Farmhouse Style EXTRA

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Renovating a Fixer-Upper

Renovating a Fixer-Upper
Photographed by Gridley + Graves

With expertise earned from the experience of restoring an 1867 farmhouse, room by room, for the better part of a decade, Jen Morris shares her tips for taking on a house that needs a lot of work.

Focus on one room at a time. Although it can be tempting to dig in everywhere at once, that can be overwhelming. In addition, you risk burning out and giving up, notes Jen. Instead, she advises parsing it into small, logical steps so that you can enjoy the reward of a finished space before moving on to the next.
Settle in before starting. If possible, live in the house as long as you can before making any big renovation decisions. Rooms tend to look different as they become more familiar, and we often miscalculate what we think we need or want. Spend time in each space and take note of how you really use it, and then tailor it to suit your needs. Jen waited two years before remodeling her kitchen, and it paid off. For example, she realized an island with additional counter space would work better than the dining table she’d originally placed in that spot. And when she decided to situate a patio outside the kitchen, she was able to fit a door into the room’s redesign.
Relax and enjoy the journey. Try to go with the flow during your project. Find time to celebrate progress, and avoid focusing on frustrating aspects of the renovation. Jen admits that there were times she felt like giving up or worried she’d made a mistake, but she wishes she’d had more faith in herself and the process. “I would say to myself 10 years ago, ‘Chill out—it’s all going to be OK.’”

Written by Maggie Ginsberg.

To see more of Jen’s home in the article “For the Love of a Farmhouse,” order a copy of the Summer 2021 issue of Country Sampler Farmhouse Style or find it on newsstands today.

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