Project Description

This old farmhouse was built in the 1790’s and is rumored to be the home of Al Capone’s aunt. While we didn’t find any indication that Al Capone was there, we did find wide plank floors, exposed beams, and huge fireplaces. Most of the rooms have the character and charm of a 200 year-old home except for the kitchen. The kitchen was a victim of a bad 1980’s remodel.

The previous owners added a peninsula that cut the space in half, laid ugly ceramic tile that covered the wood floors, and installed mismatched cabinets that created a space where cooking was difficult and entertaining was virtually impossible. Even though there was an attached sun-porch, the old configuration prevented sunlight from flooding the kitchen and produced a lot of heat in the summer.

We came up with a design that creates a modern kitchen that still compliments an old home. The old home was the problem the floors were out of level, walls were out of plumb, and the room was not square. We started demolition in the 1980’s section of the kitchen and worked back through the layers until we got to the 1800’s. After removing the cabinets and plaster walls, we found a wall that was eaten away by powder post beetles. This gave us the opportunity to re-frame the wall and remove a timber post that was pushing the old refrigerator out into the middle of the room.

Next we removed the tile floor and subfloor to expose the old plank floors and found that a large section was missing. A previous remodel removed a fireplace and patched in the floor with old pallets. Fortunately, we found original planks in the attic and used them to fill in the holes. Refinishing the floors immediately brought back the old charm to the room. ¬¬

The owners chose light maple cabinets that wouldn’t clash with the warm color of the floor. They also chose limestone counters and a unique piece of river bottom granite for the island because it reminded them of the stones from the pond and creek on their property. We moved the locations of the appliances for a more efficient layout. An island centered in the room keeps traffic away from the cooking area and has seating for six. Hand-made light fixtures fit the look of the home, and an over-cabinet lighting system highlights the owners’ antiques.

We cut in another window through the old walls that opens out into the sun-porch for more light, and installed a split-system heat pump located inconspicuously above the cabinets to keep the room cool in the summer.

The last piece of the project was an authentic tin ceiling. Nailing the large metal sheets and matching crown molding on a grid-work of furring strips leveled out the old beams and tree logs originally used as ceiling joists. This project wouldn’t be complete without installing a farmhouse sink.

Now the kitchen is the hub of the home with room for cooking and entertaining, and it contains the character and charm of home that has stood for two centuries.