Monday, April 4, 2011

Sarah Johnson's Renovated Barn Apartment: Brattleboro, VT

Hello All! Today is my first post covering an interior that I just love. As I've mentioned before, I love design, and I couldn't resist sharing my friend Sarah's apartment with you. I love how Sarah has transformed this old barn space into a chic, electric, yet cozy aptartment that shows her unique sense of style. 

1.Sarah, can you talk a bit about your new apartment and the process you have gone through renovating it?

The space that is now my apartment was originally a barn. It was designed to house livestock used by Esty organ employees, including the horses which would have pulled the carriages at that time period.  Very little reconstruction took place between then and the fall of 2009.  The vision was the easy part.  Thanks to some unusual architectural characteristics that could remain intact the space was begging to be renovated.  

With just the right amount of cosmetic and functional improvements the investment was bound to produce a rewarding outcome.  David Ross a well-known and very qualified local builder and myself, the devoted novice, decided to tackle the project with a completely unrealistic deadline in sight.  

After only three 10-12 hour day weekends, we somehow…remarkably completed the upstairs and I moved into my new finished half-apartment.  

The one project that was of my own volition was the sanding down of years of grime and paint on the floorboards.  This project I enthusiastically tackled with a rotary palm sander.  As crazy as that may sound the finished product turned out beautifull.  I was able to maintain the weathered curvature of the boards that only comes from decades of shuffling, a more than fair trade for a couple days of work! 

Bathroom area before...
New bathroom addition

2. Show me some of your favorite pieces in your home. Did you make them? Where do you find your unique treasures? 

I would consider myself a scavenger, who can't resist scanning roadside giveaways,  thrift stores and even dump heaps …and truth be told, it's not due to a lack of funds for necessities.  There is an actual high that I get in searching and especially finding the diamond in the ruff that has lost its glimmer.  The most fun though, is figuring out how best to "polish" it and then find a setting where it can be recognized and beautiful again.  

Sometimes I see something and I feel an instant draw to that item because I can already see it's potential.   Other times, I'm not quite sure what I think of an item, but for curiosity's sake I take it home and see whether it inspires me.  

The later has proven to render some of my favorite pieces, such as the pink and cream chair depicted in some of the shots of my place.  

I LOVE this sweet chair Sarah revamped, sweet butter cream
The chair (above) was hideous when I brought it home, with wafting pieces of fuzz remaining from the cushion once on the seat and a splotchy paint job that was hard to see past.  Turned out, under all that fuzz was a punched out star!  I'm finding that furniture is becoming a recurring theme lately.  Although there are various knickknacks that I can't resist, the more rewarding pieces that I have the knack for refinishing are those that will take coats of paint, primarily furniture. 

Another furniture project that turned out be an exciting discovery, was a table in which was recently added faux wood grain.  

A friend had bought me a tool a couple years back that I would stare at occasionally in disbelief of what powers it was said to behold.  Turns out this funny rubber thing on a handle did exactly as the packaging claimed it would!  When I finally worked up the gull to give it try, I was most impressed!  The most exciting part of the discovery was that, with this tool you could layer any two colors and give the unmistakable design of wood grain on top of the other.  

Sort chinsi and sorta REALLY cool!!
3. How would you describe your own style (in your home)?  

Shabby chic or perhaps eclectic, although there a few themes that I could break that down into, which would probably be rustic, modern, funky. 

I love this raised desk area and the touch of black and white on the curtains and dresser
4. What inspires you when you are decorating?

I typically try to find a certain balance of the sub-styles that I have, so that not two much of one style is in one place.  Although in the same breath there are times that I find that grouping something similar together works if it is displaced by another item on the other side of the room, which is based on the same principles of balance.  

Both of the methods apply to not only styles but also to the very bright colors as well as neutrals that I tend to use to capture a playful aesthetic that's not too over the top.

Thanks for sharing your super stylish space with us Sarah!

There's lots of unique & lovely spaces in and around Brattleboro, if you have one, send me a note, I'd like to come check it out!

(all photos by Sarah)


  1. Hi Desha! So nice to land on your blog via byw yahoo. This is such a cute house tour. I love the eclectic mix and fun colors of the furniture, and I especially love those vintage suitcases! Really cute first home tour. Congrats!

  2. Wow, what great vision! It turned out great! I'd love to see the outside of that barn :). So lovely to 'meet' you here. XOL (via BYW)

  3. The renovated apartment looks amazing!! What a beautiful transformation!! Kaho


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