Table of Contents
  1. General Sources
  2. Primary bedroom
  3. Primary Bedroom Sources
  4. Guest bedroom
  5. Guest Bedroom Sources
  6. Office
  7. Office Sources
  8. Hallway
  9. Hallway Sources
  10. Bathroom
  11. Bathroom Sources
  12. Construction Team

Living in a 130+-year-old home is a lifetime labor of love. And living in a home that your parents and grandparents lived in before you adds an additional layer of determination to keep the house in good shape while loving it even more than the previous generations.

Let’s go through a bit of backstory. My grandparents purchased my house in 1980. In 1982, my parents moved in after they married. In 1988, my parents purchased the generational farmhouse from my grandparents (right across the road), and they swapped houses. That sounds confusing, but it means that I grew up with my grandparents across the road and now live in the house where they lived during my childhood.

White farmhouse with black windows and white trim with green grass and lots of landscaping out front with no leaves on the trees.

I purchased this home in 2010 and started working on the yard but didn’t touch the house until 2019, when I remodeled the kitchen and main floor. The kitchen was a primary focus as Wyse Guide needed a place where I could create and film weekly recipe videos.

The second floor should have been the priority but had to be put on the back burner at that time.

Since this house was built before electricity, indoor plumbing, or HVAC, a lot of retrofitting was done to accommodate the modernizing changes that each decade brought. The main floor had some renovations at various points, but the second floor had not been touched since electricity was first added. Knob and tube wiring with crumbling barriers was still in use and connected via a fuse box, which is not used anymore. There were two vents for HVAC, and they didn’t keep up with the near-zero insulation in the walls.

As things always seem to do, this spiraled the renovation. What started as a necessary update to electric and HVAC became a 10-month gut renovation.

But the result brought back original details, kept the heart of the home, and made it more useful for my daily life working at home.

General Sources

Primary bedroom

There are two bedrooms on the second floor of my farmhouse, and both are nearly identical. This one is a few feet larger than the other, so I call it the primary, even though it has no attached bathroom or walk-in closet. Due to space limitations, an ensuite bathroom was not an option for this renovation. I know that seems normal in new or remodeled homes, but this is an old house and doesn’t have the space to add anything to the current footprint. I worked within the same layout to keep the changes as easy as possible.

Green colored bedroom with large windows and built-in cabinets to the side with queen-sized bed with orange comforter and wallpaper on the ceiling.

The first surprise that you may see could be the color of the walls: a striking green color called “Oakmoss” by Sherwin-Williams. I’ve always dreamed of a super cozy bedroom with a color that would invigorate me when I wake up and envelop me while going to sleep. This green was the answer.

Green colored cabinets with doors and drawers with chair sitting in front along with window seat to the side all with white oak floors.

I wanted the ceiling to feel special, so I used wallpaper to add interest, but more so, to make it feel like I was sleeping under a tree canopy. I love gardening, and anything I could do to feel like I was in the great outdoors while inside was a bonus.

Large queen-size bed with pillows and orange comforter with green colored walls with side tables.

Both bedrooms are south-facing, so they get ample sunlight all year round. The sun pours in and gives the color an intense vibrancy during the day.

One of the key issues I had to address when this became an extensive remodel was storage. There was only one closet on the second floor, located in this primary bedroom (but it actually made the space even smaller). I stole some space from the bathroom, making the bedroom a true rectangle. Built-in cabinets now act as closets and provide more space than a traditional closet, with drawers and shelves along with places to hang clothing as well. I’ve found that it’s a super efficient way of keeping things organized!

Green colored cabinet acting as a closet for a bedroom with brass hardware with window seat to the side and blanket rack to the front.
Bright green colored walls with tongue and groove walls with blanket shelf with brightly colored blankets.

Primary Bedroom Sources

Guest bedroom

Since this is a slightly smaller bedroom, I only put essential furniture back in to make to room feel as roomy as possible. And the tight space is partly because of a last-minute decision I made, but I am very happy about it. I added the same built-in cabinets to this bedroom as I did to the primary. Initially, I was worried about taking up too much space, but I realized the few extra feet I could save would hardly compare to the closet space I’d gain by adding the cabinets. The result is a bedroom that feels even more cozy with beautiful built-in storage!

Bedroom with two built-in cabinets in green color with a window seat in between them and windows letting in lots of light.

This room shows my love for antiques and my desire to use them in whatever way I can. I only purchased two pieces of furniture for the upstairs because I wanted to reuse all the things I already had on hand. Two old wooden boxes stacked to act as nightstands are on one bedside, and an antique Swedish table with a perfect red patina is on the other side of the bed. Matching lamps bring the two together to make them feel cohesive.

Queen-size bed with two side tables made from antiques with green colored walls and floral green wallpaper on the ceiling.
Green walls with tongue and groove with bed to the side and two antique boxes acting as an end table with white lamp on top.
Built-in cabinets in bright green color with brass hardware with window seat to the side with pine hutch to the front.

Guest Bedroom Sources

Office

The office was one of the main reasons this remodel occurred, after electrical needs, of course. Wyse Guide is a full-time job for both Joel and me. Filming takes place in the kitchen, but recipe research, recipe writing, post-writing, and any computer work require space for a desk (or two). For a few years, we floated from the island to the dining table but found it easy to procrastinate without a workspace. The office provides a place to work and store all the necessary business-related items.

Upstairs office in farmhouse with two desk spaces in front of two large windows with white oak railing leading to downstairs.

The desk is long and runs across the north side of the room. Tucking it against the wall allowed it to have the maximum length possible on the smallest footprint. This room originally had no windows on the wall where the desk fit, and two were added to provide the best view while working. This is the first time I have truly been able to enjoy this view of the backyard.

Desk space with chair in front of two large windows with desk lamp and drawers to the side along with white oak railing.
My desk space is for writing recipes, researching, and doing all things Wyse Guide.
Large built-in desk with marble countertop with computer sitting on top and desk chair in open cubby with lamp all in front of two large windows.
Joel’s workspace, where he edits pictures and videos and handles all of the website/technical details.

The next task was having a space to organize my cookbook collection. Since I enjoy thumbing through cookbooks and using them as research, the shelves on the opposite wall of the desk allow for super easy access.

Three large bookcases with lots of cookbooks with green chair sitting to the side ready for reading with white oak rail running in front.

I added pull-put shelves so I could place a few cookbooks on them when needed and tuck them away when not in use. I always try to add details where possible that give a nod to the age of the house and what could have been here from the beginning.

Bookcases filled with cookbooks with one pull-out shelf to set books on while browsing.
Green comfy chair sitting in front of bookcases filled with cookbooks with window to the side and red plates nailed to the wall.

Office Sources

Hallway

The hallway feels like a part of the office since the wall that separated the two was removed during the renovation. This is a case where removing the wall would not work for everyone or be what they would choose, but it works perfectly for me. I find that a home needs to fit the family living in and how they use it. Since numerous hours are spent in the office every week, the removal of the wall allows for so much light to filter through and provides a better working experience.

Wide open hallway at the top of a stairs with a white oak railing on three sides with built-in shelves on one side and windows to the north on the other.

There needed to be a pony wall to finish the end of the desk. Since I’m not the biggest fan of a half wall, I added a simple wooden framed interior window to the top of the wall. It delineates the space and provides some additional interest. I had antique wavy glass used during the construction of the window, so it feels like it could have been here when the house was built.

Half wall with interior glass window on top with railing extending along the space for stairwell with desk on the other side.
Since I’m not a huge fan of pony walls, I added this faux interior window with old wavy glass to provide the illusion of an old wall.
Stairwell with white oak floors with half wall on the far side with faux glass interior window separating the space.

The hallway had enough room for a small built-in along one wall. It allowed for more storage and even some display space. Again, storage wherever possible!

Built-in cabinet unit against one wall of an open hallway with display pieces on top and white oak railing surrounding the open stairwell.
Built-in storage spaces with bookcase in between with display pieces and artwork on top framed with sconces on top.

Hallway Sources

Bathroom

I actually downsized the size of the bathroom. I know, shocking! Originally, this house had no bathrooms. At one point, a bedroom was converted into a bathroom on the second floor. This resulted in an awkwardly large bathroom that had a lot of wasted space. I kept the fixtures where they were since plumbing could not easily be changed, but I added storage. The vanity originally had one sink, but I added two because space allowed.

Bathroom with khaki colored cabinets and two mirrors with sinks with a toilet visible to the side.

The tub and shower combination was replaced with a tiled shower that now feels so much larger. Don’t worry: I have a tub on the main floor if needed.

Glass and tile shower with brass fixtures with door right beside a khaki colored cabinet with mirror and a robe hanging to the side.
Subway tile all over a shower with shelf made from pieces of marble with unlacquered brass temperature control for shower.
Yes, the brass fixtures have water spots, as they should as they age over time.
Brass shower head with age spots all over in shower filled with subway tile on all walls.
The showerhead is already aging with only a few months of use, which I love!

I always assumed there should be a window on the east wall of the bathroom, and when demolition was occurring, I could see the old framing to confirm this hunch. So, I added one back in. Now, morning light floods into the room!

Window with lots of sunlight streaming in with toilet to the front and cabinet with sink to the side along with mirror in bathroom.

Simple subway tile is on the walls, with a tile that acts as a molding detail around the window and doorways.

Open doorway into a bathroom with tile molding around the doorway with another door to the left side.

There was room to fit a cabinet beside the toilet, so it was hidden slightly and didn’t feel like it was floating.

Small floor to ceiling cabinet hidden beside a toilet with tile on all of the walls.

Overall, I don’t need a large bathroom. Just one that makes me smile when I walk in.

Subway tile covered walls in a bathroom with mirror on wall with light on top with small painting to the side and brass fixtures for sink basin.

Bathroom Sources

Whether you love old farmhouses as much as I do or you have an old home in your family, I hope this renovation inspired you with some old house love! Let me know in the comments your favorite part, what you think of the paint colors and wallpaper, and whether you have renovated your own home!

Construction Team

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Kaleb

I’m Kaleb! I'm not a chef, professional baker, landscaper, or designer, but I like to play each on Knollgate Farm. Come join me on my journey and let's learn together!

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3 Comments

  1. Caleb:

    I believe you hit this renovation out of the park. You retained the authenticity and character of the home yet brought it into the present with your special touches. It is functional and beautiful. It makes me smile! Job well done!

  2. I enjoy your monthly newsletter and frequent internet receipt’s and gardening tips. I wish you the best in life.