When Fireside co-owner Jaclyn Wiebe purchased a house built in 1884, she knew a full gut would be involved to make the home energy efficient. Opening up the walls to the studs left opportunities to re-think the layout and function of the new eat-in kitchen. Tearing down walls, opening up the ceiling to the second floor, and installing all new windows almost gave the Fireside team a blank slate to start with. So, we looked to the history of both the house and the homeowners to determine our design direction.
Before And In-process
As with homes over 100 years old, the house was very solid and well constructed. The kitchen, however, was a later addition and needed some structural intervention. Even though the removed walls removed were not load-bearing, this section of the house was under-built. A fake “beam” had to be replaced with structural members. Additionally, the back corner of the house only had a crawlspace foundation and had sunk over 4″, which was very noticeable. So we built up the first floor and lifted the second floor above.
The house was unique in that it was balloon-framed (extra-long wall studs run from foundation wall to attic, with the first and second floors hang off the vertical studs) which allowed us to easily create a large opening to connect the first and second floors. This light well opening was done for passive cooling and day-lighting. Heat rises and is exhausted through a quiet high-powered bathroom fan, in lieu of installing central air.
All new electrical, mechanical, and plumbing was installed to code. Soy-based spray foam (instead of batt insulation) gave us the best R-value per inch, and sealed up any air leaks.
There’s a richness in the mystery of an old house. The bricks in the old chimney are 130 years old, and likely older since they show evidence that they were reclaimed from a fireplace, traces of soot and paint hinting at their prior life.
The new light well opening allowed us to expose the full height of the old chimney, and the stamped coloured plaster leaves traces of the home as it was in its various incarnations.
The pink-washed rough wood shelving and corbels were found in the house and left the same colour, cut down to size for the new kitchen. The umbrella plant was left behind by the previous owner.
We designed the space to leave visual reminders of places Jaclyn and her husband Matt have lived and loved in the past. Pine panelling, exposed ductwork and ceiling joists, stamped tin, and the double-height ceiling can all be traced to past residences. Even the midcentury tubular steel-and-caning chairs are saved from the family farmhouse.
Texture, Colour, And Light
Reeded glass cabinet doors, grooved panels on the island, and the dining chandelier provide visual continuity of delicate vertical lines.
We chose to provide continuity in surprising places. The muted pink colour is found in a few of the chimney bricks, the leather bar stool, and the reclaimed open shelf.
The theme of translucence is exhibited in the weave of linen, the sparkle of faceted glass doorknobs, the openness of the caned-back chairs, and the luminosity of the reeded glass doors.
Informal Eat-in Kitchen
There is no other dining room. The table can expand to seat twelve for informal community meals. All lights are zoned and dimmable to fine tune the experience to suit changing needs.
The space is meant to be a living experiment, and nothing is precious. For example, the island is only primed and needs the perfect shade of blue-grey to offset the warm tones. The exposed ceiling joists are easily drilled into for changing out light fixtures and locations.