Tour This Stunning Waterfront Farmhouse
Coastal Farmhouse Retreat
"It's a quiet, sleepy summer village. There’s a long, winding road to get there, and by the time you pull up to the house, you’ve already chilled out,” says designer Janie Molster in reference to Fishing Bay, Virginia, where her clients’ have a simple farmhouse retreat. “It’s the kind of place you gravitate towards if you want to embrace that low-key summer lifestyle – the outdoor-showering, porch-napping, pier-sitting kind of mentality.” So her clients’ house, says the designer, needed to jibe with the easygoing lifestyle of the bayfront community.
That the farmhouse had been there since the 1870s meant that the area’s classic, laid-back sensibilities were already built right in: simple lines, rooms that are small in scale, and warm, heart pine floors. On the flipside, that history also meant that the design team needed to do some heavy lifting to make room for the family of four and their two dogs. Here, Molster shares how she gave the centuries-old, bare-bones farmhouse a fresh look, without losing its historic character.
“Simple” and “appropriate” were the guiding principles throughout the restoration and design process, says Molster. “The owners wanted to avoid a cavernous addition in the back, so they requested rooms that felt comparable in scale and breadth to the existing spaces, just modernized with new systems, updated baths, and a gourmet kitchen.”
Get the Look: The heart pine floors are original, the quartered figured oak island was custom designed by Kitchen Designworks, and the soapstone for the countertops was selected from a Virginia quarry.
Classic Galley Kitchen
In the kitchen, the designer paid tribute to Fishing Bay’s sailing tradition – and the family’s own love of the watersport – with classic white shiplap and nautical-inspired Visual Comfort sconces. “Eliminating hanging cabinets near the sink made more room to harness the view of the local sailing school from the kitchen windows,” says Molster. “We also limited the hanging fixtures to the antiqued brass pendants over the sink to keep the line of vision open to the view.”
Laid-back Dining Nook
“We wanted to bring in warm woods with age to match the island,” says Molster of her decision to use an antique table in the dining nook off the kitchen. To dress down the table’s formality, the designer brought in a simple wooden bench and vintage chairs with cushions in Sunbrella fabrics. “We wanted to keep it friendly for people coming in off the water,” says Molster. “It’s an easy place to pull up for lunch in a wet bathing suit and a T-shirt.”
Get the Look: The painting is by Virginia artist Karen Blair through Page Bond Gallery.
No-Fuss Family Room
She applied this same come-as-you-are decorating ethos to the family room. “People will leave a sweating glass of iced tea on the coffee table or put their feet up, so we wanted to keep things simple and straightforward,” says Molster of the kickback-casual family room. “It was important that we used natural fibers that could take a beating.” So the designer put hemp grasscloth on the walls, washed cotton and linen on the seating, and a vintage Moroccan rag rug on the floor. She skipped fabric window treatments altogether, opting instead for fuss-free wooden blinds.
Curated Master Bedroom
“We wanted it to look as if things had been collected over time,” says Molster of her hunter-gatherer approach to choosing pieces for the old farmhouse. In the master bedroom, an antique Turkish rug “with just the right amount of wear and tear” was a choice jumping-off point, says the designer. “We weren’t going for a matchy look. We wanted the room to happen organically.” So when she found bedside tables hand-painted in Sister Parish’s atelier in the 1940s, she snapped them up, too. A muted sandy gray headboard and washed linen and cotton pillows in varying shades of green and blue channel the serenity of the bay just steps away.
Nostalgic Summerhouse Guest Room
With its wooden wall paneling and coordinating twin beds, the guest room feels like a stylish summer camp throwback. “Nothing says summer like stripes, especially red stripes,” says Molster, who paired the striped throws with embroidered red-and-white pillows and crisp white coverlets. Handmade oyster lamps, burlap-hued linen bedskirts, and washed wooden legs on the side tables root the space in a low-key coastal sensibility that keeps the room’s bolder elements (like the graphic cutouts on the wall and the owner’s childhood beds, painted black) from feeling too contemporary.
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Breezy Outdoor Dining Room
A set of French doors opens from the kitchen onto the porch that runs the length of the house, so making that space an extension of the interiors was a no-brainer, says Molster. She chose a zinc-topped table, which does not rust, with a cedar base, then paired it with powder-coated aluminum chairs for a dining set that’s as hardy in standing up to salt air as it is inviting. “This is a flip-flop kind of place,” she says. “When you’re here, you’re not going out to dinner every night. You’re going to grill at home, sit on the porch, and take in the views.”