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Interiorssneak peeks

Rustic Simplicity Modernizes a 200-Year-Old Home

by Garrett Fleming

Undesirable kitchens, ancient furnishings and broken-down parts can all cloud your judgement when looking for a home, especially an older one. I say “can cloud,” but let’s be real. They’re relentless! These no-go’s refuse to be overlooked and oftentimes get in the way of an old home’s greatest asset: its bones. If I’ve learned anything from the homeowners we’ve talked to over the years, though, it’s how rewarding it can be when you look past these surface flaws and embrace the charm and quirks of an elder home.

April Lawrence, interior designer and owner of plant shop Lil’ Bit, is one such creative gal. When she first laid eyes on this 1780s-era house in Deerfield, NH it was sort of a mess. The heat didn’t work, the ceilings were low and years of dusty renovations hid what she knew was great potential. Potential no other home buyer saw but her. Even her husband Sam thought they may be getting in over their heads with the clunker. But that was three years ago. Since then, Sam and their family and friends have rallied around April and helped tear down walls, sand floors and install new windows and flooring.

After having put so much sweat into bringing the home into the 21st century, the last thing April wanted to do was cover up all of the home’s fabulous bones with mounds of decoration. In order to let its core shine, she’s instead outfitted it in uncomplicated rustic wares. Nearly all of them are from nearby secondhand shops, and they each add a simple charm no matter the room they reside in. Guest bedrooms with paint-by-numbers art, a small collection of pennants above the fireplace, a dining room decked out in farming equipment, you name it. And it doesn’t stop there. Click through to take a deeper dive into this New England renovation. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Mike Quill

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When April and Sam first laid eyes on this property, it was the magnetic force of the fireplace and sitting area that sold them on the home. Today, guests feel its pull as well and are drawn to the room just as Sam and April were years ago. Low plaster ceilings were torn away to reveal these gorgeous beams.
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These unique floral chairs are from Habitat for Humanity's shop ReStore.
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April and Sam steadily renovated this 1780s-era home over the course of three years. Throughout the process, it wasn't uncommon to see baby Gray strapped to April's back while she knocked down walls or sanded floors. Everyone thought she was wrong to replace the stairs' old railing with a birch branch, but she went with her gut and loves the rustic results.
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"This is the view we are greeted with every time we drive up our dirt road. Our son screams, 'Home!!!' as we drive up the dirt hill to get here. It has truly felt like home from the moment I set eyes on it," April gushes.
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In order to let the kitchen's architecture and the inherent feel of the space shine, April and Sam opted for unassuming IKEA kitchen cabinets.
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With a door that leads to the nursery, April and Sam's bedroom has become the hub of family activity.
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The Lawrences tore out their bedroom's closet and replaced it with a seating area. Since they spend so much time between this room and the nursery, it was a must. The Belgian linen chair was a lucky thrift-store find.
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"What I love about our home is the past that's revealed itself along the way and its warm invitation to create new memories and add to its already rich history." -- April Lawrence
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The pared-back nursery holds great potential and enough space for Gray to play and create as he pleases.
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"This is the door that leads to early mornings. The sun will wake Gray who then wakes me. 'Mama!!?! I up. Mama, wake!?!!' And so the day begins, and I love it," April says.
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In the summer months, the first-floor bedroom's windows are flung open, and the sound of geese on the nearby pond and the scent of lilac intoxicates those lucky enough to wake up here.
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April's home was originally built for a general, and she suspects the first-floor bedroom was once his library since it's the only room with a fireplace.
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The second guest room's look pays homage to April's grandparents' bed and breakfast. She used to stay there as a child, and its "very minimalist, 1950s, wild-west theme" stuck in her memory like glue. The decorations are from Etsy.
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Arrows from Etsy and a birch door stopper -- a nice tie-in to the staircase's handrail -- in the second guest room.
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The dining room -- like the rest of the home -- is splashed in a custom Benjamin Moore color. While different pieces of decor inspired each room's wall color, they are all within the same muted palette.
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This sickle -- a traditional farming tool -- was a gift from April's father. He knew it was perfect for this dining room wall well before the renovation was complete. "That wall!" he exclaimed as he and April worked away.
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The home's floor plan.

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