Today, designer, shop owner, blogger, and mom of three, Lori Guyer of Frugal Farmhouse Design and the White Flower Farmhouse shop, takes us on our latest Show & Tell Home Tour. Let's head to Long Island, New York, to peek around her family's home. Come on inside ...
Lori, tell us a little about your family and your home.
I live in Southold on Long Island's North Fork. It is a small town known for its sprawling vineyards and farms, charming shops, sailing, boating, and numerous sandy beaches. Our home is a modest-sized colonial on a quiet street. We are here because the beach is a five-minute walk down the street. This is a dream location for us and a great place for my children to grow up.
My husband Stephen and I will be married 20 years this spring. We are fond of Irish names and culture. We have Colin, 15, Shannon, 14, and Ronan, 12.I had three children in three years. Because my firstborn was born with hydrocephalus and has special needs, I actually had all three in diapers and cribs at the same time. Looking back, I don't know how I did it. When people comment about what I do for a living and say things like, "I can't believe how hard you work," I say to myself, This is a piece of cake compared to when my children were in little.
I left my career outside the home as an art director to be home for my oldest when he was born and later the other kids, too. Long story short, I turned my love of refurbishing curbside finds and tag sale treasures into a shop and design work. I love the challenge of staying in a tiny budget, and people are amazed how little I spend on something that looks great. My motto has always been "you don't need a lot of money to have great style."
How do you approach decorating in your home? What's the most important thing?
My approach to decorating is pretty simple. My home needs to feel like an escape and a calm place to rest my eyes after a long day. I love quiet colors, soft neutrals, and creams with just little bits of color here and there. I keep things very simple and serene. I favor natural and rustic wood, linen, clear glass, white stoneware, galvanized steel, and lots of light.
My home is furnished and decorated with many things that I found at yard sales and thrift stores. If I had tons of money and no kids, my house would be completely different. I don't, so I do the best that I can on a limited budget -- making my home stylish, comfortable, and family-friendly at the same time.
In the den: White Slip-Covered Sofa and Love Seat, Broyhill, $2,000 for both
(came with custom upholstery and additional set of slipcovers)
Lori's son reading; Blue Ticking Pillows, homemade
Blue Ticking Chair, Craigslist, $100
Seascape Paintings, all under $20 from yard sales
Fish prints from a book found in a dumpster, framed for $20 each
You have three kids. How does their STUFF influence the look and feel of your home?
While growing up, my mother let me choose the paint color for my room and decorate it the way I wanted to. My favorite theme was in the late '70s -- hot pink walls, a rainbow mural, and my prized bean bag chair that looked like a giant pair of Mick Jagger's lips. My parents encouraged my creativity when I was younger. I think this was the beginning of my love for design and decorating.
When my children were younger, I had simple neutral rooms. As they grow into young teens, I want them to "do" their own rooms as a way to show their individual personalities. Colin has camouflage bedding, Halo and Army posters. Ronan wanted blue walls, penguins, snowboarding signs, Lego figurines, and his drum set in his room. My daughter has a bright orange room with a woodland forest wall decal, tons of stuffed animals, and a cage with her pet guinea pig "Tribble" in it. I think it's important that their rooms are reflections of who they are and not who I am. It might not be what I would choose, but I can just close the door.
In which room in your home does your family congregate most often?
I would have to say the kitchen. That is where we all hang out after the school day. They do homework, work on the laptop, talk, and of course, eat. At my kids' ages, they do a lot of eating.
We're also in the process of finishing up a the basement renovation, which I'm really excited about. We are making three areas -- media, craft, and games -- and we just got a new ping pong table. I'm hoping that we will really enjoy this new space.
Glass Door Cabinet, tag sale, $250; Light Fixture over island, $75, The Blue Cabinet
Island is a used hardware store counter, $200; Galvanized Island Top.
Klatt sheet metal, $125
Lights over counter, Barn Light Electric, $25 each
Great design can be expensive. How do you get the most bang for your buck?
Great design can be expensive -- but it doesn't have to be. There are so many other options. Paint is the answer to most of my own design transformations. Paint can do wonders ... and for an average cost of $25 dollars a gallon, you can't beat it. There are so many paint products out there on the market. You can paint almost anything these days. I have painted metal, tile, linoleum, concrete, brick, knotty pine paneling, kitchen cabinets, flooring, furniture, and more. I recently made my own mirror with paint.
Fireplace Mantel from Craigslist, $100; mirror $50 at antique shop
Tell us about a DIY project you have taken on recently and love.
At the moment, I'm loving the way the kitchen is coming along that I'm redoing for under $1,000. There is a lot of sweat equity involved. The kitchen is for Megan who works in my shop, so I'm going all out. I made plywood wide plank painted floor boards for a cost of 45 cents a foot, built the concrete countertop for the island, and installed open shelving with old barn boards. Now I'm at the fun part of getting it all together and accessorizing.
You are a shop owner, furniture refinisher, and a blogger. Do you have a room or space of your own?
I do not have my own creative space unfortunately. My husband was nice enough to donate one side of the two-car garage as my work area. I don't need a special place to get creative -- ideas will pop into my head at the strangest times.
What is your most important everyday ritual at home?
Having dinner at the dinner table with my family. It's extremely important to take the time to sit and relax around the table and have my children tell me about their day. I have very funny children, so it's usually very entertaining as well.
In your home, what is one indulgence you give into?
My one splurge is really good bedding. My girlfriend Annie told me, "Once you buy expensive sheets, you will never be able to sleep on anything else." She talked me onto purchasing Italian sheets one time while we were shopping together. It was hard to spend the money -- the first night I slept in my new bedding it was like heaven. I am spoiled now and will never go back.
What are your favorite stores to shop for home?
I have Tanger outlet shopping 30 minutes away. There is a Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn, and Williams-Sonoma Home. If you hit it right, you can get some incredible bargains. I just got 24 vintage style hardware pulls for $4. I could never pay full retail in one of those stores. There are so many other things I would rather spend money on, like traveling or a vacation.
Storage cupboard is a $20 yard sale find (painted Navajo white).
What Home & Garden blogs or websites inspire you the most?
My design idol and inspiration is Tricia Foley. I have all of her books, and her website is the best eye candy. Her style is simple, calm, and serene ... just the way I like it.
Oh, thanks so much, Lori. It was so fun peeking around your house and admiring all your budget-friendly design. See and read more about Lori Guyer on her blog Frugal Farmhouse Design and also visit the White Flower Farmhouse shop.
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