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Forum topic by whiteshoecovers posted 06-24-2020 04:34 PM 730 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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whiteshoecovers

73 posts in 2581 days


06-24-2020 04:34 PM

I’m restoring my Queen Anne Victorian home which is a registered historic landmark here in Denver (building restrictions only pertain to the exterior, there are no interior restrictions or even guidelines). My main project is the upstairs where we’ve already restored all the plaster, doors and windows. I was able to salvage the original doors and have remade all of the window sashes with the same original joinery techniques and restored the window frame’s weights and pulleys, as well as the door jambs with transoms. I’ve even had all of the casing and baseboards reproduced to the original profiles (the originals were in rough shape with may layers of paint).

Now here’s my question:. I am “modernizing” a little by adding a master bath and some closet space. In the closets I’m putting built in cabinetry and am having a dilemma with how to construct sets of drawers. Should I use original methods with wood rails and runners, or modern mechanistic drawer slides (like blum soft close)?

I’m really torn. On one side I really like the idea of using original methods, but where do you draw the line? I am using modern toilets and plumbing after all. My wife thinks it stupid not to use modern slides. We have an original built-in buffet downstairs and she references not wanting drawers that “work like that”, since we’ll be using them so frequently.

Any relevant experience would be appreciated.


10 replies so far

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JCamp

1797 posts in 2047 days


#1 posted 06-24-2020 05:14 PM

I think you are over thinking it. I’ve not done a historical restore but I’ve redone two of my own houses and help on a few others, plus I’m married. All that to say this – go with what your wife wants. It’s such a minor detail that no one is really going to notice and the modern slide will be much better and friendly to use. I’m assuming that your kitchen also has modern slides in use? If so then what’s the difference from a historical perspective. Plus “happy wife happy life”

-- Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might

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HokieKen

22023 posts in 2635 days


#2 posted 06-24-2020 05:21 PM

How is the cabinetry in the closets going to be constructed? If you’re using traditional materials and joinery that are period-correct for the home, then I would probably be inclined to use drawer slides that are appropriate to that era. But if you’re using plywood/mdf and modern joinery techniques, I see no reason not to use modern drawer slides.

-- I collect hobbies. There is no sense in limiting yourself (Don W) - - - - - - - - Kenny in SW VA

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whiteshoecovers

73 posts in 2581 days


#3 posted 06-24-2020 05:36 PM



I think you are over thinking it. I’ve not done a historical restore but I’ve redone two of my own houses and help on a few others, plus I’m married. All that to say this – go with what your wife wants. It’s such a minor detail that no one is really going to notice and the modern slide will be much better and friendly to use. I’m assuming that your kitchen also has modern slides in use? If so then what’s the difference from a historical perspective. Plus “happy wife happy life”

- JCamp


Thanks, you sound really smart!!

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whiteshoecovers

73 posts in 2581 days


#4 posted 06-24-2020 05:44 PM

I’m doing raised panel construction for all of the closet cabinetry, thus the modern slides giving me a bit of hesitation. I think the advice from the other member might still hold, however.


How is the cabinetry in the closets going to be constructed? If you re using traditional materials and joinery that are period-correct for the home, then I would probably be inclined to use drawer slides that are appropriate to that era. But if you re using plywood/mdf and modern joinery techniques, I see no reason not to use modern drawer slides.

- HokieKen


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HokieKen

22023 posts in 2635 days


#5 posted 06-24-2020 06:25 PM

Happy Wife, Happy Life ALWAYS holds ;-)

-- I collect hobbies. There is no sense in limiting yourself (Don W) - - - - - - - - Kenny in SW VA

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Sycamoray

133 posts in 737 days


#6 posted 06-24-2020 06:37 PM

Whiteshoecovers,

Please keep two things in mind when reading the following: I signed up for LJ, having lurked here for years, just to respond to you; and I work in the preservation field, though many Preservationists disagree with my philosophy.

Congratulations on undertaking the care and feeding of a historic building. It sounds like you have an even-handed, and enthusiastic interest in doing it “right.” As you say, though, “right” is not well defined for the interior of the house. There are a few questions you and your wife can answer which will lead you to the appropriate drawers:

Is this building intended to be a museum? Even if it’s only in your mind and never designated officially, a museum would warrant period-specific version.

Will these drawers receive frequent use? Your original post answered this one, but it’s still good to deliberately consider the question. If I will use something repeatedly during a given day/week/lifetime, I prefer that it work right every single time.

How much time will it take to construct each version? If you won’t be done with the period-specific version for a long time, and the answers to the previous questions concur…

This is all a long way of saying that you and your wife are living there. It has to be a liveable space for yous, regardless of the opinions offered by Preservationists who don’t have to live there.

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AlanWS

222 posts in 5055 days


#7 posted 06-24-2020 07:09 PM

You need to make sure that you both like it when you complete the work. I might start with the built-in buffet downstairs, making sure the drawer guides are in good repair, clean and waxed. If she doesn’t want the new ones to “work like that” then you have your answer.

A general consideration might be to ask yourself if someone were to want to restore the house to its original state, what difficulty are you adding to that task? If you are adding to a closet things that weren’t there before, the construction may not be too critical. If you were removing a built-in detail (the buffet?) to replace it with a more modern analog, that would be a very different situation.

-- Alan in Wisconsin

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ChefHDAN

1890 posts in 4346 days


#8 posted 06-25-2020 12:37 PM

I re-did a part of our house and was very proud of the methods I used, my wife looked at it after install and while listening to me nitpick things she said,”Why are you worried about it, the next owners are most likely going to rip it all out and put in new stuff, this will all go to the landfill”.... yes, I’m still married and no I don’t worry about the small stuff on those items anymore

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

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Robert

5014 posts in 2978 days


#9 posted 06-25-2020 01:42 PM

Sorry, but she is right.

Focus on preserving the unique architectural aspects of your home that make it what it is.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

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ibewjon

3035 posts in 4290 days


#10 posted 06-25-2020 05:49 PM

We live in my great grandparents home. I try to restore as close to original as possible, but many things were changed before we bought it. The built in drawers in the master bedroom and in the dining room built in were well worn and didn’t work well. I used the peel and stick slick strips from woodcraft. Very thin and slick. No soft close, but easy in and out, and these are large, fully loaded drawers. Maybe you could go with the wood runners for originality and slick strips for easy use.

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