Sharon Santoni’s French Country Home

This country home in Normandy is a garden lover's dream.

Sharon Santoni's blue barn door
The bold blue hue of the barn door pops against the aged stone walls.

The rustic charm of French country décor is a coveted look many homeowners who love the romantic style strive to create. For Sharon Santoni of My French Country Home, living in Normandy makes it all the simpler. Her house lies in a valley just an hour outside of Paris, nestled between farmland and a forest.

Linens hang to dry in the Normandy sunshine.
Linens hang to dry in the Normandy sunshine while Sharon’s pup plays nearby.
Sharon Santoni's garden
The garden provides an endless supply of fresh flowers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Outdoor entertaining in Sharon Santoni's lush garden.
Lush greenery and fresh flowers create a beautiful ambiance for outdoor dining.

Her flowers, food and even the décor are all determined by the seasons. If you’ve ever wondered how you can have the French country look in your own home throughout every season, follow Sharon’s example.

French country living room with garden flowers
Peonies from Sharon’s garden add a colorful touch to the sitting room.

Pops of Garden Colors

Flowers bring a liveliness to every room. Throughout Sharon’s home, fresh blooms pop with color against white walls and porcelain pitchers, and all of the flowers come from Sharon’s own garden.

“I see my garden as a palace of colors,” Sharon says. “The only time I buy flowers is in the winter, when I can use fresh greenery from my garden, but not flowers. From early spring through the end of September, I use my own flowers in all my decorating.”

The tables of Sharon Santoni's entryway are full of flowers

Seasonal blooms stand out against her neutral backdrop of white and gray. On her dining room table, soft white linens and napkins emphasize her colorful blossoms all the more. “All of my linens are vintage or antique,” Sharon says. “I have cupboards and cupboards of linens. I love linens.” The vintage quality and embroidered hems make them simple, elegant tablecloths or napkins for any dinner party.

White linen adds to the formal, yet natural elegance of Sharon's outdoor space. A chandelier adds to the ambiance.
White linen adds to the formal, yet natural elegance of Sharon’s outdoor space. A chandelier adds to the ambiance.

Tasty Décor

It’s impossible to accomplish the French country look without including food as part of the decor. Almost every table in Sharon’s home is decorated with seasonal fruits, vegetables and homemade treats.

Plein air painting and picnic.
“I’m a messy painter,” Sharon says. I only paint in the summer because I can paint outside.” When the weather permits, she will spread a thick quilt in her garden, set up her canvas and paint away.

Although Sharon grows some of her own produce, she also purchases food from the local farmers near her property. Plus she always eats what’s in season. “We like to eat food that is in the right season,” Sharon says. “We grow some fruits and vegetables in the garden. For example, right now we’re eating a lot of strawberries. I like eating food in season because you can look forward to it as the seasons come around.”

Colorful flowers pop against the black linen tablecloth
Colorful flowers pop against the black linen tablecloth.

Aside from growing her own food, Sharon and her husband also enjoy cooking. She shares some of her favorite recipes in her book, My French Country Home, and decorates many of her tables with freshly baked tarts and scones.

Sharon Santoni's French kitchen
Food and flowers are Sharon’s decor of choice, as long as both are fresh.

“Entertaining is such a big part of everyday life here,” Sharon says. “My husband comes from a long line of great cooks, and these are my family’s personal recipes.” Adding croissants and seasonal fruits to your breakfast table next to a pitcher full of fresh blooms goes a long way toward creating the French country feel in your home.

Sharon Santoni's dog in an armchair
A home should be comfortable, according to Sharon. She is not against muddy boots in the kitchen or her dog resting on an armchair.

The Precious and the Rustic

When it comes to maintaining the French country look throughout the seasons, Sharon offers a bit of advice. Aside from using seasonal blooms and decorating her tables with vintage linens, she always suggests keeping it real. “The French country look is a mix of old and new,” Sharon says. “It can’t be too rich or precious. It has to be real. We raised four children and two dogs in our house. A little bit of shabby does no harm at all.”

French linen bed
A pretty, feminine bedspread in the guest cottage brightens up the room and makes each of Sharon’s guests feel right at home.

Also, don’t overthink it, she suggests. In the end, your home is just meant to make you feel at home. Change with the seasons, and let fresh blooms be your centerpiece for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Purchase fresh fruits and veggies from your local farmer’s market, and bake breakfast pastries or desserts to go with them.

Sharon Santoni's puts fresh flowers in the guest room as a welcoming gesture.
Fresh flowers by the bedside are a welcoming gesture toward guests, making them feel right at home.

Make the most of neutral colors such as white, off-white or gray in your napkins, tablecloths or runners to emphasize your floral centerpiece. This approach will brighten up your home and make it appear all the more welcoming. The French country lifestyle is carefree and spontaneous, and your home can be too.



Rachel Ashwell’s Shabby Chic Home

Step inside Rachel Ashwell's pretty and practical home.

Rachel Ashwell's blend of elegance and comfort is evident in her own living room.
Rachel Ashwell’s living room is every bit as comfortable as it is cozy. A colorful mix of paintings adds personality to the rough-hewn mantel.

Few homes in southern California have the architectural character or timeless appeal of older homes. If a classic style of home is at the top or your list of must-haves, you often have to search high and low for the right house.

Rachel Ashwell's Shabby Chic blue painted closet
In an old home where built-in storage options are few, a stand-alone closet offers valuable space and fits right in with Rachel’s time-honored aesthetic.
Laurence Amelie tutu painting above Rachel Ashwell's piano
The painting above the piano is by artist Laurence Amelie. In the foreground, a Hollywood Regency style tufted bench offers extra seating.

But when Rachel Ashwell, designer and founder of Shabby Chic, stumbled across this Brentwood house eight years ago, she fell in love with its quirks and knew it would be just the place to call home.

“The architectural style is a hodgepodge,” Rachel says. “It has a bit of a Southern feel, but it also has a Spanish, an English and an Irish flair.”

In the main living room, a large brick fireplace is the focal point of the room and sets the warm, comforting tone of the rest of the home. The fireplace is so large you can walk inside of it, Rachel says, which is common in Scottish or Irish houses. “It’s actually what drew me to buy the house to begin with.”

Rachel Ashwell's dining room and kitchen
The kitchen and dining area flow from one space to the other for an open layout that is perfect for casual, convivial entertaining.

Building Character

While the home already had many exceptional details, including arched walkways, beautiful balconies, and original doors and hardware, Rachel decided to restore some of the key design aspects to a more classic style.

“As often is the case, the baths and kitchen had been renovated, but in a slick and polished style, so I restored them and put them back to what I consider would have been the authentic style for the house,” Rachel says.

Rachel Ashwell's Shabby Chic Kitchen
White floating shelves against white tile, along with the farmhouse sink and painted cabinets, create a cozy kitchen space.
Rachel Ashwell's hutch is covered in whimsical wallpaper and full of mismatched dishes.
One of Rachel’s favorite feminine touches, floral wallpaper, adds whimsy to this antique hutch. She stores her collection of mismatched dishes inside.

For the kitchen, she found some white subway tiles from an old Belgian subway that offer just a slight hint of sheen and contribute to the simplicity of the space. Other elements that bring her kitchen together are dainty pendants above the farmhouse sink, simple white floating shelves neatly stacked with plates, and white painted barnwood-style cabinets. “It has the illusion of a funky little kitchen, but it’s a really good, functional one.”

When Rachel moved in, walls separated the kitchen from the main living room; she opened everything up so it’s all one large space. “It feels like New York loft living, and I have a lot of guests stay here, so I wanted it to have a feeling of a lot of space and not lonely with all these closed-off rooms,” Rachel says. Now with multiple seating areas and dining and workshop areas, it’s an ideal multipurpose room for everyday use.

Rachel Ashwell's Master Bedroom
Bedding in Rachel’s signature florals adds a playful pattern to her master bedroom.

Feminine Touches

A big part of the home’s charm—and what Rachel is very well known for—are the many floral designs in fabric prints and small-scale use of wallpaper patterns you’ll find throughout the home. They add a soft and sophisticated touch in her signature Shabby Chic style.

Rachel Ashwell's master bathroom wallpaper.
Wallpaper in a lacy blue print adds a touch of elegance to the master bathroom.
Rachel Ashwell's mix-and-match floral patterns
Rachel layers this bathroom space with mix-and-match floral patterns.

“I like to do the patterned wallpaper in these little nook areas,” Rachel says. “I tend to use vintage wallpaper.  Often you can’t find a large quantity of vintage wallpaper, so that’s why it’s confined to one space, but it’s easy to do.”

Rachel Ashwell's blue and white guest bedroom
The blue and white two-tone walls perfectly coordinate with Rachel’s Simply Shabby Chic bedding.

Another design trick for bringing in soft color: Rachel paints the walls white, but from the floor to about 3 feet off the ground, she paints it over with a light gray, pink or blue for a two-tone look. “It [adds] color in an unassuming, subtle way,” she says. “They did that a lot in Morocco, and that’s where I got the idea.” These small but impactful design details give Rachel’s home its personality.

Rachel Ashwell's gold and pink settee
An antique settee with gold trim and blush pink upholstery is an elegant touch.

Flea-Market Flair

Antiques add patina and character, and Rachel looks to flea-market pieces to create the look of timeworn elegance she loves. “Nearly all the cabinets, tables and chairs are flea market-found and refurbished to the point that they’re functional and clean, but I try to hold on to the authentic patinas and textures,” Rachel says.

Rachel Ashwell's office space.
Rachel’s office is in a nook off the dining area. Though small, the floor-to-ceiling windows ensure an open atmosphere.

She also mixes in a few reproduction furniture pieces from the Rachel Ashwell Furniture collection to achieve the style, scale and function she wants. Many of her antique pieces are recovered in machine-washable fabric for durability since they’re white. Her collections of antique dishes, trays, vases and containers decorate hutches, tabletops and shelves for a cozy, charming look. All the bedding, in fabric patterns or soft hues, is romantic and vintage inspired.

What is the essence of Rachel’s decorating style? “I guess I would call myself a bit boho, but it’s also very classic. I don’t like things that go in and out of style,” Rachel says. “My mantra is ‘beauty, comfort and function.’ Everything in my house needs to be inviting and needs to be useful. That’s where I start.”

Rachel Ashwell's Living Room Mantel
The wood mantel is raw and unstained, a natural complement to the painted bricks below. Rachel as styled it with an assortment of her favorite small paintings.

4 Elements of Rachel Ashwell’s Style

Want to emulate Rachel’s signature style? Learn how with her tips.

    1. Soft color: “My palette tends to be on the softer side,” Rachel says. From various pinks and raspberries to teal, the look is fresh and inviting.
    2. Eclectic: “I like things to be eclectic but not chaotic. I might organize it or give it a theme with color. Think expensive mixed with flea market and Target.”
    3. Glamour: “I always like a little bit of glamour.” These bits of bling can be crystal chandeliers or a rug with silver threading through it.
    4. Timeworn: “Embracing the beauty of imperfections and faded grandeur is a big thing for me. I don’t get too neurotic if something gets chipped.

Read Courtney Allison’s behind-the-scenes look at this photo shoot!



Everyday Elegance

Personal details and elegant flourishes create a perfect balance of sophisticated and inviting.

For maximum brightness, the sunroom has a neutral palette and large windows. It is a vision in white, which is both sophisticated and casual.

Family-friendly design and luxury do not usually mix, but they cozily coexist at the home of Missy Walsh. Set on 42 acres of land in Potomac, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, D.C., the 13,000-square-foot, four-story colonial, where Missy and her husband raised their three sons for the past decade, was renovated extensively to fit their family’s lifestyle.

“We took about a third of the house away and rebuilt it,” says Missy, a photographer, stylist and former interior designer, who owns the website, Love Your Perch. The process took about two years and now they have a more spacious family room, updated bathrooms and finishes, a basketball court in the basement and an office suite for her husband.

An important connector, this breezeway sits between the main house (right) and the pool house, guest houses, tennis court and garages.

For additional curb appeal, they refaced the exterior with new clapboard and raised the roof by about two feet, because the house looked a little squatty. “The pitch of the roof sat on top of the second-floor windows. With the renovation, the house got a lot wider and with the additional height, it gave it more proportion,” Missy says.

The nature-inspired custom paint color of the family room echoes the colors seen outside the window.

Personal Flair

Taking every opportunity to add her own personal touches throughout, Missy’s hand and designer eye are involved in every detail.

In the family room, walls adorned in a grassy green custom paint color Missy selected surround a bank of windows with a view of the expansive backyard, creating a serene atmosphere. “I like for the interiors to blend with the exteriors, and the windows are huge in here, so it flows better that way,” Missy says.

The focal point of the elegant dining room is this bucolic wall mural, which Missy had designed with depictions of her three sons and dog hidden in it.

Another gorgeous focal point in the home, Missy came up with the concept for the dining room wall mural and hired an artist to execute it. “We specifically asked for my three boys and dog to be hidden in the mural, so it’s very personal,” Missy says.

For a modern kitchen with a classic twist, Missy renovated her kitchen with fresh paint and new appliances.

While the kitchen had been renovated by prior owners, Missy recently revamped it with new appliances, counters, painted cabinetry and updated lighting and hardware. “We redid a little bit of everything, except for cabinets themselves—they got a facelift [with paint],” explains Missy.

Characterized by perfect symmetry, the tea room/breakfast room area centers around a formal dining set and a pretty chandelier.

Classic Appeal, Modern Livability

The home’s overall style is quite elegant, but Missy assures that it’s all designed with a busy family lifestyle in mind.

“Because we have the three boys, it’s very family-friendly,” Missy says. “The slipcovers in the family room are removable and washable. We added the basketball court, gym, volleyball court and tennis court, so it was designed with kids in mind. We also entertain a lot, and it’s a great house to entertain in.”

A view within a view, the floral window treatment and wallpaper frame the window to connect the indoors to the outside. The sophisticated library’s built-in bookshelves are beautifully curated and balance the room with the grand piano and matching crown molding.

Choosing finishes and materials wisely, Missy says, is key to keeping a home that’s equally stylish and comfortable. “Sofas get worn a lot, so I put linen on them so they could be laundered, and we have a nice mix of antiques and new. The antiques are in areas that don’t have to be used a lot. I wouldn’t want to live in a house where every single thing was new.”

Family Flair

Missy shares her tips for creating a home that’s elegant, yet family-friendly.

Old and new: For an instantly stylish look, curate a mix of antiques and vintage décor as well as newer furnishings. Combine old family heirlooms with newer mementos and accessories for modern appeal.

Durable comfort: Always keep aesthetics and function in mind. While a sofa may look beautiful, consider how its fabric will wear over the years. If you must have it, see if a slipcover will do the trick.

Bring the outdoors in: Find ways to connect the interior of the home to the exterior, not only through beautiful windows, but also by matching your décor with the natural surroundings.

Take the indoors out: Create cozy outdoor entertaining spaces by turning them into alfresco dining and living rooms with plush seating, accent pillows and beautiful decorative accessories.

The pool house is an ideal entertaining space, where Missy’s family often holds parties and gatherings. It is arranged as an outside living room with comfortable furnishings and stylish light fixtures.


A Whimsical Winter

This whimsical winter wonderland is every bit as enchanting as your favorite holiday fairy tales.

Susan Daggett of Kindred Vintage brings winter whimsey to her living room
Winter whimsey is evident throughout Susan’s home, particularly in the living room where a flocked tree glitters and the stockings are hung with care from a length of driftwood.

People dream of creating a whimsical winter wonderland inside their home at Christmas time.  And year after year, Susan Daggett, owner of Kindred Vintage Co., dives into her holiday decorating right after Thanksgiving to create a charming scene that you would imagine belongs in a Christmas storybook.

Her 1926 vintage brick bungalow, which she and her husband completely renovated, gets decorated from head to toe in garlands and baubles, with several flocked Christmas trees placed throughout the house. “We decorate every little nook and cranny here when it comes to Christmas,” Susan says. “I try to make it as whimsical as possible.” Here’s how she does it.

Sliding barn doors, natural wood finishes and a charming sign create a cozy farmhouse feeling.
Sliding barn doors, natural wood finishes and a charming sign create a cozy farmhouse feeling.

Dreamy Décor

Putting a personal spin on her Christmas décor, Susan varies her color palette and theme every year, adding in textures and sweet details that give her farmhouse style a magical touch.

“I wanted to bring in pops of color that aren’t traditional Christmas colors—like hot pink and teal—and blend them with traditional Christmas décor,” Susan says. “I brought in flocked trees, furs, textures and pops of color that give it a different look. I love mixing vintage with new things.”

Chunky knits and faux fur stockings alternate on their driftwood display.
Chunky knits and faux fur stockings alternate on their driftwood display. These bold textures provide visual interest to otherwise neutrally colored objects.

Her fireplace mantel couldn’t hold stockings using traditional hangers, so she came up with a better solution. “I found driftwood in the lake, and we ended up bolting that to the mantel to hang the stockings,” she says. Of course, she strung up an eclectic mix of faux-fur and cable-knit stockings and embellished them with a colorful felt garland and feathers for a quirky touch. Crystal chandeliers adorn each room for a little glamour. A wall of vintage mirrors in the dining room is an eye-catching focal point that people notice when they visit.

The dining table was a refurbished barn table. An antique church pew and Tolix metal chairs create an eclectic seating arrangement.
Look closely and you’ll see rose gold hues and tiny pink details. The dining table was a refurbished barn table. An antique church pew and Tolix metal chairs create an eclectic seating arrangement.

Just Add Magic

Floral wallpaper patterns cover many of the walls, and at Christmastime they take on a different personality, lending whimsy to the entire scene. In her two daughters’ playroom, for example, the woodland-themed wallpaper design feels right at home with the kid-friendly Christmas tree festooned with old-fashioned ball ornaments and a vintage toy car beside it. During the holidays, Susan says, “that tree is lit up the entire time.”

A fairy-tale woodland inspired mural adds whimsy to the playroom.
A fairy-tale woodland inspired mural adds whimsy to the playroom.

Family traditions are important to Susan’s family, as she and her husband wrap 25 books as gifts for their daughters each year, and they unwrap and read them together, one by one each night, as they count down to Christmas.

Making their home feel magical this time of year is something Susan hopes to instill in her daughters as she reflects on memories of her own mother putting her in charge of decorating various trees throughout her childhood home. “I think that’s something I got from my mom,” Susan says, “so it’s always stuck with me.”



A Wintery Woodland Inspired Holiday Home

Several Christmas trees, freshly scented greenery and other natural elements turn this home into a woodland wonder.

A blanket of snow creates a charming scene in Kristen Whitby's backyard.
Snow blankets Kristen’s Idaho home. With lovely wreaths hanging on the shed doors, Christmas cheer can touch about everything!

With dazzling arrays of lights and decorations, the Christmas tree is the statement piece of many a living room during the holidays. But for Kristen Whitby—blogger, stylist and interior designer behind Ella Claire Inspired—quite a few Christmas trees twinkle throughout her Idaho home.

They shimmer in her children’s playroom, the master bedroom and, of course, the family room. They even brighten the children’s bedrooms, where mini faux saplings glisten in anticipation of Santa’s arrival. Here’s how Kristen decorates her home with personal flair for the holidays.

A flocked Christmas tree gives the bedroom a cozy woodland feel.
Bare wood furniture appears throughout the house, but nowhere more cozily than in the home’s master bedroom. Plush duvet covers pair well with the woodland elements. Completing the look, pictures of singing birds and faux furs help create the room’s woodland charm. Adding natural elements like these, Kristen says, makes Christmas decorating fun and simple.

Woodland Charm

Kristen’s trees offer an enchanted, woodland feel at Christmas, a look she has admired ever since she can remember. As a child, she used to visit homes illuminated with similar charms. And even though she selects faux trees for their longevity—she likes to keep her trees up somewhat beyond the new year—she prefers homey and classic elements.

The faux Christmas tree will last a long time and the fresh garland provides a lovely scent.
In her Christmas decor, Kristen choses to have the best of both worlds. Rich, fresh scent from her natural garlands and longevity from her faux trees.

“Faux trees can get too fancy sometimes, but natural elements help tone it down,” Kristen says. When first crafting her look, she was quick to juxtapose vintage mercury-glass ornaments with red berries. Kirsten says natural elements help harmonize the neutrals and whites of the family room.

“My trees evolved over the years. The red berries matched and coordinated well with my red pillows.” Tying the family room together, pops of red pepper the entire room, from the couches to the Christmas dinner display. “The feeling of Christmas is added with the color red,” she says.

Gingerbread houses are nestled in apothecary jars like snow globe scenes for the tabletop.
Gingerbread houses are nestled in apothecary jars like snow globe scenes for the tabletop.
The kid's room features a patriotic tree
This patriotic tree glitters in the children’s playroom. Vintage accents give it a timeless charm.

Christmas Arrangements

Sprinklings of red berries also add texture to the space and charm to nearly every bough. “It’s like a giant flower arrangement,” Kristen says of her Christmas trees. Like bouquets, the trees change depending on the extra pieces added. “I like to balance the interest with different heights that change from year to year.” Even changing the ribbon can affect the feel of a tree. “Plus, it’s an inexpensive way to redecorate.”

A special tree full of children’s toys is the sweetest and most endearing in her collection. Guests always ask how she is able to keep her trees, especially this one, free from tiny hands. But Kristen insists that everyone should enjoy the festive cheer, especially her three children. “My daughter likes to decorate her own tree. Then, she’ll take it all down and redecorate it, adding new things just for fun,” she laughs.

Shelves hold boxes for storage
Kristen purchased boxes and made a few visual adjustments to get the look here. The sideboard below makes a gift wrap station.

Family Time

Kristen says everyone wanting a similar look should try to keep things simple. “I like using textures and different layers of white.” Having a neutral background, she says, is a great way to save on holiday splendor. Adding pops of color and switching things in and out can be done quite easily with her aesthetic.

Holiday porch with antique sled and chalkboard sign
Beautiful script in chalk captures the spirit of Christmas. An antique sled and upcycled cabinet door stand at attention while greeting guests at the front door.

Try to ready your home well in advance, she suggests. That way, you will have time to play around with texture and color. If you decorate your tree like you would arrange a bouquet of flowers, you will then have time to achieve the perfect Christmas arrangement, making sure the various heights are dynamic and balanced. “Use recipes and decorations that you love, but don’t overthink your holiday entertaining. Really try to enjoy the season with your friends and family.”



Nora Murphy’s 18th-Century Country Home

This designer's Connecticut home is a neutral canvas that adapts easily for each season.

Nora Murphy's country home is decorated for fall
Nora enjoys entertaining in the autumn ambiance. “Don’t blow out the leaves,” she says. The sights and sounds of nature add to the earthy and enchanting feel.

If you find an 18th century gem, it can be a challenge to update and make it your own without taking away its aged appeal. When Nora Murphy, designer and owner of Nora Murphy Country House, and her husband Rick moved into this 1767 home in Newtown, Connecticut 15 years ago, they fell in love with its location and structure and settled in with some initial improvements.

“Any house we live in, I let the house tell me what to do,” says Nora. “When we moved here, our previous stuff didn’t work with the feel, so I introduced an earthy palette.” Years later, when her son Conor moved out, Nora needed a change. “I call it Project Refresh,” she says.

The Summer Room has a Cape Cod theme in honor of the family's favorite vacation spot
The summer room is themed for the family’s favorite vacation spot: Cape Cod. “This is our most authentic original room,” says Nora. The original 18th century fireplace and cubby doors were stripped of their white paint to bring them back to their original state as much as possible.

Light and Bright      

Nora draped the home in a white color palette, painting the walls different shades of white and covering all her furniture with creamy white cotton denim fabric slip covers and tying them with white twill tape bows. “[The slipcovers] are washable and easy to take care of,” says Nora. “I can now drag chairs to different parts of the house, and they’ll still work.”

Along with the easy care comes a casual elegance from the draped furniture that adds a romantic look to the outdoor accents. “The architectural simplicity of the home gave direction to what the inside of the home should look like,” says Nora. “I wanted it light, bright and nature inspired.”

The hanging basket is kept full of fresh flowers to brighten this sunny spot in the hall.

Home in the Garden

Among the neutral color palette that Nora carried throughout the house is her outdoor garden theme. Wooden tables, outdoor lanterns and large-scale plants and florals grace every room of the home to add a touch of the great outdoors to her interior. Nora also collects vintage copper watering cans and antique gardening tools that reside in the hallway gallery. “Everyone is always asking me about my antique French harvest basket,” says Nora. “It’s perfect for holding seasonal flowers.” The gallery connects the 18th century parts of the house to the newer parts, creating a seamless transition with its checkered flooring, made to appear old.

 

The chicken coop had an extra wall so they decided to install a library there.

Old Additions

 They made additions to the home, but you wouldn’t be able to tell by looking at it. “The house was in good shape when we moved in,” says Nora, “but the bedrooms were really tiny and had low ceilings.” To compensate, they raised the ceilings and added large windows and doors to bring in natural light and showcase the surrounding nature.

Perhaps the biggest addition was their master bedroom suite that used to be a chicken coop. “We wanted an old structure for the add-on, so I looked up dismantled antique buildings and found a company that will take apart antique barns and build them back up at your location,” says Nora. The coop was built in 1857 and closely resembled the exterior of their home, blending the new structure with the old.

The kitchen’s aged look comes from its oak floors and wood accents. The island was made from the barn floorboards by the previous owner.

Curated Collection

This look could not be pulled off without Nora’s sense of simplicity. “It’s a good thing to part with things,” says Nora. “The things that don’t fit anymore, I sell or give away. That prevents things from accumulating, as my tastes and style evolve.”

Creating a neutral canvas with her white slip covers allows her to easily decorate throughout the seasons with a few minor changes. “During winter, I bring in tartan wool pillows and change my artwork,” she says. “It changes the entire room.” This look ensures that your aesthetic won’t be static, but will instead change like the color of falling leaves in autumn.

Like Nora’s house? See the spotlight shine on her fall dining room!