Welcome to the renovation of our 1900 farmhouse's "heart of the home" - our kitchen before and after. We expanded the original area, created a better work triangle, restored what we could and added back farmhouse character, all while keeping it light, bright, and functional for everyday and entertaining.
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Welcome to the kitchen renovation in our series of our 1900 farmhouse before and after reveals!
While I love all the rooms in this house (really), I was most excited about the kitchen - both the potential that I could see and how it would be to use and live in the new space.
The pros were:
- A really good size.
- Open to the outside on both sides (I crave light).
- An area available to put a door to a future outdoor eating area.
- Literally the heart of the home (it's between the living areas in front, main bedroom in back, and contains the stairs to the second floor).
The cons were:
- Poor layout not really great for cooking.
- Sink looked out an indoor window to a funky laundry room.
- Dark - only one window took advantage of the great view.
- Stairs and furnace in prime useable areas.
- No old-house character - nothing original (case in point: stair rail was a metal outdoor rail).
I think we were able to really capitalize on the pros and address most of the cons in the list above (after much thought, we really couldn't afford to move either the stairs or furnace - especially because we wouldn't know where they could go).
Grab your favorite drink and settle in - I've got lots of photos for you, both before, during, and after.
I hope you like the journey and outcome as much as we do!!
Kitchen Before and After Video
You'll see a lot more details in the video if you are able to watch it!
Note: I'll provide sources to everything I can at the end of the reveal.
Farmhouse Kitchen Renovation
This is what the kitchen looked like when we bought the farmhouse:
The wall behind the sink with the window and door led to an enclosed porch that was used as a laundry and mudroom.
Yes, an excellent view from the sink, lol.
Oh, and please notice the outdoor metal stair rail that had been tacked on the stairs.
Even from the first walk-through I knew that opening up the enclosed porch to the kitchen would be the way to get the best use out of this space, as well as bring in more light and views.
Here's the plan I drew up that basically didn't change throughout the remodel:
This hand-drawn plan worked for the cabinet maker and the county when we included adding a beam for the supporting wall to our existing addition permit.
Just a little note that you don't have to have fancy software or hire someone.
The first thing we did in the kitchen was tearing out the sink wall we wanted to remove.
There was water damage to a portion of the ceiling, so we removed the wallboard and found the surprise of the renovation: original beadboard ceilings!
They were in great shape for 120 year old wood - the water damage hadn't been enough to cause rot (that's just flaking paint you see in the center).
Beam & Framing
Above you can see the new load-bearing laminated beam (permitted) and the framed walls in the old enclosed porch. The wall on the right was needed because the furnace is there - I decided to create a pantry in that area.
The wall on the left continued where the original kitchen wall was and created a new laundry-mud room on the other side.
We were mocking up where the new windows would go and how big the island would feel, too. It really helped to have a visual of these things.
(The old openings were where the windows and door was in the old enclosed porch.)
Restoring Original Beadboard
When we removed the huge soffit and more wallboard, we discovered most of the entire original kitchen was covered in beadboard (well, above where the cabinets were).
The wall beadboard wasn't in as good of shape as the ceiling, but it was about the only thing original we could save in the kitchen, so we put the extra work into restoring it as best we could using salvaged and new beadboard we sourced.
You can also see above right the salvaged arched cabinet my brother found framed into the wall along with it's made-to-match lower section (made by my talented stepdad).
When you tear things out in an old house you find interesting discoveries:
- Another doorway that went into the current bathroom, probably back when it was a pantry (we found evidence of lots of shelving in the bathroom when we gutted it) before indoor plumbing.
- To the right of that you can see where there was a chimney of sorts - we think it went from a wood stove.
(Oh, and this stage of the renovation is definitely a case of "it gets worse before it gets better," lol.)
Matching Old & New
Once we restored the original walls and covered the new walls in the former porch area an exact match we were able to find at a building outlet near us (yay!), we sprayed it all with primer.
And that's when you could really see all the areas that needed to be filled!
Lots and lots of wood fill and caulk happened before we could paint. My poor sister-in-law was in charge of scraping the original ceiling and she says it was probably the worst DIY she's done (though she didn't say anything at the time, bless her).
Painting, Trim, Floors & Cabinets
Once the walls were finished, we added the flooring (the same floor I talked about in the living-dining room before and after - we added it to the entire first floor as you can see) and trimmed out the doorways and windows with 5-inch finger-jointed pine.
And then it was time for the cabinets and counters!
The cabinet you see above is the lower section of the coffee-drinks bar area at the bottom of the stairs. I designed these cabinets and my stepdad built them for me - they are specialized in size, height, and function and he saved us a LOT of money from custom.
My sister-in-law and I painted them and I finished a piece of butcherblock for the countertop.
Our other cabinets were built and installed by a local company, Legacy Door & Millwork. They painted them with the colors I chose using a specialized long-wearing paint.
It was only a bit more than buying online and we got a lot more service and special items for that. It was totally worth it, so I really encourage to to look around and price it out before just ordering online.
We chose butcherblock counters from Lowes (sadly, Ikea doesn't make all-wood counters anymore like the oak counters in our last kitchen), which I finished with stain and water-based poly.
We had a local stone company fabricate a quartz counter for our island.
Farmhouse Kitchen Before and After Photos
Now to the best part - here are the amazing before and after pictures of our kitchen:
We'll start with this full view again, so you can get a reminder before seeing the after taken from almost the same spot:
I love the lighting I chose - they are a classic schoolhouse shape, but just a little different.
And doesn't the restored beadboard ceiling just make the space?
While the sink stayed in about the same spot, I'm so glad I turned it around - now I get to look out at the pretty view through the big glass door when I'm at the sink!
One of my goals for functionality was to remove the working part of the kitchen from the pathway between the living room and back hallway.
Think about carrying a hot pot of water to drain in the sink in the old kitchen and a child running through to use the bathroom.
Yeah, not the best design, if it can be helped.
Of course the bigger goal was to get rid of the interior window and door and make a nice place to do dishes!
Same view after. Pretty amazing, right? (Looking at this hasn't gotten old to me yet.)
I've cooked in compact kitchens and more spacious ones and I'm a fan of more compact. I do a lot of moving from stove to sink and those fixtures being closer together really works well for me.
The lighting over the windows is so great in the winter for food prep - I found I never needed them in the summer months when it's light until later.
I really wanted to avoid canned lighting because it's so modern and between these window lights, the over head sink fixture, and the pendant lights, there is plenty of light for working in the kitchen.
This was the left side of the enclosed porch area. Water heater and a washer were located here.
The door led to a dank, sloping storage room. Look closely at the right corner next to the door and you can see the sloping starting - this area was the most in need of a foundation - it was basically resting in dirt.
(If you missed the first part of this series, we reminded you that we had to add a foundation to the farmhouse before starting any remodeling.)
After - I promise this is the same view!
The water heater is on the other side of this wall - that room became the laundry-mudroom.
The arched cabinet is one of my favorite things in the kitchen because it looks like it could have been original, adds needed storage, and is pretty to look at from the living room.
I store spices in the arched section and water glasses in the lower section along with some overflow spices. (You can see more of this in the video.)
Here's what the right side of the enclosed porch looked like.
There's the furnace we had to work around, in the corner was where the dryer was and just to the left was the door to the outside.
Since we were basically extending the wall along the side of the furnace, we did have to have it turned so all the things you needed to access would be in the new pantry.
There were LOTS of little things like this that cost time and money to fix/adjust in order to make the whole plan work. Just one of the many reasons it took us 3 years to move in!
This after view should help you envision it better - the furnace is on the other side of the wall holding the menu sign, and it's behind the pantry door when you open it.
To access the furnace you need to enter the pantry and then close the door. If we need any major repair in the future, though, it's easy to remove the door.
The pantry door is another salvaged item (thanks again to my brother) - it's pretty beat up even with sanding - I held a vote on instagram to see if I should leave it like this or paint it white (with lots of filling...).
Guess what the majority wanted? We did paint a coat of clear polyurethane on it to keep any flaking paint from continuing to flake which worked well.
I'm not sure how long I will leave it like this - I'm already starting to picture it white...
(I'm running out of room here - I will do more articles about kitchen details like what the pantry looks like, where I store things with few upper cabinets, and organization. But you can see the inside of the pantry now in the video.)
Here's what the bottom of the stair area looked like. All that soffit was just wasted space and that one little window is all there was of the gorgeous view on that side of the house.
(In my "anything goes" dreams, we would've been able to move the stairs and place the working section of the kitchen here with a bank of windows and a door...)
The area now holds the cabinets I designed to function as a coffee and drinks bar area. The bathroom sink is on the other side, so it was easy to add a small sink here.
It works so great for coffee and when we have the deck built to the outside, it will work even better for filling pitchers and glasses for taking outside.
Curious how this works for coffee? I shared the doors open here and you can see them in action in the video.
We had to have the stairs rebuilt for safety - doesn't the wood rail look so much better? The stairs are still a work in progress - I'm sure you'll be hearing more about them in the future. (Again, check out the video to see the crazy way the stairs had been built!)
I searched and searched for a small desk to work in the kitchen and found one at Ikea that was perfect with the drop leaves.
The doorway leading to the back of the house from the kitchen before.
The hall was completely reconfigured, which you'll see in the next part of this series - before and after of both the hall and the new laundry mudroom.
This is the view of the kitchen looking into the living room before.
Looking from this direction now you can see how the refrigerator and new closet work to balance each other.
You can also see that we put the microwave into the island on this side. It works great there, actually (we found the built-in with a door that opens down used on Facebook Marketplace for $50 - we had to put another $200 in a few months later when the microwave element went out, but still a lot cheaper than the $1200-1500 you see these types of microwaves going for).
Standing on the stairs we can get a good view of the main kitchen area which I think helps visualize the kitchen as a whole.
To give you an idea of how great this area can work for entertaining, here's my family gathered in the kitchen on Christmas Eve from the same view:
Room for all the food on the island, working, talking, and hanging out.
Just about perfect.
- Walls, Trim, Cabinets: Simply White, Benjamin Moore (matched at Home Depot with Behr Premium).
- Island: Custom green, 'Boxwood' I had mixed according to the formula found in this article on Miss Mustard Seed.
Flooring: 3/4" Viking Hardwood Essence Oak 5" Wide 3/4" Thick Solid Hardwood (no longer available). Similar on this page at FloorsToYourHome.com (Awesome service, really recommend looking there to see if you can find something).
Cabinets: Legacy Door and Millwork
Island Counter: Quartz in Carrara Morro from Oregon Natural Stone
Island Pendant Lights: Westinhouse Antique Brass Mini Pendant (sadly discontinued where I got them at Home Depot - I found them still available here).
Overhead sink light: Schoolhouse Oil Rubbed Bronze Ceiling Mount Light
Window Sconces: Black Adjustable Arm Metal LED Wall Sconce
Main kitchen ceiling fixture: Schoolhouse Ceiling Light in Oil Rubbed Bronze
Main Sink: 33" Undermount Stainless Steel Kitchen Sink
(with this sink grid which I LOVE)
(I have bought four stainless sinks from MRdirect over the years and I can vouch for the quality at a really good price.)
Bar Sink: 15 x 15 inch Drop-in Bar stainless steel Prep Sink (love the 9 inches deep!)
Bar Faucet: Discontinued - similar one here
- Vintage dark brass/bronze style bin pull
- Dark brass/bronze 4-inch pulls
- Vintage style brass cabinet latches (in Antique Brass)
- Antique brass utility pulls, 3-inches
Kitchen runner: Vintage Striped Rug Black/Brown
Counter Stools: Distressed Wood Bistro Barstool
Small desk: Ikea INGATORP Drop-Leaf Table
I hope you enjoyed this tour through our farmhouse kitchen renovation!
Next up in the series is the hallway and laundry room - another fun, transformation that looks nothing like the before!
MORE ABOUT THE 1900 FARMHOUSE
- Our New Farmhouse Fixer - The Before Tour
- Exterior Farmhouse Fixer Before Tour
- Farmhouse Fixer Yard Tour Before
- Farmhouse Fixer Year 2 Review + Video
- Farmhouse Progress Year 3 (+ Tour)
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