Farmhouse FabulousComments (0)
Before shiplap was the trend, Lois Gander was surrounded by shiplap in
the West Virginia country home where she grew up. Before salvaged items were hot
commodities, her family made use of materials that were available to them
without waste. “I was ashamed of all the shiplap growing up. Why can’t we have
paneling like everyone else?” she recalled with a laugh.
PIECES OF THE PAST
Some recent remodeling has made her childhood home into a
farmhouse showpiece that looks like it is straight out of a decorating magazine.
Taking upcycling to the hilt, she repurposed everything from her dad’s old
license plates to antique machinery. “I tried to use things from the farm that
weren’t rusted to pieces. All old doors and pieces of architecture,” Lois said.
“Things I would remember but the next generation will not.” By adding so much
history to the home, she hopes to keep her parents’ memories alive through her
The family farm, which was built in the late 1800s by my great great grandparents, Frank and Susan Dotson Smith, went to Lois after her parents Harvey and Della were gone. My mother Cheryl and I spent a recent afternoon with our cousin Lois at the old homeplace enjoying sweet tea, lemonade, homemade peach cobbler and lots of laughs.
The changes to the house throughout the years were not all good ones. “The house was really all cobbled up with add-ons and low ceilings,” she said. But her builder, Chris Adams of Bywater Home Improvement, was able to seamlessly incorporate the old in with the new. “He did such a good job dealing with old corners and repurposed wood. Nothing was square.”
Lois also credits Chris’ wife Marith with her help in “fluffing” the décor. “She is especially good with table decoration and lawn décor,” she said. “She comes in when I’m done and will move things, and it always looks better.”
The original part of the home has four bedrooms, two bathrooms and two half bathrooms. “I tried to add a bathroom wherever I could,” Lois said, which meant converting an old closet into one, shown below. The flooring, walls and doors are all original wherever possible. Each of the rooms has a theme, including a “rooster room” with revamped tables she found in the barn, which now serve as nightstands. The smallest bedroom, which was originally Lois’ when she was small, was been turned into sitting room with a daybed and a repainted rocking chair from when her parents lived there.
The first-floor master suite is a relaxing retreat for the owners.
The back part of the house was opened up to create a beautiful, spacious kitchen and dining area with concrete countertops on the large island and kitchen cabinets.
Edison bulbs hang from matte black light fixtures with old-fashioned clear seeded glass covers over the bar, where guests can sit on the vintage-style metal and wood stools. Though the kitchen has all the modern conveniences, it meshes with the rest of the home by having a classic black and white color scheme, the same shiplap walls (some old, some repurposed) and black metal accents. Open shelving using distressed wood and dark metal braces adds to the farmhouse flavor.
“I figure every home needs a new kitchen every 50 years,” Lois laughed.
The contractor reproduced the molding and corner rosettes around the door frames to match those in the old part of the home, as seen here beside the coffee bar. An interesting upcycle is Lois’ use of the top part of an old pump organ above the counter for storing coffee cups and tea tins. Clever!
Black metal fixtures and old-style lighting capture the essence of farmhouse style.
An old farmhouse table built by Frank Smith remains in the dining room and is flanked by wooden chairs reminiscent of an earlier time. One of Frank’s “spindle chairs” in the same slate gray color sits nearby but is a bit too fragile for everyday use.
Photo below: Lois (center) describes the table's history to my mom Cheryl (left) and me.
ROOM FOR MORE
The kitchen literally became the heart of the home when an addition was started in 2015, allowing more room for Lois and husband Larry’s children Jill and Aaron, and grandchildren to visit, plus giving them a garage with walk-in entry and spacious laundry room. The flooring mimics timeworn wooden boards, and the walls are covered in shiplap to maintain a visual connection with the rest of the home.
Up the wooden stairs in the new part of the house, you will find three more “themed” bedrooms with adjoining baths as well as a nursery. Vintage doors with the original, peeling paint dating more than 120 years old were used, as well as old barn doors which were made into sliders. “I didn’t want to paint over the old doors,” Lois said. “I like the way they look. I call the blue one my Monet.”
Antique dressers are mixed throughout the suites with thick, bevel-edged mirrors and matte black chandeliers hanging from the exposed beams, adding a touch of sophistication to the country setting.
The “horse room” features large ceiling-to-floor windows with full-length white linen curtains that overlook the green fields below where the couple’s horses roam.
Another vintage door leads into the adjoining “horse bathroom.”
Coordinating bathroom can be entered through another vintage door.
Photo: Lois and Cheryl debate over derby hats while Buddy the rescue dog stands nearby.
License Plate Room
The middle bedroom is the “license plate room,” decorated with Harvey’s old license plates.
Lois upcycled five of them into an interesting piece of wall art by attaching them to a piece of corrugated metal siding, and another was added to the front of the nightstand.
A license plate wall clock she purchased fits in with this theme perfectly. Her dad’s grease gun and pump sprayer from the garage are hung beside it.
Interesting piece of upcycling used as license plate art.
Old items from the garage prove that anything goes when upcycling for decor.
Finally, the “magnolia room” – this mostly white bedroom features the clever repurposing of an old metal headboard Lois found in the barn. She hung it above the bed as a focal point, adding a green wreath where one of the rungs was missing. Love this idea! Mismatched white tables serve as nightstands. A small nursery adjoins this room.
One of her parents’ old rocking chairs is used here, along with an old barn door slider. The original glass in the door was replaced with leaded glass for privacy leading into the bathroom. A reproduction bathtub is the star of the show in this room, where an antique straight-backed wooden chair painted white serves as a place to hold the wooden towel caddy.
Buddy takes a stroll through the magnolia room.
A sliding barn door leads into the bathroom with reproduction antique tub.
Barn door slider is seen here with leaded glass, added for privacy.
“ON LOAN FROM GOD”
After the total loss of their primary home in Pennsylvania in 2016 to a faulty wire, Lois and Larry upgraded the electricity in the old part of the farmhouse. “We decided to tear out the rat’s nest of 1945 wiring and many years of leaky roofs,” she said. With that, the house has experienced a “freshening up” all around. But the outside is just as gorgeous as the inside.
The large back porch is a central congregating spot during warmer months, with a family-sized fire pit in the yard for cool nights. The original screen doors still grace the back of the house, and old rockers are still rocking. The little table now being repurposed as a coffee table was once played on by Lois and my mother.
With Lois’ keen eye for decorating and hosting, the farm has been the perfect spot for parties, reunions and gatherings. Outside, hay bales can become seating, an old cider press can turn into a plant stand, and an antique lighting fixture can serve as a candleholder. She once painted an old rocking horse that had originally been made to look like a Trojan horse, then gave him a red garland, and he was transformed into a winning race horse for a Derby party.
The quiet country setting, the rolling West Virginia hills, and the green, green grass of home are all part of what makes this rural farm so extraordinary. Calling it all “on loan from God,” Lois and Larry know their place is special.
Down-home ingenuity, creative repurposing, and “a lot of money” (according to Larry) have turned this home from “fine” to “fabulous.”
Antique dressers are throughout the home.
Antlers, thick candles and an old clock adorn the mantel.
The rooster room’s little nightstand is a repurposed table.
Sitting room off the master suite
Side view of the original part of the house with porch and addition to the left.
Outdoor seating offers tranquility to enjoy the view.
Lois and Cheryl reminisce while Buddy the rescue dog relaxes.
An old grindstone sits alongside some greenery in a wooden bucket.
Harvey the goat (or is it Ronald?) checks out the visitors in the yard.
Photo: Lois, Cheryl and Lori enjoy an afternoon at the old homestead.
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