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Interiorssneak peeks

Creating Fond Memories in A Hudson Valley Farmhouse

by Sofia Tuovinen

Creating Fond Family Memories in An Upstate New York Farmhouse | Design*Sponge
After many years of spending their weekends as freeloaders at their friend’s country home in Accord, NY, Juliet Feehan, who works in furniture and interiors, and her husband Jon, a Creative Director, concluded that it might be time to find a weekend home of their own. The switch from guests to homeowners in the somewhat rural area of the Hudson Valley took several years of searching until they were unexpectedly introduced to an old farmhouse just down the road from their friend’s house. After a quick walk-through, Juliet and Jon were convinced — the house was calling out to them.

Making updates to the house was initially supposed to be an eight-week project, which felt feasible to the couple who called themselves novices when it came to the renovation process. “Nearly two years later we finally found ourselves with functional plumbing and a basic heating system. It was interesting that we stuck with it and didn’t end up committing any murders along the way,” Juliet jokes. Updating the floor plan and reconfiguring spaces in the nearly 200-year-old house included more than a few unexpected hurdles. Juliet and Jon discovered that the main part of the house was most likely not originally intended for residential living and had served as a farm outbuilding until a kitchen and second floor were added in the early 20th century. “Consequently, our design intention was to create a home that made more sense intuitively and functioned in a sensible way,” Juliet explains. This meant moving the living room downstairs and reworking the existing floor plan, which included an enormous bathroom in the center of the house, blocking the pathway to what should have been the living area. In addition to creating a layout that made more sense, Juliet and Jon’s main goal was to ensure that the overall design of the house reflect its history and natural surroundings. “The outdoors are such an important element to everyone living in this beautiful area, and we wanted to be reminded of it whenever we found ourselves indoors,” Juliet tells us.

Since the completion of their weekend home, Juliet, Jon and their son Liam have focused on creating fond memories there together with friends and family, who they are now able to comfortably welcome. As it turns out, they are not the only ones who feel connected to the old farmhouse. “After working with many craftspeople, contractors, electricians, and plumbers in the area during the renovation, it became clear that nearly everyone had some experience or connection to our house. We met a couple who were married on the front lawn, and the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of a man who had built a motocross in the woods behind the house.” During construction, some strange objects were also found inside the walls, including a child’s boot. “We were later informed that shoes were frequently placed in the walls of homes for good luck during the 18th and 19th [centuries]. Juliet continues, “We put the boot back inside once the sheetrock went up to keep the good luck flowing.” —Sofia

Photography by John Gruen / @johnrgruen

Image above: Juliet and Jon reconfigured the floor plan of their historic farmhouse by moving the living room from the top floor downstairs. Juliet, who works with furniture and interiors, has filled the new living space with classic furniture and carefully curated decor that bows to the history of the home. 

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Unique decorative objects have been placed on an antique secretary desk in the corner of the living room. The family also found some interesting objects in the house during the renovation. “There was a wall that contained what appeared to be several mummified hedgehogs, though I don’t believe hedgehogs are indigenous to the Hudson Valley. We will never know for sure,” Juliet shares.

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The family’s piano is the perfect accompaniment during gatherings with friends and family. Juliet shares her favorite memory hosting loved ones, “We hosted a dinner for around 30 people on the second floor porch shortly after moving in. We rented large tables and chairs and hung string lights from the ceiling. In anticipation of the rain and cold, a good friend helped us hang around 30 clear vinyl shower curtains from the rafters in a surprisingly professional and elegant manner. Everyone stayed warm and dry while enjoying an outdoor Thanksgiving dinner on the porch, clueless to the fact they were enveloped in shower curtains. We felt this was a significant achievement. Luckily, the new vinyl shower curtain smell dissipated shortly before mealtime, which we were certainly ‘thankful’ for.”

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The original layout of the house felt puzzling and included two staircases. Juliet and Jon simplified the floor plan so that it made more sense for everyday family life. They also chose to paint the downstairs walls and ceilings white, accentuating the wide plank floors.

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A large paper lantern adds a modern touch and clean lines to the otherwise classic dining room decor. “After living through a nearly two-year, dusty gut renovation, walking in the front door of our home feels refreshing, clean, bright, and hopeful,” Juliet notes.

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“Thanks to some unexpected renovation hurdles, our budget did not allow for a full kitchen renovation as we’d initially hoped,” Juliet shares. “We’ve slated the kitchen redesign for our ‘phase two’ portion of the project, and did some painting and basic aesthetic fixes.”

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“The kitchen does not currently function the way we’d like it to right now, but in the meantime it looks cute in pictures!” Juliet says.

Creating Fond Family Memories in An Upstate New York Farmhouse | Design*Sponge
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The Raphaël wallpaper by Sandberg creates a tapestry-style look in the classic powder room.

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An upstairs bedroom is clad in red-and-white wallpaper for a touch of farmhouse whimsy.

Creating Fond Family Memories in An Upstate New York Farmhouse | Design*Sponge
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The kids’ room features bunk beds and built-in shelves filled with favorite books and collected treasures.

Creating Fond Family Memories in An Upstate New York Farmhouse | Design*Sponge
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The traditional bathroom was designed to feel like it has always been a part of the house. The brass details have developed a beautiful, authentic patina.

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Juliet created a jaw-dropping blue-and-white bedroom on the top floor by adding wallpaper to both the walls and ceiling. The end result is classic yet quintessentially quirky.

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View from the porch of the family’s historic farmhouse. “Accord and the surrounding areas are rather rural, but despite this there still remains a deep sense of community. There’s a tremendous amount of history in the area, as well as pride on behalf of the residents,” Juliet explains.

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The sunroom offers views of the leafy surroundings. “The outdoors are such an important element to everyone living in this beautiful area, and we wanted to be reminded of it whenever we found ourselves indoors,” Juliet says. 

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Comments

  • This is gorgeous- would love to know the sources for the dining room table, adult beds, and bathroom sinks. Are they vintage or repros? Looking for very similar items for my own home.

    • I’m not sure about these particular items but I like Cohasset Colonial for reproductions and Skinner Auction House for authentic (and usually very affordable) period furniture.

  • This is so peaceful, serene and tasteful, lovely yet modest. Bravo! Can you tell me the paint color of the bathroom — what a wonderful blue!

  • Wow. Its lovely. I grew up in that area, and the details of antiques reference the vernacular well. But then “vive la difference” – is that Martha Armitage wallpaper in the bedroom? Is that a jenny lind poster bed, or something that looks like one that I could buy? So exciting!

  • Thank you for the kind words! Dining table is from Sawkille Co. (a favorite furniture maker based in hudson Valley, http://www.sawkille.com,
    Bathroom paint is farrow and ball teresa’s green, beds are reproductions (old beds are too hard to find in queen size!) and the sinks are reproductions of a common vintage design from the 1920s.

  • How beautiful! Can you tell me souring on the neutral rugs in the living + dining rooms and kitchen? Thanks so much!

  • SO beautiful and calming. I’d love to know what brand the wallpapers are–they are gorgeous!

  • So pretty! Would you happen to know the height of the ceilings? I’m renovating a house with low ceilings and i’m constantly worried that its going to feel so dark and cave like.

    • Hi Maggie, the ceilings are very low which is why we opted to install the beadboard and paint them with high gloss. The reflected light made them feel less claustrophobic and in the end quite cozy – do not fear the low ceiling! :)

  • I can’t thank you enough for sharing this home! We live in a late 30s Dutch Colonial which has a number of similar elements (despite being a great deal younger than this stunning house) and this post has been so inspirational. We’ve been contemplating using a great deal of white in the interior. Would you mind sharing the shade(s) of white you have used on the walls? It works so beautifully with the light in each room.

  • Drop dead beautiful!My cape is 241 years old with low ceilings (88″) in both the downstairs and upstairs foyers. Painting them in a high gloss has made a world of difference! I now have lots of light reflected from windows and mirrors.
    Thank you for sharing your lovely home.