Beautiful Things: Wedgewood Stove

Early 1940s (?) Wedgewood Stove. With oven and broiler (on the right) and storage (on the left). Four burners and a griddle. Clock, timer, and light (untested and unused).

I love this stove.

When we moved in, we had some things repaired — the oven door springs were broken and there was a small leak in the range. Luckily, we have a local stove repair shop that specializes in antique stoves.  I really wanted to figure it out myself, but the door springs were too tricky.  Also, the gas supply line was really old. I was going to replace that myself, but chickened-out when there was a slight discrepancy in bolt size connecting to the stove.  Better to call in the professionals.  (They also had spare knobs on hand!)

We spent as much on repairs as we would have buying something so-so.  About $400.

With the repairman here, he was able to show me how to take apart the range for cleaning (all exposed range parts are removable), and he told me more about the stove than I could possibly find on the vast internet.

This stove has:

  • Gas burners that light light up with force and power, much like I imagine an industrial range to have. We’re also able to get a nice low flame without it flickering-out.
  • Removable drip pans under the burners for cleaning.
  • A griddle between the pairs of burners which I’m in love with. Never has pancake-making been so effortless.
  • An oven, though small, which heats up quickly and steadily.   It’s sometimes a delicate operation working in a small oven; we have to rotate our goods if we bake more than one thing at a time.  And someday we’ll have the thermostat recalibrated, as the temperature is a little high.
  • A clock with timer, and a light. We haven’t plugged in the stove, so I don’t know if they work. I bet they do, but not interested in moving the stove out again to find the electrical outlet.  (The cord is in good shape, at least.)
  • A cupboard, which is pretty handy for storing all the cast iron. I wasn’t too taken by it at first — would rather have a larger oven — but it’s a good use of space after all.

Pancakes.

If you’re on the fence about buying or restoring an antique stove, it’s more than worth it.

The temperature gauge for the griddle. Not entirely useful, except when first heating up the griddle, as the food we’re cooking is normally a better gauge.  But I also know how hot the griddle will be by listening to the sound of the burners, and of course by the location of the knob.

You know what?  I broke the Wedgewood emblem when cleaning it (the knobby tabs that hold the emblem to the stove).  I’m going to MacGyver it though, don’t worry.

French toast. See the missing emblem? I haven’t been able to find a replacement, so I’m hoping I can fix it with some JB Weld and paperclips.  I am, after all, at least 25% grandpa.

The Kitchen (A Preview)

There is much to say about the kitchen, and so much I would love to do.  But it’s honestly the last thing on my list because to make it nice, we need resources, and it’s currently functional, so that’s not where our resources are going.

I did, however, get caught up in the fantasy of HGTV falling in love with our project and lending a hand.

HGTV: they have a page on their site that lists their present calls for submissions.  The most common thread is that you must live in L.A., San Francisco, or a metro in New England.  That’s where their studios are, and even though they have a few traveling shows, it makes perfect (financial) sense that they don’t commute.  I thought we might have a slim chance though, being somewhat near S.F., (even though a 5 hour drive will take you across states in other parts of the country).

One of their calls for submissions was called, The Worst Room in Your Hometown. So a couple months ago, I wrote:

Hi HGTV,
I am writing you to tell you about our ugly room.  But first, a little background:

We bought this late Victorian house in October 2011, and moved in mid-November.  It was dirty, neglected, and in pretty bad shape all around. We cleaned graffiti, fixed holes in the walls, remedied a flea infestation, and disposed of truck loads and a dumpster full of trash.  It’s looking pretty good lately. 

[Redacted: some personal information that my 5 readers already know]  We have three boys – ages 12, 8, and 3, and we are expecting a baby in September.  We have a puppy and four cats, and various other small pets.  [More stuff redacted]  Our kids play local Little League baseball, ride their bikes around town, and really enjoy this small rural town.

The worst room in our house — and on the block, and in our town?  The kitchen/dining room.  It was remodeled in the late 70s, and though it was probably awesome in its time, it clashes with the style and history of the house.  What do I hate about it?  It has cheap cabinets that are falling apart, vinyl faux-stone floors, and black “marble” laminate counters.  There isn’t nearly enough cabinet space, and seemingly wasted space under a counter bar that we never use.  There is a big black fridge that blocks one of the small aluminum windows, and there is no dishwasher or good pantry storage.  There is a beautiful 1940s Wedgewood stove, but the side of the stove is up against a wall, and has no working hood.  And finally, the lighting fixtures in the kitchen and dining room are junky.  I hate it!

Kitchens are my favorite places in any house.  We all love to cook (the kids too!), and I only wish our kitchen was not so garish and clunky so we could love spending time in there.  I am confident that there is a better way to use the space in our kitchen, and with some tasteful and classy appliances, counters, flooring and decoration, it could be a complementary room in our house, rather than an eyesore.

A short video touring the kitchen can be found at:
http://youtu.be/l-lAwJzdZgk
[Oh my god, I can’t believe I’m linking to this. For Pete’s sake, it has MY VOICE IN IT.]
Another short video of some of the kids and pets, showing the fun chaos of our lives is at:

You can read about some of the work we’ve done on the house in our blog at https://thisoldoldhouse.wordpress.com.  I’ve attached a couple snapshots, but you can find more pictures on the blog.

Thank you for reading about our kitchen, and our lives.  We hope to hear from you soon!

Needless to say, no response.

You know what bugs me? Not even an autoresponse. Nothing.

How to clean grimy cupboards

This drawer was ... impressive.

Did you also buy an old fixer-upper with cupboards and drawers that haven’t been cleaned in decades?

Cupboard door

I started the cleaning by using a rag and soapy water. Then I used my trusty scrub brush.  I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed.  But the grime was like a coating of wax, that just worked further into the grain of the wood.

Desperate, I looked around the house at our tools.

Aha. A big fat joint knife. (You thought I was talking about pot. Ha.)

Scraping the top edge of the cupboard door.

  1. Spread warm soapy water on the cupboard surface.
  2. Let sit for a minute.
  3. Scrape.  Scrape. Scrape.
  4. Use a paper towel to gather the gunk.
  5. Scrub with a rag and more soapy water.
  6. Scrape again.
  7. Gather the gunk.
  8. Repeat until you’re unable to scrape much gunk.
  9. Wash with a hot rag.
  10. Rinse with bleach water and wipe dry.

Yeah, don’t bother ruining your good scrub brush. After it dries, you can lightly sand any plywood that started to splinter from vigorous scraping.

The biggest challenge was the spilled food behind the big lazy susan.  I climbed in there as best I could.

This took all day (I took the day off of work to do this – I needed to know that the kitchen was clean), but now I’m not afraid to put our dishes and food in the kitchen.