Wright’s subtle sight-line restored: lessons-learned and before and after pix

A week ago we wrote about why there are so few shared images of the kitchen in Frank Lloyd Wright’s Elizabeth Murphy House. In a nutshell, modern appliances were blocking a crucial sight-line (and making the space feel overly small.)

We didn’t expect to have this project completed so quickly, but new appliances arrived 10 days early, so we kicked into high-gear and worked evenings and late nights to get it done. In addition to installing the new equipment, we built a new counter and shelf, a garbage chute and fitted ASBH grills in birch finished with amber shellac to match the rest of the house. The sight-line is clear, but there is more to the story. The benefits of Wright’s original design are social in addition to aesthetic.

The restored sight-line is multi-purpose, bidirectional and makes social and familial sense: someone working where the stove once was (and where there is now a barista-station) can see into the breakfast nook to converse with or keep tabs on eaters – but also, family seated in the nook can see and share stories with the person making their coffee (or breakfast.) Imagine a couple of kids – one hundred years ago – sitting at the table, back to the warm morning sun, sipping milk while one parent flipped breakfast eggs and the other buttered toast and they all planned the weekend. It’s not only about seeing things, but about living and being together in an American System-Built House.

Here is the result. We hope Mr. Wright would approve and that you do too.

Another before and after view:

And, detail from the opposite side showing one of the ABSH grills, below.

Finally, here is the view from the breakfast nook table.

We have a few details to finish before we can move back to our ongoing window restoration project, including paint, scribe molding, and better cabinet hinges. And we’re looking for a proper piece of art to hang over the coffee maker – perhaps a Japanese print, or better, the family tree? What do you suggest?

About this blog: The Elizabeth Murphy House is a 103 year-old American System-Built Home and the protagonist in the book “Frank Lloyd Wright’s Forgotten House, published by University of Wisconsin Press, and available for pre-order now.”

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