A mix of chairs looks casual around an old farm table. Vintage—and white—items are the heart of the French farmhouse decorating style in this 1909 Illinois home.
Old pocket watches from a flea market provide a tabletop accent.
The homeowner's timepiece collection extends to a dozen antique and reproduction clock faces climbing the stairway wall.
Displaying architectural pieces, such as an arched window frame, is interior decorator Denise Knickrehm’s go-to trick for adding character to her home.
Denise owns the home-decor and clothing shop Denise’s Adornments in nearby Geneva, Illinois. Right now, her shop and home feature gloriously romantic whites and creams mixed with French signage and modern industrial metals.
Hard-sided suitcases store files on a shelving unit.
Wire baskets attached to an old barnwood plank organize odds and ends above a desk. A framed chalkboard displays quotes.
A closet becomes a walk-in pantry with built-in cabinets, drawers and open shelves; a hutch just outside holds overflow pieces.
Denise and her carpenter husband, Greg, use pediments and pilasters to enhance the plain trim of doorways and windows. Leaning a diamond-paned window inside a kitchen bump-out was a simple way to improve the view.
Denise painted and distressed her kitchen cabinets. If she finds a great item that isn’t her beloved white, she paints it.
Figuring out new ways to use old things is a passion. Here, Denise used tarnished silverware to decorate a lampshade’s framework.
Grouping collections maximizes impact. Denise has flatware, pocket watches, perfume bottles and more. Glass containers show them prettily, but she also uses old pots, pitchers, baskets, trays, and bowls to corral and display.
The master bedroom is one of the few rooms in Denise's house to feature a color other than white; the ceiling is painted a soft blue-gray.
Vintage hard-sided suitcases tucked beneath a bedroom side table are pretty and practical. They hold linens and clothes.
Favorite items are grouped on the dresser: a vintage fur collar, a glass jar full of perfume jars and an old tiara.
Even the laundry room gets an artful touch, with a pretty assemblage of lace-edged linens, a rusty iron and wooden clothespins.
Snow-white linens hang from a white wood ladder in the laundry room.
Remember library card catalogues? This lookalike cabinet keeps envelopes and paper clips organized in the home office. It's topped with a whimsical mix of used paintbrushes, binoculars and a well-loved derby hat.
A vintage dresser gets a makeover with white paint and old-fashioned knobs.
Denise is known for the carefully curated vignettes, such as this basket with cement pinecones, she creates at her shop and her home.
Mixing textures—rough string, gauzy lace, nubby linen—keeps a monochromatic vignette interesting.
What to do with an old tray? Use chalkboard paint to transform it into a wall hanging with ever-changing inspirational sayings.
With four finished floors, this Bartlett, Illinois, farmhouse has more than enough space for Denise's seven grandchildren to visit.
The rambling, four-level house was a two-flat apartment building when Denise and Greg, bought it. “It was trashed, disgusting and rundown,” says Denise, who, nonetheless, could spot its good bones. The couple ripped up carpets to expose original wood floors, tore down walls for a more open floor plan, and replaced all the plumbing and electrical wiring. Then it was time to have fun decorating.