Building the Romantic European Farmhouse of our dreams

A background...

We’ve been at our 10-acre Santa Ynez, CA farm for over two years and are finally starting what I’ve been anxiously awaiting - we are renovating our home into a new, romantic European farmhouse! As a background, we purchased our property with the sole purpose of expanding our growing operation from two acres to what it is now. When we were looking for a new farm we weren’t in the position to be picky about the existing housing on the property. Our top priority was wide open flat acreage that was unobstructed by trees, which is exactly what we bought! Our property was an equestrian ranch. In 2018 we renovated the pastures, barn, horse arenas and corrals to meet our needs as flower farmers and while we’ve nearly outgrown this property, it works really well for us and we love it! It’s our forever home and when we run out of room to grow roses, we plan to purchase land nearby to expand our growing. 

Our farm's layout

Our farm’s layout is ideal for our business and personal life. Our roses are grown on our front 6 acres separated by a sweeping driveway lined with trees. The entrance and drive down our driveway is idyllic and we knew we had to buy this property the first time we saw it. The back 4 acres is our barns, guest house and main residence. We’ve added 2 more acres of roses to our back acreage, but planted them in a garden fashion rather than like we do our production fields. Our house is nestled on one acre in the back left corner of our property about 1,200 feet from the street. It’s totally private yet also has magnificent mountain views. Massive willow, evergreen, magnolia, sycamore, olive and pepper trees surround our home. Our woodsy, lush residence area was definitely a huge selling point. In the summertime our weeping willows drape onto our lawn and it’s so romantic. When an afternoon breeze sweeps in and the willows gently sway, it brings out all my “oh my gosh, we get to live here” emotions. There’s a white gazebo at the edge of our front yard overlooking our formal rose garden where I’ve placed a vintage iron table and chairs and hung twinkle lights. It’s where we dine during the warm months and watch our dogs play on the grass. It’s truly a magical place!

Our existing home

But, then there’s our farm house! In order to grow our roses on the ideal property, we had to adjust our lifestyle. In our previous life, we had a new kitchen and bathrooms, an open floor plan and we loved our home. Our current farm home was built in 1978 and has never been updated. You wouldn't know from the outside just how bad most of our rustic farmhouse is inside (and I will spare you the photos). We have your classic white laminate kitchen stained with pasta sauce, a wall oven not wide enough to fit a cookie tray, a small electric cooktop that only fits two pots, chipped white floor tile with grout that doesn’t come clean no matter how hard you scrub, heavily textured walls throughout, low ceilings and doorways (Ryan is 6’8” and has to duck going through doors), an ancient HVAC that sounds like a freight train, a step down to the living room I always trip over, and small rooms that are like a maze to get to one another. Most of our sliding glass doors and windows don’t open, which is so unsafe. And the bathrooms - I can’t even!! They have missing tiles in the showers, cabinet doors that have been painted shut, and they lack windows so they smell moldy and have super low ceilings due to ductwork running above. Basically they are dark, moldy caves. All of our bathrooms had Western themed wallpaper border when we moved in. We tried to pull it down and took the top layer of drywall off with the wallpaper. In our master bath we have duct tape holding our tub together and sinks older than me. When we’re feeling really fancy we walk to our guest house to shower because those are newer bathrooms. Our bathrooms are pretty special! Outside, our siding is a mix of termite ridden board and batten and faux stone veneer (a la Brady Bunch). I'm sure it was lovely when it was built 42 years ago, but it's time for new!

Our existing home has three bedrooms and three baths. It’s primarily on one level (which I love) and has a loft space where Ryan does his office work. If I had to give it a style I would say it’s a pseudo farmhouse because the one room that has any real design distinction soars two stories, has a prominent fireplace, plank ceiling and stately beams and trusses. When we came to preview the house with our realtor, the first thing I thought was that I could work with that room and knew it would be perfect someday. It’s our great room and the only room we’re just remodeling from an aesthetic standpoint. Every other part of our home is a total gut. The only upgrade we’ve done is paint most of the house Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace inside and out because I couldn't live with the dark paint the house was when we purchased it.

I've waited a long time for this...

For the past four years we have invested every dollar we’ve made back into our business. Our sole objective has been and will always be to give our clients an unparalleled experience and to grow the finest product available in the US while providing our employees an excellent standard of living. We’ve planted thousands of new roses, bought and installed weed barrier for every inch of our growing fields, upgraded our growing practices to be 100% organic (we’re in the process of getting certified!), developed proprietary roses only we will ever be able to grow (releasing in 2021!), customized our packaging (wait until you see when we start shipping this spring), created our own organic holding solution to strengthen our roses, invested in the most comprehensive online shopping platform with customizations specific to our business, and so much more. Now it’s finally time for us!

Next to roses, architecture and interior design are my passions. I was that kid who would build lego houses and draw floor plans and elevations from the time I could use a pencil. I love beautiful homes and living in a house that is so dated and dingy and doesn’t reflect who I am has been extremely difficult. We can’t entertain and we rarely show anyone where we live. I’m not a princess, but I have a strong desire to create beauty and be surrounded by it, hence why we grow the queen of flowers! For a couple of years I pondered getting my Masters in Architecture. I was the assistant to a prominent residential architect who designed multimillion dollar homes in NY and NJ and shopped the design district in NYC with them. She had total design freedom and I dreamed of being that kind of architect. Ultimately life led me in a different direction and I’ve been waiting all these years to design the home of my dreams.

Our new, romantic European farm home!

We are maintaining the footprint of our existing home. Our plan is to open up the living spaces by taking down unnecessary walls, vault every room to the roof height (removing the attic space), replace all windows, doors, and exterior finishes and do all new plumbing/electrical/HVAC systems, interior millwork, home decor and finishes. We will convert our existing 2 1/2 car attached garage into living space and build a new attached four-car carriage house with a finished upstairs that will include two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a media room.

My style and inspiration

When asked what my style is I never waver from “romantic European farmhouse.” But not too rustic or cutesy shabby chic! There is nothing modern, mid-century or minimal about my style, so if you’re a modern kind of gal, my feminine taste might be a bit much. My biggest design inspiration is Courtney Allison of French Country Cottage. Courtney seamlessly blends indoors with outdoors and has created some of the most beautiful spaces I’ve ever seen. I'm hoping Courtney will help me source antiques and vintage upholstery for our new home! Brooke Giannetti of Patina Farm and Cara Fox of The Fox Group have also provided endless inspiration, especially for millwork, hardware, and windows! I can't wait to shop Brooke's Santa Barbara store, Giannetti Home, for vintage furniture, home decor and accessories. I have loved following both ladies as they've built their own homes (as well as clients' homes) and seeing the design and construction process. Of course Veranda magazine is always my go-to for garden and outdoor beauty tips!

The top photo on this blog is of our garden roses in Rachel Parcell’s laundry room sink when our dear friend Sinclair & Moore did an event at Rachel’s home. Her laundry room is pretty spectacular!

As for Ryan, one bay in the carriage house will be for his workshop. He's taken up woodworking and can usually be found in our garage working on planter boxes or something for the farm. He also would like a room for all his trombones, drum set and piano, so we'll be creating a music room where he can play. Otherwise, he has no opinions about our new home, which is perfect to me, haha!

Some of my favorite design elements include patina copper gutters, cupolas, dormers, porches, cedar pergolas, French doors with cremone bolts, casement windows, honed marble, antique interior doors, unlacquered brass hardware/faucets, exposed shower systems, white oak, plaster walls, wood beams, trusses and plank ceilings.

We are using a brilliant cabinetry and millwork designer whose company manufacturers all their beautiful work right down the street from us. I love keeping it local! They are also distributers for Marvin Windows and have designed our new windows and French doors. I’ll be making all the other design choices and sourcing myself. If you have similar taste and want to send over inspiration or links to sources I will gladly accept your help!

Thank you!!

I’ve watched so many people on Instagram build new homes or renovate their home and felt like this time would never come. Yes, I was jealous. When you own a business and are responsible for people and their families, it’s SO hard to make your own life a priority. We knew when we bought our property that we’d have to renovate, but have been afraid to since farming is risky and there are ALWAYS unexpected expenses. We have a major irrigation situation running up our driveway right now, last year it was a septic emergency, and who knows what will be next. Hopefully one of my beloved willows doesn’t fall, haha! In all seriousness though, I never know if our clients will continue to love us or if we’re doing all we can to secure our place in the industry, so focusing on us is a huge internal struggle. But here we are and we’re so excited to finally be starting this process. We’re not that excited about moving into our small guest house with tons of pets and hopefully a baby, but it’s only for a year (so our contractor says)!

Our overall goal is to design a European farmhouse that blends seamlessly with the landscape we’ve been blessed with and for our home to feel like it’s right where it’s meant to be - on an old-fashioned working rose farm in the country. Thank you for taking time to read about our remodel! I will share more tips and updates about our floor plans, exterior renderings and cabinetry plans soon!!


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