Heritage House Kitchen Renovation
Renovating the kitchen of a heritage house requires a sense of balance. I've seen a number of hundred year old houses where the owners have done a full on reno of their kitchens and in the process have created one uber modern room in an old skeleton. I think it's possible to create a kitchen that has both a contemporary look and pays homage to the house's heritage at the same time. As with colour, the style and feel of a house should have a smooth flow. I know, I know, there's a whole school of thought out there that likes to blend modern with antique. I'm not against that, but it's like anything else, it has to be done correctly. I've made up (at least I think I made it up but others may be on the same track) what I think of as the 10% rule. The gist of this philosophy is that most things only work really well 10% of the time. The over use of white in interiors is a perfect example. 10% of the time an all white interior is perfect, it's beautiful, it is absolutely the correct thing to do. The rest of the time, not so much. For me the 10% rule also applies to the mixing of old and new.
This is an award winning heritage house that I have worked on with the owners on several occasions, they like to do one room at a time. The exterior of their house has also been previously featured.
Here is how the kitchen looked prior to the renovation. The cupboards are probably original but other than that and the wood trim and wainscoting there's not much that actually dates back to 1890 when the house was built.
It's not really obvious in this photo but both the counter top and the back splash were a kind of pinky, yellow - not great.
The first decision that had to be made was about the cedar cabinets. Kudos to the owners for wanting them to stay. This is a large kitchen and new cabinets would have been an unnecessary expense. It came down to whether to paint them or have them refinished. Ultimately refinishing won. We chose a stain that was slightly darker than the old one, this brought the finished product to almost the exact colour of the wood window frames. A new and slightly smaller apron sink was installed along with a new faucet and Cambria Torquay counter top. These were the easy parts. I didn't feel that the back splash would be difficult, it was the floor that was going to be a challenge.
There's already a great deal of wood in this kitchen and if the cabinets were not going to be painted a wood floor would really be overwhelming. Also, there's hardwood throughout the rest of the house and there would be the question of it matching.
The real challenge was that the owners didn't want ceramic tile for the flooring. They also wanted something with a pattern.
Let me tell you, that really limits your options. The owners were very keen on linoleum which is now sold under the name of marmoleum. So I began researching marmoleum as well as LVT, the fancy new name for luxury vinyl tile. However the challenges continued. I could source marmoleum but local retailers were very reluctant to install it in a residential setting. It's actually a really amazing natural product. The downside of it is that it needs regular polishing, it's also tricky to install. Aside from creating a checker board pattern there was nothing that had pattern to it - at least nothing my clients would like. I was holding out hope for some kind of LVT but it was all, to be very honest, pretty awful.
My experience was that if you don't want what everyone else has you're going to have a very hard time finding something you like.
And this is where the internet comes in! I have to say it saved the day. What I found was a flooring company in England called Harvey Maria. They carry this great LVT in a pattern called Parquet. It comes in a variety of colours but we chose charcoal. Here's a look at the finished kitchen area.
I can't tell you how impressed we all were with Harvey Maria. I ordered a few different colours of samples, which were free. Their customer service support team was amazing, they answered all my inquiries promptly. Their website is great with all kinds of information and videos. What impressed us most is how quickly the tile arrived once the order was placed - boom, in a matter of days it was at my client's door - in Canada. Once the floor was decided upon it made choosing the hex back splash with the detail in varying shades of grey an easy choice.
Wall colour wasn't decided until everything else was in place. The owners wanted a colour for the walls and my preference was to make it something that could be wrapped onto the ceiling to help unify the kitchen and the eating area. Besides, one of the wonderful things about these particular clients is that they always go for colour on the ceiling - trust me, more people should do the same.
We had to be careful of anything with too much colour in it, I didn't want it to end up looking like a 1950's diner. In the end we chose Benjamin Moore Smoky Green, it's just right. It offsets the white tile, looks beautiful with all the wood and was pale enough to wrap onto the ceiling.
Thank you Harvey Maria for making a product that is out of the ordinary!