", when Harry arrives at the Burrow. Look above the kitchen sink at the # of pipes used.

Sara said...

starrschaos -- I love that idea -- copper canisters like those should be relatively easy to find at a thrift shop, too.

happy -- I'll have to check it out. I like the idea of the Burrow for inspiration -- it's an absurd, magical house, which fits the steampunk vibe pretty well.

Muggie said...

Cool idea! We have a 1942 home that tends to slip into a bit of Steampunk. Like what you are doing.

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Suzann said...

These kitchens look really amazing! If it was possible, I would've used this kitchen's design for my house. But I guess I'll just have to settle with the pictures here.

Suzann Herny

mahesh said...

I actually enjoyed reading through this posting.Many thanks. Used Kitchen Equipment

Teo Robinson said...

I would like to have the chance of create a similar thing in my house I love your house it looks amazing safemeds

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