Though we have now lived 2 years at Bryarton Farm we still get butterflies in our stomachs when we really look at the craftsmanship of our little 1893 farmhouse. That is a sign of true love and I’ll admit we are smitten. So today I am devoting an entire post to showing you the beautiful details of the farmhouse that make it easy to forgive and forget all of its imperfections…
One of the reasons we bought this fixer upper farmhouse was because of the amazing amount of original details that had survived 123 years. Our goal is to restore the home to its former glory seamlessly so that you can’t tell the difference between the original and the new. For instance, the farmhouse retained almost all of its original doors including their swoon-worthy hardware. All we had to do was bring back a period-correct front door which had been “updated” to a steal door. Replacing a few of the knobs so they would all match and polishing the well worn wood was the only other thing we did. All the cast iron locks and hinges are still in working order. Shutting a few of the upstairs doors is a bit tricky, but that is just part of the historic charm/humidity.
This was really the first thing that made me fall in love with our farmhouse. The “Plynth blocks” are the impressive ribbed moldings at the base of every doorway, which caught my eye. I also noticed the beautiful rosettes at the top corners of every window and doorway. Generous 8 inch baseboards, fluted casings, turned corner guards, and wainscoting in the dining room. You might be able to have a carpenter custom make replicas for an exorbitant amount of money, but they wouldn’t really be comparable because the quality old growth lumber that our farmhouse’s millwork is carved from no longer exists. We decided to paint all our trim white to not only hide the abuse it had suffered over the years, but also to help unify and brighten our modest 1,400 sq ft interior. We have begun the process of adding the only missing trim—crown molding— which highlights the uniquely curved ceilings upstairs.
A major selling point—believe it or not—with our farmhouse was the fact that all the windows were original. Though painstakingly restoring each window will probably take us months to complete, these wavy glass beauties are well worth the effort! We are taking apart each window, repairing the rotted areas, reglazing the glass, putting them back together and repainting them. Replacing them with the disposable windows of today would not only be costly, but it would mar the proportions of the farmhouse’s facade. It’s true that modern windows are in-a-way “maintenance free” because you cannot fix or maintain them. When the seals break and the argon leaks out, glass fogs, or the finish fades you can only replace them. Old growth wood windows can be lovingly maintained to last hundreds of years!
The humble front porch of this folk style farmhouse was made into a work of art when the farmer who built her decided to dress her up a bit with this Victorian inspired fretwork. The abundance of turned dowels adds a lace-like affect, giving such a tiny hardworking space class! We hope to restore this delicate detail which has been neglected and is falling apart. The front porch is our favorite spot to gather as a family and talk, sing, play or simply watch the corn grow. A hundred years ago it would have served much the same purpose…
Though extremely narrow and steep the little winding staircase at the heart of our farmhouse is full of character and charm. I wonder if the farmer’s wife had trouble getting her beloved furniture up to the bedrooms too! We are almost finished refreshing this space, we just need to have an electrician sort out the ancient wiring so we can add a historically appropriate chandelier, and finish hanging some of my paintings.
I just love the original old growth hardwood floors that grace nearly every room in the farmhouse. Each ding and scratch they posses tells the story of the lives of all those who have lived under its roof. What a blessing to rip up the old carpets and find such jewels buried beneath!
Kansas is rich with native stone making masonry work much easier. We enjoy the warm texture that both the rubble stone and hand-made brick adds to the farmhouse. Even the exquisitely hand-carved cornerstone speaks volumes about the craftsmen’s level of skill. You can tell that building this farmhouse was a labor of love and we want to respect the legacy of the farmers who loved the farm before us.
The authentic features of our farmhouse are irreplaceable treasures that we are fighting to protect. It saddens us greatly to see the many forgotten farmhouses crumbling in the fields all over the Midwest! America was built by humble farmers and saving a piece of our nation’s history for generations to come is a cause we believe in!
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