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Article: Urban Designer Farmhouse

Urban Designer Farmhouse - Belle Escape
designer farmhouse

Urban Designer Farmhouse

Designer Mish Chadwick recently welcomed us into her home – a remarkable renovated farmhouse located in Los Gatos, California. When she and her family moved to the Silicon Valley area, the hunt for a new dream home began. Soon, Mish found exactly what she was looking for – an old farmhouse and barn with great bones and good floor plans that wouldn’t require much change, both begging for a makeover. “I loved the character of the home and its little unique rooflines, along with the fact that it looks much older than it actually is,” Mish says.
farmhouse-kitchen-2 In the main farmhouse, Mish’s unique talent for design shines through. When we asked where her inspiration comes from, she replied that she’s always had a love for shabby chic, but that matured into a more coastal, country style that makes the most of farmhouse furniture. “I love taking old things and making them into something,” she says. “The recycled, vintage look is my passion. I have always loved white crisp neutrals blended with timber. I think the neutral tones and textures and interesting items I use impart a comfortable feel, and I love to do things that are unique. Plus, I make items such as my custom-made recycled fence paling range hood to create interest.”
Mish showed us some of her most treasured finds, including an antique French feeding trough that she had transformed into a light fixture above the dining table. Other noteworthy furnishings and architectural elements include original handmade doors that the home’s builder made; one was placed on a barn sliding rail over the entrance to her walk-in closet door.
In her home, Mish has blended farmhouse style with some new pieces and some vintage. The family lived in the home for a few months while Mish developed her ideas for its interior. The most challenging part of this urban designer farmhouse project? “Deciding what products to use and how to finish,” Mish tells us. “There were too many ideas and things I liked, but I had to make a decision about which way to go. Having access to the vast range of supplies and products in the USA compared to Australia has been overwhelming for me but of course so much fun!”
Talking about the mix of colors, materials, and furnishings, Mish reveals her talent for using as many shades of white, grey, neutral, beige, and tan as she can. “I create interest with textures and materials, not color,” she says. “Everything I do and love is in neutral tones with lots of materials creating the interest, i.e. wicker, rattan, all types of wood including recycled pieces.” Metal, linen, and crochet are some of the elements that coexist harmoniously throughout the spaces she creates, including her own urban designer farmhouse.
We asked Mish how she would describe the feeling she wants people to get when they enter the main home and the barn. “I am so overwhelmed with the response I get when people enter my home and more so the barn,” she replied. “People just love it and you can see it in their faces as well as their kind words. Sometimes I am surprised with how much they gush over my home. When I ask what it is they like, they usually say that it’s beautiful, but that they love how warm and inviting it is. They say it feels homey and welcoming.”
Mish goes on to say that she is surprised by how many men talk about how much they like her home, mentioning that they love the barn more. Perhaps it’s the rustic, industrial feel that appeals to them, she says, but jokes that it could have something to do with the huge theater screen where her husband and his friends gather to watch sports. Here, farmhouse furniture coexists beautifully with pared-down industrial pieces.
When Mish first saw the property, she was excited rather than put off by the prospect of taking on such an enormous project. She says that the barn first drew her attention to the property, and mentions that even in its terrible state, she had a vision of the unique urban designer farmhouse it could become. “I looked past the creepiness and cobwebs, and could just see the huge potential it had,” she says, going on to mention that “I’m lucky my husband could see past its current state and could see potential also!”
We asked Mish what inspired the unique farmhouse-inspired look of her home. “With the barn being on the property and it being a large lot, I decided to make the whole property theme fit in with the barn.” Despite challenges that ranged from dealing with the town planning department to deciding how to use the vast, open space, Mish successfully transformed the barn into a guest house with two bedrooms, a bathroom, her workout gym, her office sewing room, theater, and a kitchen. Not only does it house guests like Mish’s mum from Australia, the family uses it when hosting social events and kids’ birthday parties.
Throughout the home and barn, Mish employs clean lines with white walls and dark floors that complement industrial and farmhouse furniture alike, adding up to a pleasant feel and an exceptional sense of flow. She says that there are a few main decorating elements that contribute to this clean, bright look, including all the neutral, textured items, plus beadboard and shiplap-look paneling on the walls and ceilings.
Lovely touches abound throughout the home and barn alike, including more finds like a vintage wood and metal trolley that serves as a shelf in the family room. In the barn’s bathroom, a mason jar light provides unique illumination, while metal pipe towel and toilet paper roll holders match the sink and shower fixtures. Some items are extra-special, including a recycled fence wood wall the family built together for the gym. Concluding our tour, we had just a few more questions for Mish. When asked what she’d do if she had only $1,000 to put the finishing touches on her home, she came up with some unique suggestions. “One thought was signage,” she said. “I really want to finish the property with gorgeous signage naming it and making it special so people know when they have arrived. Apart from that, I’d have to say I’ve been looking for a pair of urn-style vintage planters to put on my deck with topiary trees on either side of the staircase.” Asked for her top tips for getting the farmhouse chic look, Mish provided us with the following advice: “First, get the right combination of old vintage items mixed in with new and reproduction. Too much new doesn’t get the farmhouse look and too much old can just make it look dated and not chic enough. Second, employ lots of white and neutral tones; and third, use lots of beautiful recycled timber pieces.”
Finally, we asked Mish about what her next dream project would look like, to which she replied that she would love to have a chance to convert another barn. “It was definitely the best part and I still have so many more ideas that I didn’t get to use in mine,” she says. When we asked Mish to take a look at Belle Escape’s Farmhouse chic and Cottage Chic sections, inquiring which items would be her top picks for getting the urban designer farmhouse look.  She loves the Distressed French Country Display Cabinet, which offers an enticing combination of distressed wood in contrasting finishes, plus textured wire fronts on its doors. The Reclaimed Rustic Wood Chest is another of her favorites, with its natural, aged wood and streamlined contours. With its many compartments, hand-painted details, and antique-inspired design, the Rustic Farmhouse Wine Chest is her third pick.
About The Designer Mish was first inspired to become a designer when her mother taught her to sew at age ten. She began by making doll clothes, which she sold at a market in her native Australia; soon, she began making curtains, cushions, and home decorating items. Her mother also taught her to restore old furniture, a passion that has carried over into her life today. Sharing more insight about her early design career, Mish told us how her business began. “One day I used some scraps of fabric from a nursery and made a diaper bag that was personalized with the baby’s name. My girlfriends loved it, so I took 10 samples to a market and the business took off from there.” On the transition from a focus on fabric arts to interior design, Mish tells us that she sold her original business and entered a major design competition with Australia’s Home Beautiful magazine, using her original beachfront home as the example. Her efforts won her the “Room of the Year” award, $10,000, and a 10-page spread in the magazine. Mish’s professional design career took off from there, earning her exceptional feedback. When she’s not designing, Mish enjoys an active lifestyle. She is a runner and competitive water skier, and she loves to snow ski with her family and watch her children do sports. Not surprisingly, Mish enjoys antique shopping in her spare time. Love Mish and her unique designs? You can get even more inspiration by visiting her website, Mish Designs.

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