A Victorian Farmhouse Brings Modern Flair To The Country
House hunters Judy and Michael McPhee remember it like it was yesterday, when they came across their circa-1878 Victorian farmhouse in Caledonia, Ontario, for the first time. It was this home’s postcard location and authentic details that held particular sway, and led the couple to sign on the dotted line. “We loved that all the wood floors were in great condition and that the trim was still intact — beautiful but not too ornate, just the way we like it.” That last point was key, because Judy wanted an updated farmhouse look that retained the home’s historical sensibility but avoided any cloying country clichés.
The couple enlisted designer Susan Burns to help achieve a modern-vintage look that seems to have evolved over time. The redesign didn’t just revive a beloved country home, it ended up drawing Judy and Michael closer. “We always ate at the kitchen table, and now we spend more time chatting or having a glass of wine after dinner at the island,” says Judy. “It’s changed how we live, because I love that time together.”
A big chestnut tree provides plenty of shade for plants in the garden. “We fell in love with the house from the outside and hoped the inside matched,” says Judy.
The 1953 Ford F100 pickup was a Valentine’s present from Michael to Judy.
Linen-covered sofas and contemporary lighting create a clean country vibe in the living room. New wood shutters look original to the farmhouse
Placed in an alcove at one end of the living room, this hutch, with its pretty blue-grey hue, was the starting point for the home’s palette. Lightweight chairs offer a mod counterpoint.
Caesarstone countertops and large-scale porcelain tile flooring topped with a plush Moroccan-style rug update the kitchen’s classic style.
A discreet, framed-in vent hood puts the emphasis on the kitchen’s striking black-painted window frames. “Everyone wants cleaner interiors these days, less clutter and more editing,” says Susan. “A Shaker-style kitchen is perfect for that, and it’s a good base for Judy’s collections of pottery and oil lamps.”
Windsor dining chairs were updated with a few coats of black paint. A hammered-metal pendant gives the antique hutch and dining table some edge.
Two antique blanket boxes create storage in a corner of the dining room.
At the back porch entrance, porcelain tile flooring is an economical alternative to slate.
The main bathroom was given a major facelift with wainscotting and a soaker tub that replaced the impractical, too-large hot tub.
In the principal bedroom, eaves shelter the custom bed frame that Judy had made after spying a pricier version. The couple added a fireplace and walk-in closet (not shown) to ensure the space stayed cozy and clutter free.
Michael equipped the barn with a hoist for vintage car and truck maintenance. The red roof is a favorite feature.
An old outhouse was repurposed as a garden shed.
A garden bed is planted with sedum, heuchera, peonies, daylilies, fountain grass and rudbeckia. In the background, Japanese maple and eastern redbud trees add fiery colour.