Image: Helen Norman
This rural builder-basic home gets a style-savvy update that perfectly suits the humans (and dogs) who live here.
When interior designer Bethany Brower and her husband, John, purchased their 2,100-square-foot farmhouse in picturesque Warrenton, Va., they weren’t sure what they loved more: the home’s bucolic location or its remodelling potential. “I love a blank canvas,” says Bethany, who runs an interior design firm with her mom. “And this was a simple builder-grade home that had great bones I could customize over time.”
It was late 2015 when the Browers moved in, along with their two English bulldogs, Wilma and Seamus, and their beagle, Winston. (The dogs, for the record, were more enthusiastic about the rural setting than they were the decorating possibilities.)
While the canines explored their new country surroundings, the transformation began. One of the first things the Browers did was overhaul what Bethany calls a “gingerbread house-esque” exterior, trading out chunky woodwork for natural cedar details and removing the fussy railing for a cleaner look.
Simple yet striking, the exterior epitomized the Browers’ updated country style – so Bethany devoted the next two years to creating an interior that matched. “We wanted to honour the home’s rural locale but add a contemporary twist,” says the designer, whose major changes included replacing the red-brick fireplace and dated stairwell.
But the biggest transformation, hands down, was in the kitchen, which is visible from almost everywhere on the main floor of this open-concept house. Dark and dated, it had cherrywood cabinets and pink Formica countertops – a look the Browers were keen to get rid of.
Though the kitchen’s footprint stayed intact, almost everything else changed. First, the homeowners expanded two 18-inch windows above the sink into one large window, which now lets in ample natural light. The perimeter cabinetry boxes stayed in place and were refreshed with drawer and cabinet fronts in a timeless Shaker-style profile. The island, however, is all new – and much larger than the one that was there before, boasting additional storage and seating space. Floating white oak shelves replaced the upper cabinets flanking the range, establishing a more open look. The show-stopping backsplash and countertops – made of heavily veined grey soapstone – were a total splurge and are a standout detail that catches the eye.
Throughout the home, Bethany maintained a clean and contemporary look with flourishes of personality by using antique and vintage pieces. And everything she chose is durable. “Our furniture was selected with our dogs in mind,” says the designer, referring to pet-friendly surfaces like indoor-outdoor upholstery and sisal rugs.
It’s safe to say that, with free rein of the indoors and out, the dogs love their new home just as much as their owners do. “We initially fell in love with the house’s charm,” says Bethany, “but now we love it because it’s home.”
This contemporary cottage-style home, with its spacious front porch, sits on 10 sylvan acres in Warrenton, Va.
For economy and practicality, the layout of the kitchen in this quaint country house was retained. Interior designer and homeowner Bethany Brower kept the existing perimeter cabinetry but replaced the fronts. Oil-rubbed bronze hardware and wooden accents act as country-style foils to the dramatic countertops and backsplash.
"Everyone asks why I chose to lose cabinets in favour of open shelves,” says Bethany. “Having creative storage elsewhere made it possible.” This includes pegged drawer inserts that neatly hold dishes and bowls, a compartmentalized knife drawer and a pullout spice rack right next to the range. The island also offers ample space, including two deep drawers: one for garbage and recyclables and the other for dog food.
A white sofa paired with an airy glass coffee table creates a transitional look in this living room. “We used a mix of custom, to-the-trade and big-box furnishings,” says Bethany of the carefully edited selection. The light neutral palette features earthy greens, browns and tans for warmth and to complement the beautiful countryside beyond the big windows.
A vintage leather Falcon chair sits in a quiet corner of the master bedroom. The piece, a hand-me-down from Bethany’s mom, was something she hated when she was young but loves now.
In the guest room, textured accents – such as the Roman shade, sidechair and chunky cable-knit throw – add cottage charm. In a beautiful save-splurge balance, an heirloom Waterford crystal lamp sits on a mirrored table from Target.