Name: Meredith Lawler, her husband, 3 kids, 3 cats, 2 dogs, 2 goats, 15 chickens.
Location: Walkersville, Maryland
Size: 4 BR, 1.5 BA. 2,300 sq ft on 16 acres. Original part of house built in 1780's, addition in 1860's.
Years lived in: 2 years, owned
As soon as I turned onto Meredith's road I felt my blood pressure dropping. Her farmhouse sits about an hour outside of DC, but it feels like light years away. From the tree-lined driveway, to the gaggle of farm animals, to the barn-turned-movie theater, to her adorable — and hilarious — family, her home is the stuff that dreams are made of.
I stopped into Meredith's house just before she planned some big updates including built-ins for her library, but I honestly can't imagine the house becoming any more perfect than it already is. From the moment I entered down the tree-lined driveway I was in awe. The farm has a simple, down-to-earth beauty that makes it simultaneously jaw-dropping and unpretentious. It's apparent that everything Meredith and her family have done to the house was done for the sake of improving their quality of life rather than just for looks. And thus, it's a home that feels lived in and lived in beautifully.
After a few years in suburbia, Meredith and her family began to search for the perfect farm. Meredith had grown up with horses and wanted to give her kids the opportunity to taste a bit of country life. She and her husband searched for 2 years before finding "the one." The historic farm, dating back to the 1700s, sits along a beautiful stretch of countryside. It has several outbuildings which serve a variety of purposes: some house animals, one is Meredith's office, another is a DIY movie theater consisting of friends' cast-off couches, a projector, and white sheets hung from barn rafters.
Aside from painting the walls, the only major change that the family has made to the historic farmhouse is a kitchen renovation. Meredith explained that the small original kitchen served its purpose well for the previous owners, who have since become good family friends, but with her own bustling crew and the frequent friends (she was preparing to have 20 kids over the same afternoon she hosted me!) she wanted a room that was large enough to handle a crowd. After coming up with a master plan and researching the best route to take, she partnered with local carpenter and cabinetmaker, Jason Boyer, who created a dream kitchen that looks like it could have been original to the historic home. In addition to drooling over awesome details like Meredith's DIY penny backsplash and concrete countertops, I was amazed at the efficient use of space. From the wine rack above the fridge to the cookbook shelves beside the range, Jason literally turned every inch into something usable and unique.
For more details of Meredith's home check out the captions in the full house tour gallery.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Style: Straightforward. Clean lines, simple, relaxed.
Inspiration: This old quote about my house I found in a Frederick County history book, "Although not pretentious on the outside, it has within it a wholesome simplicity, coziness and good cheer, and a visitor soon finds himself feeling very much at home."
Favorite Element: I can honestly say I love it all. The tree-lined driveway sold me, though, so I'd have to say the framed portrait of my kids on the driveway is the favorite element of my home.
Biggest Challenge: Heating and cooling our house without heating and cooling the entire state of Maryland while we're at it.
What Friends Say: "Awesome table!" and "Do you really have ghosts?"
Biggest Embarrassment: I'm too cheap to replace the wavy glass panes (yes, plural) that my son has broken with various balls, so broken windows are covered with clear packing tape instead. This also contributes to my "biggest challenge" answer above.
Proudest DIY: The penny backsplash. Or the concrete countertops in the kitchen.
Biggest Indulgence: The two pieces of art (the Asencio giclee in the family room and the framed portrait of my kids in the kitchen). They were both pricey at the time, and felt indulgent since you don't sit on it, sleep on it, or walk on it.
Best Advice: Decorate for yourself, not for resale or other people. Buy local. Support small businesses when you can. And if you have a stylish sister, listen to her. Mine has saved me from several probable decorating disasters.
Dream Sources: Blank checks to my favorite local businesses, original artwork by Henry Asencio and Aldo Luongo.
Resources of Note:
PAINT & COLORS
• Kitchen cabs: "Mercury" (Christopher Peacock) and "Wolf Gray" (Ben Moore) on glass doors.
• Kitchen walls and wainscoting: "Mascarpone" (Ben Moore).
• Dining area trim: "Revere Pewter" (Ben Moore) trim.
• Family room walls: "Revere Pewter" with "Mayonnaise" trim (Ben Moore).
• Library: "Equestrian Gray" with "Steam" trim (Ben Moore).
• Hallway: "Pale Daffodil" (Ben Moore).
• Girls' rooms: "Mayonnaise" (Ben Moore) with original blue trim that came with the house.
• Son's room: "Polo Blue" (Ben Moore) and I don't remember the yellow stripes but think it was from Lowes.
A mix of different brands, all purchased on sale (with military or Ebates discounts) over time and stored until the kitchen was renovated. My favorite is the all-induction cooktop.
Rat tail hinges: local blacksmith Bill Allen made these.
Latches: Horton Brass.
KITCHEN: Custom cabinets, built-in knife block, olive oil and wine storage racks, and live-edge pine table top, all made locally by Jason Boyer of JSB Woodworking, Inc. in Woodsboro, MD. Wavy glass in upper cabinets is from our friends who were replacing their old windows--great timing! Iron table base and hammered copper backsplash, custom made by Tim Beachley (local blacksmith).
All other furniture is either hand-me-down from my parents or sister, came with the house, or from my favorite local stores (Silk & Burlap; Wild Rose & Co.). We also live near a Pottery Barn Outlet and IKEA, which has been helpful. Movie night couches in the barn are friends' giveaways.
• Kitchen brass pendant: Pottery Barn.
• Antique chandelier over dining table: Silk & Burlap, Frederick, MD.
• Brass floor lamps in library: hand-me-down from my parents.
• Girls' rooms' chandeliers: Pottery Barn kids (floor samples).
• Family room rug: Chartreuse & Co.
• Daughter's pink dot rug: Pottery Barn Teen.
• Library's black & white cowhide: Silk & Burlap, Frederick, MD.
• Kitchen cowhide: Ebay.
• Stair runner: Dash & Albert.
Hopefully coming in Fall 2011...thanks in advance for sewing, Mom!
• "The Red Door" giclee by Henry Ascensio.
• "Dog & Partridge" beer sign, Silk & Burlap, Frederick, MD.
• "Grape Creek Farm" sign in kitchen, antique reproduction by Brian Laurich, Woodsboro, MD.
• Portrait of kids, Jennifer Robertson Photography, Raleigh, NC.
Thanks, Meredith and family!
Images: Leah Moss
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