There’s something about a farmhouse that soothes the soul. Perhaps it’s the soul inside of it – generations of tradition, stories of triumph alongside sorrow, home cooked meals, and families that kept the home alive year after year. It’s no surprise that those who inhabit these old farmhouses want to preserve that soul while putting their own into it. Such is the case with designer Jane Goss of Jane Goss Designs. When she purchased the circa-1750 Durham farmhouse, Goss realized the importance of inheriting the history of the house and letting it seep into her own twist on classic design. “I absolutely wanted to pay homage to the history of the house while still bringing it up to date and making it functional in every way possible,” she says of the project she began two years ago.
“I appreciate when modern style is injected into a traditional setting. I have an eclectic side to my design style and that plays well with what I wanted to do here.” The result is a creatively restored and transformed home that is an engaging mix of traditional and modern style brimming with historical character. What seems like a painstaking process of layering and accessorizing, Goss makes look easy. “I buy things I love, and then I find places for them,” she says. “A designer’s house, though, is always a hundred percent a work-in-progress.” The four-bedroom home has undergone several previous renovations throughout its 250-plus years of existence, but Goss kept the integrity of the existing structure – a beautiful entrance flanked by two wings of the house. She added rooms to better connect the old sections with the new and increased the total square footage to about 5,200 square feet. “We added a copper roof, as well, and it has weathered beautifully. I just adore the look of it,” Goss says.
Inside, Goss established the soul-soothing palette with neutrals in shades of blue, grey, and beige, and added Frenchinspired elements like a blue-painted armoire to display her collection of silver serveware. Adding to the warmth, framed family photos greet guests as they enter the home and her collections of books and majolica display throughout the home. “My home has a collected look that really speaks to the soulful feeling I was eager to convey when I bought this house,” Goss says. From the vintage mahogany armoire purchased from a previous owner, which resides in the master bedroom, and the old iron table with barley twist legs to the old pine dining table in the breakfast room, there’s historical flair at every turn. The five fireplaces, including one in the guest room, and restored old wood doors found throughout the house lend a cozy, humble appeal amidst the more contemporary furnishings.
“A portion of the connection to the old section is now our living room, and we restored the old wide plank pine floors,” Goss says, speaking to the changes that were made to the floorplans. “What used to be called a ‘birthing room’ back in the day is now a home office for my husband, and the kitchen room from the original log cabin on the property is now our television and reading room.” The cozy room is perfect for curling up with a book in the worn leather chair or resting ones eyes on the sofa. An iron and glass coffee table offset the original log cabin walls. Goss kept the original built-in cabinets in her husband’s office and a recessed bookcase adds a bit of workspace drama.
In the nearby guest room, Goss lets her eclectic side take the wheel. “I had my children in mind when designing this room,” she says. “They are in their 20s and visit often; I thought the bold colors would be fun.” Part of the original home, the guest suite has a sitting room at the top of a small set of stairs with the bedroom elevated even farther up another set of stairs – a classic detail from a bygone era.
Shiplap in the master bedroom brings it up to date but also harkens to a truly original farmhouse style that’s true to the home. In the kitchen, Goss chose whites on white set off by gorgeous natural light in the room. A reclaimed French-inspired kitchen island tones down the new feeling and adds the heart Goss attempts to impart in every room, making it the centerpiece.
An open balcony overlooks the living room with its original stone fireplace, on which, in a nod to North Carolina heritage, a tobacco-drying basket hangs front and center. The white woodbeamed ceiling and wainscoting create an airy backdrop for neutral furnishings and a relaxed vibe that welcomes guests. Yes, a farmhouse in its simplest form can stir the soul. When a designer gets a hold of it, however, the true meaning of home shines brightest