Before & After: This 1800s Farmhouse Got a Modern Reno, But Still Retains Its Rustic Charm

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Name: Amy Brightman and fiancée Jessica Moody
Location: Upper Jay, New York – Adirondack Mountains, 2 hours from Montreal
Type of home: Riverfront Cabin, 1800s Farmhouse
Size: 1500 square feet
Years lived in: 2.5 years, owned

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: I live in Park Slope, Brooklyn with my fiancée, Jessica. I own a digital marketing agency and Jessica is an attorney who works in disability services at a university in NYC. We purchased our river cabin in the Adirondacks about two and a half years ago. The daily grind of New York City leaves much to be desired. Escaping to the mountains has become essential to our mental health!

We opened up the wall between the kitchen and dining room.

The house we purchased is an 1800s farmhouse, located near the charming town of Lake Placid. After researching the previous owners, I located Fredrick Warner, who lived on the property as a young boy. Fred was eager to share details of the original Warner’s Camp, which served as a home to traveling fishermen. You can read more about the home’s history on our website. We are also currently marketing the property on Airbnb under the same name when we’re not using the home.

I absolutely adore Warner’s Camp. Unlike many of the log cabin-style homes in the Adirondacks, our house is a true farmhouse, and we have decorated it accordingly. The typical Adirondack camp style is warm, rustic, and often cluttered. While we definitely pay homage to the Adirondacks with our design, we made many design choices that are more in line with farmhouse minimalism. We painted nearly all the walls in the house white, allowing the original features (wood beams, tin ceiling) to really pop.

Living room with wood burning stove.

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Minimalist Adirondack Farmhouse

If you could magically change something about your home, what would it be? I would eliminate the five-hour drive between New York City and the Adirondacks so that we could spend significantly more time there.

The living room features original wood beams from the 1800s.

What is your favorite room and why? This is a tough one. We spent nearly two years driving up to the house every other weekend. We did all the painting, staining, and much of the trim work ourselves. I feel heavily invested in every room!

If I had to choose, I might say the kitchen. I am so pleased with that transformation. The woman who owned the home before us was a carpenter. She built the kitchen herself in the ’70s. We were able to keep nearly all of her custom carpentry; we refinished the cabinets, and brought new life to a wall of built-in shelves. We kept the lower cabinets in a dark walnut stain, and painted the upper cabinets white.

We also added retro-style white appliances, instant statement pieces. The wall of built-in shelves was really fun to decorate. I found a set of vintage “Adirondack” patterned dishware that we display here. Lastly, the kitchen has an amazing river view! I actually enjoy doing dishes while I am there.

Recently renovated mid-century kitchen; it was added to the home in the '70s.

The entire home was covered in wallpaper when we purchased it; we kept the original wallpaper in this bedroom.

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? One of the last areas we decorated was our river view patio! We chose a set of modern white Adirondack chairs that really stand out and complement the house nicely.

Which fictional character would be most at home in your place? When we spend time there, I feel like I have gone back in time! I imagine someone like Lucy Ricardo getting into some fun river antics.

The 'Map Bedroom' has a day bed and trundle. The vintage light fixture is from Etsy. [The before photo is from the opposite side of the room.]

Any advice for creating a home you love? Enjoy the process, prepare for setbacks, and roll with the punches. We came into this project incredibly naive. We expected our renovation process to take three – four months and it ended up taking close to two years. It sounds cliche, but rehabbing an old house really does present unexpected challenges (more than we could have ever imagined)!

That being said, now that the house is just about ‘complete,’ we are starting to miss those long weekends spent driving, painting, and decorating together.

Master bedroom in the loft.

Thanks, Amy and Jessica!

The stairs are original to the home as well. We added a painted runner.

This submissions’ responses have been edited for length and clarity.