April 2nd 2018
Our design for my client’s beloved 1850’s stone farm house in Milton was featured in the weekend edition of Canada’s National Post Newspaper. Attached is the link to the article (bit.ly/1850sStoneFarmhouse) and as well I thought I would share some before and after photos and an insider view of the concept and process.
This project is about the resurrection of an 1862 Regency Georgian stone farmhouse, a designated Heritage Building, and it's adjoining structures destroyed by a massive fire in 2013.
The ruins of the property sat exposed to the elements for close to two years and became saturated with moisture and wood rot, requiring a complete rebuild and restoration. The farmhouse had been in the family for many generations and now it was a gothic ruin, like Thornfield Hall in Jane Eyre. There was something about the place, a spirit of sorts that made the project about much more than just a renovation.
The client, a classical pianist, wanted to retain as much of the original character of the farmhouse as possible, while needing formal living, dining and kitchen spaces, as well as a family room, a private master bedroom suite, multiple bedrooms with ensuites for children and guests, a library/office, a potting shed, a games and AV room and lastly, a large concert space for public gatherings to showcase her two grand pianos.
The challenge was to achieve a high-end result within a mid-range budget, given the limited payout from the insurance company.
Additionally, we needed to adhere to Heritage Department requirements, address long-term sustainability issues, provide maintenance solutions and consider the future saleability of the renovated property. Client specific requirements were to address acoustical conditions for concerts and heat control for instruments.
Our concept created a contemporary reinterpretation of vernacular historic farm homestead.
By introducing modern forms and materials to complement/contrast with existing heritage elements, we sought meaningful juxtaposition of the old with the new, giving each their cultural and architectural precedence.The property originally featured 2 stand alone stone buildings; The original 2 storey homestead farmhouse ( above right) housed living space on the main floor and bedrooms on the second floor and a smaller outbuilding, possibly the original stables, is seen above far left. Our concept was a new take on a traditional farmstead: to join the two existing stone buildings with a contemporary central section thus creating the experience of a rambling collection of farm buildings. Historic stone juxtaposed with the metal standing seam roofs of the 'allegorical' barn structure further contrasted with contemporary Ipe wood slatted facade of the contemporary middle structure, reminiscent of aged barnboard walls.
The stone walls that were damaged in the fire were restored to retain the timeless feeling of the original home. Before the construction began, a local contractor who specialized in stone house restoration, worked to strengthen and repair the shell; once the heavily damaged plaster and lath was removed, the beauty of the old walls was fully revealed and we opted to keep them exposed. This provided a visual history of the farmhouse structure with “ghost” traces of original details. Lastly, the exposed stone walls provide acoustic value, textural and visual warmth and we introduced high velocity currents of air from the energy efficient geothermal (sustainable) heating system to wash the walls and keep them warm.
My client, a respected pianist and music teacher wanted a space for music concerts. We located this space in what was the previously the two storey farmhouse and the new open dramatic concert space also became a formal salon/living room. The contemporary addition housed a large open concept kitchen, family room, library, games rooms and numerous bedrooms, while the stables became the master suite.
A passionate gardener one of my client’s favourite rooms is the potting room, with traditional black-and-white checked floors and a big side counter for dividing perennials and potting up geraniums. The doors to the potting room are a pair of lacy old Victorian French doors that my client found at a local flea market.
Though it is modern and clean, the kitchen has its own sense of the past, with reclaimed timber ceiling beams, and in place of a central island I incorporated worktables found in an out building. The use of antique, one-of-a-kind furniture, mixed with contemporary elements is one of my favorite combinations because the warmth of the old plays off the clean lines of the modern cabinetry.
The household “central command” desk (above right) in the kitchen is a different kind of sanctuary as it overlooks a huge vegetable garden - a nice spot to ponder recipes for soup making or canning.
Below are images of the work in progess of the Farmhouse.