Before and After: A 100-Year-Old Bedroom Gets a Moody Farmhouse Redo Full of Vintage Finds

published Feb 26, 2022
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February is Bedroom Month on Apartment Therapy! We’re sharing stories all month about bedrooms — from how to decorate them, to the fascinating history of them, and so much more. Head over here to see them all!

Although brand-new homes have their perks (and fully functional features), historic homes also have great benefits, even if you have to spend time restoring them to their former glory or blending contemporary styles with older elements.

Sisters Marni and Willa Blank, a real estate and design duo (of @blankstudionyc), purchased an older farmhouse — 104 years old, to be specific — in upstate New York and spent an “ambitious” three months restoring it (with the help of professionals and family members alike), blending modern design details and moody colors with the home’s original features, like hardwood floors, diamond-paned windows, and a wood-burning stove.

“We didn’t want it to feel cookie-cutter, and so we mixed vintage finds with newer pieces and personal artwork and handmade elements,” Willa says of their process. One of the rooms where their vintage finds shine is the twin guest bedroom.

“We knew we wanted to have a room with two twin beds to allow for kids or friends who weren’t coupled,” Willa says.

Because the bedroom was small in size and had zero built-in storage, planning the furniture was difficult. “Our goal was to maximize space while still leaving room to put your clothes or bags away,” Willa says.

For instance, the pair used wall used just one long, slim nightstand between the beds, and opted for small-but-bright bedside lamps.

For clothing storage, they added peg hooks, a design trait repeated throughout the house, and also found a beautiful antique wardrobe on Facebook Marketplace for $70. “It was a woman who lived about eight minutes away, and I knew the wood was going to be a perfect match to our floors,” Willa says.

The floors, despite being 104 years old, were actually in great condition, she recalls; they only needed minor repairs to a few holes and cracks. “I tried using epoxy at first so it would be a clear fill,” Willa says of patching the holes, but she quickly realized epoxy wasn’t going to hold. “I ended up just using regular wood fill to match the floor color as much as possible,” she says.

The toughest part was getting the wardrobe up the stairs, but they loved meeting with the wardrobe’s former owner, a vintage collector who sold them another antique wardrobe for the house, too.

Many of their other finds have great stories behind them, too. For instance, the long white geometric side table was made by their friend Skilset, a Brooklyn-based furniture designer; the bench was left behind by the previous owners (Willa painted it the same navy shade as the wall); and the mirror was built out of attic finds.

“There were a lot of broken chairs and random pieces up there,” Willa says of the farmhouse’s attic. “I found that round wood piece with a lip coming off of it and thought it would make a cool mirror.” She brought it to a glass cutting shop in New York City’s Chinatown, and they cut two mirrors to fit into the piece. “I love knowing that it was a discarded piece of junk in the attic that is living its second life as a unique piece in our home,” she says.

Multiply that same pre-owned, up-cycled sentiment by 1000, and you’ve got the makeup of Marni and Willa’s new-again, 104-year-old space that proves that great spaces take time (and history!) to create. “I love how in the moment it felt like it would never come together yet the final result feels very cohesive,” Willa says.