• Kate 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 painti