All photographs are property of The Farmhouse Project
A fresh new calendar year makes us want to turn a new page in our own lives. Psychologists say making resolutions as specific as possible helps increase the chance of success, as does being realistic. For example, if your goal is to get in shape, aim to hit the gym three days a week, instead of seven, or replace dessert with fresh fruit or yogurt if you want to get healthier, instead of launching a punishing 21-day fast.
Here at New York Makers, we recommend you get a fresh start by doing one or more DIY home décor rehab projects. It can put you in a whole new frame of mind and does not have to take much time or many resources. If you take a few minutes along with a cup of coffee and tea to jot down what you want to change most about your home and adjectives that describe the environment you most love (Homey? Simple? Floral? Vibrant? Peaceful and serene? High Tech? Nature-filled?) A clear picture will emerge rapidly.
Then write down what you want to change about your home to make it align with the environment you desire. It can be practical or aesthetic. It can be as simple as putting a three-hour block of time on your calendar to declutter one room, to get rid of some of half the books on your bookshelf, opening up spaces for displaying a painting, a vase, and/or a family picture that makes you smile.
Then, put something on your calendar for each step of the way and do it!
We turned to Shawn Lang and Kris Prepelica, the brilliant, endlessly creative designers behind The Farmhouse Project for insta-inspo to help you set your own specific goals to make your living space more reflective of the person you want to be in this new decade.
Shawn Lang (left) and Kris Prepelica (right) of The Farmhouse Project
For Shawn and Kris, it’s about repurposing old and making it feel new. They are not afraid to use and pair together various colors, prints, and patterns. Throughout the seasons, they bring the outside in with floral arrangements in the spring, pumpkins in the fall, evergreens in the winter. It’s not just about the look, it’s about making every day feel like a party with something to celebrate.
Shawn and Kris became Pinterest idols to homemakers everywhere for their loving rehabilitation of the approximately 220-year old farmhouse they own in Hortonville, a small town tucked into a craggy and lush corner of the Catskills. Like many city slickers, they fled the fast-living for the slower pace of country life in 2012. They swapped taxis for pick-ups and a cramped apartment for a warren of fabulous rooms in a Dutch colonial farmhouse trimmed with chestnut and graced with coffered ceilings and wainscotting.
Unlike most city expats, they managed not just to put down their rustic roots by buying a farm, raising chickens, foraging their backyard for cocktail garnishes, and becoming “pails friends” with their cow-milking mountain neighbors, but they also have created a thriving business out of their countrified fabulousness with sustainably sourced home goods, which launched after their blog went viral.
As far as their farmhouse rehab goes, they have stayed true to the antique treasure’s glorious bones, while blasting off the barnacles and warts that come with two+ centuries of busy life, and they have upgraded the design and functionality to boot.
So in honor of 2020 New Years #HomeDIY goals, New York Makers spoke with Shawn about their advice for would-be rehabbers and sharing some of their story and process.
New York Makers: What advice would you give homeowners who are about to embark on their own DIY home project?
Shawn Lang: Make a plan right away and understand that it's going to change over time. What we wanted to do when we first purchased the house changed a lot as we actually lived in the house over a year or two. Try to keep as much character in the house as you can and if you're on a tight budget, save as much as you can by doing it yourself.
NYM: You guys have done so much with your home. What DIY projects stand out the most?
SL: Kris and I pretty much agree on our favorite restorations to the house. The first being our historic wrap-around porch. When we first purchased the house, everything was structurally sound with the exception of our front porch. With years of harsh winter weather, the porch roof was leaking, which then rotted out the floors. The Greek-style column bases also needed to be restored. In keeping with the history of the house being built in 1800, we returned the porch roof and floors back to their original condition. For an updated look, we added green farmhouse lights along the porch between each column.
Our second favorite restoration was the kitchen. We didn't have much to go by for the original layout of the kitchen, and the current floor-plan was very spacious to work with. Because we were doing it ourselves, we had a tight budget and wanted to keep the kitchen simple, functional, and bright. Since we have a large butler’s pantry and two built-in cupboards for storage, we opted out on using upper cabinets; this left the kitchen spacious and roomy. The plaster ceiling was falling apart, so we decided to expose the beams. We kept to a classic white country kitchen because of all the original woodwork and added a hammered copper farmhouse sink and lighting with oil rubbed bronze fixtures. We built the island ourselves from locally found reclaimed wood.
Our third and most recent restoration project was a small bedroom on the second floor. The overall aesthetic of our décor style in the house is very classic and moody. You'll always see touches of nature throughout the house. With this bedroom we went very moody with this deep teal Chinoiserie wallpaper and painted the ceiling and molding a flat teal to match the paper. The chandelier is new and inspired by the art deco period and all the furnishings are vintage finds.
NYM: What are your home décor goals for 2020?
SL: Our big project will be the upstairs bathroom. It’s a very large footprint so we want to make sure we utilize and plan the space correctly. We both dream of a big, spacious walk-in shower!
New York Makers would love for you to let us know about your rehab resolution successes for 2020!
Be sure to check out "The Farmhouse Project: Eco-Friendly Restoration and Country Living" too!