Text by Lauren Eberle
After moving from the bustling city to a beautiful country farmhouse, this dynamic DIY maven discovered a devoted blog community eager for simple suggestions for making one’s home a haven.
It’s been six years since KariAnne Wood and her family made their big jump. Encouraged by a divinely timed sermon, the Woods decided to move from the hustle-bustle of the city to the stillness of the Kentucky countryside. And before they could look back, they’d become the third owners of a 1918 farmhouse sorely in need of some TLC.
“We gutted the home, knocked out walls, remodeled, you name it,” KariAnne recalls. “At one point, the kitchen was just a sad pipe jutting up from the middle of the floor.” Their patience paid off, and KariAnne soon unleashed her penchant for design that she’d fostered since childhood.
“As a girl, my pride and joy was my beautiful Barbie house,” she reveals. “I scoured the library for books about doll furniture and wallpapered [it] with old sample swatches. I don’t remember ever even playing with the Barbies—I was too focused on perfecting their house!”
Once she had a home of her own, KariAnne’s passion for country farmhouse style had room to stretch. “I made it up as I went along,” she says. “There are no initials after my name; no formal training. It’s just me and my imagination.”
It’s this vision—and unapologetic willingness to try anything once—that has captured the attention of hundreds of thousands of readers at KariAnne’s blog, Thistlewood Farms.
“I’m all about challenging people to love where they live. Repurpose! Integrate nature! Take a risk!” she explains. “Not everyone can make the elaborate city-to-country jump, but everyone can jump. Try a decorating style you haven’t tried. Try a new color scheme. Integrate heirlooms. Don’t be paralyzed by indecision. Life is too short; jump daily.”
KariAnne walks her talk. Her cottage is an ode to DIYers everywhere; most projects were successful from the start, while others have been tweaked to perfection over time. Throughout, she marries natural elements such as reclaimed wood, found corn husks, beaucoup burlap, and the season’s colorful harvest with a creamy, neutral palette that stretches from walls to windows and furniture to floor. The result is “a space to breathe,” she says. “That’s what we should all be striving for.”
As expected, holidays are something special at Thistlewood Farms. “At Christmastime, we go all out, top to bottom. We redo the whole house,” says KariAnne. The rest of the year, a vast collection of mix-and-match white dishware and clear glass anchors the décor. “I adore the flexibility of white mixed with fresh elements like limes, mums, cabbage, and roses. I tell folks to ‘bring the outside in.’ Living in the country, we become hypersensitive to nature’s sights and sounds. We don’t have to muddy the waters with anything inauthentic.”
A theme in KariAnne’s life, authenticity, also drives her blog. Gorgeous photography, delicious recipes, darling DIY ideas, and hilarious tales of life in Kentucky beckon readers to pore through her pages with coffee in hand. “I write the kind of blog I’d want to read,” she says. “But most importantly, I write for my readers. They’re amazing, intelligent, clever, and engaging. They inspire me!”
Fortunately for loyal fans, KariAnne’s future plans include launching an interactive community where readers can ask questions and discuss design. Her family also purchased a gatehouse at the front of their property. “It’s my playground,” KariAnne delights, dropping hints about hot pink, zinc, funky floors, and acrylic chairs. “All the bold, colorful things that don’t work in our main house will certainly work over there.”
And whether that’s your style isn’t the point. “Some of us like contemporary or traditional or industrial or shabby chic or French country or coastal décor. Yet in so many ways, we’re all the same. Whatever our style or design aesthetic, we have the same goal: a longing to create a retreat from the chaos and rocky shores of life.”