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Faux Beam Mistake: Before

Photo by Eric Stahlhammer

Previous redos lowered the ceiling in the cook space and finished it with pink faux beams.

Calming Farmhouse Comeback: After

Photo by John Gruen

A tight budget can slow down a redo, but pausing can pay off in more ways than one. "I'm glad we waited," says Burgess Clark of the paint scheme he and partner Daniel Blake ultimately chose for their 18th-century house, in Walden, Vermont. He could have easily been referring to every aspect of the project, from devising a better layout to finding the right appliances. During demolition the DIYers uncovered the first floor's original ceiling beams and granite hearth. Then, during two long years of prepping meals on plywood-topped sawhorses, they spaced out expenditures while working alongside subs to replace pipes and wiring, restore a set of stairs, shift the cook space's location, and add a fireplace and chimney. All the while, they were digging into the history of colonial-era kitchens and scouting for ways to achieve an updated period look. A friend with carpentry skills donated weekends to help build and install wainscoting, paneling, and a mantel, while Daniel, the head chef, had time to find the perfect range, and Burgess to score an apron sink on eBay. As for paint choices, they went from bright colonial colors to soft neutrals. Given their busy jobs in Boston and all that work on the house, says Burgess, "we needed something earthy and calm."

Shown: The new owners gutted the first floor, exposing the original beams, and moved the kitchen, reviving its period style.

Woodworker: Toby Schine

Raised-panel double doors: Morrisville Lumber, Morrisville, VT

Other doors and windows: Andersen Windows

Muted Color Scheme

Photo by John Gruen

Muted ivory and tan paint colors showcase the new pine floor, old fir beams, and salvaged-barnwood table.

Flooring: Emery Floor, Johnson, VT; 802-635-7652

Table: Saranac Street Antiques, Littleton, NH; 603-444-4888

Range: Kenmore

Billiards Room Lighting

Photo by John Gruen

A classic billiards-room ceiling fixture with amber glass shades sets off the eating area and its vintage-style furnishings.

Light fixture: Rejuvenation

Chairs: Lawrence Crouse Workshop

New Fireplace, Old Bricks

Photo by John Gruen

The homeowners salvaged vintage bricks and worked with a local mason to turn them into a colonial-style fireplace.

Masonry: HOK Masonry, Johnson, VT; 802-635-2652

Sconces: Period Lighting Fixtures

Colonial-Style Cupboard

Photo by John Gruen

A cupboard above the mantelshelf—the homeowners call it a chimney keep—has iron latches and H-L hinges, and evokes colonial-era kitchens.

Hardware: Ball and Ball

Expertly Placed Fridge

Photo by John Gruen

Key to the new layout was placing the fridge and flatware near the dining room and out of the cooking fray.

Refrigerator: Kenmore

Prep and Social Space

Photo by John Gruen

The storage-packed peninsula allows the cook to take charge of prep and cleanup while conversing with guests.

Sink: Shaws, ROHL Home

Faucet: Moen

Soapstone Countertop Drainboard

Photo by John Gruen

Grooves cut into a Brazilian-soapstone countertop provide a built-in drainboard.

Countertops: Central New England Soapstone, Cambridge, NY

Vintage-Inspired Kitchen Cabinets

Photo by John Gruen

Custom cabinets hold cookbooks while masking a new plumbing chase. The cabinets were inspired by vintage kitchens with separate cupboards and sets of drawers.

Cabinets: Redline Design, Hardwick, VT; 802-472-6919

Undercabinet lighting: Elemental LED

Poor Organization: Floor Plan Before

Floor plan by Ian Worpole

The 280-square-foot space was poorly organized and lacked an eating area.

Smart Shift: Floor Plan After

Floor plan by Ian Worpole

The kitchen shifted position, gaining 116 square feet and making room for an eating area.

1. Demolished walls, absorbing a former bath, laundry, and dining room closet.

2. Added a fireplace and chimney in the spot where the 18th-century fireplace once stood.

3. Eliminated the stairs to the second floor and reversed the steps to the basement, moving its entry out of the kitchen.

4. Moved the range to an exterior wall, easing exterior ventilation. The fridge and the sink are just steps away.

5. Removed the island in favor of a peninsula that delineates the work zone.

6. Swapped out a window and a door for view-enhancing French doors with sidelights.

7. Erected a wall that holds a freestanding hutch near the table; a new mudroom and powder room went in on the other side.