Monday, January 18, 2010

Glass Half Full

I like old things, historic homes, antique linens, old photographs, you name it, if it's old, I will usually like it.  Now hotel rooms aside, this would be one area where new is better for me, I find comfort in time worn items that have a story to tell.

When my children were young, they would stare in amazement as we would pass old, broken down homes and I would say "oh I would love a house like that"!  The idea that anyone would want to trade in their snug and warm, modernly equipped house for one with a rotting porch, gingerbread trim sagging from the eaves, and broken windows was beyond their comprehension.  It wasn't that I wanted to tackle a huge restoration project it was just that I knew what was hiding behind the doors coming off their hinges... wide old mouldings, ornate ceiling medallions, wide plank hardwood floors, huge old pocket doors, and rooms that meander from one to the next.

Photo:  Salvagewrights Ltd.

You just can't build homes like that, no matter what your budget or how painstakingly you try to reproduce it all, you'll almost never achieve the look of an old home with a new one.  Since Mr. Tide is not a huge fan of "old" I realized very early on that we would likely never own an old home.  I have friends who own old historic homes and know the amount of time, effort, and money that goes into fixing up and maintaining such properties, so I was ok with not having an old home.  They still make me swoon when I see one, and hear it  saying "Kat, you belong here" making me want to rush in and bring it back to it's former glory.  Instead, I've resigned myself to putting "old" into the new, by bringing in old furniture pieces, building materials and accessories to give our relatively new home an old feel.

Our kitchen was one place I was able to accomplish this with something as simple as glass.  I knew I wanted a white kitchen with soapstone counters, it had been my dream kitchen for a very long time and every inspiration picture I had was some variation on that black and white theme.

I also knew I wanted glass doors, but not just any glass, I was bound and determined to find just the right glass!  I wanted wavy glass, like you find in old homes from the 1800's so I set out to look at reproduction glass.  What I found was that it lacked a certain something.  I couldn't put my finger on it, but after looking at piece after piece from very reputable companies who specialize in historic restoration work, it just wasn't what I envisioned in my head!

So to the internet I went, on the hunt for the perfect old glass!  Now I know my European friends are laughing at the mere suggestion that something only a little over 150 years old is truly "old" but here in the US, that's pretty darn old by our standards.

It may sound weird and I often think it is, but I find that I'm sometimes guided by a force beyond my understanding towards certain things and the glass was one of those.  As it turned out, in my relentless hunting online, I stumbled across a man who has a architectural salvage place in Virginia.  Ok, that's not that weird, there are lots of old homes in Virginia we all know that, but this was right near where my mother's family was from and that made me all the more excited about going to see these windows.  I jumped in the car on a sunny spring day and off I went to meet Craig Jacobs, the owner of Salvagewrights Ltd. in Orange, Virginia.

Now Salvagewrights is not your usual architectural antiquities place.  It's not in a large warehouse or fancy showroom, it's down a long bumpy driveway with cattle crossings and resides in old poultry buildings on a former turkey farm.  And they don't just go in to old houses and take pieces, they take the WHOLE  house and they have "rescued" and reconstructed some beautiful historic homes!  Craig is a soft spoken man who has a gentility that makes you believe that he could be from the era of one of the older homes where he finds his antique treasures.  To say he has lots of stuff would be a vast understatement, the buildings are full of cool old doors, mantles, hardware, plumbing fixtures, and the list goes on and on!  If I hadn't been on a schedule I could have easily spent all day rummaging through his wares.

He had washed off the windows and had them loaded in the bed of his pick-up and when I laid eyes on them it was love at first site.  They were wavy, but not too wavy, just a subtle distortion that makes you look twice in order to appreciate their beauty.  Even better, they were out of an old house that was dismantled very near my mother's birthplace and where her family had lived for generations, how cool is that?!  The old sashes were nearly as beautiful as the glass, with their chippy paint and old hardware.  So after Craig helped load them into my Durango I headed home, happy as a clam!

After taking them to a local glass shop to have the glass removed and cut to size for just $50, a paupers sum after having tried to remove it myself, it was ready for installation in my new cabinets.  Our cabinetmaker, Pat Woodburn of Woodburn's Custom Cabinets in Leonardtown, Maryland (Get a website Pat!!), gently put my little bit of "old" into my new cabinetry!

The hint of wavy'ness in the dish pantry sets off the crystal and other "pretties" inside.

A close up view of the glass reveals the lines and striations which give it it's unique character.

The effect is subtle, only noticeable when light hits the glass at just the right angle.

I love the way they look and I even have lots of glass left over that I have tucked safely away in my garage for some future project!


  1. With old houses I adore the lack of 'code'. Stairs, doors, windows, pickets & more not homogenized into uniformity due to safety rules.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

  2. I agree Tara, rules sometimes get in the way of aesthetics!

    Kat :)

  3. Gorgeous cabinets -and glass!! There are wavy glasses on all of the windows in my old Dutch Colonial..., and don't hate me, but I would replace all the windows if it were in the budget! I love my old rustic wood floors though! Of course it's not because of the glass. The windows are hard to open, and in need of good insulation too.

  4. I love the wavy glass too. I still remember as a young child the rare visits to my Grandparents home in Canada. Their home was old, and all the window had that wavy glass, the light shining in thru them was beautiful. Thanks for bringing back a nice memory!

  5. What a wonderful idea to use the old glass for your kichen cabinets. And I love the connection for you about them being from your mother's hometown. They are gorgeous.

  6. Maya, I completely understand, having windows that "work" is also important! Just be sure to save that old wavy glass if you ever do replace them, it's worth a fortune these days!

    Judith, I'm glad it brought back good memories! Now get back to bloggin' girl! ;-)

    Lili, I really do feel like I was drawn to these windows. Perhaps my mom had a guiding hand in all of this. I know she would love how the kitchen turned out!

    Kat :)

  7. Oh for the love these cabinets are wonderful, something I dream of. I am printing a picture and keeping it in my file. Thanks for the inspiration, I really enjoyed your blog.

  8. I am in love. Your cabinets are unbelievable Kat!
    The words "hubba hubba" sprang to mind when I saw them. :-)


  9. Thank you Bristol, I've enjoyed reading your blog too!

    Layla, thank you! I take it as quite a compliment coming from you with that stunning black kitchen of yours!

    Kat :)

  10. I LOVE that wavy glass! I was just thinking the other day I would love to find some, I knew there had to be others who love it too. Beautiful kitchen.

  11. As soon as I saw your first photo, I knew you were somewhere in my 'hood ... Salvagewrights is on my list of places to go when the weather warms up to hunt for the perfect sink for my basement bathroom renovation. One day, maybe when some long lost wealthy relative leaves me a sizable inheiritance, I'll talk to them about a cabin. A girl's gotta dream, don't ya know.

    Your blog is lovely. I expect to be a regular visitor.
    ... Connie


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