What's Old is New

To renovate their Sharon kitchen, two avid salvage hunters integrated 19th-century antiques with modern amenities.

Bruce and Melanie Rosenbaum cringe at the very phrase “kitchen renovation,” with its implied vision of sleek Sub-Zeroes and shiny newness. As avid antiquers and the owners of a carefully restored Victorian, the Sharon residents prefer a much older aesthetic.

But after spending seven years with the previous owners’ country-style kitchen, the Rosenbaums were ready for a transformation. “We wanted to give the room a very late-1800s feel,” says Bruce, “without buying a lot of new stuff that only resembled period pieces.”

Instead of going shopping, the couple went to their basement, where they had stowed items acquired during years of weekend salvaging jaunts. Treasures included an old printer’s desk, stained glass panes from a dis-
mantled Victorian door, and a mahogany pedestal that once supported lecturers at a Dorchester girls’ school.

With the help of furniture refurbishers Renato Olviera and Mike Dugan, the Rosenbaums repurposed their finds. The printer’s desk, with its original hardware still intact and its long drawers perfect for utensil storage, replaced a Formica-topped island. Olviera stripped the desk’s peeling gray paint, refinished it, and joined it with the pedestal to create an all-purpose kitchen station topped with engineered quartz.

Dugan then revamped the existing cherry cabinets, breaking up a full-length pantry into two parts. He repositioned the top half over the refrigerator and the bottom piece next to the sink, adding a spice rack. The whole process took just three days.

“People think that reusing old cabinets is too hard, but it’s actually much easier to work with high-quality, existing craftsmanship,” he explains.

Despite their passion for antiquing, the Rosenbaums weren’t quite ready to scrap their refrigerator for an icebox. Instead, they hired Ontario-based Elmira StoveWorks to conceal the appliance behind custom-built, Victorian-style door fronts.

Another indispensable convenience—a state-of-the-art Miele stovetop—was similarly disguised in a Victorian wood stove the Rosenbaums had bought and rehabbed several years ago. The Miele range, intended to sit atop a contemporary counter, fit perfectly into the cast-iron frame. The antique wood stove was also outfitted with a new insulated stainless steel oven, hidden behind the stove’s vintage doors.

The second, smaller wood stove-—a rusty relic from the 1890s-—received a thorough sandblasting and a scorch-proof interior coating. Its hearth, formerly a lackluster brick wall, was refaced with cultured stone to match the home’s exterior and better blend with the wall. The overhauled stove looks and functions better than it did a century ago.

“That level of thoughtfulness was our goal for the entire kitchen, and I think we succeeded,” says Bruce. “We took old, forgotten items and made them viable for today’s conveniences—we brought two worlds together in a way that I think made lots of sense.”