Definition of KEEPING ROOM: a common room (as in a colonial house)
usually used for multiple purposes
Looking at these before photos, it still amazes me how well our vision for THE COUNTRY FARM HOME came to life. . .Out of all the rooms, the KEEPING ROOM and KITCHEN are probably the most photographed and the place that catches everyone's attention. . .Most of our visitors come to the back door, so it's these two areas they see first. . .I wanted it to be dramatic but welcoming. . .and honestly I had no idea it would come together so well. . .even though it took years to accomplish. . .Lots of years. . .
In the beginning, I only knew I wanted a huge room and open space. . .lots of light streaming in. . .a big walk-in fireplace for our fire cooking. . .the look of an old farmhouse. . .The rest sort of. . .how should I put it? . ."EVOLVED". . .as we added one layer onto another. . .and as we shopped Antique Malls finding items we could incorporate into the rooms. . .We armed ourselves with a tape measure, scratch pad, pencil and camera no matter where we went. . .More than once it paid off. . .
"This wasn't like building a new house. It was like putting a puzzle together."
A puzzle it was. . .especially the keeping room. . .Before the renovation, it looked something like this from the backdoor. . .
My first goal was to take down walls, take out the bath, and enlarge the room. . .We only added ten feet to the length but it sure made all the difference. . .You can see the addition from the outside at: THIS OLD FARM HOUSE
As we look toward the fireplace, the ten foot addition is obvious--all new materials. . .If the walls were still up, I'd be standing in the bathroom taking this photo.
John thought I was a little crazy at first with my plan. . .but I had a vision. . .I could see it finished in my mind's eye. . .
Once the walls were painted the same cream color as the living room ceiling, John began installing the pine floor and staining it to look vintage. . .Looks old, doesn't it?. .The boards were extra wide and John laid them very randomly, which helped make them look original to the farmhouse. . .
At this point, I knew we needed a lot of cupboards on that long, blank wall opposite the windows. . .We didn't want them to look new. . .We wanted them to look as if they had been a part of the house for decades. . .We hunted and hunted. . .checking Antique Malls and Flea Markets in Missouri, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia. . .Nothing seemed to work. . .John began to sketch out a plan for building the cupboards himself. . .but there were too many other projects to finish before he could begin.
Then one day we visited our friend in Dyersburg, Tennessee, who happened to own an Antique Mall. . .I was telling Bill what a hard time we were having finding anything for that wall. . ."Come back here with me" as he led us to the storage room. . .There we found the 1898 cupboard. . .and a quick search turned up the 1936 Baker's cabinet, too. . .But it still wasn't enough. . .John suggested he build a copy of the 1898 cupboard and place the 1936 cabinet in the center. . .We did the math, only to find that we were still short by about 20". I put my thinking cap on and asked if he would build an open shelf unit to display the cast iron pots. . .It would put them close at hand for our open hearth cooking. . .John grinned. . .We purchase the two antique pieces that day. . .
I did have John replace the open shelf of the 1898 cupboard with a drawer in the new one. . .He went a step further and lined the drawers with cedar for storing my vintage linens. . .
Surprisingly, the addition of the wall of cupboards made the room look larger. . .For Christmas that year, John crafted the FARMHOUSE TABLE from Native Cypress. . .and about that time, I happened upon a great find at a Goodwill Store. . .the Windsor chairs. . .stained in oak. . .We painted them black. . .
It was all coming together. . .BUT. . .I wasn't satisfied. . .not enough visual impact. . .not enough definition between the kitchen area and the keeping room. . .My thoughts went back to my years of working at Colonial Williamsburg and the checkerboard floor cloths often used to help define different areas. . .Why not paint a checkerboard on the floor below the table?
It was hard to put paint on that beautiful floor. . .but John said we could always sand it down and start over if we didn't like the checkerboard look. . .That winter we got underway. . .