Fall in love with kitchen stove alcoves

Kathryn Weber
Tribune Content Agency

In Victorian times, a kitchen stove alcove was once an important feature for containing the heat from wood cooking stoves. The stove was set into this recessed opening and often outlined in brick or stone. The alcoves were a way to help fireproof the kitchen. They may seem old fashioned, but they serve a decidedly current purpose — and that's as a design focal point for the kitchen.

Kitchen domination

Once just a place to make toast and grab a cup of coffee, kitchens are now the centerpiece of the home. Remodeling the kitchen has one of the highest resale returns, too. It's the hardest working room in the house and the one with the most frequent interaction.

With gourmet cooking trends, today's home kitchens can work as hard as one in any small restaurant. A current nod to the importance of the stove is a recessed kitchen stove alcove. Far from an old fashioned notion, the stove alcove can go from traditional to contemporary in design and feel. Stove alcoves are often commonly seen in Tuscan-style homes that have a timeless look and appeal.

Material matters

Although alcoves from yesteryear may have been made mostly out of brick or stone, today's alcoves can use any number of materials ranging from wood to plaster. Some may not feature any particular material in the recessed opening at all, and stand out simply by being recessed and creating a stage effect for the stove.

A simple wall enclosure with a backsplash creates a clean and contemporary look. No matter what kind of kitchen design, though, what is typical in alcoves is the use of tile or stone behind the stove on the backsplash. From a practical standpoint, an alcove with a tile-covered backsplash makes cleaning greasy or messy cooking spills easy to clean up.

Alcove details

When deciding how to design your stove alcove, consider how you use your stove. Do you like to have items in easy reach? If so, adding some shelves on either side for spices or utensils would be helpful.

Consider, too, the scale of your kitchen. A larger kitchen can handle a larger alcove, but a large alcove in a medium or small kitchen would dominate the room.

Think, too, in terms of practicality. Unfinished stone might look great, but would be hard, if not impossible to clean. Look for hard-working surfaces that will make your cleaning chores easier.

Another important purpose of the alcove is to help draw and vent smoke and odors away from the stove. For this reason, venting is usually included in the alcove. Vent hoods can be neatly tucked away inside the alcove or brought down to be part of the show.

Mantle molding can also be placed inside an arch, for example, for another layer of interest. Add a pot filler and you have a hardworking, terrific-looking eye catcher in your kitchen.