Of Scallops and a Schoolhouse

by Josh on April 25, 2012 · 14 comments

in Kitchen,Projects

When pulling a home design together, often it is the little details that make the difference between harmony and dissonance. In my bungalow kitchen remodel, I’ve been distressed by the dissonant details over the sink. Specifically, these are a scalloped header board and an off-center electrical fixture box.

decorative board above sink before

In the before photo above, the problem with the location of the light fixture is pretty obvious. I may like my politics a little left of center, but the pendant light clearly needs to move about two inches to the right. This problem wasn’t apparent until I put up this cheap, temporary pendant after removing the fluorescent strip lighting that had been in place over the sink and under the adjacent cabinets.

The scalloped board is perhaps a less obvious problem. [First, though, I should concede I have no idea what the proper name is a decorative cabinetry board like this. Leave me a comment below if you can help me with my terminology– for now I’m going to call it a header board. ] The scallops aren’t obviously flawed, they just say “country” or “grandma” to me, not “bungalow,” or “craftsman.”

Sayonara Scallops

The most natural solution for the scalloped header was to just cut the edge to a more desirable shape. Craftsman furniture and woodwork often features a simple shallow curve on horizontal spans, so I decided to try to apply that design here. The chief challenge to this plan would be making the new edge smooth and symmetrical while leaving the header in place because I could see no easy way to remove the board without risking major damage to the adjacent cabinets.

marking cutting line on decorative board

Using clamps and a flexible metal ruler, I traced a curve on the header board that would remove all of the scallops but leave the joint between the header and cabinets intact. Then I used my jigsaw to cut along the line as slowly and carefully as I could. The cut wasn’t long or complicated, but the awkward cutting position and the nails I hit at each of the sides made the process a bit nerve-wracking. In the end, with a couple blade changes and a bit of sanding with the palm sander, it turned out great.

sanding decorative board above sink

decorative board above sink after

I will stain and finish the new curved edge when I build the new cabinets I have planned for the area next to the stove. In addition to the construction and installation, I’m planning a separate post about color-matching stain.

A Centered Schoolhouse

Fixing the off-center sink pendant was uncomplicated–just move  the electrical box to the middle and patch the hole left in the process. The wiring looked in good shape, so I didn’t pull new wires or do more extensive electrical work with this job.

sink pendant electrical box construction

Somehow I didn’t get photos of the centered electrical box in the patched ceiling. Drat. The photo above shows the off-center fixture location after the old box had been removed. I replaced the rectangular box with a shallow circular box intended for ceiling fixtures and attached it to the ceiling joist visible on the right edge of the old opening. The most fortunate part of moving the electrical such a short distance was that the conduit and wires included enough slack to make the connection to the new box without alteration.

sink pendant after angle

With the electrical box properly positioned, I installed a mini schoolhouse pendant I had found to match the large schoolhouse lights in the kitchen. Whether vintage, or reproduction like this, I like schoolhouse lights for their basic, versatile style and their ability to hide modern bulbs like CFLs or LEDs that look all wrong in vintage bare-bulb fixtures.

sink pendant installed

Harmonious details achieved! This project concludes the work on the sink wall of the kitchen. For my next work in the kitchen, I will shift my attention to the stove wall, where I am planning new cabinets to fill the former refrigerator space, more backsplash tiling, and an exhaust hood for my vintage stove.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Janelle April 25, 2012 at 2:49 pm

Looks great! I might need to do this in our kitchen too! I have a little scallop over the sink too.


Josh April 25, 2012 at 9:16 pm

Go for it, Janelle! The only scallops welcome in my kitchen are bivalves and potatoes.


Ali Krueger April 25, 2012 at 7:00 pm

kudos, looks great.


Josh April 25, 2012 at 9:17 pm

Thanks, Ali, but you still can’t read my journal. 😉


Elle April 25, 2012 at 7:51 pm

The ever-important details! It looks so much better. Clever solution for shaping the arch.


Josh April 25, 2012 at 9:24 pm

I got lucky that the shapes worked out so well, Elle. This wouldn’t have been possible with some other scallop designs. The “bent bow” technique is a classic way to trace an arch– I can’t remember where I was introduced to the idea.


Krista April 26, 2012 at 2:59 pm

I am closing a house that has the scalloped header- and I’m glad that you don’t know what it is called either! I’ll be giving mine the bent bow treatment as well.


Krista April 26, 2012 at 3:05 pm

I did some research- they’re just called cabinet valances! For some reason all it took was one google search today, when I’ve been googling it like crazy over the past month!


Josh April 27, 2012 at 4:25 pm

Cabinet valance! Of course, that makes complete sense. Thanks, Krista!


Mary S April 26, 2012 at 9:09 pm

Those two changes made such a big difference. You must smile every time you look at that side of the kitchen.


Stephanie April 28, 2012 at 6:15 pm

I was going to say “valance” but someone beat me to it. That was a brilliant solution and it looks great! 🙂 Btw, I love your pet clock!


threadbndr May 8, 2012 at 12:43 pm

That looks fantastic! When we re-do the kitchen at my mom and dad’s house, I’m so stealing this idea. My son and I were just debating the ‘gosh, it doesn’t go with the rest of the house’ point last weekend.


Ashlee October 9, 2012 at 9:57 am

Where did you find your mini schoolhouse pendant? I love it!


Evelyn Myers December 30, 2014 at 11:59 am

Looks great! I love the schoolhouse lights as well. I do mourn the loss of the scallops a bit though because it does remind me of grandma, apple pies and great memories =)


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: