Cooking on Vintage and Antique Stoves?

I’m sure some of you have (or have cooked on) vintage stoves. Care to share your experiences? When I think of vintage stoves, I think of sweet mid-century models like these.

Vintage Stoves
1 // 2 // 3

What is waiting for us in the new house though, is this.

Victorian Kitchen

That’s our new kitchen! (And the first and only sneak peek inside until we close on the house next week.) The stove isn’t just vintage, it’s antique. It has four gas burners on the right side, and the oven directly below has a dial for ‘hot’ and ‘very hot.’ Precise! There’s also a pilot light that shoots out flames with the push of a button, which will be fun for the whole family. (We’re going to have to look into rigging some kind of stove guard. Or rear perfect children that will never touch The Forbidden Stove.)

I don’t know if/how it’s vented. I’m not sure if it’s still wood-burning on the left or if it can be converted to electric at some point. It’s an amazing focal point, but frankly, I’m feeling weirdly apprehensive about using it! I’m expecting a bit of a learning curve — especially with the oven.

Next week, next week!

109 Responses to “Cooking on Vintage and Antique Stoves?”

  1. Julie B. August 13, 2013 at 11:43 pm #

    We grew up cooking on a Wedgewood from the 40s. In fact, my mom still has it. Burned my eyebrows off once when lighting the burners (they went out frequently); but I was tween, so it was probably a user error. Also, our oven ran REALLY hot whenever we used it, which was problematic living in always warm Southern California. You’re going to hate me for being such a bummer, but two other drawbacks: it was a pain in the ass to clean and we think it had a small gas leak that kept killing my pet birds.

  2. Chloe August 13, 2013 at 11:53 pm #

    I lived in Oak Park for a year, in an apartment with a vintage stove – from the 50s maybe? But there was no pilot light, and I had to light the oven by sticking a lit match into a hole inside the oven door, after turning on the gas. It always made me nervous… But I got used to it – and I think you’ll figure out your stove’s quirks!

    I also spent a year living in Michigan, where I worked at an environmental education center that had programs for school field trips, and one unit that we taught was on Michigan history. I would have to start a fire in the morning in a wood burning stove (in a log cabin) and have it going well enough by the time the kids arrived that I could bake cookies, and then make a batch of cookies with the kids. It was an adventure, but you can figure out the wood burning side of the stove too!

    I can’t wait to see more of your (almost yours) new house! It looks amazing so far!

  3. marie August 14, 2013 at 1:16 am #

    My uncle has an antique wood burning stove in his kitchen. It was his mothers and looks very similar to the one you have here. While it is the focal point (sits in the middle of a open plan log home) he uses it only on rare special occasions. They have a modern range as well. You will create wonderful memories with your kids if you keep it and use it occasionally, but a modern range will really make your day to day life easier. Hopefully you can find space in your kitchen.

  4. Courtney August 14, 2013 at 7:55 am #

    I had a rental for about a year with a great big O’Keefe range. Only two of the burners worked (one was extra hot!) and the oven’s dial was broken so it was a crapshoot as far as the temperature was concerned. I managed, but I’m telling you, after a while the charm was definitely gone.
    I would worry with kids around, especially as they get bigger and explore more. I definitely love, love, love your new space however and wish you luck with the stove. Hope you get it to work for you!!

  5. Kelly August 14, 2013 at 9:04 am #

    We had a stove from the forties at our last house. The oven was very hot – the kind of hot that real cooks love. I used it for making pizza, roasting veg., turkey, chicken, beef etc. You could really achieve professional results with this oven. Missing it…… Lighting a pilot is really not a big deal either – you do get used to it. Looking forward to hearing your adventures with it! The kitchen is so beautiful by the way! A dream really!

  6. Lauren August 14, 2013 at 9:47 am #

    If you don’t already have one, a stick lighter or Bic Lumineer really helps with lighting blown out pilot lights. Your eyebrows will thank you!

  7. Jen August 14, 2013 at 9:50 am #

    WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWW!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. m August 14, 2013 at 11:01 am #

    Craigslist that baby & buy a stove you love that will fulfill your cooking/baking needs. Someone out there is looking for that thing ; )

  9. Laura G August 14, 2013 at 11:04 am #

    We have a Frigidaire Flair (which is the same model used in the tv show Bewitched). It came with the house, and the cabinets were build around it, so we can’t really replace it without doing major renovations. I really it – the two ovens are really helpful during holidays, and the burners are on a drawer that pulls out when you want to use them. We also have the metal cabinet that it sits on, which I use for pots and pans storage. For me the only draw back is that I’m sure it’s a giant energy suck. Our electric bills are rather high, and I cook a lot. So I’m guessing the oven has something to do with it. Also, I’m sure when it needs repairs, it’s going to be difficult to find parts.

    If they sold this model today, I would totally buy it. The amount of space it saves is ingenious.

  10. Ali Burtt August 14, 2013 at 11:12 am #

    Wow. That’s a gorgeous kitchen. And a very scary stove. Please let us know when you figure it out because I am deeply, deeply curious.

    Also…DYING to see the rest of the house! Next week can’t get here fast enough!

  11. Gwen August 14, 2013 at 1:00 pm #

    I cooked on a 50s Wedgewood for years and loved it! The only real complaint I had was that simmering wasn’t really an option as the heating plates only “calmed” the heat down. The thermostat had to be replaced every 4-5 years and it could sometimes be tricky to find someone to repair it. But people are out there. Yes, the oven is smaller, but it still fit a turkey. I say give it a try. The fabulous thing about old stoves is that they have no electronics so the control panel will never go out on you. This stove will obviously last a lifetime. Don’t be scared :)

  12. Cottage Katie August 14, 2013 at 2:04 pm #

    I grew up with a wood stove in our kitchen, and I don’t remember it being this awesome! It was the run of the mill black cast iron, but I love the vivid colors that the enamel ones come in. Its going on my “wishlist”!

  13. Papers and Prints August 14, 2013 at 4:05 pm #

    The stove is so cute! Love the color!

  14. Jeanette August 14, 2013 at 4:42 pm #

    I rent a place that has a 1950′s O’Keefe & Merritt. Absolutely adorable and coincidentally the exact same as Joey and Chandler’s apartment from friends. Apparently these units can be completely disassembled for cleaning, bonus if I could figure it out. The oven is hot, really hot. They were used as heaters for homes as well so it’s constantly emitting heat. In a home without ac on a warm summer day you don’t want to use it much less be near it. In the winter you can toast your digits over it (no flame required). Either way it cooks my food just fine and I love it!!!!

  15. Nicole August 14, 2013 at 4:47 pm #

    Wow! That is quite the stove! I coveted a vintage stove my whole life(not as vintage as yours though) and I finally got it about ten years ago. We renovated a beautiful 1950 Wedgewood double oven, six burner. I adore it! My husband, not so much. It does have it’s quirks…one oven runs a bit hot, one about 50 degrees cool, we use a stick lighter to light all but two burners…but I wouldn’t get rid of it for anything, it’s beautiful!
    This is what ours looks like:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/35240097@N08/3262678630/

    Your stove reminds me of a Holly Hobby little baking oven I had when I was little!
    I look forward to hearing what you decide to do with it!

  16. Eileen August 15, 2013 at 9:13 am #

    Love love love the stove. Can’t wait to see the rest of the new place! So fun to see so many bloggers embarking on new projects in new homes!

  17. Mrs. L August 15, 2013 at 7:28 pm #

    I love that stove, and I would not sell it, even if you relegate it to the porch. Try it for a good while before you decide. I have lived in Brazil for over 40 years, always using stoves similar to the gas side of yours, tiny oven and shooting flames and all. They are really great, and are not hard to get used to, once you make up your mind to do it. In fact I have a difficult time adjusting to US stoves when I travel.
    Our three kids learned to operate this kind of stove safely by the time they were school age, nobody got burned, and we ate very well. As adults, all three of them are great cooks.
    I haven’t found my stoves to be extremely expensive to operate. If, however, you don’t want the pilot light on when you aren’t using the stove, you can turn off the gas, and then use a long Bic lighter when you turn the gas back on. It’s easy and efficient, with a bit of practice.
    For oven use, I have small cookie sheets, bought in the USA, that I use for cookies, veggies, breads –three small sheets will do what two large ones do. An oven thermometer is all I need to control the temperature. Several friends have wood stoves and love them, but I like the gas better mostly because it’s cleaner. In fact, I like gas much, much better than electric…but I guess it’s all what you are used to…my husband enjoys cooking on three rocks around a campfire, which I do not!

  18. Begoña August 16, 2013 at 12:37 pm #

    I love it!!!! Reaaaallllllyyyyy love it but as a decorative item, a focal point or something but I think cooking with it is just crazy. I’ll go with something modern for a practical purposes. Dont sell it, please keep it but just dont cook on it!

  19. Jeri August 16, 2013 at 9:00 pm #

    I’ve got a pretty but not entirely practical vintage stove. It works great most of the time now that I’m familiar with it, but my tips are to get an oven thermometer, plan thanksgiving carefully, and if possible, get a good toaster oven for smaller baking needs.

  20. Mark August 19, 2013 at 5:28 am #

    During our vacation last year, we stayed in on of those vacation rental by owners houses. The entire family was in awe when we found out the house had a vintage stove. We were not able to use the stove as we had a very hectic schedule and did not have time to really cook, but we did try to turn it on and it was working. It is so impressive to still see functional vintage stoves nowadays.

  21. Fenn August 19, 2013 at 6:40 am #

    I know, it may come as a shock, but your job as a parent does include teaching your children about the dangers of fire and, you know, gas lines (the former is far more dangerous than the latter). So yeah, maybe notsomuch a “stove guard” (whatever that is), and more, you know, PARENTING.

    • Katie C August 20, 2013 at 3:51 pm #

      This comment has an unnecessarily harsh tone! Chill, lady.

  22. Holly August 19, 2013 at 11:28 am #

    Sweet! That is some stove that’s for sure. We had a vintage Caloric wall oven in our last house and I was a bit intimidated by it as well, but both the contractor that renovated our kitchen and the appliance repair guy were really stoked and impressed by it. Apparently it was indestructible and quite the machine. It did end up working very well and also operated on a pilot. I bet you’ll grow to love that piece of machinery you’re inheriting. Looking forward to see what you do in the kitchen.

  23. Amy August 20, 2013 at 2:06 am #

    That is definitely an antique. And it is fabulous. We had some friends remodel their 1920′s home and PUT a similar one in their kitchen, but they also had a convection oven that they used for day to day cooking. When I remodeled my 1925 kitchen I found a 1950′s Wedgwood double oven stove online and had it shipped to Seattle where I live. It had been rechromed and had new safety valves installed. I LOVE IT. The two ovens run pretty accurately but I still have thermometers in them so I know when they are up to temperature.

    I will say though it has been difficult to find a local repairman who can fix the stove when it has a problem….which is almost never. Our local gas company used to service the antique stoves but don’t any longer. You should look online as there are several websites of restorers who still work with these stoves and can guide you in repair, sell you parts or just educate you on how they work. Also, can’t you talk with the people you bought the house from? They should have some experience to share.

  24. Amy August 20, 2013 at 2:10 am #

    As a follow up, try looking at antiquestoves.com. They were a good source of information for me when I bought my stove 10 years ago. Good luck!!

  25. Katie C August 20, 2013 at 3:43 pm #

    So, even though it is SERIOUSLY AWESOME looking, if I were you, honestly I would sell the antique stove. Unless you want to use it just as decoration, and get a real stove for actual cooking. I am sure it is worth a bunch of money and someone would die to own it and maybe even really use it. It is pretty freaking great looking though… So maybe it’s not such a bad idea to use it as decoration? :)

  26. Holly August 21, 2013 at 6:45 pm #

    please tell me you’re not thinking of painting any of that awesome wood white :P

  27. Katherine August 28, 2013 at 9:58 pm #

    So lovely, even as is! Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!

    I haven’t scanned the comments but I’m sure someone has mentioned that having the fridge next to the stove is very hard on the fridge and your electric bill. We learned that the hard way.

    Best of luck on this new adventure as you fall even more deeply in love with your beautiful new castle!

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