Home & Garden

A dark colonial-style home in Arroyo Grande is transformed into a modern farmhouse

When the Minnichs bought their house, the master bedroom was completely black. The remodel transformed the room with a mostly white color palette, a wall covered in reclaimed barn wood and a rolling door.
When the Minnichs bought their house, the master bedroom was completely black. The remodel transformed the room with a mostly white color palette, a wall covered in reclaimed barn wood and a rolling door.

While Martin Minnich was in the Marine Corps, he and his family bounced from one town to the next, living in North Carolina, Kansas, Virginia, Japan and all around California. So when he finally retired, he and wife Ashley knew their next home would be for keeps.

They found a colonial-style home in rural Arroyo Grande and fell in love with the countryside. “We liked the trees, the yard, the 3 acres where the kids could play,” said Ashley Minnich.

The dated and dark 1989-built home would need help, however. So they hired designer Erica Gomez of Inner Light Design who brought on general contractor Mikel Robertson and project manager Tim Kelly, both of Green Goods in San Luis Obispo.

The Minnich family wanted a house that fit with its environment as well as with their preference for a contemporary aesthetic. So the team conceived a plan for a modern farmhouse with rustic materials, yet an overall clean and simple presentation. The family wanted the floor plan to be more open and conducive to entertaining. Finally, they needed a space that would facilitate the home schooling of their three children who range in age from eight to 11.

A previous remodel of the 3,000-square-foot, two-story home had created an odd layout where a wall between the dining room and kitchen made the house feel like two separate structures, said Ashley Minnich. Workers opened up that wall, creating a larger and brighter space for entertaining guests.

To further lighten things up, Gomez used a palette of warm whites “to make light bounce” and to complement the wood tones in the house, she said. Accents are mostly in a contemporary blue-green “for relaxation and energy, depending on the tone used,” she noted. In the areas used mostly by the children, the team chose brighter hues for “a more stimulating environment for children to play and learn,” she said.

The dark master bathroom also got a facelift. It was previously completely black — including the toilet, sink and tub. A new, mostly white color palette paired with a new skylight “lightened up the room and made it much more cheery,” Minnich said.

The Minnich family had a lot of say in the materials chosen for the space.

They picked up ideas from a variety of sources, including HGTV and the Houzz website. From the HGTV show Fixer Upper they discovered the indoor use of tongue-and-groove siding to create a farmhouse feel. They used it sparingly, but in multiple places for continuity: on the great room ceiling, the dining room walls, the bar area, and even in a bathroom where wood siding transitions beautifully into a shower clad in Avonite, an acrylic material, which is also set in a tongue-and-groove style.

Many other features point to the farmhouse theme of the home.

The kitchen has inviting and functional walnut butcher block countertops and an apron-front sink. Rolling barn doors separate various living spaces, offering privacy when needed, and rolling away when openness is preferred.

In the master bedroom, a wall covered in reclaimed barn wood adds texture and interest, as well as a striking backdrop for the sculptural foliage-inspired wrought iron bed. In the great room, new Douglas fir ceiling beams were distressed by hand then stained.

Gomez selected natural-finish wood floors, which Minnich has found beautiful and practical. “It turned out to be one of my favorite things,” she said. “It’s really forgiving — you can’t even see dirt.”

The team kept the kids’ needs in mind when remodeling. A small unfinished attic space became a sweet playroom. They dealt with an obtrusive heating vent by covering it in siding and making it a platform. The kids use it as a table and, when guests arrive, it transforms into a platform bed with the addition of a mattress.

The home school room is located just off the kitchen, so that Minnich can work on her to-do list while keeping an eye on the kids. Specialized furniture pieces help to keep that space neat and organized.

The family mostly used furniture they already owned, and Gomez helped them with layout and accessorizing to make those pieces work in their new space.

Her method was to start with large pieces, then place “supporting furniture” such as night stands, consoles and occasional chairs. She finished up with art and accents, making lists as she went to determine what items needed to be purchased.

The family finds the remodeled home a great fit — comfortable, functional and beautiful, Minnich said. “We really feel this is our forever home.”

Remodeling tips

SIDING, REPURPOSED: Tongue-and-groove wood siding isn’t just for exteriors. It adds farmhouse charm when used on select interior accent walls.

REMEMBER YOUR WALLS: Don’t forget to leave room in your remodel or redecorating budget for wall coverings. A good wallpaper or wall treatment eliminates the need for a lot of wall decorations. In the Minnich home, a master bedroom wall covered in reclaimed barn wood creates a strong focal point without adding clutter.

AN OPEN AND SHUT CASE: Even in an open floor plan, a little separation is sometimes needed. For instance, you might want to separate the kitchen from the dining room during an intimate dinner party. A barn-style rolling door opens easily for a wide passageway, yet closes for privacy. Another option would be glass French doors that let in light even when closed.