The kitchen at Blue Belldon Farm was stuck in the 1970s, with heavily varnished plywood cupboards, dark painted shelves, panelling for the back. The fridge was on an outside wall where I eventually want to put our wood cookstove, so it had to be moved. And the walls were painted that pinkish-beige that was so popular decades ago, but does nothing to cheer or brighten a room. Thinking open and airy, yet still 1800s primitive farmhouse kitchen, I designed around what I already owned and did all the work, including cutting cupboard doors on big power tools in the barn, ALL BY MYSELF. Am I proud of the result? You bet! Scroll down to see the changes that took 11 days straight of 8-10 hour days – the painting was a nightmare, not just to get rid of the 1970s and all its lacquers and varnishes and possibly- cigarette-baked finishes, but to get the effect I wanted as well – all in all, most things had 4 coats, with some extra touches done on the doors.Still going to put in glass in those doors I cut out, just have plastic for now… The board on the stovetop is my great-grandmother’s bread board, upside down, made by my great-grandfather before electric stoves were invented – but it fits perfectly as a cover! AND I still use it to roll out dough, knead bread as well. (see my first loaf here at the farm, below).
Before: and After: *click to make bigger
There was a big island and built in cabinet in the middle of the ‘L’-shape, so I sledge-hammered that out to make room for the pine cabinet from the auction we attended a few years ago on New Year’s Day. Filled with all my favourite artists’ pottery, some of Mom’s weaving, and other treasures…
Before: (built in island/cupboard at far right) After: *click to make bigger
The pantry, which is where I’ve moved the fridge as well, is also lightened up and my bake table will be there as soon as Richard fixes the poor old rickety legs on it.
All the 1970s’ doors have been taken off to be used for other projects or for Rustic Revivals shabby chic (when painted white) shop displays. Nothing goes to waste, of course, but reconfiguring is the name of the game. A quickly-accessed pantry now, that has brighter shelves, with the phone cubby and the fridge all tucked away there out of the main part of the kitchen. Love it! Everything bought in bulk and stored in canisters, or hung above, easy to grab when right there baking, mixing, blending, dreaming…
Eventually, we hope to change out the ceiling for more historical wood and beams, and rip all the many layers of vinyl/linoleum on the floor to get to original floorboards as well. Richard is going to make a concrete counter top for us and we’ll put in a butler’s sink. But for now, this is a very happy, bright, livable kitchen and will be an even cozier place when the cookstove is in the corner!
If you’re interested in rural renovations, and historically accurate preservations,below are the steps to get the kind of ‘aged’ finish on the blue door-fronts, as well as the white chalk paint mix and the hinge trick I had to use – but it saved money and time!
The stores out here in boonesville don’t carry the heritage brands of paint that were designed to match the blends the pioneers made from various berries. I’ve always gone with some form of Colonial Blue – but usually of my own mixing to save money. This replicates what the pioneers did with blueberries and blackberries, to ‘stain’ their wood. To the left is the table leg of my bake table, which I actually DID as the pioneers would have. To the right I am going through the steps to achieve the same effect with paint:
Here are the steps: First, I removed cupboard doors and stripped, sanded them, as well as shelves inside the cupboards. I didn’t do these, however, like you would do a piece of fine antique furniture – I left holes and lumps (though I did fill the old hinge holes as they were too obviously hinge holes). Leaving the imperfections adds character when you are distressing and aging anyway.
Next, painted door-fronts a baby blue I hated, but used as a primer. Then made up a chalk paint with arts and crafts Colonial blue (helped stretch it further as well as making it more historically accurate). Then I aged the doors by sponging on an oak stain, let it sit for 5 minutes, and then clean rag-rubbed it off, or buffed it in to holes, etc.
I then painted the hinges and hardware I was using – both the old ones to save money, and the new ones I bought from the feed store and with which I attached tiny hearts in my craft supplies to give the effect. As copper is the primary colour of any metals in my kitchen (and I’ll eventually have a copper tap at the butler’s sink as well), I bought copper spray paint, sprayed it into a container and then hand-brushed it on the hardware so it all matches in colour, though has lots of diversity in the look! (which you want for ‘country’ – you don’t want everything matching, everything lined up, everything covered up…
This is how the doors look that AREN’T cut for glass: