Old Farmhouse Architecture We’re Restoring in our Renovation

In our 1900 farmhouse renovation, we had to take almost everything out for the exterior and interior. While tearing off layers of past remodels, we have uncovered many original plans and details of the early 20th century home. See photos and read in depth of the old farmhouse architecture we’re restoring in our renovation.

When we bought our farmhouse and property, it was “livable” but needed a total renovation. It had undergone many changes throughout the years that had removed much of the original architecture and replaced it with 1970’s paneling and hollow core doors.

Immediately after closing, Caleb and I drove to the house and started ripping up smokey, stained carpet. The initial plan of doing it slowly, room-by-room went out the window (quite literally) as we kept “peeking to see what was behind this window or that ceiling.” The answer was expected but not great. We have started from the ground up with fixing the foundation and rebuilding the termite riddled framing.

Here we are, three years into our DIY renovation, still living in a mobile home on the property but with the end of phase one in sight.  Keep reading to see what we’ve uncovered about the original architecture during our historic home renovation and what we’re planning to restore, what we’ve added and what we’re just scrapping altogether.

Old Farmhouse Architecture We’re Restoring in Our Renovation

Throughout our renovation work, I always want to be respectful of the previous owners who have lived in and loved this home before us. It’s ok that we don’t like many of the past design decisions. Every owner has done their part in keeping this home alive instead of letting it crumble like so many farmhouses and homes throughout the past century. And now it’s our turn to do the same. 

Exterior Farmhouse Architecture We’re Restoring

Our two story farmhouse is a classic style that was built in 1900. It had the two front doors (placed at 90 degrees from each other), a simple front and back porch, large windows and high ceilings. This was a working farm, so the original house was simple and utilitarian yet beautiful and cozy.

Exterior Doors

The exterior doors on the house when we bought it were standard steel doors with shiny brass knobs from Lowes. (And again, I don’t want to knock this style of door. It fits many houses just fine, and if you like them then that’s all that matters!) However, the doors just didn’t fit the early farmhouse style that I wanted. We went to an Architectural Salvage store, found two doors and had them refinished. 

Read more where to find old house materials for a renovation here

Exterior Door Hardware

I have yet to find just the right handles and locks for these exterior doors. Honestly, it hurts my brain each time I research it because of the options and the high cost for what I really want. But we will be adding new hardware that fits with the old farm house look. It will be fairly simple and timeless.

Slat Siding

The siding on the house wasn’t terrible. It was metal but looked similar to the original. So when Caleb said he had to tear it off to fix the window framing, I had a slight fit. In the end, the siding came off, but the window framing looks great. Now we need new siding. We will be going with the Hardie Board siding in the width like the original farmhouse design.

Vertical Slat Siding at the Top 

We haven’t removed the siding from the second story yet, but looking from the inside, it appears that the siding went vertical from the top of the second story windows to the peak of the house. This was common back then. If we find that the siding does go vertical, we will do the same with the new siding.

Wood Windows with Cross Divide

I’m not totally against vinyl windows. They have the old look with a new material. And we used them in our bungalow renovation in town.  However, I wanted wood windows to fit the period of the house better. I chose the cross pattern. There were several options that would fit the era and style of the house, but this is what I liked best for the new windows.

Wide Exterior Trim Around Windows and Doors

Tearing off the siding from the house, we uncovered the old exterior trim around the windows and door. It was in a beautiful old-timey green color. I don’t know what color we will do on the house and trim, but to be sure, we will install wide trim.

Green Tongue and Groove Porch Ceiling

Vinyl roof siding covered up the original tongue and groove porch ceiling painted in that farmhouse green. So far, we just removed the vinyl and left the original green tongue and groove ceiling.

Porch Pillars and Possible Brackets or Spindle Trim

I’m sure the old house had white porch pillars and either spindle trim at the top or brackets at the corners. This is what you almost always see on old farmhouse porches. We will eventually remove the wrought iron porch posts and replace them with new pillars and trim work.

Interior Farmhouse Architecture We’re Restoring

We’re taking the inside from 1970’s paneling back to 1900’s beauty. Tearing out walls, floors and ceilings really uncover a past history that has been fascinating. I’m excited to implement much of the original style that we’ve discovered!

Wood Stove in Living Room

We had to remove a chimney in the living room (what was originally the dining room). While it was somewhat sad to take away this original item, it just wasn’t structurally sound and didn’t fit what we needed. But we know from the construction that this room had a wood stove (not a fireplace). We will be putting a wood stove back in the room, though the layout will be different. 

Original Wood Floors

We uncovered original wood flooring throughout the whole house. We needed to remove them to work on the foundation. We salvaged much of it and are looking for more on Facebook Marketplace to match it and install throughout the whole house.

Wide, Grooved Trim and Corner Pieces

There was one upstairs bedroom that had the original woodwork: trim, floorboards and door. Thankfully I have as a reference so we can install it throughout the house! (That is, if I can find enough that matches.) I might not do the dark wood stain on all the trim just because I like more white trim, but I haven’t completely decided yet.

Solid Wood Paneled Doors

We will buy new solid wood doors in the old style for the whole house. Only one door was original…I’ll put that back where it came from. 

Period Door Hinges and Knobs

I’m thinking the house had all metal knobs because that’s what was on our one original door. I’m not totally sure what we’ll do. I found a variety of antique brass knobs at a garage sale, so we might just have fun with this and do a collection instead of matching everything. I do know we won’t do antique glass doorknobs simply because Caleb doesn’t like them.

Cast Iron Kitchen Sink with Drainboard

I’ve been searching for an antique cast iron sink with drainboard and high back, and we finally found one yesterday! I’m hoping the size works out. 

Some Non-Built-In Cabinetry

While I do want a somewhat updated kitchen with handy soft closing doors, I also want an old style kitchen with a collection of Hoosier cabinets, open shelving and random racks. I honestly haven’t drawn it all out yet, so we’ll see what sort of eclectic farmhouse kitchen it will be once the design process is complete!

Trim Board from Above Double Window

When Caleb removed the layers of metal and asbestos siding, it exposed the old trim. There was a beautiful trim board above the double windows off what used to be the original living room. He salvaged the board, and we’ll use the original somewhere in the house as decoration. We will cut a new board to go outside to mimic the original.

Exposed Brick Chimney

There were two chimneys in the house. As I said before, we had to remove one chimney because of how structurally unsound it was. The other chimney can’t be used for venting fireplaces or stoves anymore, but we are able to keep it. We’ll have to clean up and seal the brick. I love how it adds another element of history to the house.

Tall 9 ½ Foot Ceilings

Old homes are known for their tall ceilings, and I love, love, love how it makes the rooms seem so open and large.. In some rooms, past owners added a drop ceiling, so we took those out. And when the kitchen was moved to the back porch, the ceiling was abysmally low. Since we tore off that kitchen and added a new kitchen in its place, we put in tall ceilings to match the rest of the house.

Upstairs Stair Railing

Somehow, the upstairs stair railing survived 120 years of renovation. It’s one of my favorite (and only) original elements of our old farmhouse. Caleb keeps saying he wants to replace it because it’s strangely short, but I.Am.Determined. That railing stays.

Some Wallpaper Found During Demolition

We found decades of old wallpaper during the demolition. From remnants from the early 1900’s in the unfinished attic (why???) to “new” 1990’s wallpaper in the bathroom, it’s a walk through wallpaper history. I have saved remnants from each design found and discovered that I might be able to upload a photo and recreate the wallpaper. This is still in the planning stage, but I’m eager to try it in at least one room!

Read about and see all the wallpaper we discovered here

Shiplap Walls

The entire house had shiplap walls under the lath and plaster. While we had to remove much of the shiplap because of termite damage, there is one wall upstairs that I’m thinking I’ll keep just to showcase a bit of the original history and architectural details.

Period Design We’re Adding (or Taking Away)

There are some design ideas that I love and want to use that aren’t original to this specific house. But they were used in that era, so it doesn’t stick out as odd to add them to our farmhouse renovation.

Wrap Around Porch

I’ve always loved a big wrap-around porch! This is in stage 3 or 4 of our renovation, but we set up the addition so that a wrap around porch can be added in the future. Bring on the rocking chairs and red geraniums!

Larger Kitchen

The original kitchen was moved at some point in the mid century from where the bathroom and laundry room now are to the old back porch. We tore this addition off the back of the home and rebuilt the entire kitchen with taller ceilings and wider doors. 

Large Pantry with a Window

When rebuilding the kitchen and adding a family room, we decided it was the perfect time to add a huge walk-in pantry space with a large window. I have completely planned out this room in my mind. While it’s not original to our house, I’ve seen ones similar in other houses of the same period. It will flow easily with the original design.

Mudroom with Brick Flooring

When adding the pantry, we also added a nice mudroom off the back of the house. With the amount of mud and muck we have from our homestead, this space is going to be invaluable to corral the dirty boots and chore coats. 

Tongue and Groove Vertical Carsiding

Maybe our house had classic tongue and groove farmhouse wall finish, but no remnants remain if it did. I want to add vertical tongue and groove carsiding in the bathroom and mudroom that goes a little over halfway up the wall with a shaker style peg rail around the top of the siding.

Sink in the Laundry Room

We have a little building in the back yard that I’m pretty sure was the wash house. And a neighbor across the street whose grandparents lived here in the 1950’s had an old style washing machine in another building in the back yard. Since this was an authentic farmhouse, I know a laundry room (or running water) wasn’t original in the house. Obviously, we’re going to have a washing machine and dryer inside. I love also having a sink in the laundry area, so we will be adding one that fits with the style of the house.

Bay Window Seat

The double window in the original living room (now turned bedroom) just begged for a window seat. As Caleb was reframing and replacing windows, I mentioned that maybe he could add a built out window seat. He’s always thrilled when I mention ideas like this. Ok, maybe not, but he is usually pretty accommodating!

Removed Second Front Door

Farmhouses of this style nearly always had two front doors at 90 degree angles off the front porch, one going into the living room, one into the dining room. Why, I’m not quite sure. When we removed the sheetrock, we found the old opening for the second door. But I really didn’t feel the need to add it back in to the design plans. 

Non-Period Design We’re Adding 

While I love the idea of restoring historic homes to their former glory, I also realize that this home has to suit our family’s needs in modern times. That means we’re adding some design elements that aren’t really accurate but will serve us well. 

Use of Original Dining and Living Rooms

What is now the living room used to be the original dining room. And the downstairs “bedroom” used to be the living room. We’re keeping it this way because I do like walking into the living room and because we don’t need a separate room for dining. 

Adding a Large Family Room

We do have the front living room, but with the addition, we added a large family room in the back. This will give us plenty of space to enjoy and be comfortable. Though it isn’t at all original, our architect designed it well so that it fits in with the overall design.

Vaulted Family Room Ceiling

I love a big room with a vaulted ceiling. Since the family room addition was a high peak, we decided to go with it and just vault the ceiling.  I’m lovin’ it.

Sunroom Style Windows in Family Room

This decision was hard to make during the planning stages…should I put in a ton of windows in our family room to resemble a sunroom? I decided to go for it, and, boy howdy, I’m glad I did! This allows our view to continue straight outside in three directions and that make the room seem even bigger.

Large Pass-Through Doorways in Kitchen

Since we don’t have a dining room, our large table will go on one end of the kitchen. To keep us from bumping chairs into the wall, we simply took out walls. I didn’t want a completely open concept kitchen, but having larger pass through doorways give us the space as well as some privacy for that sink full of dirty dishes.

Master Bathroom and Closet

Originally, there was no running water or bathroom in the house. A downstairs bathroom (complete with two toilets…that’s a whole other story) was added probably mid century. But I grew up in a farmhouse with one bathroom for our family of five. I vowed never again. With the addition, we put in a master bathroom and walk in closet upstairs to make it more suitable to our needs.

Adding Closets to Each Room

Closets are another thing farmhouses often didn’t have. They would have used wardrobes or dressers. Again, why? No clue. When we bought the place, closets had been added. However, we tore these out and will add closets that are more suited to our needs in size and location.

Library Room with Window Seat

With the addition, there was an extra room I claimed as our “library.” Even when it just has stud walls, it is my favorite room of the house. It will have two walls lined with bookshelves and a window seat, perfect for curling up with a good book.

Some Elements of “Rustic Cabin” Style

Caleb is a huge fan of rustic cabin style. He would probably side the house with logs if it were up to him. While we will keep the “authentic farmhouse” style, I will add elements of rustic. It’s a fun challenge to merge two interior design styles together without making it look weird!

That wraps it up for the old farmhouse architecture we’re restoring in our renovation. Sometimes (ok, oftentimes) I get frustrated at how long it’s taken us to get to this point. But, honestly, it’s given me time to dream and formulate a plan for our dream house. Real life isn’t found in two week renovations on HG-TV! While that might be nice, it is often beneficial to take it slowly and enjoy the journey.

Read more about our farmhouse renovation

Farmhouse Renovation Before Photos

Farmhouse Renovation During Pictures

Old Farmhouse Addition During Photos

Authentic Farmhouse Renovation – How I Chose New Windows

Tearing Out Farmhouse Wall and Ceiling Lath and Plaster

Pin for Later Old Farmhouse Architecture We’re Restoring in Our Renovation


Our Vintage Bungalow

Howdy! I’m Tammy, and I’ve lived most of my life stretching a low decorating budget through garage sales and DIY renovation.

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