The Modern Farmhouse Project

21 Apr 2016

This past fall, we began working with a young family on their soon-to-be-new house. They found a really special piece of property and had an amazingly simple yet spectacular modern farmhouse design done by Thomas French Architects. I'm certain I squealed when I first opened the house plans and the inspiration photos they sent over which included some of my personal favorites by Eric Olsen Design:

{photo by Karyn Millet. I could drool over Eric Olsen's work all day, btw!!}

We had a blank canvas to work with and we designed the kitchen, the bathrooms, and selected all of the woodwork, flooring and finishes. I love getting involved in our projects at this phase because we can really get every detail right. I wrote about this a little bit in my book in the chapter on "Architecture" but when you get the bones of a home right, you can really undertake a simpler form of decorating because you don't have to worry about needing the decorating to hide or camouflage things. (Sometimes when things aren't quite right, a trick is to use lots of color, fabric and a heavier approach to decorating in general to hide flaws, which can yield beautiful results, but we didn't have to do any of that here, which I was thrilled about because our clients were after something simple and natural and relaxed. )

When my client asked for simple, relaxed, a little rustic and a little boho, I knew it was love. I design all over the map style-wise, which is so much fun for me because I love pushing myself and getting to try out new things, but I'm not sure my personal style has ever aligned so closely with a client's before and it has also been soooooo much fun. She loves orange and earthy colors and isn't afraid to take risks.  

Daniel Valencic at Great Jones Developments has been amazing and has been steadily building since the fall and it's now a "real live" house and we couldn't be more excited!! The exterior will be white (actually it is now.. this is an old photo)-

{I'm in love with the windows}

We settled on a palette of black and white with wood and are bringing in lots of oranges, with browns, olives, greens, mustard and a teensy bit of red. My clients are incredibly laid-back and really just want to be enjoy simple living in this house.  They love to cook, entertain, be outside and hang with friends so throughout the process, we've made sure that everything we've selected works towards that comfortable, relaxed, cool end goal.  (My clients love quirky things too, so I'm having so much fun hunting for cool one-of-a-kind accessories and art!  We found this amazing antique tufted psychiatrist's chaise with the most beautiful old oak frame and are having it reupholstered in black leather... I had a dream about it I'm so excited about this thing! )

There is so much LIGHT in this house, which I think is one of the most important factors in creating a home with a vibe that feels really good. The rooms are also nicely proportioned - not too big & not too small- and I see all of the spaces really getting used and lived-in. The front door will be painted black and the floors will be done in a random width wide plank white oak, one of my favorite types of flooring:

The library/living room is to the left of the front door in the photo above and the dining room is to the right. The dining room is one of the darker spaces in the house because its window looks out onto the front porch, so I really felt like the walls needed to be special make a statement so I'm in the process of collecting a massive collection of art to really take over the space. My clients have so much trust in us and I cannot wait for the day (in June!!) when they walk through that front door!!! This room is going to be CRAZY. After months and months of hunting for just the right thing, we found a really special chandelier that's totally going to set the unexpected, playful yet gutsy tone of the house.

{The dining room a few months ago. House is fully closed up and nearly finished now!!}

The library (not pictured) will go black and make an equally bold statement. There is a gallery hall running perpendicular to the foyer and it runs from side to side of the house, connecting the various rooms of the house. We're having reclaimed wood whitewashed and have a series of art running down the hall lit from wall lights above. Oversize black pendants will run down the center of the hall.  The stairway will also be paneled in the whitewashed wood with black wall lamps and the massive vintage orb light we used in Greystone Mansion for Maison de Luxe will hang from above.

The kitchen (below, midstage) is open to the family room and really establishes our black, white and wood palette.

{Beams will run in the kitchen and the family room. Soapstone countertops mixed with white caesarstone on the island, back subway tiles, open shelving and lots of collected pitchers and serving pieces will add lots of interest.}

{Above, the view of the sink which will have a pair of dishwashers flanking it. The side of this island shows one of my favorite little island elements... an additional "secret" stool spot that can be pulled out for extra seating or resting for the person doing the prep work... I put one in my new kitchen and haven't yet gotten around to buying my stool so the kids think it's their little fort. But when I do drag another stool over there, I love it. }

The family room has a massive accordion-style glass door along the entire back wall that will open it up to the back yard and patio:


{This will be amazing!!  This door was one of my client's "must-haves" from the very beginning of the project.  The other is a big ol' porch swing! }

The master bathroom is another one of my favorite spaces.  A pair of oak vanities will flank a black clawfoot tub sitting in front of the window and the floor is in this crazy Ann Saks cement tile:

Anyway, as we have less than two months to go until our clients' move-in, we're in the process of finalizing last-minute details and shopping away for art & accessories to get it feeling like a home.  I CANNOT WAIT to see this baby finished!!!!  It's already been such a special project to be a part of & I'm just so thrilled for our clients to get to move in & enjoy it!!!

I've been behind on sharing our new design & decorating projects with you so I'll try to catch up on that front soon!  We've got some really special ones- some are additional rooms in the houses that were featured in my book- so I can't wait to share!

And finally, on Saturday, April 30th from 11-4, the Love Quilt Project, an organization that benefits South African and American children who have been orphaned by AIDS, is hosting its 3rd annual Arlington Home & Garden tour!  Please click here for tickets and details. 


Have a wonderful day!!

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