FARMHOUSE KITCHEN: Mixing modern design with the vintage charm of an 1870s kitchen 

When Oscar Arboleda, founder & CEO of Forest Kitchen & Cabinetry walked into the 1870s Dundas farmhouse, he knew this might be the biggest kitchen transformation he’d ever done. The vintage kitchen had minimal cabinetry and a tiny corner sink. “It was original to the house and not at all functional,” he says. But the homeowners and Arboleda could see the potential of the space. “We started playing with the space and started from scratch,” says Arboleda.

The homeowners wanted a modern kitchen, but didn’t want to lose the character of the vintage barn home. “As much as we wanted to build something modern, we didn’t want to put in something that didn’t go with the house,” says Arboleda.  

The designers faced another challenge. The kitchen area had a lot of space but there were two huge windows and a sliding glass door, leaving minimal wall space to work with to build cabinetry. The homeowners didn’t want to lose the natural light that the windows brought into the kitchen, so closing off the windows was not an option. 

Using the three corners of the kitchen, Arboleda built two cabinet towers in opposite corners, and used the third for the range hood. “When you’re building a kitchen and you don’t have the walls to fill it out, you have to be strategic with lower cabinets with pull out drawers so you utilize every single inch of the cabinet,” says Arboleda. A large island provided additional prep space and storage, adding functionality to the kitchen without taking away from the natural light the windows brought in. 

Finding just the right combination of function and style took some work. “We went through easily 10 to 12 designs until we got the right one,” says Arboleda. 


Initially when selecting cabinet doors, the homeowners wanted a conservative shaker style that was modern but not too much of a contrast to the older style home. During the renovation, they decided to put a more modern spin on the kitchen and changed the drawers to flat doors, keeping the cabinet doors as shakers. This was a first for Arboleda who had never designed a kitchen with two door styles in the same space. “It turned out amazing!” 


A large island was key to adding workspace and functionality to the kitchen. “We wanted to make the countertop on the island as big as possible,” says Arboleda. The homeowners chose Carrara marble from Custom Granite in Stoney Creek to complete the look. 


The homeowners were concerned with maintaining the original charm of the 1870s home. A farmhouse sink kept some of the home’s rustic charm, and an original piece of stained glass was incorporated into the kitchen design, maintaining the home’s character and charm.

The homeowners were thrilled with their new kitchen.  It’s bright and airy, with tons of storage space, and it achieves exactly what they were looking for combining the original charm with modern functionality. 

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