By Brooke Fedigan, Farmhouse 1820
Photos: Courtesy of Brooke Fedigan
Remodeling a kitchen can be a daunting task for anyone, yet for someone like me, I dove in feet first—but totally forgot to take a breath. When we bought our 1820 farmhouse seven years ago, I had big plans for our kitchen when we moved in; first and foremost, remove the wallpaper featuring random birds and their nests. The dark cabinets needed a facelift, too.
My problem, though, was that I was so excited, I started removing wallpaper and demo-ing without a true method to my madness. Excitement got the best of me and then, when the mess was made, I was completely overwhelmed. My fault completely, but the only thing I could do at that point was to take my exaggerated efforts and turn them into a well-thought-out farmhouse kitchen design. I had to swallow my pride, slow down and live with the mess. I needed to let the kitchen speak to me; live there for a little while and think about what I wanted in the space, and what this old and quirky-lined kitchen wanted from me. Sounds a little corny, but I’m here to tell you that this is the best advice I can give to anyone tackling a remodel of any kind. Let your house speak to you.
I did finish removing the below-standard wallpaper, and I slapped some paint on the cabinets to see if I could embrace painted cabinets in our kitchen, and all was OK for a while. Several months passed, and I was carefully thinking about the enhancements I wanted to make and listening to our kitchen, all while keeping in mind our very modest budget. Honestly, our farmhouse kitchen is what taught me to be an avid DIYer. What it was telling me it needed versus our overextended budget—well, I had no choice but to dive in and figure it out as I went along. YouTube videos were played on a continuous stream. That’s another tip: the power of YouTube. Look for any and all videos you can on the subject you’re researching.
With the help of said videos, I have installed limestone tiles above our kitchen fireplace, cut apart wood pallets (at a cost of nothing) and added that “reclaimed wood” below the chair rail to achieve a period feel. My greatest endeavor to date: I built concrete countertops. I’ve wanted them in my kitchen for as long as I can remember, and when I sent out bids, my only answer was to build them myself. I ended up saving $5,300. Even with the concrete, our kitchen’s true claim to fame is a 1940 cast-iron sink that I refurbished and applied more elbow grease to than I knew I had to offer. The work totally paid off because that Craigs-list find now proudly lives in our old farmhouse kitchen, rocking the cradle with a modern-day faucet.
So my final advice to all who are contemplating a kitchen remodel: take your time, and, again, let your kitchen speak to you. Complete one project at a time, and be OK with the fact that even your changes may change. I’ve painted our cabinets four times—maybe the fifth time will be the charm.
For more information about Brooke and her DIY projects, visit www.farmhouse1820.com. █