Text by Charlotte Safavi
Not every couple can say their home is located on the former site of an agricultural equine museum, but the empty nesters who purchased three pastural acres in Paeonian Springs, Virginia, to build their dream house were well aware of the land’s provenance.
“This was once the site of the American Workhorse Museum (1971–1998) affiliated with the Smithsonian,” says the homeowner. “We elected to build a ranch-style home with horse farm accents to match the legacy of the property.”
Ground was broken in October of 2018, and the couple chose to work with a husband-and-wife team with whom they had worked before: builder Thomas Johns of Legacy Woodworking and interior designer Molly Kay Johns of MK Interiors.
“Our approach was to design, build, and furnish a modern farmhouse feel in a contemporary ranch-style home,” says Molly Kay of what became a unique one-story house.
From the row of rocking chairs on the front porch to the views out back of rolling hills and barns—one of which was converted into a guesthouse—the home feels intimate and warm, despite its tall ceilings and open floor plan. Considering the home’s rural setting and the homeowners’ two dogs, the design approach was pragmatic without sacrificing style.
“We selected 9-inch-wide waterproof and scratchproof oak laminate flooring in a dark gray color,” says Molly Kay. “Because everything was open on the floor plan, we added timbered beams to the high ceilings for warmth; it also works with the setting.”
The overall color palette for the home came together quickly: high-contrast black and white, shades of gray, and saddle brown accents. “Walls were [painted] light to contrast with the black baseboards, windows, and 8-feet-tall interior barn doors,” says Molly Kay.
The kitchen, with its vaulted ceiling, features a custom, powder-coated range hood, as well as a black island with Shaker-style cabinets and X detailing on its end panels. “We did some floating, rustic wooden shelves, along with a glass subway tile backsplash for contrasting shine,” says Molly Kay.
The kitchen also features practical quartz countertops and, of course, a farmhouse apron-front sink. The adjacent family room has open shelving on either side of a stone fireplace. “We went with light gray sofas in a performance fabric [arranged around] a cognac leather ottoman,” says Molly Kay.
Organic textural materials are key to the home’s style, from the hide-upholstered dining chairs to the jute rug and statement console in the foyer. “I love how natural and rustic it is while also being modern,” says Molly Kay of the console table that, for her, inspired the interior design.
Though there are rustic elements throughout, this home remains sophisticated to its core, with beautiful chandeliers, contemporary artwork, and chic carpets.
“This is such a special home and property,” says the homeowner. “It feels so relaxing even on a busy day; we also love that we’re repurposing some of the old barns [on the property]. The guesthouse has become our favorite getaway!”