How one couple transformed their new home into a vintage country farmhouse.
In 2005, Becky Cunningham and her husband, Shannon, jumped at his parents’ offer to build a new home for their family on 16 acres outside their rural Louisiana hometown. Becky and Shannon hand-picked their one-story modular home’s floor plan and furnishings, keeping in mind their budget and decorating with a dark-green, burgundy and cream color palette and “a hodgepodge of stuff.” But by early 2011, Becky and Shannon had discovered a new design aesthetic and knew that the interior of their home needed some changes.
On a trip to the Canton First Monday Trade Days flea market in Texas, Becky and Shannon discovered what they call “vintage country farmhouse” style. “We found an old barnwood island and fell in love with the look,” Becky remembers. “It was our first purchase toward changing the entire look of our house.” Knowing that their new home hadn’t enough time to accumulate character, the couple decided to speed up the process. “Our top priorities were to lighten our house with brighter colors of paint and to add the vintage farmhouse style to each room,” Becky says.
Lighten Up with Paint
Becky and Shannon accomplished their first goal—brightening their home—by painting each room in the house a lighter color. They started with the office connected to the master bedroom, repainting its dark sage-green walls a “country white,” then did the same for the master bedroom’s sage walls. For Becky, the kitchen was the biggest challenge, as she needed not only to paint the dark clay-colored walls a cotton-white but also to paint the Craftsman oak cabinets a matching white. “It was a big undertaking,” she says, “but so worth it! Painting the cabinets had the biggest impact on our house’s style.”
A Fashion Statement with Flea-Market Finds
To stay true to the reclaimed wood island that inspired their redecorating project, the Cunninghams continued indulging their love for flea-market shopping as a vital element of their redecorating process. “We started visiting the vendor in Canton in 2008, and now we go three to four times a year,” Becky says. Each time they make the two-hour drive, they uncover another old piece they can repurpose. “Usually we purchase reusable architectural elements, such as windows, shutters and doors,” Becky says. “We display one door in the master bedroom and two in the den. We’ve even hung one door horizontally behind the living-room couch.” While Becky gets excited about reclaimed lumber, Shannon passionately collects vintage scales. “We have nine of them,” Becky laughs. “They’re everywhere—the master bathroom, the dining room, the kitchen, the den. My husband’s always looking out for them!”
Keeping the environment in mind, Becky actively reused materials whenever possible. “We have used a large amount of reclaimed barnwood to build farm tables, our headboard and several other projects,” Becky says. “We also see the beauty in old cabinets, doors, windows and scales; instead of discarding them, we use these things to add vintage appeal to our home.”
Family Heirlooms Warm Your Home
In addition to scouring flea markets for unique pieces, Becky inherited many of her accessories from her mother, who recently passed away. “My mom was always the decorator,” Becky says. “She adored the fact that I appreciated old, worn family heirlooms and began passing on special items from her family that she knew I’d value—her granny’s handmade quilt, milk-glass pieces and my grandma’s rolling pin.” Becky displays these heirlooms throughout her home: her green and red handmade quilt in the vintage cowboy bathtub at the foot of the bed, her rolling pin in an antique white pitcher in the kitchen and the milk glass in an old chicken nesting box that hangs on the dining-room wall. “That box seems fairly odd to most people,” Becky says with a laugh. “They think, ‘There’s a chicken coop in the dining room!’ But I like to leave my family heirlooms where I can see them because they mean so much to me.”
Buckets of Tips
Whether due to blasé architecture or insufficient time to accumulate character, new homes often lack personality.
If you want to make your new home look aged, consider Becky’s advice.
• Go for contrasting colors and textures. “The perfect vintage-country farmhouse room is a mix of soft, flowing white, rust and wooden elements,” Becky says.
• “Use paint!” Becky encourages. “Paint is so affordable and changes the look of a room instantly. A piece of furniture can get many more years of good use when painted to fit into a room’s design.”
• Don’t be afraid to redecorate because you’re afraid you’ll bust your budget. “We just did one room at a time,” Becky says. “Purchasing a couple of gallons of paint, some new light fixtures and flea-market items kept the costs fairly minimal.”
• Use elegant light fixtures to complement your rustic vintage pieces. “Lighting changes the feel of a room drastically,” Becky says. “We’ve been purchasing chic chandeliers on clearance. Hopefully we’ll be able to put one in every room, even the den and the kitchen.”
• Find friends who share your style, and learn from their homes and ideas. “My mom was my shopping companion and biggest supporter,” Becky says. “After losing her, I decided to start a blog to connect with others who shared my love for vintage style. So many women have reached out to me through blogging, shared their love for design and inspired me in my newfound passion.”
To learn more about Becky Cunningham’s décor style, visit bucketsofburlap.blogspot.com.
By Elaine K. Phillips
Photography by Becky Cunningham, bucketsofburlap.blogspot.com