John and Bronwyn Spain live with their son, Jess, on a 44-acre ranch with two pigs and a dog. They used their love of history and design to turn a 70-year-old cabin into a modern family home. “John and I both have a thing for historic homes with their intricate trim work, doors and windows,” says Bronwyn. Here’s a look inside…
Kitchen stools: Hayneedle.
Can you tell us about the history of the house?
Bronwyn: The original cabin was built in the 1950s. In 2009, when John and I moved in, it was in rough shape. We didn’t know if we wanted to live on the ranch long-term, or if we’d end up moving to the city. Fast forward to 2013, we decided to build a wedding venue on the property and stayed for the long-haul.
How did you decide on green for the kitchen?
Bronwyn: I love homes that feel cozy, but sometimes that’s difficult to accomplish with all-white walls. So, this green color helps warm up the space. We also have a lot of wood and orange accents throughout the house, and greens and oranges look so good together.
How did you want the house to feel?
John: When friends and family come over, we want them to feel like they’re in their own home. We created an open concept in the kitchen/dining/living room so lots of people could easily congregate. The goal was for the home to feel approachable, not like a museum where you’re afraid to touch things.
You have such a great dining room. Do you like to entertain?
Bronwyn: Day-to-day cooking is not my favorite, but I love going all-out for holidays. On Christmas Eve, we make a rib roast with Yorkshire pudding, mashed potatoes, pear and goat cheese salad, deviled eggs, Brussels sprouts and purple cauliflower. We finish off with pecan, pumpkin and purple sweet potato pies — plus, gingerbread cookies and hot chocolate for the kids!
Brown leather chairs: Hayneedle, similar.
What are some of your favorite pieces in the living room?
Bronwyn: My great-grandmother’s old suitcases, between the armchairs. The weathered suitcases make me imagine of all the adventures she must have taken. Plus, they help lessen the sting during the pandemic when I wish I were traveling.
That’s so inspiring.
Bronwyn: My Grandmama Barb taught me to love an eclectic look. Playful, quirky pieces also help take away any stiffness. We’ve lived here since we moved in with our college Ikea furniture, and over time we’ve added things from flea markets and thrift stores.
Can you tell us about your dog?
Johnn: Our 13-year old rescue dog is hard of hearing, so we say his name is Craig, but really it’s a series of claps in a specific pattern that he answers to. He follows us from room to room. When we return from an outing, he sometimes takes a few minutes to realize we’re home, but when he does, he goes nuts with excitement.
Your bedroom seems so chill.
Bronwyn: I have weird sleep issues and have found that sleeping in an uncluttered space with no TV or even dresser helps calm my mind. Plain white bedding helps with the uncluttered feel, and we chose to hang neutral textiles in favor of paintings or photographs.
How did you think about the bedroom architecture?
John: We went with a vaulted ceiling to make the space feel a bit more dramatic when you come down the hallway. My favorite thing is rolling up the window shades in the middle of a summer storm or while it’s snowing. We left out the doorway to the bathroom, so the flow of the space felt never-ending.
I love your bathroom!
Bronwyn: We did a play on the clawfoot tub/shower combo you see in historic homes. Our shower is tall, and it was impossible to find shower curtains that long, so I ordered regular cotton curtains from Urban Outfitters. I added grommets to the top of the curtains and voila!
How did you choose the color scheme?
John: The edgy contrast of black and white felt right, especially since the room is connected to our very simple bedroom.
Tell me about the pigs!
Bronwyn: Robin Hood and Little John are the BEST girls. Pigs are extremely intelligent and extremely mischievous. They make us laugh every day — their little noses and eyelashes and how they look like they are walking on high heels!
What’s their schedule like?
John: In the summer, we hose off the pigs several times every day because pigs don’t sweat and can easily overheat. I’ll often find them wallowing in the mud or their baby pool trying to keep cool. We will usually take them on a walk or bring them to our backyard in the evening, so we can pet them and give them treats; then we do a nighttime feeding, and they crawl into bed around 7:30 p.m.
(Photos by Tony Li for Cup of Jo.)