See a 150-Year-Old Farmhouse Updated with Heirlooms and Period Details

Get inspired by two globe-trotters who found adventure renovating a 150-year-old farmhouse with shiplap, contemporary art, and passed-down family treasures.

Fireplace with white mantle

Interior designer Alys Protzman and her husband, Alex, went off the grid on a trip around the world. They traveled light but carried home loads of inspiration from other cultures and a newfound desire to put down roots. That led to the couple's next adventure: restoring a 150-year-old farmhouse in Bynum, NC, an old cotton-mill town that had the slow pace and space they craved. What's more, the home came with beautiful old bones and period details, like the impeccable millwork and original heart pine floors preserved beneath vinyl tiles. An addition on the back of the house won them enough extra living space to reinvent this as their forever home.

Shades of white layer the living room walls to allow colored accents to stand out. This junk-shop chair was re-covered with a vintage textile Alys found in Buenos Aires, Argentina. A large painting with colorful watercolor moths brings focus to the fireplace.

Layered Living

open living room with tan couch

Alys advises clients to splurge on a rug they love and layer it over an inexpensive larger sisal rug. She used the trick in her living room with a favorite Moroccan find. The greige and black color scheme gets added warmth from natural orange-toned wood accents throughout the space. House plants in a variety of shapes and sizes add natural texture.

See our favorite indoor plants for low light here.

What's Old Is New

mud room with red brick floor

The mudroom was an addition, but Alys made it feel original with brick floors. The bricks were salvaged from the walkways around the house. Wire bins hang from the wall to serve as a drop zone for hats, mittens, and other outdoor supplies. Tones of gold carry through the accessories in the space for a cohesive look.

Natural Focus

open floor plan kitchen and nook

In the kitchen, Alys opted for cream color Alabama marble counters. The honed finish forgives etching and scratching better than a polished variety. A natural wood range hood is the focal point of the space, accompanied by industrial pendants over the island. Over the dining nook, she added whimsy to a schoolhouse clock by flanking it with cutlery formed from crafts store wire.

Check out our favorite marble countertop ideas here.

Color Block

dining nook with modern table

The dining nook off the kitchen follows streamlined and simple Scandinavian style with clean lines and blocked colors. A built-in bench offers comfy seating with extra storage in drawers underneath, while mismatched and colorful chairs add character. An ivory animal hide rug brings the light color of the walls to the medium-toned wood floors.

Before: Dizzying Finishes

empty room with checkered floor before picture

Alys and Alex bumped out the back of their house by 15 feet, opening up the living area and eat-in kitchen while gaining a mudroom downstairs and a primary suite upstairs. With the remodel, they took he opportunity to replace loud checkerboard floors and salmon walls with hardwood floors and a jade green wall color.

After: Natural Beauty

dining room with wooden chandelier

Alys fell for this green, which reminded her of old chalkboards, at a New York hotel and matched it for the dining room. The formal furniture was inherited from her grandparents, but a vintage hemp tabletop blanket relaxes it. The twiggy chandelier and vintage birdcages in the bay window give the space a magical garden aura.

Wall Color Lehigh Green (HC-131), Benjamin Moore

Efficient Pantry

white kitchen with copper pans

Alys incorporated an antique nickel sink in the pantry, and had a countertop made to reveal its beautiful shape. A white subway tile backsplash gives the space a clean look. Turquoise glass containers on the countertop mimic the blue-green tones in the adjacent dining room walls.

Shoe Shelves

entryway storage shelves

Wall-mounted shelves from an antiques fair create a front door drop zone for shoes and whatnots. Opting for pre-worn shelves takes away the worry of shown dirt on the shelves. A small vignette on the top shelf with a painting behind finishes the small entry area.

Vintage Vignette

upstairs landing with bench

During renovations, they uncovered old horse-and-hound wallpaper on the stair landing. Alys taped off a square of it, and Alex built a frame for this little patch of history. Rich colors in the accent pillows and floor rug give the spindly black bench a boho update.

Sharp Contrast

bed with wooden headboard

A local craftsman fashioned a live-edge headboard in the primary bedroom. The shape, color, and texture of the headboard was a conscious choice to contrast the clean, graphic shiplap behind. Added butterfly joints give the headboard individual character.

Nordic Simplicity

living room with small wood stove

Alys gave the added-on primary the patina of age with plenty of shiplap paneling and hand-hewn beams salvaged from a shed they had to raze. A free-standing Scandinavian fireplace puts off great heat with a flip of a switch. Wrap-around white linen blackout curtains create a cocoon for the room, which feels like a tree house because of the windows on three sides.

Updated by
David Land
David Land is an experienced interiors photographer working for Better Homes & Gardens. His work is also featured in Veranda, Coastal Living, and House Beautiful. He has spent over two decades working in the industry.
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