Posted on 35 Comments

How (and why) there are no toekicks under my kitchen cabinets

Find out how I chose freestanding cabinets for my farmhouse kitchen remodel. No toekicks.

Let’s rewind to the year 2011. I had a new baby and a very old galley kitchen. One morning, I took a gallon of milk out of the fridge and as I set it down on the counter, it slipped and splat on the floor. The cap popped off. Milk was glug, glug, glugging out, and some of it slipped under the toekick on our 1980s cabinets. Untouchable. Can’t clean under there. I vowed that someday when I finally got a new kitchen, there would be no toekicks under my kitchen cabinets.

And then, about two years later my Dad dropped a huge, warehouse-club size olive oil in that kitchen. If you are not familiar with American warehouse-club sized olive oil, it’s the equivalent of about three soccer footballs full of oil. Some of the oil spilled under those pesky toekicks, too. Sealed the deal. I was done. No more toekicks.

Early American furniture did not have toekicks. Cabinet toekicks rose to popularity in the 1960s. Here is why and how I didn’t put toekicks under the cabinets in my Early-American farmhouse kitchen renovation design. #kichendesign

I focused on designing an Early-American farmhouse style kitchen. My house is over 230 years old. Even though I wasn’t willing to swap out my range for a giant fireplace hearth (so unauthentic of me), I wanted to limit the elements that weren’t around back then. Toekicks fall into that category.

What exactly is a toekick?

I didn’t know either, until I started thinking about renovating my kitchen. Underneath most kitchen and some bathroom cabinets, there’s this strip of wood, usually 4″ tall (a little over 10 cm), along the floor and the cabinets are placed on top. The strip of wood is the toekick.

Why my farmhouse kitchen cabinets dont have toekicks.

Benefits of a toekick

It’s not all bad. There are some good (and self-reinforcing) reasons why toekicks were invented and became so common.

  • Clean look
  • Covers mess underneath cabinets
  • Most cabinets already come with toekicks
  • No additional modifications
  • Installers are very familiar with toekicks

Drawbacks to a toekick

  • Rose to popularity in the 60s, 70s and 80s
  • The room feels larger if you open up space below the cabinets
  • If something falls into a crack, it’s gone till you demo
  • Liquids can slip under
  • Can’t clean under the cabinets (for like 30 to 50 years)
  • Mice make little nests in there (don’t ask how I know this, but it’s firsthand knowledge)
  • With spills, scuffs and dirt, you have to clean them or they look dingy
  • Not historic or farmhouse style

What replaces a toekick?

Realistically, there’s two choices. You can either put the cabinets on feet, like any other piece of furniture, or you can build up the molding at the base of the cabinets. We did both because we had to.

Most of our cabinets are on furniture feet. We had the cabinet maker craft the boxes without the toekicks. Then, the contractor installed them resting on a 2×4 along the back wall, which you can’t see. Finally, he nailed the furniture feet into place. Since our house is far from level, he spent extra time adding to and cutting down the feet to level off the cabinets. But, believe it or not, most of the weight rests on the 2×4 along the back wall.

Cute story. When I first told the architect, Rob White Architect, that one of my must-haves was no toekicks. He was speechless. He doesn’t go speechless often.

It was the first time any homeowner had made the request. Rob’s great though. He pivoted immediately and saw my vision. I appreciate that. Actually, he more than saw my vision. He and I both independently chose the exact same feet from a furniture catalog of a zillion options. That left me speechless.

No toekicks in this farmhouse kitchen where the white cabinets look more like furniture.

The fridge is hidden inside of an imposing wall of cabinetry. We couldn’t actually put the fridge on furniture feet or the wall of cabinetry. Instead, we built the molding up at the base of the fridge. You can see it in the background of the next photo.

We also couldn’t put the heavy island on furniture feet. Our island is hiding a bunch of pipes and a dishwasher on one side and is inset on the other side to create a countertop that we can slide stools underneath. We built up the molding on three sides of the island. On the fourth side, under the sink…I admit it…true confession…there’s a toekick. But, it’s small and hidden.

I inherited a table that we put at the end of the island, which gives us back the furniture feel. Phew.

Kitchen table at the end of a gray island and wide plank floors

My prediction

I predict that you will start to see preferences swing away from toekicks. I just have a feeling. They look awesome. You can clean under the cabinets easily with a dry sweeper or a mop. Also, unexpected benefit, a robot vacuum fits easily underneath.

If you’ve considered a robot vacuum before, I am pretty happy with mine. It’s not really a name brand, which means it’s a little cheaper. But, it’s easy to empty and simple to set up. My five year old can work it, no problem. The only thing is, it is not very good at docking itself to charge so I usually have to carry it back near the docking station before I press the “home” button. It’s great on hardwood or tile floors. It works pretty well on area rugs.

Hope you had fun learning about toekicks and a different way to think about them.

I am working on a whole series for the blog about my Early-American farmhouse kitchen renovation. Go ahead, follow along.

Early American farmhouse kitchen design

Posted on 1 Comment

Best 5 items at Midway Farm Stand, Durham, CT

A basket of colorful orange and white gourds minipumpkins

September 29, 2018

How’s this for stumbling on a gem?  I had the family in the car on our way to the Durham Fair. A really beautiful, classic New England autumn fair, you should visit next year. Go early in the morning, as soon as it opens. We didn’t. After 30 minutes of waiting in the line of cars trying just to get a glimpse of the parking lot, I asked the kids if they’d rather go pick out one toy each at Target. A unanimous “yes”! It worked for me. It worked for them. A win-win. I pulled a U-ie and as we headed back up the country road, I spotted a captivating farm stand, pulled another U-ie and parked the car.

I hope you enjoy these finds from the Midway Farm Stand in Durham, CT, as much as we did. The kids loved the pies, breads, honey and stepping stones. I loved the displays and the kind, honest people who ran the stand. One thing, in my opinion, they are UNDER-charging their customers. They could really up their prices just a little and still be fairly-priced.

#5
Giant orange carrots

carrots

Whether you are planning to make a vegan soup or a roasted chicken, these awesome giant carrots could play a powerful role.

#4
Handmade stepping stones

Handmade DIY mosaic stepping stones for a garden

There’s a certain kindness about a handmade stepping stone. You can almost feel how sincere the artist was as she or he planned the design, chose the colored glass and placed each mosaic piece with care. I find it moving to think about all the time and thought put into each stone; so did my five-year old who would have bought every one.

#3
Raw ginger root

raw ginger root in a farm stand basket for sale

Raw ginger root. You should eat more of it. It’s so healthy it makes broccoli look like junk food. It’s rare to see it offered at a local farm stand. Use it in tea, yogurt sauce or stir-fry. You’ll feel healthier if you do.

#2
Colorful gourds

A basket of colorful orange and white gourds minipumpkins

Colorful gourds appear in several of my posts and Instagrams. Ok, I may possibly overuse these visually-stimulating baskets of gourds in my Insta gallery. In my defense, it’s autumn. Find some gourds and decorate the house, office, and car. Just imagine these babies on your fireplace mantel or above the entryway. They’re lovely.

#1
Pickled anything

pickled jars of carrots and cucumber homemade

Pickling is having a moment. It’s funny; when I was a little girl, my mother’s Eastern-European farm folk family used to take anything left over from a garden harvest and toss it into the pickling brine from store-bought pickles. Now, this simple garden hack has become a movement. Whether you make your own brine or just borrow one from the grocer, you and your guests are sure to be pleased with farm-fresh pickled veggies. Put some on the apps platter at your next get-together.

 

Midway farm stand Durham connecticut

 

Hope you’re enjoying my top picks from local farm stands.

Have you seen this farmstand5?

Fancy’s Farm Stand, Orleans, MA

Or, shop farm stand style, like these decorative and practical half-bushel baskets featured in this farmstand5.

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Posted on Leave a comment

Best 5 items at Treat Farm Stand, Orange, CT

Treat Farm Orange CT sign

September 9, 2018

In its first couple centuries, the Treat Farm was focused on dairy and milk delivery. Wait, what? Rewind. Yes, I meant to say it, centuries. One of the great things about living in New England is the rich history. The region’s farmers are proud to be able to preserve and share America’s Colonial legacy.

I want to say that the delicious apples and sweet corn are my favorite thing about this farm, but the truth is, my favorite thing isn’t edible at all. It’s the old well. Even a quick study of it’s hand-placed stones leaves me imagining all the life that happened at and around this charming old watering hole.

20180915_174359440_iOS

The Treat family offers more than just a farm stand. As the seasons change, they offer cut-your-own Christmas trees, pumpkins and a five-acre corn maze! Be sure to check back again or (easier route) follow this site, as the seasons change, I will post again about this historic, picturesque Connecticut farm.

Take a quick look at some of the fresh, classic offerings of an Early American farm.

#5
Bushels of sweet corn

Sweet corn at Treat Farm Orange CT

Nothing says late summer harvest like sweet corn. All along the way to my son’s fall ball baseball games, we see signs for sweet corn. It’s so exciting. We boil some up fresh a couple nights each week. Treat Farm has a massive display with a full table piled high with fresh corn cobs and bags and bushels of corn all around the stand.

#4
Zephyr Summer Bi-color squash

Zephyr Summer Squash a bicolor squash at Treat Farm Stand Orange CT

One of those delicious-looking veggies you might have to visit a farm stand to find and google to figure out what it’s called. My little daughter was immediately drawn to these zephyr summer squashes. Of course, we bought one for our dinner.

#3
Fresh-picked pears
Fresh picked pears in a basket at Treat Farm Orange CT

We don’t always see pears at the farm stands. It’s exciting when we do. Let them sit in a brown paper bag for a few days, and these pears should become soft and sweet. You’ll need a napkin to eat them, or else you’ll embarrass yourself. That’s the sign of a really good, farm-fresh pear.

#2
Pressed apple cider

I walked into the Treat Farm Stand, turned around and saw it. It took my breath away: an old-fashioned ice box holding the fresh-pressed apple cider! The only thing that says autumn more than my #1 pick, is a cup of cider. I serve it chilled with ice in September and warmed on the stove with a cinnamon stick in October.

#1
Colorful gourds

Basket of colorful gourds at Treat Farm stand Orange CT

Gourds! One of the darlings of farmhouse style décor. If you’re on Instagram or you open a magazine this autumn, you will see so many of these little suckers sitting on dark wood tables and bright white mantels, you might actually get sick of them, but I won’t. There are several baskets of gourds at the Treat Farm Stand. All are beautiful. We brought three home with us to decorate.

Treat Farm has upgraded their farm stand over the years. They operate out of this fancy little structure next to their giant barn. Notice the mums and pumpkins out front and the deep blue September sky. Autumn was just a few weeks away!

20180915_174309433_iOS

Hope you’re enjoying my top picks from local farm stands.

Have you seen this farmstand5?

Fancy’s Farm Stand, Orleans, MA

Or, shop farm stand style, like these decorative and practical half-bushel baskets featured in this farmstand5.

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.