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The existing tops are a mix of the original 1951 luan plywood, and later mahogany butcher block which was installed by the Sweetons when the luan near the sink delaminated into oblivion in the late '50's. Wright's original drawings specified red linoleum with a 2-1/2" redwood edge trim.
1. The wood fret shelf stack that separates the workspace from the dining area is embedded in a portion of remaining luan...this will of course stay and I am loathe to disrupt the luan that is scribed to it. The Sweetons cut and removed damaged luan adjacent to this material and replaced it with butcher block, which is now rotted at the sink.
2. The redwood edge trim which visually ties the counter tops to all other horizontal banding in the house, has not fared well over the years. The material is so soft that it has been continually worn, scratched, gouged, burnt, and cut into a shape that is anything but Wright's crisp geometries.
My inclination is to leave the luan at the frets alone and work the new finish to its edge...this may inform the color of the new adjacent counter top material. Has anyone one of us Chatters had experience with linoleum on counters and knowledge of how it reacts to lemon juice, soy sauce, yellow spices, hot objects and the odd knife drop?
I am convinced that the 2-1/2" edge trim at the counters is a necessity for the kitchen, but I am leaning toward a more stalwart type of wood. Does anyone have any experience with ipe? It has been used with success on board walks, one would think it could survive some bludgeoning by pots or pans and the occasional belt buckle rub.
I don't seem to have photos of the Sweeton kitchen. I'd be glad to post if you have ones you like.
The Willey house is a 1933 design. Wright had moved on since then with every aspect of kitchen design including materials for counter tops.
Not that I have visited all of Wright's work from 1950 on, but I would bet the predominant material found would be a laminate. He did enjoy using the latest materials in his designs.
To site a few, in no particular order:
Zimmerman house, laminate. (Micarta) (Chinese red w. a linen pattern)
Palmer, stainless steel. (Mrs. Palmer's request)
Rubin, laminate. (Micarta) ( Red Orange hue)
Feiman, laminate. (White)
Dobkins, laminate. (Micarta) (Chinese red w. a linen pattern)
Lovness, (studio home and cottage) red laminate.
Lykes, ceramic tile (But we should note this was built post Wright, in 1966
with much input from Rattenbury and Howe)
Hagan, stainless steel. although Wright specified laminate (Micarta)
Christian, laminate. ( a neutral beige)
I am pleased with the result, and think we did closely approximate the look (excluding the appliances) of a brand new Wright workspace, circa 1950.
Dan,DRN wrote: Looks like a carefully selected cherry may be the way to go with the edge banding. Just to satisfy my curiosity, I'll get a sample of cherry and ipe and see how they react to some reasonable kitchen use/abuse.
You should contact Stafford Norris (not Steve Sykora) regarding the Willey House and the linoleum countertops.
Any wood can be treated with the appropriate filler -- a paste designed to fill the open pores prior to finishing -- to deal with that issue. But I'd be surprised if you will find Ipe of an attractive (redwood-like) hue . . .