I just love houses that were built in the 1920s. Architects from that era seemed to be in a kind of fantasy state and really had some fun when they designed them.
Even the more ordinary homes, like our 1927 cottage, shun straight lines wherever possible in favor of curves, coves, and arches.
Something Was Off
When my husband Chris and I bought our house, it had a coved ceiling in the living room. Most 1920s houses with coved ceilings also have some arched doorways. But the doorways between the living room, dining room, and kitchen were squared off and plain.
Eventually we learned that the doorways in question were originally arched but had been squared off as part of a 1950s kitchen remodel.
Bringing Back the Arched Doorways
We remodeled the kitchen and, while we were at it, we decided to do a few things to bring back the original charm of the house, including restoring the arches.
We knew bringing back the arched doorways would be tricky since if the pitch of the arch was wrong, it still wouldn’t look original. In fact, if done wrong, it could wind up looking pretty silly.
Finding the Right Pitch
Chris made arrangements to look at several 1920s houses that still had their arched doorways.
He needed two good examples: An arch for a wider (almost six-foot) expanse, for our living room-dining room transition, and a narrower arch (three and a half feet) for our dining room-kitchen doorway.
When he found examples of arches that would work, he traced them onto large sheets of masking paper to serve as templates.
Adding the Curves
Our carpenter, Bruce, who was working on our kitchen remodel, built wooden arch frames to fit the existing doorways using the templates that Chris had traced.
The kitchen was already torn down to the studs for the remodel, so this was the perfect time to frame in the arches.
Lots of Plaster
Our drywaller then worked his magic blending the arches seamlessly into the new kitchen drywall, as well as into the existing plaster in the dining room.
Since we added the arches, we needed to paint not only the new kitchen remodel, but also the living room and dining room. For our kitchen, we used Valspar Butter and for the dining room, Valspar Honey Pot.
(This paint job was from few years ago, and as you can see the colors are dated now and probably need to change.)
We chose a strong earth tone for the living room, which gets a lot of natural light.
It is an Olympic color called Earthy Ocher.
New Old Lights
Now we needed the finishing touches: 1920s light fixtures in the dining room and living room.
Vintage lighting can be pretty spendy, but we trolled eBay until we found some little gems that fit our budget.
We got this light for the dining room.
And this one for the living room.
There was no overhead light fixture in the living room before we installed this one. Chris climbed into the attic space above the living room and measured to exactly where the middle of the living room would be to install the electrical box for the light.
When he got to that location, he found the remnants of an old electrical box. So originally there had been an overhead light in the living room, presumably another casualty of the 1950s remodel.
To learn more about out kitchen remodel, check out these posts:
- Kitchen Remodel Part 1: Plan “B” For Better
- Kitchen Remodel Part 2: Ghosts of Kitchens Past
- Kitchen Remodel Part 3: Our New Original Kitchen
- How to Survive a Kitchen Remodel
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