Caledon Farmhouse

Home renovation and addition — Orangeville, Ontario

What had been a derelict pioneer farmhouse has been re-invented by its owner, high on the escarpment overlooking Caledon Township. We were asked initially how any renovation might resurrect the home’s original spirit, and what “green” measures might bear on its repairs.

Although the old house had its limitations, we recognized the innate wisdom of the original design. The centre-hall Ontario Gothic plan had good ventilation and, with spacious porches and tall windows, the style already offered an environmental head start. We could take advantage of this home’s existing assets and enhance what we could.

To begin with we looked at retaining the sturdiest of the interior finishes. The 12-inch pine floor planks were preserved and additional flooring milled from salvaged barn siding. The former porch, demolished many years ago, was rebuilt using templates from the Caledon vernacular, and we added a generous screened porch that opens from the dining room. Wrapping three sides, the porch protects the interior from the direct rays of the summer sun.

Mature trees were likewise carefully preserved to provide shade from the summer heat. The mature chestnut in the south garden was, by far, the biggest asset in cooling the house. The windows of the original house were replaced with the same double-hung style to allow an abundance of fresh air, in addition to being high-efficiency glazing. Super high-performance insulation was installed in the walls, roof and foundation of the addition. For heating and cooling, a geothermal system was installed.

A new addition was constructed in a style that deferred to the historic vernacular. An open-plan kitchen and living area, anchored by a large stone island, links to an equally generous living area that fronts a Wiarton limestone fireplace. The new spaces open up from the old using long galleries and wide French doors. Natural light pours in from windows on three sides of almost every room.

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