Lauri Hafvenstein introduced herself to me at the end of a talk I presented in Baltimore in 2009 about designing kitchens for old houses. She’d recently bought a 1917 house in Washington D.C. and was hoping to redo the kitchen in time for her home’s hundredth birthday.
A couple of years later she got back in touch and hired me for a design consultation. I arrived to find her dining table covered in original catalogs from 1917 and knew right away that I was dealing with someone who was passionate about period authenticity. We discussed her ideas and I shared my own, along with resources. We also visited a neighbor’s house that still had its original pantry so we could recreate the one in her kitchen.
A few years later Lauri was ready to take the plunge, but to make the job affordable, we had to do the work in stages. I built the cabinetry in my shop and drove everything to D.C. with my partner, Mark, in 2015. We installed the cabinetry and Mark added a wall in the original location to separate the kitchen from the pantry. Next, Lauri’s brother, Larry, made several trips from out of state to repair plaster, install trim, and paint, all to a high professional standard. I returned the following year to install the newly painted cabinets’ doors and drawers, add open shelving in the pantry, build a recessed niche over the sink (which Lauri’s neighbor Brian trimmed out), and assemble a small work table I’d built in pieces and brought in my luggage.
Lauri’s images document the dramatic transformation of her kitchen, a true labor of love that took several years, along with a lot of patience, research, and hard work. She is now a partner in D.C.-area design business Old House Loves.
Here’s the pantry “before”
The sink and stove wall “before”