Needed update transforms family’s 1850s kitchen into the heart of their homestead.
By Melanie Haight
My kitchen is at the heart of our homestead and come dinnertime, there’s always a crowd around our dining room table. Scott and I have six kids, ages 6 to 17, and we believe that gathering together around a hearty, home-cooked dinner is an important part of family life. That means I spend a lot of time in the kitchen. It’s a pleasure since we overhauled it to make it more functional and inviting, yet with a style befitting its long family history.
Scott’s grandparents lived in this 1850s farmhouse for more than 50 years; they’d bought it from a granddaughter of the Quaker couple who built it. The house then went out of family ownership for about 10 years. But even as a bachelor, Scott jumped at the chance to buy it when it came on the market again in 1989. I moved in after we got married, two years later.
After six pregnancies spent working at counters an inch too low, raising them so I could roll piecrust comfortably was a priority! I was more than happy to see the 30-year-old, falling-apart cupboards and 1950s linoleum flooring go. None of it was original or salvageable, and the idea of re-creating a period kitchen held little appeal for me. What we really needed was a pleasant kitchen that would serve our family, not vice versa, and that’s what we got, from the floor up.
Our pine flooring is made of recycled lumber that began as beams in a local factory. Its color is deeper and warmer than new pine, and, amazingly, the more beat-up this floor gets, the better it looks. I love not having to worry if a kid drops something or the dog bangs it up a little.
When you have a lot of kids, it’s hard to keep cabinets looking brand-new, so our maple cabinets feature a charming and practical distressed finish with black wash. I loved the deep red but kept the kitchen bright by offsetting them with some cream cabinets and drawers. Both colors are complemented by stone composite countertops, one in sand and the other a deep, flecked chocolate brown.
Our fridge, microwave and modern range are in plain sight. But the dishwasher—that’s me, and I like it that way. The kids take turns drying, which helps me make sure I get one-on-one time with all of them.
The large window over the sink gives a lovely view of our bird feeders and ornamental gardens. Our rural acreage can’t technically be called a farm, but our kids are getting a taste of farm life I recall from childhood. And while we can’t know if Clay, Tansy, Dusty, Ginger, Jed or Fletcher will someday raise a family here, in the meantime, Scott and I hope they’ll cherish memories the time they spent in our heirloom home.