Vintage Gumwood Cabinet Kitchen

vintage gumwood cabinet kitchen with copper hood in a 1927 home - AtticmagA 1927 gumwood cabinet kitchen has been artfully updated while preserving the original aesthetic.

In a beautiful upstate New York Tudor Revival sat a tired, cramped and dark kitchen. The room had “good bones” but the original layout had inadequate storage and tight work spaces. Gumwood was commonly used in the early 20th century and this kitchen had vividly patterned gumwood cabinets as well as leaded glass casement windows. But over the years much of the gumwood trim had been painted or removed. Luckily, this grand dame has been lovingly cared for by only two families, with the current caretakers being Deborah and Don.

view of vintage gumwood cabinet kitchen before remodeling - AtticmagDeborah purchased the home from the estate of the original owners. While she wanted a lighter and brighter space with more room to move and improved functionality, they both wanted a new kitchen that looked original and felt compelled to listen to the house.  The only facelift the room had seen from the first owners was minor — 1950’s red Formica counters. At the time of the renovation the existing kitchen had   green-blue tile and butcher block from the late 1970’s. There was deteriorating grout, old appliances and cluttered counters that created visual chaos.

vintage gumwood cabinet kitchen with inadequate counter space before remodeling - AtticmagMaking things even worse, four glass-front cabinets were grouped together on the right side of the range wall and those hovered less than twelve inches above the counter. On the opposite end, floor to ceiling cabinets left very little elbow room in the cooking alcove. Being an experienced woodworker, Don devised a plan to take the old cabinets apart, reuse the doors and drawer fronts, but build new cabinet boxes with face frames.  He was able to augment gumwood from the salvaged doors and purchase new wood from a local lumber yard. He also did all of the plumbing and electrical work required for the project.

gumwood and walnut island in vintage gumwood cabinet kitchen with copper hood and Enclume potrack in a 1927 home - Atticmag

Deborah and Don designed the gumwood and walnut island to look like a piece of furniture, with a liquor cabinet behind closed doors on this side and drawers on the other. The walnut on the island nods to walnut-stained gumwood trim in the formal rooms of the house. Natural trim and baseboard were added in the kitchen to repeat the trim found in the private areas. The original Enclumé pot rack was important for storage. After Deborah fell in love with the butterfly prints in a Cavallini calendar, Don built her frames from stock molding which she antiqued to create a beautiful wall of art in the kitchen.

bottle green Blue Star range with custom copper hood and Walker Zanger Gramercy Park tile backplash in a renovated vintage gumwood cabinet kitchen - AtticmagThe center of the main wall is now home to a bottle-green Blue Star range and custom copper hood with a Prestige blower. Having always hated the insufficiency of the old downdraft, Deborah wanted a powerful hood this time around. She splurged on a chrome Simplex tea kettle purchased on eBay — previously made in England by Newey and Bloomer Ltd.. The kettles are no longer in production.

Deborah searched for materials with a handmade feeling that also were age appropriate to the 1920s. From Vermont Marble Quarry, she chose honed Eureka Danby for the counters.  It’s a very dense white marble with brown and grey veining. The backsplash is Walker Zanger Gramercy Park in Bone China with Summer Wheat grout. Seneca Select hand-molded 6×6 tiles in Espresso and Cappuccino were chosen for the flooring. The tiles are made in Ohio and fired in original 19th-century beehive kilns. Deborah always hated the fact that shelves in her glass-door cabinets didn’t line up with the zinc leading strips so when Don rebuilt the interiors of the uppers he made sure to line them up perfectly.

low large row of uppers in gumwood cabinet kitchen with butcher block counters and drop in sink  before remodeling - AtticmagThis before picture shows the tight quarters and minimal counter space that needed correction.  Don built old-style wood frame storm windows to replace the aluminum track windows over the leaded glass casements.  This allowed more light into the room and gave Deborah permission to take down the curtains that had been used to hide the metal frames.

Rohl Shaws fireclay farmhouse sink with Perrin & Rowe chrome bridge faucet in a renovated vintage gumwood cabinet kitchen - AtticmagBeneath the casements is a Rohl Shaws single-bowl fireclay apron sink paired with a Perrin & Rowe chrome bridge faucet.  A Rancilio espresso maker and grinder are permanent residents on the counter.  To the right of the sink is a Miele dishwasher with a panel Don made from an old door.  A Miele speed oven sits next to the dishwasher (the handle can be seen in the first photo).

custom gumwood and walnut island in a vintage gumwood cabinet kitchen - AtticmagAntique brass Gilmore cup pulls from Restoration Hardware were used on the working side of the island and on the perimeter drawers and pull-outs. All the lower cabinets have pull-outs, so storage feels like it has more than doubled. A glimpse of the original Kitchenaid built-in refrigerator is seen here.  It was given new stainless steel skins from Metals By The Inch. Next on Don’s list is to make a gumwood cover for the radiator.

gumwood and walnut island in vintage gumwood cabinet kitchen with Seneca Tile checkerboard floor and replaced windows - AtticmagAntique brass latches and butt hinges from the original cabinets were reused. Don switched out the big Lightolier track cans for halogen bullets. Deborah says the new kitchen feels so much brighter and open, plus it’s easier to move around and work in, as well as access cookware and tools.  She is thrilled to have all the counter space, especially on either side of the range.

The project took well over a year, and though there were problems along the way, Deborah said it was great to design and work together.  They were fortunate to have the original gumwood cabinet look to point the way, time to do all the work, and Don’s talent to give back to their Tudor Revival home.

custom gumwood radiator cover in vintage gumwood cabinet kitchen - AtticmagUpdated 12-2-2011: Don recently built and installed the custom radiator cover.

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25 Responses to Vintage Gumwood Cabinet Kitchen

  1. Laura Trevey September 18, 2011 at 6:48 pm #

    What a beautiful kitchen… I am loving the butterfly prints on the wall ~

  2. Beth September 18, 2011 at 8:57 pm #

    This is gorgeous and very period looking, just like they wanted. The floors are my favorite!

  3. Pam @ diy Design Fanatic September 18, 2011 at 9:18 pm #

    Wow! What a treasure! I love the wood on the island!

  4. {oc cottage} September 18, 2011 at 9:40 pm #

    I am in HEAVEN! WOW!

    m ^..^

  5. Elizabeth @duckandcake September 18, 2011 at 9:57 pm #

    Deborah, I am thrilled to see your GORGEOUS kitchen rightfully featured on Atticmag. It is one of very favourites and every detail is just perfect.

    Congrats on this accolade!

    Eliz x

  6. SJ @ Homemaker On A Dime September 18, 2011 at 10:06 pm #

    Thanks for the sweet comment on my bath post.

  7. Donna September 18, 2011 at 10:20 pm #

    I love this gumwood cabinet! It is gorgeous in the kitchen.
    Thank you for visiting me :)

  8. laxsupermom September 19, 2011 at 7:52 am #

    Her kitchen turned out gorgeous! I’ve been waiting for this kitchen reveal, as she lives in my hometown and I’m very familiar with that area of homes. They did such a wonderful job with this reno! Thanks for sharing.

  9. Jane September 19, 2011 at 10:35 am #

    What an amazing transformation–it’s gorgeous! I really like the custom copper hood, and that fabulous new island looks like it came with the house. The entire kitchen looks so much more organized and functional.


  10. Hellonasty September 19, 2011 at 11:12 am #

    From a fella gardebwebber, have been following your kitchen process for a while and am very pleased to see it on It’s gorgeous, you 2 did an amazing job. Such amazing details in the room, all true to the home, looks like it’s been there forever! I’m glad Don lined up the shelves with the Zinc leading strips in the cabs :). Your blue star rocks, and i love the floor! Congrats! EV from long island

  11. Jessica September 19, 2011 at 11:28 am #

    I love that island!

  12. Diane @ home sweet homemade September 19, 2011 at 1:17 pm #

    how fortunate that they had such beautiful cupboards (and windows) in their kitchen. The finished remodel seems like such a subtle change, but I kept scrolling back to see the other pictures and they really did a great job of maintaining the classic feeling of their home. I totally remember those low-hung cabinets – my grandmother had some of those. What were builders thinking back then? :)

  13. Julia @ 551 East Design September 19, 2011 at 2:44 pm #

    I love everything about this kitchen! I’m pinning it too my pinterest! LOVE!

  14. Liz @ Designing Domesticity September 19, 2011 at 3:32 pm #

    Love the updates. Thanks for posting – always nice to get a bit more inspiration! liz @ designing domesticity

  15. Care September 19, 2011 at 6:07 pm #


    I know how much you went through to design and build this kitchen. It is stunning! Kudos to both you and your husband. Enjoy cooking in your new, lovely space.

  16. Marianne September 19, 2011 at 8:06 pm #

    This kitchen is just gorgeous. I love the gumwood cabinets and the floors are gorgeous. This is really an amazing restoration.
    Marianne :)

  17. Confessions of a Plate Addict September 19, 2011 at 9:42 pm #

    It’s gorgeous, Allison! I love that they kept the gumwood. The glass cabinet fronts and the big sink are my favorites! Happy week!…hugs..Debbie

  18. sabjimata September 20, 2011 at 6:01 am #

    Very excited to see the end of this project. Uniquely fabulous. Butterflies and all! Enjoy!

  19. Judy@In His Grip September 20, 2011 at 10:26 am #

    Love, love that apron sink. Thanks for stopping by “In His Grip” and giving me a little comment love.

  20. shelia September 20, 2011 at 10:28 am #

    What a pretty kitchen and thanks for sharing it!
    Thank you for popping in to see me.
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia 😉

  21. RHome410 September 20, 2011 at 8:38 pm #

    I’ve missed so much looking at photos of this kitchen before! I learned more and more, and was more and more amazed with every sentence. The whole kitchen is fantastically planned and the use of the repurposed wood, doors, etc. is… I don’t even know a word to explain how impressed I am and what an undertaking I think this was.

    I LOVE the butterflies, the teapot, and the other vessels to the left of the stove. The absolutely perfect finishing details.

  22. Christie September 21, 2011 at 12:11 am #

    This kitchen is lovely, Allison! My dream kitchen is brown and cream with touches of silver tarnished platters! Well done! Christie at Three PIxie Lane

  23. Marianne March 4, 2012 at 9:37 pm #

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE the gumwood and walnut island!!!!

    I have an old kitchen with gumwood cabinets. I love the cabinets as they are huge and solid; could never replace them. Unfortunately we didn’t have lower cabinets and I desperately needed some to install a counter. We purchased walnut colored cabinets. It’s close enough to make me happy but boy that island would really pull it all together. Fabulous!


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