The 1900s villa kitchen is a highly sought after design, but one that is often done so, so wrong.
In New Zealand some of the first houses we had were that villa style. The one storied, spacious layout was popular on the coastlines and suburbs alike. Their solid structure means they are still standing strong more than a century later.
Do I have a villa kitchen?
In an original villa kitchen joinery was not extensively installed. Usually a single bench unit with cupboards would suffice. This was framed in place and clad with tongue and groove boarding. This is because the villa didn’t often have running water, and obviously had no power either!
- Toe kicks were non-existant or very little and cupboards generally nearly touched the floor. The cupboard exterior was painted, with the interior often left unpainted.
- Bench tops were wooden (kauri) with an enamel sink.
- To counteract the lack of joinery in a 1900s villa kitchen, they built pantrys and sculleries. This is where you’d quite often find your butler sink nestled below timber shelves.
In large villas you may have found a seperate dining room, but this was usually reserved for the wealthy.
What about benches?
An original villa kitchen was a place for cooking and eating.Typically, the only built-in kitchen furniture was a single kauri bench unit with cupboards. Typically a timber bench would have been held together by intensive joinery. These days it is relatively easy to construct using glue, however it is still time-consuming.
- A cast iron coal range was typically built into a wide built brick enclosure with a brick chimney. It was the primary means of cooking and also for early water heating and heating a clothes iron.
- It was during the early 20th century that the villa kitchen was converted into something else entirely. In New Zealand this is often seen as an ‘original’ as our hitory doesn’t really date back that far.
- Kitchens were altered to incorporate gas or electric ovens and running water.
- The coal range was often taken out and cupboards were put in instead. Kitchens and other service areas were originally located at the rear of the main house. In any villa that has been renovated or extended, the kitchen may have moved from its original location.
Here are some top tips for recreating that look of a traditional 1900s villa kitchen. Just because you want to use modern materials does not mean you need to sacrifice on the original style.
Top 1900s Villa Kitchen Fixtures and Fittings