Some people dream of beach homes or European vacations when they think of retirement. Evan Bishop’s plans had a different focus: sheep.
“I love cheese, plain and simple,” said Evan, who is descended from four generations of dairy farmers. “Dairying is just in my blood.”
Instead of waiting 20 or more years for retirement, he and wife Kristy began planning a move from San Diego to Paso Robles to pursue what Kristy calls their “crazy dream” of running a farm, fromagerie and farm-stay.
Evan is a photographer, and Kristy works in the medical field. It took them 10 months to find a suitable property. But when they found it, the house seemed to be “just waiting for us to move,” Kristy Bishop said. It was a 1,800-square foot, single-level ranch-style home on 10 acres. A former goat farm, it already had fences in place. Its three bedrooms would allow them to rent two guest rooms.
Recent upgrades had left the home in excellent condition. “It really just needed to be decorated,” said Kristy Bishop, who calls herself a “decorating nut.”
Even before they found the property, she began putting together décor boards. The couple wanted to create a comfortable, welcoming space for guests. They also wanted a French farmhouse feel. “We fell in love with France on our honeymoon and wanted to bring that feeling of romance into our home,” she said.
Bishop began to pick up and store pieces, including vintage items that required a little TLC. Among her favorite finds from a local antique store is a vintage side table with a leather top that had grown dry and dull. She applied leather cleaner, then conditioner, and faithfully rubbed in orange oil every few days until the leather grew supple again. It now is a handsome addition to the living room.
She purchased their dining room set off Craigslist for $400. The couple replaced the outdated brown upholstery, painted the chairs, and left the table with a natural finish. The result is a one-of-a-kind, “new meets old” look, she said.
Bishop likes hints of sparkle, as with chandeliers and mercury glass. She tempers this with rustic farmhouse elements. For instance, she and her husband created a wall display in the dining room consisting of old fruit crates picked up from local antique stores. The boxes hold a variety of collections including an assortment of vintage brooches, as well as personal items such as her wedding bouquet. The vignette has become her favorite decorative feature.
The couple has dressed up their walls in numerous inventive ways. They framed beautiful pieces of wrapping paper, found in a shop in Vancouver. Another frame shows off a world map rendered in pastels. Another displays a map of landmarks and monuments in Paris.
Each guest room has its own color scheme and style. “I like so many different styles and it was an opportunity for me to express that,” Kristy Bishop said. She noted that the yellow room is “light and bright,” with feminine bedding balanced by masculine images of buffalo taken by her husband. The aqua room has a “French-Hollywood glam” feel, thanks to dramatic silver and black wallpaper.
The couple named their farm Rêves de Moutons, which means “sheep dreams” in French. They welcomed their first guests in November 2014 and are working toward becoming a certified dairy. They are already planning to expand by adding several detached cottages “to allow a more private retreat while still providing a farm-stay experience,” said Evan Bishop, who has partially given up his photography work to tend to the farm and is working on becoming an sommelier.
Meanwhile, they are enjoying life with 34 sheep, 12 goats, two dogs, a cat, an alpaca and assorted fowl. They continue to learn the ins and outs of innkeeping, which Evan Bishop acknowledged is a lot of work, but “incredibly satisfying and fulfilling. Every day we see ourselves closer and closer to what we envisioned when we first started talking about the dream.”
BOX IT UP The vintage wooden fruit crates used as a wall treatment by the Bishops are a great way to add texture, dimension and farmhouse character to a room. Arrange the boxes in different orientations, and mix in small pieces of art and objects of interest. Curate your collections, displaying only a few prime pieces, and add in hints of sparkle with silver, crystal and mercury glass.
TRY SOMETHING NEW Consider a guest room your opportunity to indulge a creative whim. Use a new wall color, wallpaper, or a decorating style you’ve been wanting to try. Your guests will feel as if they have a special retreat set apart from the rest of the house.
KEEP GUESTS COMFY To create a comfortable guest room, remember little conveniences like nightstands and lamps on each side of the bed. Clear out at least some drawers, tabletops and closet space so that guests can have a place for their own belongings. Try to remove or conceal as much everyday clutter as possible.