Rustic Updates and Timeless Antiques Restore the Charm of This 1912 Farmhouse
The Poshusta family knew they could tap into their DIY experience and antique-hunting skills to revitalize a 1912 foursquare farmhouse. See how they brought back its charm with just the right finds.
Long before Cathy Poshusta became an Instagram darling—her account @thegritandpolish has nearly 70,000 followers—she and her husband, Garrett, had to fail upward.
"Back in 2008 when we got our first house during the Great Recession, I had gotten laid off, my husband was in school, and we had to renovate it and rent out the house—and move into this backyard cottage—just to keep going," says Cathy, now the mom of three kids, ages 3, 5, and 7. "We made some major mistakes on that house, but it was a really great learning opportunity—we taught ourselves basically everything! I remember the first time we plumbed something and had the inspector come out, he looked at what we'd done and told me: 'You know, I'm not here to teach you plumbing.' We just failed. We've learned over 12 years now!"
The family's latest educational endeavor? Their own 1912 foursquare farmhouse, which they love for its soaring 9-1/2-foot ceilings, thick baseboards, and 6-foot-wide pocket double doors (they divulge all about their work on it and their bevy of other properties on their website The Grit and Polish).
When the Poshustas bought their 3 acres in Ellensburg, Washington, the home was what Cathy lovingly calls a light fixer. "Two owners back had come in and 'saved' it when it was right on death's door … so it's been more cosmetic fixes," she says. They set about turning it into the farmhouse of their dreams, tearing up the carpets, clear-coating the original fir floors, and trying to help the century-old beauty look like an age-appropriate version of her best self.
Cathy ordered brass French gallery rods from Swan Picture Hangers to hang art from the picture rail molding in the living room. The Pottery Barn curtains are "blackout lined, because old houses are drafty; we found in winter they are really good to close at night," Cathy says. The circular table in the corner belonged to Cathy's great-grandmother, whose husband owned a furniture company.
"A man built this house with his father and raised two kids here, one of whom was in his 70s or 80s and lived next door when we bought the place," Cathy says. "We went to school with a great-grandson, so we got lots of historic photos of the house! It's a special gem."
In the laundry room—complete with its original door—the couple added tongue-and-groove paneling and built a Shaker peg rail using pegs they found on Amazon. The painting of a farmhouse in a local valley was done by Cathy's mother.
The couple made their own English airer—or hanging laundry rack—after spotting one for sale for $500. "Those were originally designed way back when in England because hot air rises; once you put laundry on, you raise them up and take advantage of the heat," Cathy says. To make theirs, they clear-coated leftover cedar and adhered it to metal strips that Garrett had driven over to create the curve. Rope pulleys tie to a wall cleat by the window.
In the main-level bathroom, the couple placed an antique dresser mirror over the vanity and installed a beefy top rail on the wainscot. Shaker pegs act as pretty hangers.
Cathy spotted this fir hutch at an antiques shop four years ago—turns out it was original to the house! She struck a deal and brought it back home, where it belonged.
To transform a lackluster '90s remodel into something that felt original to the home, the Poshustas raised the existing upper cabinets higher on the wall and added a shelf below that would provide the feeling of "an old-school hutch," Cathy says. Adding to the charm is the range hood, clad in tongue-and-groove paneling and trim they rescued from an old door frame found in the basement. Garrett fabricated the marble countertops and honed them himself. They opted for unlacquered-brass drawer pulls to match the handles in the rest of the house. "Marble patinas and un-lacquered brass will age and get better with time," Cathy says.
"Wood floors are rustic, and you don't have to worry about them. In the summer, the doors are wide open, kids running in and out. They get roughed up and it's totally fine," Cathy says.
"I was about to pull the trigger on nice expensive stools and saw these faux-leather ones for $70 apiece on Wayfair—they wipe up so easily and they're indestructible," Cathy says of the island seating.
Cathy loves to bake so she equipped a baking area in the pantry with cabinets that hide her mixer and other gadgets. Rounded edges on new woodwork make it look old.
To make their master feel like a farmhouse retreat, Cathy selected a sleigh bed with a tufted linen headboard and chose a striped duvet cover that's reminiscent of French ticking for a vintage vibe. Garrett made a honed-marble top for an antique spool-leg bedside table. Brass cord covers on bedside sconces impart an antique-y look.
Cathy found her daughter's French-style cane bed for free on Craigslist. The nightstand is a table they cut in half (the other half sits in their narrow entryway where it takes up just the right amount of floor space). "On the National Audubon Society website, you can download historic prints of John James Audubon's 'Birds of America' for free; I had a couple giclee-printed online," Cathy says.