Part 2: The Interior Transformation of Goat Hill Manor
New Year’s couldn’t go by fast enough. I spent days over the holidays building a Pinterest board… in fact several of them.
I had a vision when I walked through the house…. a modern farm house with industrial touches, no kitsch “farming signs” but more a celebration of country life, and a place to entertain new and old friends.
Let me paint a picture for you of the house: Built in the early 1980s, the house stood still for over 10 years. The interiors included blonde wood and Formica cabinets and the bathrooms looked like something you might find on an RV! There were no decks on either the front or the back of the house and the pillars stood alone with no railings or poles. The driveway was nothing but mud and we were in the middle of a tundra winter where it was an unattractive combination of mud and snow. You could say there was work to be done.
As we bought the house “AS IS,” we had no electricity, had no idea if the plumbing worked and if we had a working sewer/well system (these are things a city girl had zero idea about).
We had a budget – by no means massive but enough that if we were careful with our choices it would bring the house to life once again through our eyes.
Through local friends we found a contractor who worked with an incredibly talented helper and on January 3rd work began. With no electricity, we had to rent open flame heaters and all I could thing was we would burn the house to the ground before we had spent one night living in it.
My plan was simple. We would attack the main issues first (and the most expensive). New electrical, new plumbing & sewer system and make sure the Well water wasn’t poisonous. What seemed like months was really only days and we seemed to be up and running.
I then started attacking each room. We had the following “must-do” projects to complete.
• Living room – new floors, beams and opening up the dining area wall so create one open space
• 2.5 bathrooms- From tiles to toilets, sinks and showers. • A main level room we were going to use as a “library” and it already came with built in book shelves.
• Replacing three sets of sliding 80’s doors with French Doors
• A kitchen (from tiles to cabinets, appliances, counter tops)
• 2.5 upstairs bedrooms
• An upstairs TV room with 20+ food ceilings and cathedral semi-circle windows.
• Floors throughout
• Turn a coat closet into a pantry
• The addition of a front and back deck – railings and posts
• A new driveway that wasn’t mud.
• Goat sheds and play area
• Vegetable garden
• A guest house
• Automatic generator
I was definitely living the champagne taste on a water budget. We knew how we wanted each room to look. Clean, whites, metals, interesting tile and painted beams for pops of interest. Lowes became my second home. I was able to find expensive design we loved for much less expensive prices. Things such as tiles, sinks, toilets, appliances could be generic but then use our money towards things that would make a difference.
Open showers with glass doors cased in black metal. A claw foot tub but with a painted black bottom found online from Vintage Tub & Bath. My point was to create the look on a budget but invest in the one or two pieces that would personalize the home.
My husband is a restaurateur and his eye for industrial design is impeccable. He was in charge of lighting fixtures, the kitchen cabinets and bathrooms and the dreaded driveway.
We couldn’t afford an asphalt drive so we settled on a rock driveway with a long fence, 700-feet to be exact. Truckfuls of rocks were delivered and with the addition of holiday lights on the fence year-round – it actually fits better than an asphalt driveway ever would.
Our lighting came from lamps plus. We would find a fixture we loved but couldn’t afford and then find something complimentary at Lamps Plus or Lowes.
The Lowes team in Poughkeepsie came to know us by name. They were so patient with the design of our kitchen and returns of things that we thought would work but in reality, did not.
The living room came with a gorgeous solid wood beam but in the worst color wood – instead of the expense of replacing the beam or the headache of sanding it and re-staining it - we had the idea to reface it with reclaimed silver pine. Not a cheap expense but MUCH less than the alternative, it turned out gorgeous and no one would ever know it wasn’t authentic to the house…until now!
The floors suffered the same blonde wood appearance. We could sand and stain them but they were gorgeous solid wood floors and while the color wasn’t on trend – they might be in the future. We decided to cover the entire house to have a uniformed look with a solid wood laminate wide plank greyish floor. We love how it turned out.
Black, charcoal and simple white paint saved us a fortune. The stairs, the walls of the library, our bedroom wall behind the bed – all changed with a simple coat of paint. My attitude with paint has always been the same – don’t spend forever “humming and haaing” - just paint it and if you don’t like it – paint over it – but go with your gut! I have always been right with my choices and if I haven’t it’s never cost me more than a gallon of paint. People under estimate the power of simply painting an accent wall and the change it can have for almost no money.
We converted an upstairs room between the master and the guest room into a walk-in closet which was a much better use of space. A simple closet system from Lowes made it functional and gave us more storage. While it was no celebrity walk-in with 25 shelves for my Hermes Handbags – it met MY needs. My poor husband is still relegated to the bedroom closet with sliding doors.
Life changing was when I found “Peel and Stick” wallpaper. I bought all our paper from an online store “Wild Habitat.” From the cheeky “Insects and Bugs” I put in our powder room, the black and white design fish scale in our upstairs TV room on the one wall with the semi-circle window.
For our guestroom I chose a red and while floral pattern for one wall and finally in our living room I took a huge risk and drew up black flowers and sent it to them to print. I am so glad I did!** If you don’t like the colors but love a design or if you are looking for a specific design – just ask them and they will accommodate.
For each room Andre selected the most perfect industrial lighting. Open bulb fixtures, vintage barn lights, goosenecks, reclaimed wood fixtures and more. The choice of bulb helped create the ambience we wanted for each room.
Our living room fireplace was in working order but definitely not a feature piece. We reframed it with white granite and built a new mantle so she could begin her new life as a place to converse around her. The new front deck and new front door completed the house with a welcome smile.
The new back deck & French doors increased our spring, summer and fall entertaining area that looked over five acres of woods and wildlife. Instead of lighting, I hung 15+ lanterns with candles above the outdoor table for a more intimate dining setting and it’s quite the conversation starter.
The decorating of the house was the most fun. From seltzer bottles found at the local Bottle Shop Antiques, art from SkayeDesigns, buffalo check bedding for the guest room with pictures of Andy Warhol’s Cambell Soup art seemed apropos.
The majority of our furniture came from my secret store Nadeau, Furniture with a Soul– there are store throughout the U.S. but our store is in Paramus and Shae the store manager is beyond brilliant. Each piece is hand made from India, Indonesia and South East Asia. Wood dining tables that were replicas of solid wood farm tables, stoic horses in our library made from pieces of chipped wood. Their pieces are so reasonable and yet unique. The art from an Etsy store of hand drawn famous literary artists found their way to the walls of our library.
In the kitchen you will find a vintage farm scale hanging with local produce. Rugs are always ridiculously expensive and with three dogs and muddy feet we seem to go through them a little too often. Overstock.com was and is my go-to for all things rugs. They had amazing selections, great return policy and sizes to fit every room. I was able to take a large room acting as a living and dining space and with rugs create separate spaces.
I found an abstract image of a deer and blew it up on a massive sheet of canvas. Our handyman Mario built me a wood frame to save the cost of professional framing. I am a dish collector and was running out of room. Each of my dish sets tell a story so I decided to display them like art. With a piece from Nadeau I put them on display and part of the décor of our home.
Each nook of the house you will find a treasure. By March 1st, just two months after we started the house we moved in and it has become my love letter to a new life called Goat Hill Manor. We had saved a fortune doing it the way we did and the “Wish List” would actually become a reality.
Stayed tuned for more in Part 3!
Samantha Martin is the Founder and CEO of Media Maison, a boutique lifestyle public relations agency with offices in New York and Hong Kong. In addition to building her own PR and Marketing she has succeeded in growing other small companies, developing ideas from concept and seeing products through to retail shelves. She is excited to chart her home renovation adventures.