How-To Renovate a Heritage Kitchen Like an Interior Design Pro

Homes Worth Celebrating

Before & After at the French Bistro Kitchen

The heritage home renovation dream always starts the same way– find a charming old house, fall in love with the built in character, fix it up just a little, and then live happily ever after in your effortlessly cool and collected space. What you don’t see in the dream is all of the work that goes in behind the scenes to modernize the functions of the space (hello recessed lighting, storage, and 21st century voltage) just to be able to put the original character back into place. These behind the scenes upgrades can become renovation nightmare’s once the hundred year old walls are opened up for re-construction, making a heritage renovation a real trust the process kind of a project. But after a lot of labour and love the results are my absolute favourite and one of my newly completed projects is the perfect example!

Take a look at the swoon worthy results of the #MBFrenchBistroKitchen renovation on Instagram, and read on for my pro design tricks to restore a heritage kitchen for modern family life. Plus, a closer look at what the space looked liked before the homeowners decided it was time to renovate.

Focus on Flow

Typical for its 1910’s era, this kitchen was located at the back of house and closed off from the other family spaces. A few bad additions in later years added welcome functions like a powder room and back deck, but only enhanced the choppy floor plate. For the new interior design, I moved and removed windows and doors to open up circulation through the space and give much needed access from all angles. The back wall operates as an entrance from the detached garage on a daily basis, and opens up completely for indoor outdoor living on the weekends. Popping in a door between the kitchen and the front entrance allows people, light and breeze to move easily towards the heart of the home. Finally replacing a door, and a window, with floor to ceiling storage streamlines everyday items– a must for modern living!

Select a strong palette

Black, white, and bold was the perfect colour palette to add a modern twist to the existing heritage details of this home. I started with Chantilly Lace — one of my top 3 favourite white paint colours — and used the same shade for walls, ceiling, trims and cabinetry. Then added contrast with a bold black colour for all cabinetry done in a classic shaker style. Bringing in brass accents was a nod to the home’s original era that also adds warmth to the sharp colour scheme. With a strong yet limited palette, the details like historic moulding and antique floors remain beautiful features with renewed significance.

Restore character

Mixing modern and traditional interior design details is an instant way to a timeless home, and my personal favourite design juxtaposition. With a heritage space, the traditional is typically already built in but might not have survived centuries of renovations in full. To restore the character here, I continued the existing moulding and trim details from the dining room through the whole kitchen, powder room and mud room after our reconfiguration to make sure everything looked like it had always been there. Streamlining three types of flooring was a must for continuity (and a level floor!) and the antique hardwood was too special to loose. So I had it matched and extended into the kitchen and mudroom without leaving the decorative border in the middle. It’s a sweet character detail that you would never find in a new home. Keeping traditional details built in allows for new design elements like paint, lighting and furniture to be the modern twist.

build amenities in

A family sized fridge, freezer, appliance garage and mudroom storage are required amenities for a busy family home that weren’t considered standard when heritage homes were first constructed. To build them into a heritage renovation successfully I recommend hiding as much as possible behind custom cabinetry. It’s easy for busy spaces to collect family clutter, and those closed doors are the best for quick clean ups. Plus covering appliances in cabinetry makes for a streamlined look that makes any kitchen as inviting as a living space! At the French Bistro Kitchen, I hid the fridge and dishwasher with our black cabinetry, and the small appliances behind a retractable door that tucks away for morning routine ease.

Nothing compares to the character of a historic home, and with some distinctly modern details the French Bistro Kitchen is now a timeless design for a 21st century family life. To me, the ultimate test of a space well renovated is when it feels like it could have always been a part of a home, and I think this project is the perfect example. Use these principals for your own heritage kitchen renovation and I know it will turn out beautifully!

Feeling inspired to start your own renovation project? Get in touch on our contact page for your complimentary inquiry call to start designing your own home worth celebrating!

Special thank you to some of our favourite colleagues and suppliers for being a part of this project:

Construction — Urban Roots Build Co Inc.

Photography — Janice Nicolay

Hardware — Rejuvenation

Lighting — CF Interiors

Countertops — Caesarstone

Folding Door — Westeck

Megan Baker

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