Kitchen After

Kitchen After

Kitchen Before

Kitchen Before

Homes built before the advent of efficient heating systems and proper insulation often used fireplaces both as a source of heat and a place to cook.  Lower ceilings and smaller rooms were much easier to heat with fireplaces, therefore many period farmhouses were built with a seven-foot or so ceiling height.  Today, we can increase the insulation, install state of the art mechanical systems in these wonderful old homes, but we cannot raise the ceilings of most rooms without major construction.

I personally like the contrast within a home between low ceilings in some rooms and taller ceilings in others.  Usually over the course of centuries, a farmhouse will expand to include both low ceilings and taller spaces.

When the major living space within a home has very low ceilings, we are often asked to help the owners make the most of the space they have.

There are usually only 3 options:

1.      Open up to the floor/roof above (which won’t work if there is a needed bedroom above).

2.      Drop the floor level (which rarely is a good solution).

3.      Work with the low ceiling.

In many old homes, there are beautiful beams and wide board planking just above the sheetrock.  The most cost-effective way to change the character of oppressively low-ceilinged spaces is to expose the historic structure and increase the amount of light coming into the room.  French doors and additional windows brighten up the space while allowing for good ventilation. The addition of a fireplace can add to the ambiance of the room and focus attention on the details.

Kitchen Toward Island

Kitchen Toward Island

Kitchen Toward Sink

Kitchen Toward Sink

Wiring for the lights was run in an exposed painted pipe.  This worked well with the rustic beams and the 200-year-old floor boards.

Photos by Rob Karosis  Curated Brochure by Crisp Architects: Portfolio

To get my monthly newsletter, On The Drawing Board, click here.  Jimmy Crisp

About the Author: James Crisp

James M. Crisp has been an architect for well over 30 years. His architectural firm, Crisp Architects, designs projects throughout New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts. In April of 2007, Taunton Press published 'On the Porch' by James M. Crisp and Sandra Mahoney.

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  1. 357A0B100Df581E476Abb9C7B13D03D6?S=54&R=G
    kevin battistoni June 13, 2013 at 9:08 am


    A daunting task for most real estate brokers is to find a buyer for period homes with low ceilings, especially ones without the benefit of much in the way of updating prior to being offered for sale.

    Your reconfigure of the early kitchen with low ceiling is stunning, and certainly a hint of what can be done with imagination, and good professional advice.


  2. A5C5B2Df64E0E64Ad49Ae29Df25B7D00?S=54&R=G
    Charles Mosco June 13, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    Another great newsletter. Your designs are exquisite. Very nice glasses that you’re wearing.
    Happy Father’s Day to you too.

  3. 8F33A76Eb2B515635Cf4Cd9C16Ff52F1?S=54&R=G
    Arlington Auto & Tire June 13, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    We love the work that James does! Timeless, beautiful, comfortable, his sense of style transcends time bringing fresh looks to classic Dutchess County homes.

  4. D0Fe944379207508Eab368Fbc2Aa1Bdb?S=54&R=G
    Gaylen Howard July 2, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    Would love to know who your source was for the fabulous iron chandeliers with single crystal ball. There are two over the dining table of the farmhouse renovation with a Le ceiling.

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