With any renovation, a designer or homeowner faces the challenge of finding that delicate balance between respecting a building’s history and bringing it into a new era. And when it’s your own beloved grandmother’s home? Well, it’s all the more challenging… and exciting.
Such was the case for Swift Current, Saskatchewan-based Kelsey Grose, principal of Farmer’s Daughter Interiors, when she took on her grandmother’s 1,200-square-foot, bungalow-style home and had the opportunity to renovate and update. The home didn’t just have good bones; it also held a special place in her heart and memories… particularly the kitchen, which she tackled first.
“My grandma makes pierogies filled with cottage cheese from scratch and it’s a meal I grew up eating at her house often,” Grose says. Though the dated cabinetry has been replaced with farmhouse-chic millwork in a contemporary grey hue, and the countertops now an on-trend black Caesarstone, it’s still a space where her favourite nostalgic family meal makes an appearance… though admittedly, not quite to Grandma’s standards. “I’ve never quite mastered her cream and butter sauce,” laughs Grose.
What she has mastered is a cool modern-rustic vibe. Between the slick concrete apron-front farmhouse sink from Native Trails and the organic vertical tiles, she's found the sweet spot between contemporary tastes and an homage to days gone by. Read on for the renovation design principles that helped bring it all together.
Lean in to What You Love
The great thing about a renovation is that you’re not starting with a blank page—the existing home can offer plenty of design direction, even for the most dramatic of overhauls. “Start with thinking critically about what’s important to you and ask yourself ‘what elements of the house could I keep or re-work into a new design?’” suggests Grose. “I love this approach because it honours the house, is less wasteful, and can help save budget in places so you can splurge in others.” Case in point: Grose preserved the original building’s teak room dividers, and kept the original interior doors and casings (though gave them a fresh coat of paint). “That part of the house is just the way I remember it when I spent time here as a child,” says the designer.
Create a Framework for Your Design Decisions
Though Grose started with the kitchen (and currently is wrapping up her dining room redesign) she created an overall design concept to inform every decision, ensuring the whole home will eventually feel cohesive. “Every decision from the big ticket items to the smallest details is weighed against that initial vision for the home,” says Grose. “It’s important to stop and decide where you’re going with the overall function and feel of the house before just forging ahead with making decisions and purchases.”
Balance Vintage Pieces with Modern Picks
As much as Grose loves her grandma, living in a monument to her life there just didn’t feel right. Instead of keeping everything as it was, the designer selected a few key pieces that reminded her of time spent in the home as a kid, and paired them alongside more modern pieces. “One of my favourite pieces I have from my grandma is her kitchen scale,” says T. It lives on her new countertop, where she uses it regularly. “I remember her using it as a butcher's scale. I believe it’s been painted a few times but I love the wear it shows and the stories it could tell.”
Be True to You
Forget the past; forget trends. This is your renovation, so follow design choices that spark joy.
“Don’t be afraid to be true to what you like. Break rules and go ‘off-trend.’ In the end, that’s what makes a house feel like your own,” says Grose.
Photography by Delina Langridge