Lauren & Paul's Enchanted Urban Farmhouse

Lauren & Paul's Enchanted Urban Farmhouse

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Name: Paul of Okay Yellow and Lauren
Location: Fifeville, Charlottesville, Virginia
Size: 1,895 square feet
Years lived in: 5 months; Owned

As an art therapist, Lauren knows that art can communicate symbolic self-expression. The 1925 farmhouse she shares with her fiance, Paul, is a thoughtfully curated collection of colors, objects, and spaces that combine to create a piece of art reflective of Lauren herself: feminine, but tomboyish; open and whimsical, but with a bit of dark mystery; fresh and evolving, but with an old soul. In this space, imperfect, everyday found objects, such as an ancient bone, feather, or key, are elevated into treasured artifacts, put on display in an ever-changing living museum, where touching, and feeling, are encouraged.

Just minutes from Charlottesville's downtown, the urban location of Lauren and Paul's home has not diminished its farmhouse feel. In fact, the couple have embraced the idea of urban farming by converting their small yard into a lush vegetable and flower garden, complete with a chicken coop. The design of the interior of the home also embraces its farmhouse history. Despite Lauren and Paul having only lived in this home for a few months, the artifacts that make this home unique weren't collected in a day. This is a space that was organically grown, like the garden that grows outside the windows, developing over time, after each visit to an antique shop or nature trail.

Every room in this home has a space that invites you to curl up in a chair with a cup of tea, reading a Kindle, or reflecting on the day's adventures. Surrounding you are remembrances from such adventures, what Lauren calls her "oddities and treasures": a medicine bottle found in the debris of an abandoned home; a buffalo hide salvaged from a yard sale; a walnut Sunday school chair found at a local thrift store. Individually, these everyday objects may seem plain or common. Arranged next to a giant white ostrich egg, beneath a pair of wooden snow shoes, or near a bright red frame displaying a page of a book on which Lauren has sketched the curling tentacles of a octopus, these objects suddenly become art, worthy of contemplation and examination. It's the unlikely combinations of damask next to heavy clay pottery, a simple bird's feather next to a gilded baroque mirror, and dark brown woods under soft white sheepskins that elevates the ordinary.

After wandering through Lauren's house, feeling surprised by a collection of tiny animal skulls found in the forest, enchanted by the stacks of old books containing classic stories, and intrigued by the spiral courting candle next to the bed, you feel that a sense of magic and mystery abides here in these artifacts. By the time you find your way to the chicken yard, which Lauren and Paul have named "Yellow Owl Farm," you can't help but wonder if the chickens here lay golden eggs.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Eclectic, rustic, whimsical, southwestern, antique, romantic.

Inspiration: There is an old Disney movie, Sword in the Stone, that I loved when I was little. I particularly loved Merlin the magician's little cottage filled with books, animal skulls, rustic furnishings and strange ornaments — I always wanted to live in a place like that.

Favorite Element: Natural materials — animal skins, stone, wood, and natural fibers.

Biggest Challenge: Painting every single room in the house to eliminate the previous tenant's pervasive color choices: deep mauve and dusky rose.

What Friends Say: Most people describe our home as cozy, inviting, warm and relaxing
Biggest Embarrassment: I still haven't figured out how to hide the dirty laundry — literally, there are no full sized closets in the house since it was an old farmhouse from 1925. Right now there are two baskets that just hang out in the bedroom in full view.

Proudest DIY: My chicken yard. I dug the post holes, sunk the posts and put up the fencing in two days, planted blackberries and raspberries and rue along the fence line, and finished it off with planted flowers in baskets around the gate. My then-boyfriend surprised me by adding his own DIY touch — he made a custom wooden gate with a secret egg cut-out chalkboard onto which he scrawled his marriage proposal. It was a success!

Biggest Indulgence: I do a lot of scouting for project ideas and visual inspiration, so I usually stop by thrift stores, consignments, and vintage shops a few times a week. I try not to buy all the time, but 10 dollars for antique ice-skates? Who could resist?

Best Advice: This is advice appropriated from my dad, who has his own brand of kooky style, and often gives me strange found objects that I end up using in some projects. When I ask him what I'm supposed to do with a particularly bizarre object, he always says, "Use your imagination."

Dream Sources: Sundance Catalog, Anthropologie,, the 18th century.

Resources of Note:


    • Dining Room: Olympic Tattered Sail and Valspar Stonington
    • Living Room: Pro Paint Shisu Mist
    • Hallway: Benjamin Moore Spellbound
    • Bedroom: Pro Paint Graceful Green, Pro Paint Pine Mist, Olympic Whispering Rain


    • Leather recliner: Marshall's
    • Blanket on chair: Pendleton
    • Table clock: Pottery Barn
    • Burlap pouf: Artful Lodger


    • Cowhide:
    • Sheepskins: similar to IKEA Ren sheepskin
    • Upholstered chair: Pottery Barn
    • Blanket on chair: Pier One Imports
    • Snowshoes: LLBean
    • Cuckoo clock: Black Forest Clocks
    • Sunday school chair: Circa


    • Desk: Crate & Barrel
    • Jewelry display: Rock Paper Scissors
    • Bed accent pillow: Anthropologie
    • 60-Hour Courting candle: Sundance Catalog
    • Water carafe: Pottery Barn
    • Nightstand: Pier One Imports
    • Lamp: IKEA

Thanks, Lauren and Paul!

(Images: John Robinson)

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