When I first met my husband, he was in the very beginning stages of a home renovation. He had purchased his grandparents farmhouse right before we started dating. Of course, as any good girlfriend would do, I showed up in his driveway, one Saturday morning, with my DeWalt drill, started helping and never left. We have been, in phases, completely changing the layout of the house for eleven years.

I know what takes to commit to a complete home renovation. It's back breaking work that seems like it will never end. Well, for us anyway. But, not for my friend JoElle Knight. She and her husband have turned an old farmhouse into a true masterpiece in a little over four years. Not only did they gut the house and turn it into what JoElle calls a Modernistic Farmhouse, but they also filled in an old pool and made the outdoor living space into something you see in a magazine or on HGTV.

I am SO impressed and in awe of their hard work and design artistry. The redesigned floor plan, the attention to detail, beautiful colors schemes in very room, contrasts of light and dark and the landscaping, not to mention the amazing treehouse that you will want to live in too, are incredibly breathtaking. And, it's all for sale. Yep, as hard as it is to let go, she and her family are ready to move on to a new challenge.

JoElle was kind to share before/after pics and her renovation story.

The house was built in 1926 and as far as we know was originally part of a 60 acre farm - so truly an old farmhouse! It has been added onto at least 3 times over the past 100 years which gives it a meandering quality and lots of hidden nooks. We bought it over 4 years ago. When we purchased it, it had been halfway gutted. Talk about having a hard time finding a bank that would take a chance on us and our vision! I literally got laughed at on the phone with one local bank when I told them it had just sub-floors in the half the house. She responded with, and I quote, "honey, you are just going to have to let that dream go."

Finally we found a bank that believed in us and we got a construction loan and went to work. The property alone was worth so much that they took a chance on us making the house live up to it's amazing potential.
The bulk of renovations took place within a year. We are crazy gluttons for punishment - oh, and we had a 3 year old and 6 month old when we began.

We overhauled pretty much everything. Before, there was no consistency in design, continuity or emphasis on the farmhouse character of the house. Instead you had a hodgepodge of different rooms from different eras - 50's, 60's and on. Plus, we had the work of taking out unfinished prior renovations that were not in line with our new vision. We knocked out walls, got rid of a stairwell (Fun fact: over the past 10 decades each time a new addition was added on to the house, they would make a basement under that addition and add stairs to that basement. What you ended up with is a house with 3 separated basements and 3 stairwells, one to each basement! And, only two of the basement areas were connected by a single doorway, the other basement section was not connected so you had to walk upstairs through the house to its stairwell to reach it.) Once we floored over the stairwell, we had room to bump out the kitchen and create our vision of a what I like to call a "floating kitchen". From a 5 room area, we created a huge cooking, gathering and entertaining hub. Truly the heart of the house. With the kitchen, "floating" in the center you have a great space for food prep and cooking while your kids, family and guests can be with you but not in the way. With a sitting room, dining area, breakfast nook and 2 breakfast bars, it makes for wonderful family and friend gatherings. To bring the 5 different room areas together, we created beams to run the length of the spaces with chunky wood pillar supports. This visually divided the areas, created structural support and gave it a beautiful rustic look to compliment the old beam ceilings we uncovered and restored.

During demo, we found that one area was originally an old porch with a beadboard ceiling. While we couldn't leave the original ceiling open due to having to add insulation, we did want to keep the spirit of it and added a new planked beadboard ceiling to the dining area as a nod to its past life as a porch. With a floating kitchen, we did not want many upper cabinets to block the openness of the entire space. To give needed storage, instead, we custom built a bank of cabinets with vintage seeded glass by the breakfast table. It also acts as a half wall to the stairwell behind it. Most people assume it is an original to the house as it has so much character.

We added a lifetime warranty metal roof, all new windows and light fixtures fitting to our modern farmhouse look. We also added all new wood flooring and carpet to the entire house, drywall to half the house and completely gutted and refinished one of the bathrooms. The original double fireplace, china cabinets and mantle mirror just needed cleaned and fresh paint to bring out their character and charm.

The 3rd basement area (the one not connected to the other two) has just recently been completely renovated from a stone block, concrete floor basement to a spacious master suite and living area with it's own full bath. It now has double French doors that walk out to the backyard, giving it it's own entry and exit.

The other major renovation we completed was to the yard. When we bought it, it was a broken down diving pool that took up almost all of the back fenced-in area. Huge overgrown bushes dominated the space around it and rotting wood steps, cracked concrete and a gravel area under the deck made up the rest. When we ripped out the bushes, they were so huge and overgrown, we actually found a lawn chair hidden in them! We filled in the pool, ripped out all the overgrown landscaping, tore up the old concrete and poured new walkways and seating areas, and built a new, much larger picket fence to surround the whole area.

We then turned our focus to the back deck which had no stairwell or access to the backyard - no idea why... We added a roof to make it a true 2 story porch. Of course, we also added a wood staircase down from it to the back play area. Now the upper porch gives you gorgeous views of the back play area, the woods and the lake. Before, you wouldn't have even known the lake was there as the trees were blocking all visuals of it. We quickly remedied that by cutting down some trees and opening it up so you can see it from the house and back porches. Now, deer, cranes, geese and turkeys all can be seen walking by or swimming in the lake. The deck is now what we call a gracious porch reminiscent of Southern porches and their focus on hospitality. A large antique bed made into a porch swing is the centerpiece of it, with outdoor couches and tables making it a main gathering area in the spring, summer and fall.

Finally, we took out all the old landscaping and planted banks of classic, boxwood bushes and flowering hydrangeas to compliment the old world vibe of the house.

Did I mention there is an epic treehouse? Yes, one of the most unique things on the property is the 3 story treehouse with a suspension bridge, siding and a roof. It definitely gives the property a sense of Neverland as its seems a house for lost boys and magic.

There is also a cute cottage we use for storage and an old horse barn on the property. We replaced all the structural pillars of the barn and graveled the inside. With the property located in what we call, "horse country" it is perfect for raising livestock and horses.

The vast majority of renovations were done by my husband and father-in-law and a rotating host of loving family and friends. We hired out the roof, the lawn grading and demo, concrete pouring and new electric throughout the house. Everything else was done by us. I am the designer and he makes it happen. Together, we were able to make a dream home rooted in history and farmhouse charm.

 

 

 

Here is a video of the property made by Daniel Yates.

 

For more info in the house contact Nikki Davis, HERE.

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