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Vintage Farmhouse Charm in California

Vintage Farmhouse Charm in California

Written by Emily Irby
Photography by Chad Mellon
Styling by Victoria Van Vlear and Kris Christensen

With some careful curation and skillful distressing, even a brand new home can be country comfy and vintage farmhouse. When blogger Heather Tartaglia of The Morning House moved into the Rancho Mission Viejo home with her husband and three boys, she had one primary goal in mind. “When I walk into someone’s home, the main thing I want to be is cozy,” she says. “I want to be able to plop down on someone’s couch, watch TV and feel at home.” So when she took on the task of decorating her own house, she battled the challenge of making new and modern feel vintage farmhouse by filling the space with beloved hand-me-downs and antiques. “If it looks like it’s falling apart, then I like it,” she says. And the results are well worth the effort.

A white couch with white throw pillows in front of a white door with chippy paint
Natural wood and drop-cloth curtains bring warmth to the bright space. Heather says, “You can still have the white, clean farmhouse look, but it makes it cozier.” Her curtains only cost her about $10 and broke up the all-white look, which Heather admits was just “too stark” for her.
A white jug full of green petite leaves on top of an antique white shelf

Homemaking with Meaning

The vintage farmhouse look benefits from repurposed and antique items. In fact, the only pieces of furniture in Heather’s home that are new are her farmhouse-fresh sofa and a bench. “Everything else is a found item,” she says. Apart from her scores from flea markets and vintage fairs, Heather showcases plenty of sentimental family pieces. One example includes her living room coffee table. It has pencil marks from when she used to do her homework on it as a kid. Another example is her dining room table made by her uncle. The retro “Milk” sign art is from her grandmother. “I wanted my home to remind me of a modern take on my grandma’s house,” she says.

A faux white fireplace. On top of the fireplace are potted plants and a wood frame with a drawing of a classic red school building from the nineteenth century
Heather added a faux fireplace in between the living room and kitchen, which guests see when they first enter the house. The feature is a great way to welcome visitors into her farmhouse style, and Heather can change up the mantel décor to match the season.

Heather is a master in layering. “Don’t keep it all the same, or if you do keep it the same, just break it up.” She overlaps smaller frames in front of larger ones. Or she mixes burlap and cotton pillowcases and frames everything with plants. Unfortunately, the plants only last for a month or two due to Heather’s lack of a green thumb. But they’re still very much admired and appreciated during their short lifespan.

White shelves with small openings full of potted plants in this vintage farmhouse
Heather’s dining room décor isn’t fussy or formal. Instead, she makes it feel comfortable and welcoming with mismatched pottery, a kitschy vintage sign inherited from her grandmother and minimal table dressings.
A white room with dusty gray wood floor and on the ceiling there is exposed wood beams. A white couch sits in front of open windows with natural light
It was important to Heather to make her home feel bigger than it actually is. White walls and natural light are an obvious help in that department, but so is relegating smaller pieces to bookshelves and mantelpieces to eliminate clutter on precious and limited floorspace.

Distressed Design

Heather’s new home was such a blank canvas before she filled it with her thrifted treasures. So, she knew that it needed some chippy charm to get the vintage farmhouse of her dreams. “I knew I wanted a lot of texture and shiplap and faux brick,” she says. If she doesn’t find an item that’s a fit for her home as is, then she’ll apply a coat of chalk paint and sand it until it looks distressed enough for her liking. For example, for her master bedroom headboard, Heather skipped a typical bed frame and instead used three vintage doors. Her sons’ headboards have a similar rustic look. But instead of using doors, her husband built custom headboards out of wood pallets he found.

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Custom white farmhouse with wood paneling cape cod style

A white sliding barn door opens to reveal a white bathroom with white counters and wicker basket accessories
Heather had the same idea designing her bathroom as she did when designing her bedroom. She uses little touches, like a basketful of fresh towels, to make it seem like a hotel and further reinforce the idea that it’s her own private retreat.
Behind the white bed is a headboard made from shippy vintage doors
When designing the master bedroom, Heather needed it to feel like a retreat at the end of a long day and not just a place to sleep in. “I want to want to go to my room,” she says. She started with her bed, which she wanted to look extra inviting with a fluffy white duvet.

When it came to figuring out what to do with the rest of her boys’ rooms, she knew that although she wanted the design to flow with the rest of home (decorating with farmhouse plaid bedspreads and distressed white furniture), she also wanted to play with more whimsical elements. Her uncle made a light fixture out of a vintage electrical box. And Heather put a Jeff Bridges quote on display on the chalkboard. She’s thankful that she gets free rein when it comes to designing boys’ rooms. “I got really lucky with my kids,” she says. “They don’t mind me doing whatever I want.” It’s not easy to design a vintage farmhouse. But Heather pulls together the look very well.

This vintage farmhouse also has a boys' room with dark shiplap and a picture of an unfinished California flag wood art
A chalkboard that says "we can turn this ship in the way we want to go man." Beside the chalkboard is a vintage artwork of a round moon with a smiling face.
Because she wanted her whole house to flow, Heather employed the same tactics she used to design the rest of her vintage farmhouse in her sons’ room as well, but she also wanted to add youthful and funky elements like the vintage moon and California Republic wall art.
A white tile bathtub with large wood candle holders in this vintage farmhouse
The master bathroom was the one area of Heather’s home where she wanted to have a more feminine design. “That’s my little safe haven,” she says. “My escape from this world of boys.”
A feature of this vintage farmhouse, a fountain made from metal pails pouring into other pails
Even the garden gets the country comfort treatment with its tin-bucket water feature.

Add some greenery to your home! Why not learn how to start seeds indoors? Of course, don’t forget to follow us on InstagramFacebook and Pinterest to get your daily dose of farmhouse inspiration!

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