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The Elephant in the Room

I admit it. I am a fan of vintage things. I love things with a pedigree and the chippy quality and patina of something old and weathered. I like mixing old and new and coming up with surprising juxtapositions. Sometimes the thing that's old deserves center stage. Especially when that old thing is a kitchen stove.

In my childhood home, we had a Chambers Oven. I LOVED that stove. If you watched Rachael Ray's "30 Minute Meals," it's the same stove she had on set. We had Chambers model 61C--white enamel with aChambers Oven Model 61C chrome stove top and cast iron burners. My mom who, to this day at almost 90 years old, keeps an immaculate house, kept this stove in jewel-like, sparkling condition. (Our family joke is that my mom, who was never into exercise, kept fit by doing power aerobic cleaning.) When my parents sold their house about 20 years ago, I wanted the stove. But this stove is hefty (to say the least), and my mom decided it was not worth the cost of trying to move it from Long Island to Massachusetts. Nuff said.

A stove that unique that it has a dedicated fan club deserves to be the design focus of a kitchen. Which brings me to the point of this post. As designers, one of our tricks is to create focus. In certain rooms there is an obvious focal point: a crib in a nursery, a bed in a bedroom, a fireplace in a living room or family room. Sometimes a spectacular piece of art is the focus or sometimes it's a spectacular view. In a kitchen, a special stove--like the Chambers--is indeed the focus.

I decided to pay homage to the Chambers stove I lost by featuring other special stoves that command focus in a kitchen. Some obvious choices are the Aga stove from England made of cast iron and clad in Elmira Stoveenamel (your choice of 11 different colors). Or La Cornue from France, the Rolls Royce of ovens, each hand made. If you're really into vintage, you might consider a stove from the Elmira Stove Works. But I saw one of the best illustrations of a stove as focus at the 2006 Kips Bay Decorator Show House in New York City. In a kitchen designed by St. Charles of New York, a red enamel Molteni by Electrolux stood front and center, an island in a sea of walnut cabinets and stainless steel appliances. The Molteni Podium is a free-standing unit, made in France, and customized to the needs of the user. The Show House stove had a refrigerated sink for a raw bar, refrigerator drawers, an induction cooking unit and a wok unit. The Show House stove, 5 years ago, had an $85,000 price tag. Definitely for the serious cook or the person who wants to look like one. And to think the thousand or so dollars to move the Chambers was too costly. By the way, Mom, a refurbished Chambers can run anywhere from $5,000 to $9,000.


  Aga Six-Four Range                            La Cornue Chateau Range


                      Aga Stove in Contemporary Kitchen


                                  La Cornue in Rustic Kitchen

    2006 Kips Bay Decorator Show House Kitchen by St. Charles of New York

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Reader Comments (1)

Modern ovens may feature a flat, glass-surfaced cook-top. This type of oven burner is electric and is set below the glass. Heat may be controlled by a corresponding dial, or by a digital program panel.

April 23, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterplumbing

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