You CAN teach and old house new tricks!

Finally – after months of never being alone in my house, agonizing over decisions that I never knew existed, and ruining two vacuum cleaners with construction debris – the kitchen is finished!

 Here is the recap: We bought a house that was built in 1891. It was in great condition compared to many we have seen, but it still needed some updating to make it our own. We started by stripping wallpaper from pretty much every surface in the house, removed several rooms of carpet, prettied up a couple of bathrooms, put in a new well and heating system….. and then the real fun began in January when we converted a mudroom/garage into a kick-a** kitchen!

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The before….. 

We had some pretty important criteria for the project. It needed to look appropriate for the age of the house, be able to withstand two kids, a messy cook, and a couple of big labs. It needed to be functional, with lots of storage. And it needed to be able to accommodate entertaining all of our friends and their kids as well.

While we were at it, there was an old and not very functional bathroom and laundry room that we decided to update as well.

Here is the finished product:

 

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Kitchen

We chose soapstone for the counters in the kitchen to give it an old farmhouse feel. It has a more matte finish than granite or quartz, and is durable. One of my favorite projects was the island. We purchased an antique hoosier cabinet with the house, and repurposed the bottom half by having a soapstone top installed. The matching hutch is now hanging in the entry to collect keys.

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I absolutely love how this cast iron enameled apron sink looks in the offset contrasting cabinet! To pick up the black from the range and sink cabinet, we painted the old entry door black and used it on barn door track for a sliding pantry door.

My uncle (best contractor ever!) had the great idea to re-use the old tongue and groove bead board paneling from the entry as trim – it saved money and adds a nice detail framing the windows.  We were also able to re-use that same paneling in the bathroom, painted black to give it a vintage feel.

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 While the project wasn’t without its glitches, we made it through fairly unscathed. We had a few ice dam water issues before the new insulation was installed, and a couple of plan changes when the backsplash tile we choose was recalled. There were also a couple of minor casualties – a shower curtain, a couple of rugs, some miscellaneous parts – but all in all, it was a fairly painless process.

I owe that to our amazing contractor, who also happens to be my uncle, Jeff Wagner. He talked me off the ledge several times and helped me work through some of the more challenging design issues. We were also lucky to have a whole team of competent contractors – electricians, painters, plumbers, drywall installers, heating contractors, kitchen designers, and insulation contractors. I will admit that I am not always easy to work with, and I would highly recommend any of them!

I am also unbelievably grateful to my dad, who was here checking in, helping with whatever was needed, and is building me the best dining room table ever. (Pictures to come!)

Owning an old house has been an exciting and exhausting journey so far, and we are quickly learning that the world can be divided into two camps – “old house people”, and “not old house people”. The encouragement from the former has been much appreciated, and justifying why we haven’t completely lost our minds to the latter has added value as well.

Now that the kitchen is done, and the snow has (mostly) melted, we are looking forward to long summer naps under the big beech tree in the backyard. Just as soon as we fix the deck!

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2 Responses to You CAN teach and old house new tricks!

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