Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Welcome to Our Farmhouse Kitchen

Back in September when our farmhouse was first featured on the Houzz website, I started telling you about the different rooms and things in our house. Somehow I got off track and never finished. Truth be told, the Houzz people told me to stop sharing the photos because they were going to feature our farmhouse in one of their newsletters. I stopped like they asked and then we were featured as their top house of the week. What a fun surprise! What followed was a crazy series of comments from their readers - people I didn't know putting in their 2 cents about how I have painted, decorated, collected, and lived in our farmhouse with my family. 

I must say, that series of comments was one of the oddest things that has happened to me this year. To read what strangers thought of our house - both good and bad - was eye opening to say the least. One of the wackiest comments was from a woman who feared for my sanity! OMG - if she ever knew how normal we are, how grounded and common sense-ical we are she would be so disappointed. Then there were the people who were worried about resale value because of the paint colors. My comment to them is "man, don't worry about money all the time - live your life!"

I never did join in the discussion on the comments thread because it was just too much fun reading what these strangers thought from afar. It is a good thing I have thick skin and really do not care what anyone thinks of my style! There were plenty of folks who loved all the color too!

What I did realize from all of the comments is that many, many people live in their houses in fear of color, in fear of resale, in fear of what their neighbors think. They are fearful of painting a room the wrong shade. They pick beige because it is safe and they see it in all the decorating magazines over and over and over. I get a kick out of the different decorating mags all they time - their "color" issues just feature beige houses with some pops of color in the pillows. I feel sad that so many people live in fear of color. I say embrace it - play with it - see what happens. It's only paint and paint isn't that expensive in the giant scheme of things!

There have been some really nice things that are evolving from the Houzz feature and I should be able to fill you in on at least one of them after the New Year. For now, I'll share the photos from our Farmhouse kitchen and the back-story to the different photos. I hope they will inspire you all to look at your homes and mix it up once the dust settles after the New Year.

For some this may seem an odd thing to share but I don't mind. For me, any "good" house is a series of stories - tales of parties held, holidays celebrated, trips traveled and souvenirs purchased, meals cooked, visitors welcomed, lives lived, and projects accomplished. Now that I write this, it is a bit like my blog has become here in my internet home. I thank you all for going along with me on this journey and value your readership and the comments you add, whether by email or in the comments section. 

Welcome to our Farmhouse Kitchen via the lovely photos by the talented Rikki Snyder (all photos on this post by Rikki via Houzz).

Let's start with the dog! That is 13 year old Border Collie Phoebe. Isn't she beautiful? 

I totally love all the rooms in our house but probably our kitchen is my family’s favorite room because we spend so much time there. When we bought the farm back in 1998, the kitchen was in the basement! I planned to fix it up some and my mom and friend Sally mentioned that the kitchen really shouldn't be in the basement. I jumped on the chance to knock down 3 walls on the first floor and do a completely new kitchen. Our plan for our home is to stay here for a very long time, hence I was not worried about spending money and not getting it back out of the place. The kitchen (and for that matter, this entire house) was a really fun project for me. I grabbed my graph paper, my tape measure and began dreaming about how I wanted my kitchen to look and to work.

I designed our kitchen to mimic a British style country kitchen that I had become familiar with when traveling in the UK for work and pleasure. Long had I lusted over the gorgeous kitchens in British Country Living and World of Interiors. I found a medium priced cabinet maker in New Hampshire who understood the look I was going for (pictures do tell a thousand words). I measured and coordinated all the work with our friend Kevin Gray, a local builder who has done work for us at the farm for over 20 years. We knocked down 3 walls, took out windows, put new windows in and I learned a whole bunch. At the time the work was going on, we weren't living here during the week so it made it much easier to live through.

The cabinets were made by Crownpoint Cabinet Makers in Claremont, NH. They were painted with "milk paint" and then finished with some kind of coating. They have worn quite well but are starting to show some wear (it has been 13 years and we live hard in our kitchen - cats, dogs, people, manure, little lambs, chicks - it's not quite the normal house). The counters were made with local “Ashfield” schist stone complete with a slotted drainboard carved into the stone. What fun it was to go to the quarry and pick out the stones that would be on my counters. It has the look of soapstone but is a bit more durable and at the time was rather inexpensive. The kitchen island is topped with a handmade maple top made by a local friend. 

The corner cupboard is old and came from my mother-in-law. I designed the kitchen around it so that it would be used, not just looked at. It has lovely turquoise "old" paint in it. All the lights are all old and were wired by our electrician friend Dave Laprade. Over the kitchen table is a black iron electrified oil lamp that came from a general store in NH. Over the island is a wacky iron lamp with a handmade opalescent glass shade that I carried home from England shortly after we bought our house. I've never seen anything like it again. Glad I took the chance of it making it to the States safely. The walls are filled with pottery, some old, some new, some I made myself. I found the "pottery shelf" at a local junk shop - it is actually a bookcase that Kevin screwed into the wall for me. 

The table came from my hometown and was found in an elderly friend's kitchen when he passed away. It is really worn and the veneer is past repair. I can't bear to part with it because it has been our kitchen table since our first apartment. When the cats land on it the whole thing shakes. One day the table will just fall apart.

The floors are pine and half were here in the house and the other half were replaced with new pine. When the kitchen was new, I painted them a mottled, streaky greyish taupe shade and topped them with poly-something. With all the boot traffic, dog toenails, and manure (not to mention little lambs in the winter running up and down) that gets brought in, they are now highly patinaed and distressed! They wash up nicely with ammonia but it doesn't last a day. I love the look and it only comes from years of wear. Suburban people (yes, you Mom!) would never have these floors. I love them.

The stacks of magazines by the side of the table are The Farmer's farming magazines that he likes to read and refer to. I gave up along time ago nagging him about them and now just shut up and think of them as part of the decoration. He loves to leaf through past issues to refresh himself on different farming trends. I should say they are just like a knitting or decorating magazine in my little world.

Here's a close-up of the sink, the island, and the counters. The window looks out onto my chicken pen and the hill beyond. The sink is from England and I purchased it way before "farmhouse sinks" were in fashion. I had to look so hard to source this thing. I was prepared to have it shipped in from England because I was so desperate for this kind of look and giant deep sink. Now almost every sink company has their own version. I wanted taps that were old fashioned and looked like they had been there for years. Mine were made by Perrin and Rowe and I have had little problem with them. Just so you know.... the kitchen is never this clean and spare looking!

Above is another close-up of the kitchen table, the beat-up chairs and table, and a bouquet of my beautiful garden sunflowers.

This is a close-up of the junkstore bookcase turned pottery display wall piece. We call the armchair "Pop's Chair" as it was the chair my Dad always sat on when he came to visit us here at the farm. Pop's Chair always has a colorful throw or a coat on it. The cushion cover has been ruined by the cats and I haven't gotten to replacing it. One year. I just wrap an Indian blockprint around it and it fits into the mishmash just fine. The lamp is made out of antique lamp parts that I picked up at yard sales and flea markets. I had a local guy string them all together and make them into a floor lamp. One day I will paint it. The lampshade is by moi.

This cabinet is my German immigrant grandmother Frieda’s “Hoosier Cabinet” which was made by G.I. Sellers in Indiana in the early 1920’s. It was in her American kitchen her entire adult life and has a flour bin with a sifter which I use when I bake. I keep all my baking supplies in the cabinet and love that connection with my grandmother. I painted it bright orange and have some antique folk embroidery hanging from it as little curtains where the roll-top is broken. The embroidery came from the Brimfield Flea Market over a decade ago and was actually sleeve pieces from a man's shirt. I love the connection this cabinet has with my gram because she and her mom were amazing embroiderers, quilters, tatters, crocheters and bakers – part of my family history and who I am. The metal shelf extends and makes a great desk area.

This corner of the kitchen we call "the daybed nook." I think every kitchen needs a daybed. I got the idea from my friend Sally's home in Maine and copied it. Her house is on an island in the Atlantic Ocean so her view is much better than ours. Kevin built the two bookcases and at the bottom, added a support for a piece of plywood. I purchased a twin bed mattress and voila, a daybed. The phone is right there too and the shelves are stacked with my cookbook collection and The Farmer's animal husbandry and farming books. Julia's "picture books" from when she was much younger are on two shelves and neither of us can bear to part with them. We all have spent many hours on the daybed reading, napping, or talking on the phone.

The daybed is piled with my handknit and hand embroidered pillows and some I made out of Cuna Indian molas from Central America. I use a rotating assortment of Indian blockprint bedspreads on the daybed as covers. I love that I can change the feeling of the nook by the season. It's amazing what a change in fabric and color can do! The paintings on the wall are two of my first oil paintings - one of Julia as a 1 1/2 year old and one of The Farmer in his signature "plaid shirts." I was going for the naive look.

Opposite the daybed is an ottoman that is made out of an old damaged kilim. I bought it out of the back of a guy's truck one time. The closet holds my "wedding china". I open the closet once a year at Thanksgiving! Boy, I guess the wedding china trend has gone the way of the local dimestore, hasn't it? On the wall are all kinds of little prints I have collected - many to do with sheep and textiles. I collect old frames at yard sales and sometimes spend an afternoon mounting the little pictures into the frames and then finding an empty spot on the walls for the pictures. I love that Rikki wanted to take the picture without straightening the frames. It gives an honest to goodness lived in look to the photo but I also realize it may drive some of you nutty!

I hope you have enjoyed this little tour of our kitchen and the back-story behind all the things in it and how it came to be. I want to thank Rikki Snyder for all the lovely photos and for introducing me to the readers of Houzz. And Photographer Sarah Zimmerman for introducing me to Rikki! I thank the Houzz people (whoever they are as I have never corresponded with anyone there!) for featuring my wacky farmhouse style on their website this year!

I hope your pre-holiday festive weeks are going along nicely. I'll be back tomorrow I hope.


maryse said...

i love your kitchen. pooh on those who don't.

Mary Lou said...

Love it!

Kieren Dutcher said...

Gorgeous color, pattern, texture. I just LOVE it. It's sad so many people care so much about what others think. You only live once, so live it the way you want. The issue in our house, is that my designer husband has very different ideas about color than I do.

My name is Erika. said...

I absolutely love your house and LOVE all the colors. You put them together so well...who couldn't it? And I also agree, got to live your life, not worry about resale-because what if you never sell? Thanks for sharing.

Mary said...

I love everything about your kitchen, especially the daybed nook! Perfect!

I live in an old home, with original floors...I know there are those who think they need to be totally refinished, but I love the old worn look to them.

ellen said...

I would feel as if I had died and gone to heaven. I don't think there is one spec of anything that I don't just love about your house. We no longer have sheep or pigs or a milk cow..but we did and they did share our house (well, not the cow) when they were wee in in need of care. Home beer making (may I mention an explosion) so much, two boys with friends, Border Collies, cats and a rooster at one point.
I do not understand "perfect". Perfect to me is a well loved and lived in house with color and memories that just seep out of the walls. Oh, joy..and thanks for sharing your warm and loving home.

mandi said...

Oh my goodness! I love it all! My favorite is the daybed nook. I need one of those!!!

Margo said...

I love your kitchen. The only change I would make is straightening the frames.

Sarah said...

Your home is lovely. It reminds me of Kaffe Fassett's home. Please feel encouraged and loved from icy London x

Manise said...

Love it and the backstory on your home! Thanks for sharing it with us and I second the pffft! on those who can't appreciate it.

kingshearte said...

I have to say that I simultaneously love your house and am glad I don't live in it. While I love looking at the pictures, I do find the riotous colours a bit overwhelming, and to imagine myself surrounded by them? Not sure I could do it. However, like others have said, I *adore* the fact that you're not scared of using the colours *you* want to use, and it's so obvious, both from looking at the pictures and seeing you talk about the house, that you truly love it, and that to me is the best thing about it. You've created a space that you love and that makes you happy, and for that reason, I think it's amazingly fantastic.

linda bowton said...

i agree with sarah - kaffe fassett likeness!! you just can't beat an olde farmhouse for warmth, comfort and personality!! thank you for sharing all the 'background' in your kitchen... the stories are heartwarming!!!
^)^ linda

Jane said...

Your house is an inspiration.

Anonymous said...

~ Dear Kristin,
Your house design is uniquely yours & similar to Kaffe Fassett ~ In my opinion, fantastic beauty in colors & comfort. To me, that's what a home is about.
I am currently painting my bedroom/art room a yellow called solaria. My kitchen is creamy orange. My glass paned kitchen door will soon be a turquoise. I too loVe textiles and have many South American pieces around, with lotsa books and big, old lampshades waiting for their turn to be painted, with the edges decorated with beads sewn on.
My dear cat has a window seat, but I do not. I'd loVe to have one like yours. The blue tapestry is so beautiful. I enjoy textiles from India too, and plan to paint a large wooden room divider with elephants, peacocks, llamas, goats & florals. I've been dreaming of doing this for many months of rest after cancer surgeries. Color indeed, is very healing.
Your home reminds me of the Bloomsbury group's art meeting place, Charleston, in England.

The greatest compliment I have had about my home was: "It feels like I'm in a different country when I'm at your house."
My teenage knitting students enjoy that I change the furniture around quite often.
I say, thank goodness, you give the world c*o*l*o*r & art !!!
Shell ~

Anonymous said...

~ Might I add that my "house" is just a 6 room apt. I won my landlord over with my color theme, telling him if I ever move, I'll gladly paint it all white again. To be able to joyously paint it cozy is wonderful. My landlord now tells people, Shell isn't afraid of color & everyone loves my orange kitchen, many of whom were first appalled at the idea. Any space can be turned into a creative world. ~
Shell ~

Kate (KnitsInClass) said...

Color is the best. I love living with it.
Crazy about your kitchen - we are getting ready to re-do ours, and I'm taking a lot of inspiration from your colors.

Marcia said...

I think when you post pictures of your house, specifically the kitchen, you should post the pictures of the lambs sleeping there.
Tee Hee!
That will give folks something to comment on!

In any case, you are an inspiration. And that's only meant in a good way!

Anonymous said...

Here to say that I love your house and would like to step into it permanently any time!! Love everything thing about it (esp. the colors) and love the stories. What a great thing to share with us, blog readers! Also, your designs and yarn are incredible. You are such a smart and interesting person.

Cathy said...

Your house is a reflection of the artist in you. As for resale - one can always paint right before putting it on the market!! You need to enjoy it while you live there - so paint away, I say!

Your kitchen table looks very much like our table which has been passed down from my grandmother's house to me. The original leaves have long since worn out, but the current ones were made by my uncle, probably 40 years ago.

Helen said...

I love your house! It is lived in and it is so you. It would be shocking to see you in a beige shell. Those places make me nervous. lol!

Goldie said...

I am such a fan! I feel so privileged to have been there and shared a meal in your lovely kitchen. I'm working on plans for my new house and I too am trying to figure out the cozy book nook and an eat in kitchen. You ans Sally are both inspiration to me. Thank you for your gracious sharing. XO.

PatB said...

I also love your kitchen! Love everything about it including the patina of the floor and the beautiful sheep dog and even the skewed picture frames. It's those beige possessed re-sale concerned people who have mental problems. I wish I had room for a daybed!

Anonymous said...

Dear me, I sincerely hope that you were able to blow off distasteful comments..I am too sensitive! I would love your home to be mine, especially the floors. Our current project is to remove the carpet and paint/stain/stencil the plywood underneath - we'll see what happens - play with it. I am sure I will love it. I think the world needs to lighten up a little. Happy Color Day to you!

Rikki Snyder said...


You could not have said it better! So many people are afraid of using color in their home, it's sad. But you have turned your home into a masterpiece through color and pattern. I wanted to step in so many times when I saw a negative comment, but I friends & family had to deal with me venting about it instead!

Anyways, you have inspired so many with your talents and I am so honored that I get to work with you. You deserve a million medals for everything you do!

Can't wait to see you again soon :)

Jennifer and Steve said...

we love, love, love, love your use of color. thank you for sharing. :)

Tamson said...

I loved being in your warm and colorful home in October so I enjoyed reading about how you created the kitchen, where specific things came from, and how you put it all together mixing family furniture, items from afar (love the story about the lamp from England; I did the same with a big pottery platter now in my kitchen) and all the other elements. Loved the magazines on the floor, the daybed I wanted to curl up in when I visited and the lived-in family feeling--just what a kitchen and home should are so creative and inspirational and thank you for sharing it all!

Joyce said...

I love your house, it's uniquely you. When I read the comment on the Houzz site by the person who feared for your sanity; I felt the comment reflected more on her mental state than yours. Thanks for sharing your home.

Anonymous said...

your home looks lovely ,warm and inviting and most of all well lived in for your family and animals -a real home.

camby said...

I love it! Especially the sink and the corner cabinet and all the books! Also love that you admit it's not usually that clean! That makes me feel better about mine! ;)

Lola said...

I live in a standard issue townhouse. Yes, beige. Lived with it for years. We got sick of it and just splashed paint everywhere. My bedroom is red now. Resale value? Whoever buys our home can just paint it over themselves.

Ann said...

Love love love this especially the nook. British Country Living is what I call my "domestic pornography."

Weird about the comments. People are way too conformist.

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