Sunday, July 19, 2009

high-grade fever

To everyone who is watching with bated breath the progress of my latest obsession, I am pleased to report that I am still deeply in its throes. I was originally planning to post, at some point, my notions about the very perfectest kitchen color scheme (there was a house for sale nearby that had a photograph of the kitchen, and I realized that it was the platonically perfect model of a kitchen color scheme, at least in my mind. Sadly I did not save the photograph and the house appears already to have sold. They also had a magnificent color scheme in the bathroom, complete with clawfoot tub with black enameled sides - had never seen one before but I was smitten. I guess it's no surprise it sold quickly, even in this market). Aforesaid color scheme had neat white cupboards, a dusty, slightly grayish blue paint color, and a white tile backsplash. It was the color of blue that was really striking, and I am confident I can find a paint chip in the proper color when the time comes.

But I did not realize that my fixation would progress so much as it has. A friend mentioned yesterday that it was possible to find building and renovation materials for sale on Craig's List - it hadn't occurred to me to look there for tile, for example. I believe I searched for countertops. And then I found something unexpected. Of course, there are clawfoot bathtubs for sale...and for $100-$300, a quite modest price for a tub, especially a lovely antique one, solid enough to last many years, that will require no custom-fitting of a surround.

But it gets better. For what did I stumble upon by accident, but antique stoves!

I really know nothing about stoves, so I can't tell when it dates from. But it was so charming that suddenly my brain fevered over with an idea. The stove in the house does need replacing eventually; I'm sure it works now but it's a rather older model, small, and electric. (This does raise the question of whether the kitchen is fitted for a gas stove, but it has to be, right??? Electric stoves are a comparatively new thing.) What if I got an antique stove instead of a contemporary one? My original plan had been to find a used restaurant stove - with the giant, super-hot ovens and large burners. Restaurants sell things off sometimes, and commercial stoves don't change in fashion so often as home-use ones, so it would look a little more timeless, and I might even learn to get my pizza cheese to blister properly.

But what about an antique one? A number of objections struck me immediately. The oven is of course quite small. I'd like to be able to make lots of cookies, or a big turkey, or a main course and sides all at once. What would I do - buy a convection oven and install it elsewhere in the kitchen? The kitchen is smallish. Also, whether they work is anybody's guess. Supposing they do, I can't imagine how you install one. And if it needs repair, it would require a real craftsman - surely an expensive undertaking. Also, what if the internal parts have invisibly worn, and it leaks gas? It could be unsafe.

Finally, my love of things antique has some boundaries - I like antique sinks and tubs, but I intend to use plumbing; I like antique cupboards, but I wouldn't use an antique refrigerator because they're impractical, and they always look retro rather than antique. Am I taking things too far?

But this one clearly has plenty of oven space...

It supposedly dates to the 1930s. I don't know what to think about the color, but I imagine it would serve all my cooking and baking needs. It would take up a lot of space, too, of course...

This one apparently dates to the late 1920s (the age of the house). It seems to be a more moderate size; it's maybe just a little shy on oven space, but appears to accomodate very tall pots...? But who wants to lean down that far to reach the stovetop? It's really cute, though, right?

This one dates to 1925. It wouldn't take up too much room, is supposedly working, has a decent-sized cooktop, and an almost normal-sized oven (doesn't it? Am I deluding myself?). And it's so fetching!

This one is 1933 or younger. Despite the staging, I am persuaded that the cover on the top conceals a cooktop, not a washing machine. But why build such a large item and devote so little of it to the oven???

This one doesn't really belong in the collection under consideration, as it dates from the 1900s (wrong era - dearly though I love that decor!) and is wood-burning, not gas. But just look at it:

Anyway, with these fevered musings, I leave you. If anybody has any information on the practicality of antique gas stoves, I would dearly welcome it (the internet was most unhelpful). I am off to Charlottesville this evening, but will have my computer with me, and intend to keep up on who else gets pregnant in the next two weeks (it's been a regular epidemic lately!).


  1. I love the stoves! I don't think the question is whether the kitchen is outfitted for a gas stove, but whether there is a gas line run to the house. If not, that's where it gets expensive. I love the white 1920's one! Very cute :)

  2. Hey! Wow, I don't have any experiences with old stoves, but those sure are classics!

    Just sent you an email to your blog-associated email...I think you mentioned once that you don't check it often, so I just wanted to give you a heads up!

  3. i love the stoves!!! my fertile best friend's cottage has a gorgeous antique stove in the living room although it doesn't work.

    isn't craigslist awesome???

  4. Do you ever watch 30 minute meals with Rachael Ray? she uses an antique gas stove on that show and it seems to work just fine for her.

  5. I love the wood burning stove. That's where you'll get that perfect pizza cheese blister. :) And bread baked in the ashes of a wood fire--it's a whole other dimension of yum.

    I dream of building a bread oven/tandoor/whatever you want to call it outside once we get our farm. That would let us comfortably bake bread and stuff year round (instead of making the house hellish in summer and/or defeating the purpose of an air conditioner).