Modernizing an old home is always a design challenge, but it’s an extra-special challenge when that old home hasn’t been built yet. That was the situation Kristina Crestin found herself in when the owners of this 18th century style farmhouse contacted her. The home was the process of building built by Connor Homes, an integrated design and construction firm that builds homes inspired by traditional building styles in their factory, and then assemble them onsite. Kristina collaborated with Connor Homes and the owners on this “New Old Home Concept” to capture the essence of historic architecture with today’s practical layouts and modern amenities. The process was captured by PBS for This Old House. See the full tour in the slideshow!

Older homes can often consist of many small rooms. Is that true of this home?
The home is an updated farmhouse, so while the rooms are compartmentalized, the living/dining space was much more open than in a house you might see in the 18th century. One of our early challenges was deciding if we wanted to treat the living/dining space as one or two independent spaces. Throughout our design process, we wanted honor and draw out the historic elements of this new house. We used reclaimed materials and detailed millwork to achieve this. I brought in reclaimed wood and barn wood in the pantry door, the dining room door, the powder room ceiling, and in a custom frame to the mirror in the powder room. We were able to capture a further 18th century feeling with candle sconces in the master bath.

Were there any particular challenges for this project?
Since this was a panelized house, the timeline was quicker than we were used to. Construction was moving twice as fast, and we had to move twice as fast, too. For example, I remember needing to complete the electrical plan way faster than I was accustomed to, so we had to select our lighting choices quickly, without turning back, which made for some excitement.

Many of the design decisions were also personalized to the owners. What were their requests for the space?
After meeting with the homeowners, we determined the big picture goal was to execute a “modern farmhouse” aesthetic. She loved traditional notes, while he was drawn to a more industrial look. We worked together to create a home that married both seamlessly and cohesively.

I listened to my clients’ goal to seamlessly marry traditional and modern and to make a new house feel old. We developed a color palette of blues, greys and black and used it throughout the home, which achieved a cohesive look. Then we added life to each room by bringing in vibrant greens from the outside, inside, like with the mossy, lichen green custom drapes. We also incorporated bronze lighting, antique brass fixtures and barn wood to layer in variation.