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  • Writer's pictureKate Markovitz

Our Cozy, Natural Farmhouse Renovation

Updated: Sep 5, 2021

When we bought our first home in 2012, we had a big vision of what our future looked like... as almost newlyweds with no kids or pets, we thought we knew what we wanted.

In 2017, after some life actually happened (lol), we had one baby girl, a hyperactive dog and a new vision, our first home ended up being very different than what we actually wanted. We didn't have a hard deadline, so we casually started looking for a new home that fit our real family.

We created a mission statement: a smaller home with more land in our current school district. We strayed from the mission quite a few times (buying land and building, putting offers on homes in other school districts), but eventually, as a pandemic hit of course, we found our "needle in the haystack" home.

We knew to stay within the mission we were likely going to have to do some renovations... which I was actually excited about. I was ready to make a home finally feel like home!


We were downsizing to save money and set a budget based on the sale price of our previous house and our new one.

Originally, we were going to just do the main living area (dining/kitchen/family), but our designer, Aly (explained below), mocked up a master bath that was WAY more functional for us and we realized how much easier it would be to have it done all at once having contractors/painters while we were also living in our other house... so we bit the bullet and decided to include that in the remodel now.

Unfortunately, our contractor prices did go up significantly from the quote to the actual contract with these changes... so I think we would have actually ended up under budget if we didn't have that added expense. We ended up about 2.5% over budget, which is pretty dang good!

Here are the percentages breakdown to budget:

Contractors - 39%

Design - 7%

Materials - 55%


Since we plan on living here until C is out of the house, and considering we were doing this during a pandemic when my child care resources were limited, Jim and I decided to consult with a designer to help us coordinate the house design.

I'm super sensitive to my surroundings. if I like and feel good in a space my energy is WAY better than if I feel uncomfortable - I just wanted to get this right.

We worked with Aly Thompson from Aly Thompson Interiors. She was wonderful and really brought our vision to life. I plan on working with her when we (eventually) do our basement. We highly recommend her!

Aly from Aly Thompson Interiors
Aly from Aly Thompson Interiors

Not only did she interview us and put together a vision board with renditions of what the renovation could look like (SO SO helpful since my husband and I are very vision), but she dealt with all the contractors and talked with them about any issues, scheduling, etc. This alone was worth it for me in that season of life. She also helped us get pricing and materials with her professional discount... and she's the queen of thrifting!! Some of my favorite pieces are items when found for us on FB marketplace or a thrift shop... and of course that helped us stay on budget!

She was also fantastic with our 3-year-old throughout the process, which was a blessing - C misses "her friend with the long hair!"

Aly offers a variety of services and can work virtually - definitely reach out to her!

All renderings were created by Aly.

Aly with our daughter while capturing photos of the finished design!

What's your top priority (or priorities)?

For us, it was budget and timeline. YOU HAVE TO KNOW THIS GOING IN.

We had a unique opportunity to live in our other house while this renovation was happening... but I wanted out as soon as possible because showing with a toddler and dog was NOT enjoyable. I wanted to get this DONE and feeling like home if we could (especially after looking for 3+ years).

Additionally, because our house wasn't selling as quickly as we anticipated, our budget was not only strict, but shrinking. I got creative selling furniture on FB marketplace, searching the web for the BEST deals regardless of the vendor (aka I wish I could have supported more local stores and stayed away from some of these "big box" options, but our priority was budget!)


Originally, I wanted to try and choose the "cleanest" options for a "non-tox" home... but areas had to give. There ARE some ways to help detox your home, so I still made conscious decisions when I could, but did not prioritize the budget for this theme. Not to mention I'm not an expert in this area so it would have taken even more time and research. Many of the "small" items we already focus on fit this theme, and I am totally happy with how it all unfolded.

A couple other items we knew we wanted -- I wanted black windows (even if that meant painting them). A lot of people thought I was crazy but now it's everyone's favorite feature when they come in! My husband also knew he wanted lighter hardwood floors. We had real hardwood in our other home and Murphy's nails destroyed it, so we also knew we wanted engineered hardwood to extend the life since we plan on having a (bigger) dog around for a while!


  • Chris Loves Julia x Loloi Rug - Family Room (Wayfair, Amazon) This rug is stunning in person. It's super-low pile, which I wanted for cleaning/shedding (negative experiences in the past!). I did use carpet tape to help with one side that was still curling and now it's perfect!

  • Pottery Barn Rug - Dining Room (Pottery Barn from many years ago! Similar) I love the look of this rug, but for the price, I'm a little disappointed with how it has aged.

  • Woven Threshold Door Rugs - By front and laundry room doors (Target)

  • Ruggable - We didn't have this for the pictures, but I decided to get a Ruggable for the Kitchen area. The benefit of these rugs is that you can wash them and being in the area I cook the most, I figured that would come in handy! To be honest, I don't love it. Even when washed, it doesn't look much cleaner, but I do like the thicker rug pad I got with it because I knew we'd be standing on it a lot!

  • Chris Loves Julia x Loloi Rug - Bathroom (Wayfair) I ended up getting this runner for in front of our vanity in the master bathroom and I like how it adds some brightness to the darker floor.


All of our paint was purchased at Sherwin Williams (Low VOC) by the hired painters. I do not know much about the process that they did for painting the cabinets (or how long it will last), but this fit our budget for now!

  • Drift of Mist - This Light Gray neutral shade was used in whole house, it's crazy how different in looks in each room just from natural lighting, but I'm in love with this shade! Looks great with our browns, grays, blues, greens, wood tones, etc.

  • Acier - Dark Gray accent walls. We were originally going to do Repose Gray but the color looked very similar to drift of mist in our lighting.

  • Greek Villa - This is a warm white we used for trim, doors, and most importantly, kitchen cabinets.

  • Gossamer Veil - Aly got free reign in the laundry room - I couldn't make any more decisions. She added Laundry Room Cabinets and painted them this shade!

  • Tricorn Black - I KNEW I wanted black windows. This was a non-negotiable. We painted our windows and island this shade, after testing a few blacks ;) You definitely need to check in your space. This may have been my favorite change!


True story, I think I went back and forth with lighting ONE MILLION times. I was semi-psycho here, but since it's such an open space, I wanted lights that went together, but didn't match. We ended up using almost exactly what Aly picked, minus my wheel light that I knew I wanted for the family room and the kitchen island.

One thing I learned - lighting can REALLY impact and change the feel of a room and house for relatively inexpensive cost (if you are patient enough to look or wait for a sale). Wayfair really had great prices for lights and everything was deeply discounted.

  • 3 Island Pendant Light - FB Marketplace. I kept an eye on Marketplace throughout this process and had this exact one in my cart from wayfair (linked here). Saved 70% this way.

  • Antique Industrial Wall Sconce Shelf Lights - These were a great way to add some gold accents and reasonably priced.

  • 10 Light Candle Style Wagon Wheel Chandelier - This is my favorite light in the house and the light I knew I wanted to get from the beginning. It's such a statement piece and gorgeous!

  • Odie 8 - Light Kitchen Island Rectangle Pendant - I went back and forth on this one, I wasn't sure if I was going to like the 8 lights vs a straight linear light of 5 lights (like this one) but I actually LOVE the one we chose in person. High quality and looks great.

  • Tarri 3 - Light Unique Globe Chandelier - This was the light that may have given me the most headache. This was Aly's suggestion, and I wasn't sure about it, so I spent hours looking for another option and came back to it. To be honest, it's really stunning in person and I love how it is a little more modern! Great choice.

  • 3-Light Dimmable Vanity Light - We wanted an industrial looking light in the bathroom to honor our favorite apartment we lived in (a warehouse turned modern/industrial loft). These are great, but I did have a hard time finding lightbulbs I liked. Amber color turned everything so yellow/orange so I went with a smokey bulb.

  • Hallway Lights - After we had the other lights in, I had to switch the "boob lights" (as I affectionately call the standard ones that were in the house). I'm glad I did, these match great and were an easy swap.


  • Satori White Glossy 3" by 12" Glossy Wall Tile (Lowe's) - We actually used this horizontally in the kitchen and vertically in our master bath shower with white grout for both. I sorta freaked out because it looked SO shiny/glossy when we first put up, but with all the details in place (and the way our light falls in the rooms) I hardly notice the shine now!

  • Eternia Quartz Countertops - Alexandria - This was hard to pick seeing just a little slab. I wanted something that didn't look like water stains, and wasn't overly veined. I love this countertop, it turned out wonderful and looks a little gray against our cabinets and backsplash.

  • Custom Hood & Pantry Door - We got this custom made locally and unfinished - we had painters stain it black!

  • Joao 2 Piece Poplar Solid Wood Floating Shelf (Wayfair) - We used 6 floating shelves in the kitchen. These really look great and we drilled through the backsplash to hang them.

  • 5" Handles/Pulls - These were fine, but some were not drilled right or stripped... we also had to order different screws to make it work. I also linked our backup choice... it was just a little too masculine, I wanted a thinner curve.

  • Chairs - These island chairs were an awesome price, SO comfy, and easy to put together... win win win!

  • Black Desk Chair - Thrifted for $6. Honestly, this is one of my favorites in the house. Aly is a thrifting whiz!

  • 32" x 19" Undermount Sink - Because of COVID, our sink was backed up through another vendor, but I found it on Wayfair for $100 less and it came in time for our deadline. This sink is HUGE.

  • Matte Black Sink Faucet - This was an Instagram Ad weak moment - it's a touch sink and drives me crazy that it doesn't bounce all the way shut, so I don't love it and I'm not going to link it. I do like that it has the same look as many of our other faucets in the home.

  • Appliances were mostly wherever we could find stock to be delivered quickly and fit our dimensions! NOT easy during a pandemic! I suggest working with Bridgeville Appliance if you are local!


  • Fireplace - When we moved in, the fireplace was an awkward height - maybe 6-7 feet tall? We wanted to make it a statement piece and have our TV above the mantel. The development of the fireplace changed throughout the design process. We originally thought we were going to paint or limewash the stone. Ultimately, we decided on shiplap straight up to the ceiling and leaving the stone as is - I love it! We do have an awkward amount of mortar (maybe 1.5-2"?) from lowering the stone height. I'll likely paint it a dark gray eventually... living with it to see what I want to do first!

  • Pearl Mantels Non-Combustible 60" Graywash Mantel - This was another "you only have this option" choice. We were going to use a piece of Aly's old barnwood... which I was really excited. about. Unfortunately, when we went through construction for the new fireplace, we discovered we needed a non-combustible mantel to keep the TV from being too high. The gray does look nice (just wasn't my vision or top choice!)

  • Spindle Solid Wood Windsor Back Side Chairs - LOVE these chairs. Was a little nervous ordering online without sitting on them, but they are super comfortable and just the look we were going for... great find! Also pretty easy to put together.

  • Wire Cage Storage Coffee Table - Though this may have not been my *top* pick for a coffee table, I knew the moment I saw it that Charlotte would have a ball playing in the middle with her toys... and I was so right. She is constantly climbing in or using this as a "cage" for her play!

  • Crate & Barrel Driftwood Side Table - This is circa 2012 and the one piece of furniture my husband picked out for our house that he was so dang proud of (and I was like wellllll, I told you to pick out a side table you liked?) Now I love it and fits with our decor great.

  • Brown Couch - We bought this couch when I was about 6 months postpartum... it's a story. I COULD NOT look at our previous very nice crate & Barrel couch after being confined to it for 9 months of pregnancy and a rough postpartum. It had to go... then we discovered we needed couches with attached pillows after Murphy would knock them off every 10 minutes, so this couch was basically our only option.

  • Pillows & Throws - Mix match from Target, Home Goods, TJ Maxx... but most of these came from Target's Spring 2021 Lineup! (Striped pillows, flower pillow, striped throw)

  • 1 Corinthians 13 Verse Wall Sign - This was a gift from my Sister-in-law and one of my favorites. I read it often to ground myself. I believe she got it on ETSY but I couldn't find the exact one (similar here).

  • Crosby Schoolhouse Floor Lamp - I wish this was a touch taller, but after buying and returned many lamps, this one had the look and vibe I was going for in this room!

  • Frame TV - This was a splurge... but I REALLY don't like TVs. If I lived alone, I'd likely not have one, so this was a compromise. I sold furniture to make up for the price difference. Wait until it goes on sale - I think I paid just under $1000 on eBay for a 55". I'm so glad we got this TV!!

  • Frame TV Frame - Sounds kinda funny... but you can get a magnetic "frame" for the TV so when you display art, it truly looks like a photo! Not necessary if you are getting a black frame, but a nice addition if you really want it to look like art.

  • Art for Frame TV - I LOVE that I can change the art on the TV frequently. Many ask me if you have to buy the subscription - heck no! You can add your own photos, or there are a TON of options on ETSY, or I really love Collection Prints options. I need to change things up often, this is perfect for me!


  • Stephen Pine Solid Wood Dining Table + Stephen Bench - This table hardly stays in stock it's so popular, but luckily I found it in stock... and it is definitely worth the hype, I LOVE it (and the bench).

  • Spindle Solid Wood Windsor Back Side Chair - These chairs are great - I love the slight bend to add a touch of feminine to the room. Exactly the look we wanted!

  • China Cabinet - FB Marketplace. This is a WHOLE story I shared on my IG one day. Short story: This was a $1200 Pottery Barn piece being sold for $350, I got it for $250. I didn't realize it was JUST the top of a china cabinet... bought $15 legs for Amazon and ta-da! A new piece that makes sense in the room now. Won't keep forever but I "good for now."

  • Faux Potted Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree - This was a house-warming/holiday gift from my parents. At first, we weren't sure we loved it, but now I can't decide if I want to keep in the dining room or bedroom! (Ended up in the bedroom)


  • Crate & Barrel Bed Set - This set is from 2012. I don't love it now (funny how different my style is 8 years later), but it works! This one looks very similar.

Bedroom in progress.. not all the pieces are in here yet!
  • Mackenna Paisley Percale Duvet Bedding (frequently asked) - Every time I show my bed on IG, I'm asked about this bedding. I love the colors in it, very calming and peaceful (though I do crave a more simple bed - the dog sleeps with us and everything else would show too much!)

  • Sign above Bed (not pictured in this photo but says "Thank you for all those I love. Amen.) - I could not find an exact to. this sign from ETSY either, but here is a similar customizable one.

  • Custom Pottery Barn Accent chair - I got this for my office a couple years ago, but I expect to get my office together in this house in 2025 (lol) so I plopped this chair in the bedroom for now and love it in there.


  • Satori White Glossy 3" by 12" Glossy Wall Tile (Lowe's) - This is the same as our kitchen backsplash just done in a vertical pattern.

  • Shower Faucet - This one is nice, but I do wish we had gotten one with a handheld, especially having one for the bathtub. Definitely something to consider!

  • 71" x 34" Freestanding Soaking Acrylic Bathtub - I do LOVE this tub. It kinda hugs you while you soak. It does not have texture on the bottom, which can make it slippery!

  • Tub Faucet - I never knew I needed a handheld faucet for the tub but WOW do I love it so so much!

  • Kennilton 60-in Gray Oak Double Sink Bathroom Vanity with Gray Oak Engineered Stone Top - I can't decide what I really feel about this vanity yet. I like the look, kinda wish it was a little lighter and warmer. It has more "vertical" storage which can be hard to figure out if you are used to just regular cabinets, but I'm getting used to it!

  • Vanity Faucets - Wanted to keep similar shape to the tub fixtures. I like that these pivot around.

  • Mirrors - We originally wanted oval gold mirrors, but couldn't find any in budget. Aly found these black ones and they work just as well! (Similar)

  • Barn Door - FB Marketplace. I wanted a way to close off the closet from the bathroom, but didn't want to take up space so we decided on a barn door. I did not realize how pricey these are! Luckily, we found 2 white barn doors with hanging equipment for $200 on FB. Score! The other one didn't fit in any of the spots we thought we could use, so I resold it for $65!

  • Glass - Local company. This was a fiasco. Cannot recommend.

  • Teak Shower Table - This was a gift from my MIL and it's so perfect! We realized after the fact that we did not create nearly enough storage in the shower AND did not create a bench. I think this was a blessing in disguise because I love the warmth of the bamboo stool. (Similar)

  • Shaker Accent Table or Stool - This is perfect next to the tub!

  • 37" Artificial Olive Bush Tree - Studio McGee just released their Spring line with Target when we were getting ready for pictures and I grabbed this faux plant! Love it.

  • Towel Warmer - This was another gift for Christmas AND WOW. If you want to ELEVATE your shower/bath experience, get a towel warmer. This is a perfect gift for hard-to-buy folks!! (Similar)


  • Vanities - This was an unexpected expense. We were just going to paint the cabinets, but ended up needing new vanities and had basically no budget for it. We found vanities for $200 at Renovation Nation in Canonsburg, PA! Score!

  • Faucets - I totally forgot about faucets for these rooms, so Aly grabbed a black option from Lowe's. I probably would have gotten different ones if I would have realized earlier, but they definitely are fine!

  • Shower Curtain - I really love the Magnolia shower curtains from Target, so grabbed one for C's bath... but ended up ordering this one to switch and create more of a "kid" vibe in there.

  • Kohler Enlongated Toilets - I wouldn't have even added this detail, but one of our contractors loved them so much he went and bought them for his house too!

  • Black Accents - Kept the black accents going in these rooms too!


We gave Aly a budget of $500 to redo what she wanted in the Laundry room (not including the floors). Here's what she got:

  • Cabinets - There was 0 storage in this room before. She added 2 upper cabinets and one lower cabinet and I'm SO grateful!!!

  • Butcher Block Countertop - LOVE the natural butcher block countertop in here. Adds some warmth and it's totally our style.

  • Handle Pulls - Little gold knobs add the perfect pop :)

  • Coat Knobs - These chunky coat knobs are great and we used the extras for towel hangers in our master bath!

  • Bench - Thrifted and it's actually one of my favorite pieces in the house! I love the look of it.

  • Wire Clothes Laundry Baskets with Liner - Grabbed these at Walmart a couple years ago and I love the look.

  • Sign - Got this from Hobby Lobby a couple years ago and it matched perfectly.


  • Door Handles - This was another last minute decision. Couldn't have black accents and then previous very gold door handles and hinges. Don't love these over time, they "drooped" and are not smooth. Murphy can open the levers... doors were a HUGE pain in this house (like I can't even explain what a headache they've been) so I know we will be replacing all of them within the next couple years.

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