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Design Ideas
Farmhouse Style in a Seattle Cottage
Chic DIY décor and cozy rustic style come together in this warm, creative lakeside home.
Have you ever gotten the DIY itch? If you have, indulge it! You never know where it can lead. In Melaine Thompson’s case, it’s turned her into a home décor and renovation guru, as evidenced by her popular Instagram and lifestyle blog, My Sweet Savannah. Her posts revolve around her Seattle home and understandably so.... READ MORE
Written by Autumn Krauss
Photography by Bret Gum
Styling by Jickie Torres

Have you ever gotten the DIY itch? If you have, indulge it! You never know where it can lead. In Melaine Thompson’s case, it’s turned her into a home décor and renovation guru, as evidenced by her popular Instagram and lifestyle blog, My Sweet Savannah. Her posts revolve around her Seattle home and understandably so. Melaine and her husband purchased a 900-square-foot rundown caretaker’s cottage and completely renovated it themselves, transforming it into a stylish yet cozy home for their family. It features a kitchen with a stunning skylight, a high-ceilinged dining room, and an entertainment-focused living room, all decorated with vintage farmhouse style, most of which Melaine thrifted or made herself.

Here, an old suitcase serves as a display unit.
A Perfect Repurpose. “Everything has to have a purpose,” Melaine says. Here, an old suitcase serves as a display unit.

“My husband and I are self-taught remodelers. I would never have thought I would lay tile and stonework, side a house or use power tools,” Melaine says. “But now I have my own studio that is filled with chop saws, reciprocating saws, table saws—you name it, I love it!”

First Thing’s First

With only Internet instructions and advice from friends, the Thompsons first tackled the kitchen, which had mushy ceilings, dilapidated cabinets and fogged-over windows. Since they were expecting their first child at that time, they quickly added new floors, cabinets and a skylight to brighten up the space. Melaine was inspired to write “kitchen” words” on the inside of the skylight for a whimsical, literary touch. Later, they gave the kitchen more personality, adding black honed granite and Carrara marble countertops; wallpaper in the baking nook; and nickel-plated, antique-inspired light pendants. The different types of granite gave the kitchen dimension, while the baking nook, wallpapered in a French textile replica print called Chenonceau, was a graphic pop against the walls, which were painted in Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter.

The original tongue-and-groove walls in the living room added texture. Since they form a classic backdrop for the room, Melaine can be more playful with other details, like mix-and-match pillow patterns and a quirky Zebra pattern rug.
Cozy comfort. The original tongue-and-groove walls in the living room added texture. Instead of renovating them, Melaine opted for a simple coat of paint to highlight their beauty. Since they form a classic backdrop for the room, Melaine can be more playful with other details, like mix-and-match pillow patterns and a quirky Zebra pattern rug.

“I spend a lot of time on Pinterest, blogs, and interior décor magazines,” Melaine says about the dramatic wallpaper. “This pattern kept popping up and I started drooling every time. So when we did our work on our kitchen for the second time, I added it to the baking nook. I was a little nervous, but I am so glad I took the leap.”

One trick Melaine implements in her house is layered rugs. In the dining room, she placed a zebra hide over a woven rug. The key is to use rugs of different shapes but complementary styles.
Lovely Layers. One trick Melaine implements in her house is layered rugs. In the dining room, she placed a zebra hide over a woven rug. The key is to use rugs of different shapes but complementary styles.
While Melaine often changes the furnishings in her house, her dining room table has been a constant. It’s a classic base, and she can easily change the feel of the room with tableware and centerpieces.
Farmhouse Basics. While Melaine often changes the furnishings in her house, her dining room table has been a constant. It’s a classic base, and she can easily change the feel of the room with tableware and centerpieces.

Farmhouse Must-Haves

The Thompsons also added a spacious dining room to the living room, repurposing the original master bedroom walls as the dining room’s ceiling, to tie the different sections of the house together. Melaine chose warm Swiss Coffee paint by Behr to give the room a comfy, inviting feel and added a wall of windows to let in the leafy view and moody Seattle sky.

DIY pendant lights connected with pipe from a hardware store, shown here above the kitchen island.
Do It Yourself. Melaine purchased two separate Kenroy Home light pendants to suspend above her island. However, there was only one outlet because of the skylight, so she connected them with $30 worth of pipe from a hardware store.

“It’s like dining in a treehouse,” Melaine says. “We love it!” When it came to decorating the dining room, she purchased a farmhouse dining room set but sold off the chairs, instead opting for four cane-bottomed Restoration Hardware chairs and two white upholstered Ikea chairs to give the room contrast and add that vintage farmhouse style. She stripped the original “orangey” finish off the table and changed it to a subtle gray, setting it atop an unexpected yet chic Zebra hide that Melaine found on eBay. She also set an old thrift-store suitcase atop a TV table in the corner, where it functions as dish storage and, during parties, as a beverage bar.

Melaine Thompson

While most of Melaine’s décor is thrifted, DIY or discounted, she splurged on beveled marble subway tiles for her kitchen because they were the perfect balance for her Carrara marble countertops.
Save vs. Splurge. While most of Melaine’s décor is thrifted, DIY or discounted, she splurged on beveled marble subway tiles for her kitchen because they were the perfect balance for her Carrara marble countertops.

More Décor

The living room was one of the few places that the Thompsons did not renovate. Pleased with the tongue-and-cedar steeple ceilings and spacious layout, Melaine focused on giving the room a facelift in lieu of a remodel. The walls were painted with the same Behr Swiss Coffee color as the dining room, and Melaine added a series of black and white photographs on the walls and tons of throw pillows on the couches, making the room the perfect place to watch movies on rainy days. Since Melaine’s style constantly changes, the pillows are an easy way to transition through different phases.

Melaine enlivened her kitchen-baking nook with Schumacher’s Chenonceau wallpaper and created custom shelves for additional storage.
Melaine enlivened her kitchen-baking nook with Schumacher’s Chenonceau wallpaper and created custom shelves for additional storage. She made the shelves out of black brackets from Lowes and wood she found in giveaway pile.

“I switch them out a lot,” Melaine says. “There really isn’t any rhyme or reason to it. I just start throwing them onto the couch until I think it looks good. I like change.”

Since the home isn’t gigantic, every bit of space is used effectively. Melaine fills her pantry from top to bottom with clear containers and labels.
Since the home isn’t gigantic, every bit of space is used effectively. Melaine fills her pantry from top to bottom with clear containers and labels.
Corner desk with chair and chalkboard paint door.
At first, Melaine was intimidated by chalkboard paint but adopted an “If I don’t like it, I can just paint over it” approach. However, the end result, this chalkboard paint door, was stunning.
Airy master bedroom with high ceilings and hues of white, blue and black.
Serene Sleep. “Everything in our bedroom is comfy cozy and screams relax,” Melaine says of her airy master bedroom, which features high ceilings and hues of white, blue and black.
This upholstered desk chair adds a classic touch to the overall casual-chic room.
Smart Style. The upholstered desk chair adds a classic touch to the overall casual-chic room.

It’s a concept that’s apparent throughout Melaine’s home. Her house is an ever-changing love letter to her family, as she finds new and different ways to beautify their lives. Her readers get to be an extension of her family as well, as she happily chronicles both adventures and misadventures in farmhouse décor and remodeling for her readers. As she says, “We have been working on our house since we first bought it 17 years ago. I am sure it will never fully be finished!”

Décor That’s Fast, Flexible & Fun

As a home décor blogger, Melaine is always changing her home and showing her followers new styles to inspire their own projects. If you like to mix things up and keep them fresh, here are some easy ways to keep your house grounded but on-trend.

Keep some foundational elements. Melaine’s color schemes are consistent throughout her house. By maintaining a chic palette of grays and creams, her spaces remain cohesive, even if she changes the surface elements like cabinets and furniture. Choose a color scheme that speaks to you and keep it, changing around movable objects as you wish.

Gallery wall arranged in matching Ikea wood frames.
Self Expression. “My son’s gallery wall is a combination of everything he loves,” Melaine says. “Posters, family photos and sports memorabilia are all there.” She arranged all the art in matching Ikea wood frames.
For a unique alternative to a standard sliding closet door, Melanie used an old barn door and hung it on a track. Inside the cedar-lined closet, metal pipe clothes rods give a rustic industrial sens
For a unique alternative to a standard sliding closet door, Melaine used an old barn door and hung it on a track. Inside the cedar-lined closet, metal pipe clothes rods give a rustic industrial sensibility.

Inside the cedar-lined closet, metal pipe clothes rods give a rustic industrial sensibility.

Coat closet turned sitting area outfitted with a custom bench, extra kitchen wallpaper and a mirror.
Frustrated with an overstuffed coat closet, Melaine repurposed it as a hallway nook. She removed the door and outfitted it with a custom bench, extra kitchen wallpaper and a mirror for a brighter, more open feel.
Refinished and distressed dresser that was created to tie in with the home's wood frames and barnyard glam touches.
Melaine is an expert at painting and finishing dressers. She often opts for a distressed look to tie in with her reclaimed wood frames and barnyard glam touches.

Switch around statement pieces. By using visually compelling pieces for seasonal displays (for example, Melaine redid her living room for the Fourth of July with a green coffee table and a large framed American flag), you can set a bold, new feel for a room without having to redo everything.

Melaine gave her master bedroom a stylish vibe by painting the walls gray, making it feminine but not overly girly.
Super Chic. Melaine gave her master bedroom a stylish vibe by painting the walls gray, making it feminine but not overly girly.

Find multiple uses for décor. Melaine employs items in various ways, like using a pitcher as floral centerpiece vase or, alternatively, to serve punch. By reinterpreting objects, she showcases different aspects of favorite pieces and keeps things new. You can easily do the same thing with key pieces, like using an old suitcase as a magazine holder or a wine glass display at a party.

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