A guide to design and construction, from refurbishing to renovation
by Nancy R. Hiller
You can download an excerpt of this book here.
For two decades, Hiller has made a living by turning limitations into creative, lively and livable kitchens for her clients. Her new book, “Kitchen Think,” is an invitation to learn from both her completed kitchen designs (plus kitchens from a few others) and from the way she works in her Bloomington, Ind., workshop.
Unlike most kitchen design books, “Kitchen Think” is a woodworker’s guide to designing and furnishing the kitchen, from a down-to-the-studs renovation to refacing existing cabinets. And she shows you how it can be done without spending a fortune or adding significantly to your local landfill.
“The first requirement is simply to think," Hiller writes, "where you are in life; what resources you have access to in terms of money, interesting materials, or time; the architectural style of your home and so forth.”
Yes, there are hundreds of pretty full-color photos of well-designed kitchens, which are organized into 24 case studies throughout the book. They range from the sculptural (kitchens by Johnny Grey and Wharton Esherick) to kitchens of a more recognizable form.
But there’s also a heavy dose of practical instruction: how to build cabinets efficiently, how to make a basic kitchen island, how to build a wall-hung plate rack. Plus butt-saving advice that comes only from experience – like how to maximize space in inside corners, how to scribe cabinets and countertops into odd spaces and how to make sure you’ve left ample space for hardware.
All of this is built on a foundation of research into kitchens from the past. Hiller’s historical perspective on design might just change your mind about what makes a good kitchen. It doesn’t have to be walls of built-in cabinets. So what’s the alternative?
You just have to think.
The book is intended for:
• Woodworkers, whether professional or not, who would like to expand their minds on the question of kitchen design, the culture of remodeling, materials and techniques used in kitchens
• Homeowners with some woodworking and home-renovation skills who would like to remodel their own kitchen, including building their own cabinets
• Homeowners who want a deeper understanding of what goes into a thoughtful kitchen remodel done by professionals
• Homeowners and others (who may not own a home) looking for design inspiration and unconventional, non-consumerist ways of thinking about kitchen design and remodeling.
“Kitchen Think” is 8-1/2” x 11”, 368 pages and printed in full color on coated, 80# matte paper. It has a printed hardbound cover, coated in a durable matte laminate. The binding is sewn, and covered with a fiber-reinforced tape spine to last for generations. Like all Lost Art Press books, “Kitchen Think” is produced and printed entirely in the United States.
Table of Contents
1. What is Custom Cabinetry? 9
A Truly Custom Kitchen 13
2. Getting Started 25
Order of Work 34
3. A Simple, Strong Method for Building & Installing Cabinets 37
4. Designer-Builder Beware 75
Geometrical Analyses of Typical Storage Solutions for Inside Corners 82
5. Elements of Design 95
Build a Simple Island 110
Fit a Wooden Counter into a Tricky Space 120
Make a Retro-Style Linoleum Countertop 127
Plate Rack 179
Build a Plate Rack 182
6. Make a Partial Change 184
The Cobbler’s Kitchen 187
Convert a Two-Door Cabinet to a Cabinet with Drawers 194
Three Ways to Mount Drawers 196
Two Jigs to Install Blum Tandem Drawer Slides 202
Refacing at the High End 205
Another Method of Refacing 213
Add to Existing Cabinets 215
More is More 221
A Breakfast Nook Puzzle 227
7. A Varied Portfolio 230
The Original Sociable Kitchen 233
Kitchen as Working Sculpture 239
Inspired by Voysey 245
East-Coast Pacific 249
At Home on the Land 255
Industrial Rustic 259
An Easygoing Kitchen for a Family of Cooks 265
Green on Green 271
Barn-Style House on a Budget 277
Farmhouse Style 280
From So-So to Sizzling 283
8. Period-Inspired Kitchens 291
Cabinet Details to Note when Designing a Period-Style Kitchen 302
Shingle Style 307
Happy Hundredth 313
Former Servants’ Quarters 319
Grad-School Style to Grown Up 325
Tiny & Mighty 331
Elevating a Mid-Century Kitchen 337
Same Footprint, Different Room 343
Shaker Style 346
End Notes 353
About the Author
Nancy R. Hiller was a cabinetmaker specializing in period-style work for late-19th- to mid-20th-century interiors. She trained as a furniture maker in England, where she moved with her mother and sister at age 12, and worked in shops there as well as in the States. She returned to college at the age of 30 and graduated with a master’s in Religious Studies, specializing in ethics. From 1995 to 2022, she operated NR Hiller Design, Inc., based in Bloomington, Indiana. Her work has been featured in Fine Woodworking, Old-House Journal, American Craft, Popular Woodworking, Arts & Crafts Homes and the Revival and Fine Homebuilding. She has authored five books in addition to “Kitchen Thing,” among them “The Hoosier Cabinet in Kitchen History,” “English Arts & Crafts Furniture,” “Shop Tails” and “Making Things Work.”