How One Washington-State Family Lives the Farm Life
Just two miles from the freeway and a convenient commute to Seattle, Washington, this 2,200-square-foot farmhouse built in 1906 is an anomaly in a suburban community where most homes are newer and on quarter-acre lots or less. “I always loved old houses, and when we saw this home on four acres with its turn-of-the-[twentieth]-century design, we just had to have it,” remarks Sarah, a blogger and interior designer.
The family not only chose this three-bedroom, one-and-three-quarter-bath house, they chose the farm life that went with it. A large garden and greenhouse enable them to grow enough produce for their own consumption. There is an orchard with thirty fruit trees. They raise egg chickens (leghorns, which Sarah says are called egg making machines), horses, pigs, a dog, and a cat. They chop their own wood for the woodstove. The stove, in the “Fireside Room” off the kitchen, is their primary source of heat. Sarah feels that living in a farm environment has provided their four children with a wealth of experiences they would never have if they lived in the city. “Our son is caretaker of the chickens. Two girls raise lop-eared rabbits. And one daughter takes care of the beehive,” she says. “Through farm life, our kids have gained a real sense of responsibility. But growing up on a farm with animals, a creek, and an orchard also makes for a dreamland childhood.”
In addition to raising and homeschooling four children, maintaining a four-acre farm, and, in husband Colby’s case, working in the big city, the couple has been completely renovating their home, bringing it back to its original farmhouse feel. The home had been a rental property and needed structural and aesthetic amendments. They removed everything in the kitchen, including the floor, to the studs. “The room dropped off about four inches in a twenty-foot run, so we needed to level it,” says Colby. The kitchen’s entire floor was redone with fir that matches the older flooring. “The house was definitely a fixer-upper,” explains Sarah. “We’ve devoted nearly ten years to improving the house and restoring her to her former dignity.”
The original fir hardwood floors are laid throughout most of the house. When the couple removed a chimney from the middle of the living room, they had to patch the floor with some new boards. Sarah says the patch creates a medallion of sorts in the center of the room. The same effect happened in one of the bedrooms that had some rotted wood along the walls. “We took out a section of wood in the center of the floor and replaced what was rotted. I framed out the center and then put new wood in that area,” says Colby. The center became a design element in the room.
Simply White by Benjamin Moore serves as the base color for the home. The palette is completed with white cabinets, white refinished furniture, and then touches of gray, blue, and green. “The property has lots of trees and grass. I wanted the interior to mirror the outside so there would be a seamless transition between outdoors and indoors,” Sarah explains. Items, like the piano that belonged to her grandparents, have been repainted to blend with the overall design. In fact, 95 percent of the entire house is furnished with only thrifted, vintage finds and DIY projects. Sarah and Colby built the chicken brooder–style coffee table. Sarah looks for finds on Craigslist and loves hand-me-downs from family.
Sarah says the renovation was a huge amount of work, but very satisfying. “Since we did almost everything ourselves, there was always a room that was under construction,” she says. “You have to be relaxed about it. And you have to realize that it’s going to take triple the time you thought and cost 20 percent more than you expected,” says Colby, laughing. “Sometimes I felt it was me against the house, and I wondered who’s gonna win?!” He says you realize that maybe you’re not really an expert at reconstruction, but you are stubborn . . . and that somehow gets you through. In the end, Colby says that when you have thought about the design for years and experienced every square inch of a home, you know it’s part of your life. And that’s a good feeling. Written by Carolyn M. Runyon. Photography by Sarah, She Holds Dearly.Homemade Happiness