Upgrading a kitchen in an older home can be challenging, but with careful planning and creative design, the results can be stunning. This week’s featured kitchen renovation demonstrates how introducing rustic barn wood elements and improving the layout can transform an outdated cook space into a beautiful, functional heart of the home.

Background on the Home

This kitchen project took place in a Georgian-style house originally built in the early 1800s. The home’s previous kitchen layout was choppy and inefficient, with an awkward peninsula cluttering up already limited work areas. The cabinets and countertops were showing their age after decades of use. Overall, the space felt dark, closed-in, and disconnected from the rest of the home.

The homeowners wanted to brighten and streamline the room’s functionality while preserving the historic charm of the home. Barn wood accents helped achieve a fresh farmhouse vibe that worked beautifully with the home’s age and architecture. Reconfiguring the layout improved workflow and opened sightlines to make the kitchen feel more spacious.

Integrating Rustic Barn Wood Elements

Barn wood instantly adds warmth and character to any space. Incorporating reclaimed wood into kitchen designs is a popular trend that pairs well with traditional homes.

For this project, the following barn wood elements were thoughtfully integrated:

  • Barn wood accent wall behind the stove – This striking architectural detail provides visual interest and contrast. The softly weathered planks add texture and a rustic vibe.
  • Barn wood kitchen island – The large center island got a barn wood countertop and wrapped base. This gorgeous showpiece ground the space with welcoming, natural style.
  • Barn wood open shelving – Floating shelves made from reclaimed barn wood offer charming display space by the window. Their worn patina makes them stand out.
  • Barn wood ceiling beams – Exposed beam ceiling details connect to the home’s heritage while complementing the other barn wood accents.

Improving the Kitchen Layout

Reconfiguring the kitchen’s layout was essential to maximizing the functionality of the space. Several important changes were made:

  • Removed awkward peninsula – This opening up cooking zones and traffic flow.
  • Relocated appliances – Oven, fridge, and dishwasher were positioned in a more convenient triangle formation.
  • Opened sightlines – Knocking down a wall connected the kitchen to living areas and made it feel airier.
  • Added a spacious kitchen island – The large island provides prep space, casual dining, and storage.
  • Optimized cabinet and counter space – Every inch was consciously designed for efficiency and comfort.

Additional Elements That Enhanced the Space

Along with barn wood accents and an improved layout, other details came together to create a cohesive updated kitchen.

  • Mix of painted and stained cabinets – This added dimensional style. White upper cabinets keep things airy and light.
  • Marble countertops and backsplash – Elegant marble provides an upscale yet timeless look.
  • Large apron front sink – The oversized farmhouse sink suits the casually chic vibe.
  • Pendant lighting over island – Three black iron pendant lights provide task lighting.
  • White subway tile backsplash – A classic detail that works with any kitchen style.

Results: A Seamless Blend of Old and New

The final kitchen beautifully blends original 1800s architectural details with contemporary barn wood elements and an efficient refreshed layout. Rustic reclaimed wood adds character without appearing out of place or too trendy. Storage, workspace, and flow are all vastly improved. And the kitchen feels connected to the rest of the home while maintaining its role as the warm, inviting heart. This project achieved the ideal balance between preserving the past and updating for modern country style.

FAQs about Updating a Kitchen in an 1800s Home

How do you add rustic charm to an older home’s kitchen?

Incorporating reclaimed wood through barn wood walls, shelves, ceilings, or counters is an easy way to add rustic farmhouse style to a dated kitchen. Distressed paint techniques also create vintage charm. Forged metal and antique-inspired lighting and hardware complement this aesthetic nicely.

What kind of cabinets work well in an old home?

Shaker-style cabinetry with simple lines looks right at home in an older kitchen. Painted wood cabinets keep the space light and casual, while stained wood options add a traditional touch. Glass front doors maintain sightlines. Mixing painted upper cabinets with stained lower cabinets is popular.

Should I rip out old kitchen cabinets?

Not necessarily! Some homeowners upcycle existing cabinetry with new paint, hardware, and updated interiors. This saves time and money. But if cabinets are damaged or layout needs major changes, new cabinetry may be the better investment.

How do you update an old home’s kitchen on a budget?

Paint existing cabinets, change hardware, update lighting and faucets, replace laminate countertops with butcher block or concrete, install subway tile backsplash, add open shelving for extra space, refinish existing floors. Focus on big visual changes without the huge price tag.

What are popular kitchen floors for old homes?

Hardwood, wide plank floors, stone, and porcelain tile. Avoid modern styles like vinyl. Refinish existing wood floors or match hardwoods throughout the home. Herringbone patterns or varied tile shapes add character.

Should I remove kitchen walls in my old house?

Removing walls can make a significant spatial difference. But consult engineers and check load bearing walls first. Non load-bearing walls can often be removed, opening up the kitchen beautifully. This is an especially smart move if the home already has an enclosed outdated kitchen.


Breathing new life into the kitchen of an older home requires balancing preservation with modernization. Thoughtfully incorporating reclaimed barn wood accents and improving outdated layouts can result in a light, airy, rustic kitchen perfect for gatherings. Paying homage to an old home’s original architecture while also upgrading functionality does require careful planning. But the results are well worth the effort, as this stunning renovated 1800s Georgian kitchen demonstrates. With its seamless blending of vintage charm and contemporary details, this revitalized cookspace serves as wonderful inspiration for anyone undertaking their own historic home kitchen remodel.