Interiorssneak peeks

An Old Farmhouse Becomes the Project of a Lifetime

by Sofia Tuovinen

An Old Farmhouse Becomes the Project of a Lifetime | Design*Sponge

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.

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The great room is the main room of the house and serves as the formal living and dining room. It’s the perfect space for entertaining large groups of friends. The original American Chestnut wainscoting and coffered ceiling make this space a real treasure.

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Shawn and Kristofer have filled their farmhouse with pieces that they have collected from various auctions and antique shops in the area.

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The living area in the great room. The butterfly cloches on the coffee table were crafted by Shawn and Kristofer, and are one of many thought-out details in the space. “We recently commissioned an artist to recreate two Dutch style still-life oil paintings that we’re super excited about!” Shawn shares.

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A buffet table in the corner of the great room serves as a bar — this is where Shawn and Kristofer make all the delicious cocktails for their blog, The Farmhouse Project.

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The dining area in the great room features the original bluestone fireplace.

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Shawn and Kristofer chose a pink toile wallpaper for the downstairs hallway. Notice the little rabbit drawer knob — it’s all in the details!

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Renovating the kitchen has been one of the biggest undertakings in the house. Besides getting some help with installing cabinets and flooring, Shawn and Kristofer did the all the work themselves, from building the kitchen island to tiling and painting.

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Rocco the dog in the farmhouse kitchen. Shawn and Kristofer recently installed reclaimed wood shelves for all their cookbooks. “Kris is a master in the kitchen, so this is definitely his happy place,” Shawn explains. Old copper molds and an antique pitchfork on the wall add dimension to the space.

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The pantry offers tons of storage.

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“Escaping from the hustle and bustle of city life to country life is what we love most about our home. Getting to the house on a Friday night and having that feeling of freedom!” — Shawn and Kristofer

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The stairway wall features Shawn and Kristofer’s collection of 100+ antique silhouettes, which they began collecting when they bought the house.

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Shawn and Kristofer wanted a “masculine equestrian feel” for their master bedroom — they were inspired by Ralph Lauren’s iconic interpretation of this style, as well as the many horse farms in the area.

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“We love small pieces of artwork that work together on a wall for a very collected look. These pieces of art are from local antique shops and artists in the area.”

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All the pillows on the bed are made by Shawn and Kristofer. The old exposed ceiling beams are a stunning architectural detail.

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The settee in the master bedroom was a local auction find for $50! Shawn and Kristofer reupholstered it in sumptuous dark blue velvet.

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The guest bedroom is Shawn and Kristofer’s most recently renovated room, and still a work in progress. The couple was inspired by botanicals and insects, and used a black and white color palette with pops of greens and pinks. “We also wanted to challenge ourselves with mixing prints and materials,” they explain.

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A collection of antique plates hangs above the bed — the similar patterns create an optical illusion of sorts! The pineapple lamps are from World Market.

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The refined color palette of the guest bedroom makes the space feel like a well considered and welcoming retreat. The insect pillow is from Joss & Main.

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Shawn in the guest bedroom, reupholstering an antique settee for the room.

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Framed pressed botanicals stand on an antique dresser in the guest bedroom. “We love the scale and proportions of this part of the bedroom,” Shawn and Kristofer share.

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The plan of Shawn and Kristofer’s farmhouse.

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Shawn and Kristofer’s Dutch Colonial farmhouse, including the barn and their matching green 72′ Ford F100 pickup.

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