Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Beautiful Old Things

Blue & White antique fruit plates.

Our new old house in Nova Scotia will give me an opportunity to explore some of my personal passions with regards to design.  My preferences and tastes always include some traditional reference or vintage nod, even in contemporary spaces.  This is the oldest house I've ever owned  (read the first post about the house here) so I'm excited about embracing its humble character and creating a home where my passion for all things old, simple and rustic can be indulged while at the same time provide a beautiful contrast to some of the modern things I love.  I've had some antique pieces in storage for quite some time that finally will have a place to fit in, and my small collections can start to grow, like my blue & white pieces.  I picked up almost a dozen of these antique blue willow fruit plates (above) last month in a local antique shop to add to my small collection.  

Dining Room Ceiling

During demolition we discovered the house was older than we first thought based on the construction which is all timber beams, notched and pegged.  I'm in love with the structure and we're planning on leaving the wood beams (ceiling joists) in the living room and dining room exposed (previously covered up with layers of plaster and acoustic tile).  They were really really rough, including bark.  After the demo crew finished up, BF did a bit of work scraping them down and this is what they look like now. The question of whether to paint or not to paint has yet to be decided.

Square nails removed from window casing.

When the casings around the windows were removed, these rusty square nails were pulled out with them.  We figure there are a few hundred more in the house but I've put these ones in a mason jar for safe keeping until I come about a way to display them.  This type of square nail was pressed or cut by blacksmiths as opposed to hand forged and were commonly used between 1820-1910.  

Original Gothic Window/Door in Dormer

The house is a gothic carpenter style and the front of the house features a high peaked dormer with a gothic window in the centre of the dormer.  The window is actually a door which leads out to the porch roof.  On the inside its located up on the second floor hallway opposite the stairwell.  We're opening up the ceiling and eaves all around the dormer to expose the peaked ceiling and create a nook in this landing area but we're going to maintain as much of this original window as possible.  I love its leaded panes and peaked arc.

Spot sanded original floor boards.
The number one most thrilling discovery was that the house's original wide plank wood floor boards were all still in tact, hidden under carpet and vinyl.  We peeled back layers of flooring and plywood sheeting to reveal very thick, very long, wide original floor boards throughout the entire house.  I had suspected they were there but to actually confirm this was a total high,,,,a few places will need some patching/shifting around of boards and they all need to be sanded down but I'm ecstatic about this discovery.  We've spot sanded a few areas to get a peek of what the wood will look like, they'll have lots of character from knots and because they're face nailed they also have visible nail heads for added goodness (which all need to be recessed before sanding!).

Barnboard walls in our barn.

There's no shortage of old wood in this house.  We've pulled dozens of old wood boards out of the attic space which were just laying around loose and have them stored in the barn for use in the house reno. Some of the boards are up to 20"in width and 16' long.  Incredible sizes.  In the barn we can see some of the same wood was used in its construction. The photo above shows the barn board cladding on the barn walls, you've probably seen loads of faux antique barn board around, but this is the real thing.  I love the texture and patina.

Modern chair and barn board.
I noticed that everything looks great against barn board.  Currently we're storing most of our furniture in the barn including most of my office furniture and I can't help but get excited when I see the modern lines of these chairs against the rustic boards and how this space will one day transform into my studio.

Modern furniture in the barn.

All of these beautiful old things are driving the design direction for the interior renovation, I'm just letting it lead me along where it so naturally wants to go -  I'm psyched about seeing the old bones of this house brought back to modern life.

All Photos by:   Carol Reed


  1. So you. I love how wine and cheese and antiques seem to get better with age...while modern things do to.
    Looking like this place was meant for you.

  2. so exciting! Patricia, I think I know where our next beet salad may be?! it's the epitome of the east coast!

  3. Congratulation on your new/old home! We have a lot in Nova Scotia (near Digby)across the road from the ocean and are planning on building a cottage sometime soon. For now we are sharing a family cottage near by and love going down every summer. Our new neighbors at the lot live in T.O. and commute back and forth every few weeks,they swear that flying Toronto to Halifax is quicker than driving to Muskoka on a Friday! It really is the best of both worlds-so happy for you!

  4. Hi Lisa! Thanks and nice to meet another Ontarian east coast lover. I've been to Digby many times it has so much character! Although its quite a ways further from the airport than where we are, so my Toronto-Halifax commute really is comparable to a trip to Muskoka. But ssshhh, don't tell everyone. ; ) ~ C


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