Mark and Kelley Ash have kept busy designing, building and reimagining their North Alabama farmhouse for the previous few decades. The couple — he is an architect in Element Planning; she’s an artist — constructed the original shotgun-style farmhouse at 2011, then inserted another 700 square feet two decades later.
Together they have dug holes, mixed concrete and framed the walls using a hammer and nails. “We did not get a nail gun before we began working upstairs,” says Kelley. Every detail of the home, including installations, was done solely by the couple. “Not one piece of machinery came through this gate,” Kelley notes.
The few removed labour costs by doing the work themselves, and reduced expenses by sourcing reclaimed materials, like wood from Kelley’s grandma’s house and metal from a dilapidated chicken coop. Kelley describes the result for a mixture of industrial, Scandinavian and retro-farmhouse style.
in a Glance
Who lives here: Mark and Kelley Ash, and their 3 children
About the farm: 3 horses, 1 donkey, 5 chickens, 2 dogs, 2 cats and 1 pig
Location: Horton, Alabama
Size: 1,700 square feet; 3 bedrooms, 1 bath on a 9-acre property
The house is set on a lush 9-acre parcel the owners call Fox Heart Farm. Mark and Kelley constructed the two-story wing first, while residing in a borrowed camper with their three children.
They recently finished a 700-square-foot addition, which begins to the right of this two-story structure. The cantilevered bay, far , and discard, much left, are emphasized with corrugated metal salvaged from an old chicken coop.
Exterior paint: Just White, Benjamin Moore; roof material: Metal 5B
Kelley attributes her love of colour to her family. “My grandmother used to have a colour explosion in her house: black wallpaper with bold orange, yellows and olive greens,” she recalls. “So I suppose you could say she was my inspiration — not only in my design, but in my own folk art paintings too.”
Paintings: Misty Lindsey
The home which Kelley’s grandmother lived in was torn down, therefore Kelley salvaged a number of the wood and applied it to the kitchen walls. A restored washboard sink located on Craigslist sits below the kitchen window, which overlooks a weathered and fire pit. Yellow polka-dot coffee mugs hang from parts of piping next to the window.
Refrigerator, stove: Big Chill; mason jar pendant: Barn Light Electric
A vintage tin bucket acts as a kitchen garbage can. The wood cupboard serves as the household’s pantry. The ceiling is covered by metal the ring lamp is a secondhand find.
Open shelving displays stacks of vibrant dishes, while wooden crates store vintage bottles at the lower cupboard shelves.
The original living room is currently the family dining area; it provides access to every living room in the home. The darker wood peeping through the ceiling joists was flashed from Kelley’s grandma’s home — an addition that saved on material prices and added a historical, personal component.
Strips of paper that insulated the grandma’s home are still plastered to a few boards, and the almost century-old texts continue to be legible. A small market holds a tan dresser filled with accessories, together with a metal “a” (such as Ash). The stair rail is created of industrial plumbing pipe — a notion Kelley made from her great-grandmother’s home.
Barn door paint: Bud Green, Benjamin Moore
“We used the Jøtul cooker to heat the entire first portion of the house before the addition,” says Kelley. The energy-efficient cooker was when the center of their living room and now heats the dining area and kitchen.
Wood-burning cooker: Black Bear, Jøtul
To their kid’s bedroom, the couple built a corner large enough for a twin bed which faces the back of the home and the stairwell entry.
Wall paint: Pistachio; trim paint Autumn Gold, both by Benjamin Moore
Handmade dolls are kept in a small metal basket dangling from the wall; a timeworn hutch nestled in the corner provides additional storage.
Hutch: Queen of Hearts
The bedroom is on the second floor, tucked beneath the house’s gable roof.
The couple built the teal sliding barn door which opens to their son’s bedroom — originally the master bedroom. A distressed chest once used at a fabric factory currently holds accessories and exhibits a pair of lamps made by Kelley.
Barn door paint: Bud Green, Benjamin Moore; lamps: Sweet Gravy Studio
Fishing lures dangle out of a string throughout the top of the bedroom window.
A vintage dining table and tool chest shop bedside things; a single feather hangs over the pillow.
Bedding: Pottery Barn
The 700-square-foot addition begins at this door, which leads from the kitchen to a larger living room and the master bedroom.
Wall sconce: Barn Light Electric; artwork: Bailey Jack Studio
The family room hosts an array of vintage finds, repurposed as vibrant doors and storage. A big sectional door opens up the room to the back porch, which overlooks a pasture with grazing horses. The door offers easy access to the porch while saving floor area.
The big, patinated sliding door was once a fire door, designed to contain blazes at a factory. “They’re kind of difficult to find,” says Kelley, who jumped at the opportunity to claim one as her very own. The large part was located in Chicago and now closes off the back hallway leading to the master bedroom and laundry area.
Sectional door: Graves Overhead Doors
A rolling metal storage unit sits below one of Kelley’s framed paintings. A vintage fan cools the room.
Lamp: Stray Dog Designs; artwork: Sweet Gravy Studio
A blanket chest dating back to the late 1800s doubles as a coffee table. A small hallway leads to the mudroom and master bath and bedroom.
The hallway wall has been covered in salvaged wood in the barn in Tony, Alabama.
Wall sconce: Barn Light Electric; blanket chest: Queen of Hearts
More salvaged wood was used on the master bedroom ceiling. Kelley commissioned a friend to create the pendant light, made of fabric from a army tent. A sizable cattle fence fastened to the wall serves as the headboard.
Pendant: Debbie Stricklin
A distressed vest near the foot of this bed rests below vibrant artwork by Justin Robinson.
The Ashes installed this French farmhouse sink in the master bathroom. A mint-colored stool retains toilet essentials, as the hanging cupboard offers the only storage in this space.
Sink: City Farmhouse; sconce: Barn Light Electric
The new master bath opens directly into the master closet. Kelley nailed vintage spools to the wall for extra storage.
A custom made Dutch door provides another path to the backyard.
All paint by Benjamin Moore: Sharkskin (floor), Just White (walls), Old Pickup Blue (ceiling), Autumn Gold (door); pendant light: Barn Light Electric
Kelley used reclaimed Cream City brick out of Wisconsin as the laundry room’s flooring.
A coral sliding barn door encloses an extra storage unit. The unit is faulty but will soon house the household’s accessories and boots. The vibrant pillows on the seat showcase Kelley’s newest creative venture: a fabric line.
All paint by Benjamin Moore: Sharkskin (floor), Just White (walls), Old Pickup Blue (ceiling), Candy Apple Red (door); pillows: Sweet Gravy Studio; pendant light: Barn Light Electric
A range of vintage chairs surround the outside fire pit. Large wooden stumps behave as side tables, and also the horse trough homes fragrant rosemary bushes.
The chicken coop mimics the white walls and metal roof of the home. Five hens roam Fox Heart Farm.
The distressed rooster was purchased in Atlanta a few years back.
Kelley, Mark and their three children gather on the front porch. The ingenious bunch began a new business collectively, Hovel Design Studio. “Our favorite jobs are modern farmhouses consisting of small scale and ease,” says Kelley. “However, we do other designs depending on the customer’s style.”
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