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In Pennsylvania, a Victorian Farmhouse is Renovated with Love

by Sofia Tuovinen

The work that Denise Santiago and Michael Warrington have put into their home can only be described as a labor of love. The couple’s story began almost a decade ago, and five years have passed since these engaged lovebirds decided to take the plunge into home ownership. Denise, a flight attendant, and Mike, a mailman, had always dreamed of a historical home in their little hometown of Stroudsburg, PA. When the late 19th century Victorian farmhouse came on the market, it was its original character and wraparound porch that sealed the deal.

With eight rooms, two staircases and original hardwood floors all in need of renovation, Denise and Mike began the process of turning the historical house into the dream home that they could grow into. During the first year and a half, Denise and Mike lived with their parents while doing major renovations in the house on their days off. From completely gutting the kitchen to sanding and restaining the floors, Denise and Mike have done all the work together with Mike’s father, who has been hands-on with every project. “We look back now at the buying process and realize we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. It’s kind of a good thing that we were ignorant about how much work needed to be done… I think if we were fully aware at the time we probably would’ve been scared away and not taken the plunge,” Denise recalls.

Five years in, the home is still a work in progress. Slowly but surely, Denise and Mike are finishing up their home room by room. When spring comes along, the focus shifts outside. The beautiful flower garden, which wraps around the entire house, is just one of the projects that takes up the couple’s time during the warmer months. “We have our days like anyone else where it gets overwhelming or frustrating but at the end of it all, it’s extremely rewarding and has become a hobby for us,” Denise shares.

The rooms that Denise and Mike have finished in their 2,900-square-foot house have been decorated with a balanced mix of old and new. Avid visitors of flea markets and estate sales, the couple loves scouting out those “can’t-live-without” pieces. “A lot of the items we found for our home happened by complete accident, which I think is the best way!” Denise adds. The main goal has been to create a home that looks and feels lived-in — a place where friends and family feel welcome to kick up their feet, grab a drink and chill.

Denise and Mike are definitely homebodies and after having seen their home, who can argue? Many evenings are spent sitting on the porch, under the twinkle lights, watching the cars and people go by. Denise and Mike are writing their chapters in the long story of the old farmhouse. “We love that we own a piece of history. This house was here way before we were alive and it will be here after we’re long gone.” The love and respect that Denise and Mike have for both each other and their home is truly inspiring. Click through for a peek of it! Sofia

Photography by Denise Santiago & Michael Warrington

In Pennsylvania, a Victorian Farmhouse is Renovated with Love | Design*Sponge
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Denise and Mike on the front porch of their “imperfectly perfect home.” Their eclectic style, with a mix of old and new, sets the tone throughout this Victorian farmhouse. The red front door is painted in Fire Cracker by Behr.
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At first, Denise and Mike didn’t know that to do with the parlor. Over time, a classic leather chesterfield, monochrome textiles and rustic flea market finds found their place, and turned the space into a fun and relaxed room that is now the couple’s favorite to unwind in. The Mickey Mouse hat is a souvenir from Disney World, where Mike proposed to Denise. After 10 years together, the couple will tie the knot next year!
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A glimpse of the bright red front door from the parlor. The church pew was a gift from Mike’s parents and ties in with the beautifully stained original hardwood floors. The school map of Europe was won at an auction and adds vintage appeal to the space. The walls are painted in Parchment Paper by Behr, a creamy neutral.
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The couple loves hunting for treasures at local flea markets. The coffee table, found at an estate sale, is just one of their many scores. “At Christmas time we move the coffee table out of the way, we cut down our own tree and put it smack in the middle of this room. It's magical,” Denise tells us. The rug, throw pillows and large floor lamp are all IKEA finds.
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One of the many Polaroids from Denise and Mike’s collection.
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One nook in the parlor is devoted to the couple’s record collection. There are hints of Mike’s love for comics throughout the house, like the Spiderman poster that rests above a vintage chest of drawers.
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The floor plan of Denise and Mike’s Victorian farmhouse, drawn on a piece of slate from the roof.
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The long dining table, made of salvaged wood found in New York, is a true statement piece. It was lovingly made by Mike and his father. The crafty duo is also behind the vintage chicken feeder-turned-pendant light!
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All pieces in Denise and Mike’s dining room are either self-made or found at estate sales and flea markets. The darker walls, painted in Anonymous by Behr, create a charming ambience that’s perfect for evening gatherings with friends.
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When Denise and Mike bought the farmhouse, they were faced with the challenge of a complete kitchen update. The original cabinets were pink and the space dark and depressing. To brighten things up, the couple added windows and opted for a black and white color scheme. Small vintage finds add charm and tie in the decor with the rest of the house.
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Homegrown vegetables on the kitchen counter.
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The grey color (Sparrow by Behr) that Denise and Mike chose for their bedroom walls makes the space feel calm and inviting. “There's so much going on in the rest of our home, but we kept our bedroom airy and simple. I like to add some fun from time to time with colorful bedsheets and pillows,” Denise explains. The bed frame is from IKEA, and the bedlinen and military blanket are estate sale finds.
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While renovating, Denise and Mike wanted to respect and preserve the historic character of their home, including the old floorboards. “[We] love the original wood floors. We stained them dark, but you can still see all the beautiful knots and character,” Denise says.
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“We've got a little plant obsession. Most of them we find at yard sales,” Denise shares. The wooden nut and bolt crate is also a flea market find.
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“The banner over the bed is definitely something we live by - staying home!” — Denise. The banner is by ZanaProducts via Etsy.
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Flea market finds along with the couple’s wedding rings decorate a vintage tray. “The thing we love most about our home is…Me & You…accomplished it together.”

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