My Country Farmhouse – Mixing the Old with the New

Century homes offer some of the most spectacular character already built in to them and it was built to last.  It was all done by hand and that is why many people look to buy them to continue to preserve a piece of history.  They usually do require more work but the reward of salvaging them often comes back full turn later on.

The Woodwork

Hand carved staircases, trim, fretwork, and hardwood floors just to name a few. If the wood has been oiled and maintained over the years you shouldn’t have to paint it out – and I suggest you don’t if they look anything like wood in these pictures. The wood adds to the warmth and charm and it is something you don’t see often since everyone has probably already painted it white to brighten their spaces. Just paint the walls a neutral light colour to make the wood the feature of the house.

Here are some beautiful ideas of how to update a house with natural stained wood trim:

The Doors

Someone once asked me what my opinion was about replacing their century old solid wood doors. Here was my response “absolutely not”. Why would you want to? Now you can custom build a solid wood door to look like the original door (for a hefty fee) which is a great option (if your door is in total disrepair) or you can sand and re-stain your already near perfect ORIGINAL door yourself. You can also hire someone to take on the task but again it will cost a bit of money, but in the end it will be so rewarding. People looking at a century home often want all the original charm and character, if you take it away it makes the house feel a little less valuable.

Crown Moulding, Baseboards and Wainscotting

Crown moulding and baseboards add to the height and finish of a room in an old home. Often the ceilings are 8 feet or higher (some can reach 10 feet). You can add it to any house and it isn’t overly expensive as many products have come a long way. You can now get crown moulding that is foam and plaster combination which is a popular choice however, most century homes already have plaster moulding in place and once you take it down you will never get it back the exact same way. Wainscotting is another low cost addition to any room and can easily be done by someone with a level and excellent cutting/measuring skills (I installed it to the dining room and kitchen in my previous house on Alma St). It makes a room feel a bit more luxurious and refined.

The Exterior

Incredible hand carved wood “ginger bread cut-outs” are often found on well maintained century homes. There can be posts, corbels, hand rails, dental work, shutters and wood windows. Since the decorative wood is usually very thin it’s not uncommon for it to get destroyed after years of braving the elements. At my house the porch posts are original wood and are in need of a bit of filler, sanding and a paint job to bring them back to life. A little TLC can help them last many more years.

An easy way to add some character to an old home that has been modernized is by adding an old piece of furniture, mirrors, art work, fabric and even wall paper (if you like it).


Find art that you love and invest in it. Art is super personal you either really love a piece or you don’t.  It has taken me about 20 years to build a collection of pieces I love. I prefer oil and watercolour paintings in gold frames. Remember you are not limited too sticking to one or two types of art. Skies the limit if done right. Sketches, portraits, prints, installations, statues, abstract, large and small frames can all make a space feel finished. Collages, sets, collections and individual pieces can work just about anywhere.


Adding an old piece of furniture to any room makes the space more personal. I have a piece in every room of my house (a couple pieces in some) and they add so much warmth.  In my single guest bedroom there is an old day bed, shelf and dresser. They all work perfectly together as they are in the same wood tone and because I painted the walls a light neutral colour (Incredible white) it helps to keep the room from feeling “old”.

Expose the brick

Here are three beautiful examples of what you can do with brick in the house. It is timeless. If you’ve got it and you think you can make it work – take a chance. If you hate it you can simply add some drywall.

Until next time – enjoy! Do a little decorating. Make some inexpensive changes. And feel good about a space you may have forgotten.











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