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Before + After: Transforming an Office Space into a Moody Kitchen!

Bonus: What did we discover under the drop ceiling?

As seen on episode 1 of our HGTV show
Who’s Afraid of a Cheap Old House?

What’s more daunting than turning a firehouse — later a Town Hall and court — into a welcoming home? Turning its warren of municipal offices into a spacious, functional kitchen! We love a good before-and-after, so let’s take a moment to celebrate the magic that happened when we found intact tin panels hiding above some seriously depressing drop ceilings, and decided to make them the focal point of the kitchen + dining room in Bill + Joe’s beautiful cheap old firehouse in Whitehall, NY. This all went down in Episode 1 of our HGTV series, Who’s Afraid of a Cheap Old House?

This kitchen in Whitehall, NY, was a truly exciting space to plan because it meant bringing the room back to its original layout, starting with knocking out non-historic walls and pulling down a drab drop ceiling. Behold! Tin ceiling panels, in pristine condition, and views of the glassy waters of the historic Champlain Canal!

Before we get to the pretty “after” photos, let’s take a moment to appreciate how depressing the space was when we found it. Can you believe that someone covered up those tin ceilings?!?

Smashing through those horrible partition walls with our teammates Scott Reed (architectural designer) + Jennifer Salvemini (interior designer) may have been the most fun we’d ever had!

Let’s see what it looks like now!



With homeowners’ Bill and Joe’s big family gatherings in mind, the goal was to keep the room open with the ability to flow and interact seamlessly between the kitchen and dining area. Fortunately, this plan also allowed us to preserve the original open layout! A win-win! The deep purple hue on the tin ceiling panels recalls to the rainbow-like patina discovered on the tin panelling elsewhere in the building. Who else but Dunn-Edwards DURA! On the ceiling, that’s Nightshade, complemented by Chocolate Milk on the walls.

Every old house restoration needs a splurge! The dining room is anchored by a remarkable chandelier from family-owned Authentic Designs, in nearby West Rupert, Vermont. We took our interior designer, Jen, along on a field trip to see where these beautiful pieces are fabricated and to learn more about this particular design’s history; we took viewers along, too, on Who’s Afraid of a Cheap Old House?! We always believe that if you’re going to splurge, you should do so by supporting local craftmanspeople. It felt to be able to practice what we preach while also beautifying Bill + Joe’s dining room.



Anchoring this new kitchen (can you believe this used to be Town Hall offices?!) are sleek appliances by Café / GE. The Smart Slide-In range and hood, the ENERGY STAR®  French door refrigerator, and the ENERGY STAR® stainless steel interior dishwasher — all in matte black — are so elegant. KraftMaid cabinets create a beautiful foundation for this kitchen, adorned with reproduction hardware by one of our favorites, Charleston Hardware Co. Beautiful countertops from MSI Surfaces are punctuated by a sink with Vintage Tub & Bath‘s bridge-style faucet.

The architecture of the building continues to shine through in the kitchen, where we kept upper cabinets and shelving to a minimum to truly appreciate the lovely brick and form of the historic firehouse.

Aren’t these photos gorgeous? Thank you to photographer Stephanie Munguia for making our work shine!

See the complete transformation of this historic firehouse in our episode deep-dive, and watch the full episode on HGTV.

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