Designing a Contemporary Kitchen for Your 100-year-old House


Older houses are blessed with a unique character, the walls imbued with mystery and history. Unfortunately, they do need an upgrade once in a while. Many homeowners with older properties choose to renovate functional rooms like the kitchen or bathroom. The kitchen has become the hub of many of our family homes, so getting the decor and atmosphere right is as crucial as the fittings and fixtures. 

Renovating a kitchen in any property is a tall order – there are many factors to consider. Even more so in an old house, where you’ll have to ask yourself many questions, not only about the functionality and layout of your new kitchen, but also whether it fits in with the rest of your old property. Here are a few things to think about. 

Preparation and Design 

When designing a new kitchen it’s important to start by looking at the state and layout of your current one. Plan how you will use the space, whether you want to change the intrinsic design or keep roughly to the existing layout – look at the pluses and minuses in each instance. Your plans should be as detailed as possible, with measurements – the last thing you need is to splash out on a new cooker which ends up being too big. If you have doubts – and a budget – consult a kitchen designer to help you at this stage. 


Buying new materials for a kitchen can be costly, and the choices available are so plentiful that it can become an overwhelming experience. So, why not let your previous kitchen dictate the look to you? Upcycle wood, tiling, and work surfaces. Preserving as much original material from the kitchen as possible will make it much easier to retain that original classical spirit your old house possesses – as well as saving you a pretty penny. Wood in older houses is often much sturdier than new builds, and may just require a polish to bring up the goodness. If you’re lucky enough to have mosaic backsplashes or excellent old tiled or wood floors give them a deep clean to make them shine again. 

Making ‘Modern’ Work

You may want to have a kitchen that sits in contrast to the rest of the space. Modern looking kitchens can be made to work within an old house, though picking the right design is crucial (here again, you may want to seek professional help from an interior designer). A sleek and elegant space with chrome and smoked glass could be a striking offset to the rest of the house, as well as having the advantages of modern fittings and fixtures. However, care and attention is needed to make sure that you don’t compromise the property’s original, old-time elegance, or create a space which clashes badly with its surroundings. 

Details and Accessories 

Once again upcycling older accessories can be a nice way to keep the vintage vibe alive in your kitchen. Juxtaposing older work surfaces and shelving units with modern storage jars can be a good solution, and easy on the eye. If you do need to upgrade large items such as refrigerators or cookers then consider how they look in your space (and how big they are). 

Want to be a social cook? Plan (and measure) for an island – plenty of space for friends to enjoy a glass of wine whilst you prepare food, or some extra workspace if you are trying something more elaborate. If you have materials available from the original kitchen be sure to utilize these in some ways in the island, or in the accessories you choose. As mentioned before, you may prefer to use more modern storage solutions, but these can be integrated easily into an old style kitchen, or hidden from view in cupboard space. 

The role of the kitchen within the modern home has changed dramatically in the last century. Once a place to toil over a hot stove, it has become a much more sociable place. By marrying modern methods to older decor you can create your perfect kitchen and get the best of both worlds.

Bethany Seton is a real estate agent from Melbourne, interested in the interior design. For the last two years, she decided to leave her office job and follow her passion for writing and travelling. Currently, she travels with her laptop and writes for various blogs, hoping one day she will gather all the experience she gets in one book.

Share this article

About The Kitchen Think

For everything you need to help you buy your perfect kitchen! From the latest trends to essential planning tools and tips, this area of The Kitchen Think Blog has it all!!!

  Email:  The Kitchen Think


Leave a comment