Before & After: The Drooz Studio Farmhouse

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Once passed down through four generations of women, a storied 1896 farmhouse in Skaneateles (the Finger Lakes area of central NY) had operated as a bed and breakfast before Shelly Kennedy and Mark Strang came to its rescue three years ago. The home’s floor plan had been chopped up to accommodate overnight guests (and even a full bathroom and Jacuzzi in the upstairs hallway). Part of the Military Plot 50, the property was a Revolutionary War land grant, of which 600 acres total had been arranged in the town for returning soldiers.

At first, Shelly and Mark made minor improvements. They tore down the wallpaper and heavy draperies in every room, and painted almost everything but the original woodwork white. Shelly didn’t have the heart to change it, but didn’t necessarily love the color of the wood, either. The white walls allow the wood to act as a “second color” in each room instead of fighting with it. The white also provides a crisp, clean background for colorful decor, art, and photos. More substantial renovations included finishing the attic, removing all the radiators and installing forced heat and AC with three zones, a new roof, paint, porches, and driveway. They also added a two-story 12×16′ section to the back of the house, making a proper entrance, mudroom, pantry, and master suite, and a 6×12′ bump-out in the kitchen area. Many interior walls were reworked throughout the entire house to improve its flow.

At the same time, the family (including a teenage daughter and son) completely rebuilt an even older 1848 barn on the grounds, and turned it into a gathering and party loft. They felt strongly enough about saving it to undertake the very costly and detailed renovation. Part of the original 30×60′ barn was rotten beyond repair, so its footprint was trimmed down to 30×40′. They took the barn boards off one by one (just leaving the hand-hewn frame), raised it, blocked it, removed the old and crumbling foundation, and rebuilt a new foundation, floors, and drainage — then pieced the building back together like a puzzle.

Shelly, who now operates drooz studio from her attic workspace, designs colorful, decorative accessories inspired by her own house and style. She is glad to have invested in this historic property — reviving it, and giving it a shot at standing for another 125 years. She caught it just in time. —Annie

Photography by Shelly Kennedy

  1. Dandy says:

    So awesome!! Love the art

  2. Jess says:

    I can see why that kitchen hutch would reel her in… that piece is incredible! And it blends so well with the rest of the kitchen.

  3. Katarina says:

    Wonderful!! I really like it. I do. I really, really like it, All of it!

  4. Emily says:

    Absolutely love it! I just purchased an 1885 home that has a very similar features. Do you by any chance have more photos anywhere, especially of the kitchen? I would love to see more of what you did!

  5. This is such a beautiful and eclectic space, loving the colors, and art work!

  6. Vanessa says:

    Gosh, I wish I had a barn to renovate! Well done.

  7. Jessica says:

    I love how all the character is intact but with a modern twist. The barn bar is too fun.

  8. I love all the pictures hung so close together!

  9. Jerri Spiers says:

    I love the living room sitting area! So many cool pieces on the wall! I’m also a huge fan of the wallpaper in the powder room! So unique and adds to the elegant yet whimsy space! Blending wall papers can be a real challenge. What is your technique for deciding if you have too many colors or patterns, or making sure the entire house flows?

  10. Corrie says:

    Cool – I live in Skaneateles, too! I think this house is down the street from the cottage my cousin lives in. Hope to meet you around town, Shelley!

    1. Corrie says:

      oops… Shelly – sorry about the extra *e*… I know two Shelleys, it’s an automatic extra *e* :)

  11. Cene says:

    This place is killer ! Love the exterior transformation, kitchen ( cabinet would’ve sold me the house, too ) & barn —- barn envy – Big Time


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