Hickory Modern Victorian

Our full gut renovation of this 1908 farmhouse happily marries casual modernity and Victorian authenticity. Supporting the owners’ vision of a more playful and fully livable home, we also preserved the unique features of its original construction.

The client chose the house because, “We fell in love with the land, the porch, and all the beautiful old wood. We were simply trying to make the awkward things about it work. The kitchen was major; we just needed it to be more useful. In the end, those changes transformed the whole house.”

From dark to light

Typical of its era, the existing house was somewhat somber inside, made more so by the darkly stained American chestnut trim. However, our attitude, in keeping with the client’s, was essentially “If it doesn’t need to be changed, don’t change it.” So, we chose to keep most of the wood or reuse it elsewhere, such as in the relocated powder room. This was critical because the wood species has been extinct since the 1950s and is rather rare to still find in quality condition. Where we kept it, we just stripped it to its natural state and applied a light finish to reflect a more modern warmth.

According to our client, “The whole project was dark into light. The old wood was beautiful but heavy when we walked in. Idea Space was able to change it around to lighten it up.”

Family friendly

While providing a lighter feel overall, we also accommodated the needs of a modern family lifestyle, starting at the entry. Reusing the original double glass front doors, we had them sanded down to reveal their original beauty. These doors open into a generous area with a built-in storage bench, a restored, wood-railed staircase, and leaded glass windows.

“I love walking into the entryway,” says the client. “It’s such a gracious space, lovely to come in to, but also highly functional for the kids and very organized.”

Beyond the front door, a more visually connected first floor draws the light throughout and facilitates better interaction. We reoriented the kitchen around a large central island and opened it up to the dining room. But instead of adopting a fully open floor plan, we replaced doorways with extra-large cased openings that echo the home’s historical heritage. We also inserted additional exterior glass doors to provide easy access to the back deck and wraparound porch.

Bringing it home

Following our sustainable approach to the existing wood, we used rustic reclaimed oak—bearing the characteristic wear and charming wormholes from old barns—for the new kitchen island and open shelving. We even used the leftover reclaimed wood to build a custom cabinet for storing papers, such as bills and the kids’ homework.

To create a spacious master suite, we fashioned a new dressing room and closet out of an unused bedroom and expanded the existing bathroom between to a four-fixture one with a custom teak vanity. Across the hall, the addition of a new children’s bath gives the two boys extra room to grow.

The result is a bright, fresh and comfortable 4,500-square-foot home with all new systems upgrades, ready for this fun family to enjoy for years to come.

“I just really like the feel of it,” says the owner. “Julie was so good at considering every little part. Her thoughtful use of textures and colors and fabrics filled in the space, pulling everything together and making it flow. Those pretty little details made it feel homey right away.”

Additional images can be found at this Instagram hashtag #hickoryrenovation

General Contractor: The Zorel Group

Structural Engineering: KSI