Farmhouse Living: Authentic. Hardworking. Warm. Intentional.
As I alluded in my editor’s letter, the creation of this issue has taught me so much about grace in my personal life’s behind the scenes - namely, as my husband and I have been working on building our own little homestead with a little farmhouse on a little land. Our pursuit of a simpler life is something we both knew we wanted early in our relationship.
The dream was for an escape outside the city to raise our children in the kind of childhood where they must be rinsed with hose water before coming inside after a day of playing. We dreamed of a few small animals, a garden and a slower pace. What we wanted wasn’t more, but less.
Whenever I teach artists and creatives about creating authentic work, I always start by asking, “How do you want to feel?” We did the same for creating our home, being conscious of how we wanted to feel when we pull up from a long day of work, how we wanted to feel in each room, how we wanted our children to feel, how we wanted guests to feel.
Ironically enough, Clary Pfeiffer and her husband had a similar idea when creating their home (as you will see below). When searching for home inspiration based on how we wanted our home to feel, images of Clary’s home would recurrently appear. Once I realized it was her home, as we have featured Clary’s beautiful work on the Cottage Hill blog, I had to ask her about her process and share her beautiful home’s story with you!
CH: What made you and your family decide to build your home?
CP: My husband and I both have demanding careers with travel and long hours. We knew finding a way to introduce peace and simplicity was important in our home. Farmhouses are simple in themselves, but a huge desire of ours is to drive out of the city, which we love, to wide open spaces and tree-lined roads, instantly transporting us into a slower life.
The story of how we decided on a farmhouse is long, so I will attempt to keep it short. We drove past this 150-year-old farmhouse for years growing up. Travis and I are high school sweethearts. We always loved the symmetry and simplicity of the white house with a gray roof. It looked perfectly in place between farm fields and hundred-year-old trees. This dream house ended up going on the market which made us start to think it could become a reality. But that is exactly what it was, a dream, since the price was so outrageous and it needed so much love and care. Two years went by, and the house finally dropped enough in price that we could purchase and spend money bringing it back to its glory.
It took six weeks to reach an agreement since the house was so old and it was sold through an estate. In the meantime, we put our house up for sale and sold it that weekend to an amazing family. We went to bed that night feeling like everything was working out. On Monday, our realtor contacted the seller to let them know a contract needed to be finalized. It was then we received the news that someone had come in that weekend with an offer the seller couldn’t refuse. We were heartbroken.
Our attachment to the old house we lost to another seller and the idea of retreating to such a peaceful place got us thinking we should build something similar on our own land.
CH: You mentioned to me before that you home came together rather untraditionally. What did you mean?
CP: Ha! It was definitely untraditional but in a really good way. When putting a home together, you come up with your style and purchase items, select paint, and design around that idea. Travis would say he’s a mix of industrial and traditional style while I love modern, French country, raw materials, linen, and neutrals. What we hoped looked eclectic when these two came together ended up looking like a mess.
Around this same time of losing the farmhouse I attended a studio session with Emily Newman and Joy Thigpen. They have this really beautiful advice of how to put together your style. This goes for everything from what you wear, eat, and the best, your home! What you do is write a list of all your favorite people and the characteristics you love about them. Then take a few minutes to circle the top connection you have to those characteristics. We both did this and together came up with a list - authentic, hardworking, warm, and intentional.
Authentic. We wanted the house to have real materials - wood window and doors, marble countertops, and handmade items throughout. Our favorite element in the house is the artisan zellige tiles in our kitchen.
Hardworking. The finishes needed to be easy to clean; spaces need to be functional. We wanted what was utilitarian over what was trending. This helped when we decided about a powder room. Builders and house plans typically have a powder room, but this important quality we wanted in our house made us question the need. So, we took it out.
Warm. The house needed to be comfortable, open, and inviting. To offset the white and gray, we made sure to have warm elements of wood and a huge fireplace.
Intentional. Everything must have a place and purpose. When designing the kitchen, we created two rooms on each side for dish storage and pantry. It didn’t make sense to us to have the fridge separate from the rest of the pantry and having to open and close tons of cabinets for dishes.
CH: What was your greatest inspiration for your home?
CP: Our greatest inspiration is the land we built on. There is a breathtaking view of the sunrise and sunset, so we made sure to position the house with huge windows which turned into three French doors and two front doors, to make the most of this light.
CH: How do you want people to feel in your home?
CP: We want people to feel like it’s a place where nothing is too precious and you can always find somewhere to get comfortable. The kitchen is the place with all the action of putting a meal together or getting a drink. You can sit in front of the fireplace to relax or go back to the covered porch and enjoy the shade trees.
CH: What was it like to move in finally, and what has been your favorite memory created thus far?
CP: Truly, it was amazing and fulfilling to walk inside our home once it was completed. We labored over this farmhouse for three years starting with heartbreak and ending with a beautiful piece of property.
Everyday life of getting to watch the sunset through the windows is the best. We call it our sky real-estate because nothing obstructs the view. It’s like watching the sunset without the ocean.
My absolute best memory was from this past winter when the power went out from a snow storm. We built a huge fire to stay warm and made all of our meals over the open flame. It turned into a day of doing nothing but playing games and roasting marshmallows.
CH: What advice do you have for others who want to build a home, especially on land?
CP: Honor the land. Find out the way the sun rises and sets which help decide where windows go and where to position the house. Also, find an amazing builder. You have to spend a lot of time and invest in trusting this person with your dream. When we met our builder, Brian, and told him our four qualities that make up our style he didn’t think it was ridiculous. He was excited throughout the entire process and was wonderful at problem solving.
Full Image Gallery
Full Story Credits: Photography by Clary Pfeiffer Home of Clary, Travis, Hughes and Jettie Pfeiffer Home Builder, Brian Gebhardt
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