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Illinois Farmhouse

An Illinois couple transforms an outdated country house into a welcoming home designed with a 1950s, down-on-the-farm feel.

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    The Marminos' home, which they <br>believe was built in 1892 because <br>of a date found painted under the <br>steps, was once a farm where a nearby<br> church held sausage dinners.
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    For this house, Kathy swapped out <br>her more primitive pieces for white <br>painted furniture, which she finds <br>more refreshing and cheerful.
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    Once a display piece in a Houston <br>Ralph Lauren store, the antique dining <br>room hutch holds Kathy's dinnerware.
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    The guest bedroom, once a furnace <br>room, feels like a cozy attic with its <br>faux fireplace, white-painted potbellied<br> stove and doll bed that serves as a <br>breakfast-in-bed tray.

Adding Personality

With shopping and decorating help from her daughter, Lisa Land, and sister-in-law, Cathy Zupan, Kathy added personality through colors and accessories. Kathy stuck to her vision of a "1950s farmhouse cottage look" and drew inspiration from childhood memories of experimenting with primary colors. She melded perky reds and blues with the wood tones of salvaged wide-plank floors. She strung up vintage aprons and tea towels in the windows, and hung honest old dishes over gingham wallpaper. And to infuse the room with down-home sensibility, she anchored one corner with a mammoth antique stove and installed rustic metal light fixtures throughout.

Gradually, the cozy, timeworn mood established in the kitchen spilled into other rooms, and the reigning rule of the house became "out with the old, in with the older," often down to the tiniest detail. With all of the old carpeting and wallpaper removed, and much of the red-white-and-vintage design scheme in full force, Kathy yearned for even more antique appeal.

She hired a contractor to help with the ambitious makeover of an upstairs bedroom formerly used as a furnace room. After the contractor removed the dropped ceiling and covered the walls in crudely cut slats, Kathy asked him to build faux dormers to replicate a real attic. "That guy thought I was crazy when I told him to cut the wood unevenly," Kathy says, laughing, "but it really does look older that way." She eventually used the look in other rooms, just as she kept challenging and amusing a stream of contractors.

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