1850s Farmhouse Gets Needed Kitchen Update

Needed update transforms family’s 1850s kitchen into the heart of their homestead.

Overall view of kitchen

Overall view of kitchen

The heart of their homestead, Melanie and Scott’s updated kitchen is the perfect place for the family to be together. Photography by Margaret Mulligan.

Looking past fridge on right to stove and dining room entry

Looking past fridge on right to stove and dining room entry

The gleaming range, microwave and fridge comfortably share space with the distressed finish on the new cabinets and recycled pine flooring. The dining room is through the doorway near the stove. Photography by Margaret Mulligan.

Maple cabinet and tin ceiling

Maple cabinet and tin ceiling

Maple cabinets feature a distressed finish with black wash—charming and practical for a family with six kids. Photography by Margaret Mulligan.

Family history

Family History

With six children, the Haights continue to add new memories to a house rich in family history. Photography by Margaret Mulligan.

Distressed finish on cabinet

Distressed finish on cabinet

Cream cabinets are a nice complement to the maple cabinets above. Photography by Margaret Mulligan.

Melanie Haight washes broccoli in apron front sink

Melanie Haight washes broccoli in apron front sink

Scott and Melanie know their house, once owned by his grandparents, dates to the 1850s, maybe earlier. In updating, Melanie chose not to install a dishwasher, preferring the deep farmhouse sink—and time to enjoy the view. Photography by Margaret Mulligan.

Scott and Melanie Haight in their renovated 1850s farmhouse kitchen

Scotta nd Melanie Haight in their renovated 1850s farmhouse kitchen

Scott and Melanie Haight enjoying a peaceful moment alone in their renovated kitchen. Photography by Margaret Mulligan.

Renovated kitchen floor plan

Renovated kitchen floor plan

Floor plan of the Haights' remodeled kitchen

 

By Melanie Haight
Burgessville, Ontario

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.

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