Every week we share amazing homes here on Design*Sponge — whether they’re small studios or larger family homes, I’m always left in awe of the amount of creativity and passion that goes into turning various types of spaces into personal and inviting homes. Today I get to share a home with you that I think truly reflects some wonderful values — it’s an old farmhouse that has been restored with love and respect, honoring both the house itself and its charismatic new owners!
I first stumbled across Shawn and Kristofer of The Farmhouse Project on Instagram at the end of last year, when the couple was busy decorating their historic farmhouse for the holidays. It all looked so magical, with pine garlands wrapped around the porch pillars, and beautiful wreaths hanging in each window. I just knew I had to hear Shawn and Kristofer’s story, and how their wonderful farmhouse home came to be.
When Shawn, a designer and artist, and Kristofer, an oncologist, decided to begin the search for a weekend retreat in the country four years ago, they had lived in Manhattan for over a decade. They longed for a slower pace of life, and an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. After looking around in upstate New York, the couple realized that they wanted something less developed than the Hudson Valley. A farm stay in the western part of the Catskills convinced them — Shawn and Kristofer fell in love with the area, and quickly began searching for a house nearby. They spent a weekend upstate looking at a dozen houses, and the realtor saved the best for last. Seeing the final house of the day was a turning point, and the moment that Shawn and Kristofer would embark on the project of a lifetime — renovating a 217-year-old farmhouse in disrepair, and turning it back to life.
Shawn and Kristofer’s Dutch Colonial farmhouse is called “The Woodman House,” and is the oldest house in their village. When they purchased it four years ago, the house had seen better days. Almost every room in the 2,500-square-foot home was covered in 70s and 80s wallpaper that hid damaged plaster walls. Fortunately, none of the original woodwork had been painted over, and the unique details of the house had been left untouched. Shawn and Kristofer were adamant about keeping their design plan as authentic as possible, while still bringing in their own sense of style. Out of respect for the old house, the couple wanted to keep the original floor plan. “Our goal was to think as if we were living in the house when the Woodman family built it. The original details had little nods to different styles, so it was perfect to continue that throughout the interior of the house,” Shawn explains.
One of the most amazing details in the farmhouse is the untouched American Chestnut woodwork. The great room alone is covered in this rare wood from floor to ceiling, and was what first sold Shawn and Kristofer on the house. While scraping off layers of wallpaper in the downstairs hallway, they also uncovered a beautiful hand-painted damask mural. Although the wall was so damaged that they weren’t able to restore it, it proves the amount of detail and craftsmanship that was once put into the house.
During the past four years, Shawn and Kristofer have slowly restored their beloved farmhouse room by room. Although all the major restoration projects are finished, the couple continues to do cosmetic fixes and touch-ups throughout the house. Shawn and Kristofer set out to create a home that combines both of their styles and reflects the long history of the farmhouse. “We love anything authentic that has history and a story to tell.” Decorating multiple rooms also means that things change all the time. “From what our moms say, the process is never-ending,” the couple shares. “What you see in our photos today will most likely be different a month from now or even next week!”
For Shawn and Kristofer, their two-centuries-old farmhouse is the perfect escape — a place where they can reflect on the important things in life and feel free. Over the last year, the couple has slowly transitioned into spending more and more time upstate. From this summer onwards, Shawn will be focusing on The Farmhouse Project blog and a business plan to brand it. This sneak peek is a mini-escape into the wonderful world of Shawn and Kristofer’s farmhouse life. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do! —Sofia
Photography by Lawrence Braun
Image above: Shawn and Kristofer with their vintage Ford pickup. “After a long day of projects or being in the garden, we always make time to be in the kitchen or on the porch together with a bottle of wine!” Kristofer says. The wine is from the local Eminence Road Farm Winery.