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A Farmhouse Renovation

With a little creativity and a lot of elbow grease, one Connecticut couple re-envisions and reinvigorates a run-down farmhouse.

By Tovah Martin


Farmhouse living room with Colonial-style windows; white, overstuffed furniture, wood floors and a fireplace
Photo by Kindra Clineff
Colonial-style windows, a chunky fireplace surround and overstuffed furniture turned the cockerlines living room into a comfy gathering place.
Creating Farmhouse Ambiance
The Cockerlines, with their artistic roots, had definite ideas about the sort of lifestyle and home they wanted to create. They wanted plenty of white space and clean lines in their rooms, with a clutterless facade. Furniture would be kept spare and minimalist; antique pieces would dwell side by side with industrial-strength tables. But they had no master plan. Rather than stall the project, they moved forward, starting with the windows, marking the beginning of a three-year project.

The Whippoorwill farmhouse’s single-pane insulated windows lacked character, and Robin desperately wanted retrospective, Colonial period-authentic 12- over 12-pane windows. The farmhouse contained 21 replacement windows plus new sashes to remaster, and the couple did all the work themselves. For an entire winter, Allen devoted every spare minute to the window endeavor, even adding a full bank of standard six- over six-pane windows to cheer up the previously dark, closed-off kitchen.

As the renovation continued and they began ripping elements out of the house, the couple started to gain a sense of the integrity of the stripped structure.

“Although we didn’t have cohesive ideas at first, we began to like it really simple,” Robin says. “We wanted to keep it as real as possible.”

By real, she means true to its job as a farmhouse. A mudroom was added, as well as a light-filled sitting room immediately adjacent, where Allen can do paperwork or rest. The laundry was moved upstairs to a spare bedroom for added convenience. And Robin’s reality check translated to forgoing fancy, light-colored rugs scattered on the floors—a temptation she struggled to overcome.

“There’s a lot of dirt that comes tracking in here. I didn’t want anything that would have to be cleaned continually,” she says.

About the Author: With goats and organic gardens around her Connecticut cottage, Tovah Martin is every inch a hobby farmer. She is a freelance garden writer, lecturer, blogger and author—her most recent book is The New Terrarium (Clarkson Potter, 2009).

This article originally appeared in the November/December 2011 issue of Hobby Farm Home.

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