Ashlee Werkmeister mixes vintage treasures with new pieces to create an eclectic-farmhouse style.
When Ashlee Werkmeister was a child, her parents took her with them to estate sales and thrift stores, hunting for vintage treasures that held stories of their previous owners and locations. She didn’t care for the excursions back then. But as an adult, Ashlee can’t seem to get enough of these treasure hunts, the fruits of which end up in her Helena home. “Now, I love it,” she says. “I think it’s the history and the people behind the pieces that make me love pickin’ so much.”
These vintage treasure finds also fuel her hobby of home decorating – something she relished as a child despite her distaste for browsing estate sales. She liked to rearrange her room and see how other people decorated. She took particular interest in her grandmother’s mid-century home, filled with everything from copper to vintage tea sets. “When I visit her house, it brings me back to being 5 years old baking oatmeal cookies with her in the kitchen,” Ashlee says. “My home is kind of like that, filled with frugal collections that I’ve found over the years.”
Ashlee works in the wedding business and writes a DIY and home décor blog called Sweet Southern Oaks. When she’s not writing or pickin’ at local markets, Ashlee and her husband, Jon, a technical sergeant in the Air Force, likely have their sleeves rolled up to work on another home project. “We have lived in our house for a little over two years,” Ashlee says. “We have done quite a few updates to the house since we moved in and have many more projects to do in the future. The first thing we did was paint all of the dark brown walls to lighten up the rooms with soft grays and blues. The softer color palette helped to make the rooms feel larger and really pop. The power of paint is amazing because it can transform a space on a small budget.”
They break their larger projects into phases to complete as their budget allows. Ashlee shares updates on her blog, detailing what she and Jon have done and how her followers can apply the same cost-effective concepts in their homes. “My focus is on authentic vintage pieces and decorating on a budget,” she says. “I’m drawn to anything ‘chippy,’ vintage and antiques – and I love to go pickin’ at yard sales and thrift stores to incorporate those finds into my décor. I’m always on the hunt for vintage jars, copper, architectural salvage and old books to add to my many collections. I want our home to be a warm and cozy space that feels like a safe haven, and for everyone that walks through our door to feel like they’re at home and to feel like family.”
The living room reflects Ashlee’s eclectic farmhouse style with its mixture of textures and character in her vintage finds, new pieces, family heirlooms and architectural salvage pieces, including an old stained glass window from an 1800s church that Ashlee found at Ben’s Antiques & Market in Georgia. “Just thinking about how many sermons and how many souls were saved in the very church that window hung over 100 years ago is fascinating to me,” she says. “I like the aesthetic of how every piece is different and unique in its own way, but still blends together.”
The kitchen, along with the living room, is Ashlee’s favorite part of the house. “I feel like these two rooms are the heart of a home, and that’s where we spend most of our time,” she says. Last summer she and Jon painted the dark-brown kitchen cabinets white and updated the faucet. They are working on the second phase of the kitchen this summer to install a backsplash, new flooring and updated countertops. “I want this to feel like an industrial farmhouse, with whites and blacks and touches of aqua.”
The built-ins in the room Ashlee uses as her office and as a sunroom were a major selling point for her and Jon.
The light wall color continues into the dining room, a cozy space accessible from the kitchen and from her office, through a set of French doors.
Ashlee and Jon—and their two spoiled rescue pets, a cat named Louella Mae and a dog named Lila Blue—enjoy the patio and view of the quiet backyard throughout the year.
Ashlee’s vintage finds and seasonal décor also find space on her cozy front porch.
The focal point of the master is the vintage headboard Jon built for Ashlee with the old doors they used as an altar at their wedding. “I love the significance behind them,” she says. Another special item is the quilt, handmade by Ashlee’s mother and sister, that served as a guest book of sorts at their wedding.
Ashlee and Jon painted the cabinets in their bathroom a soft shade of aqua. They spray-painted the hardware a copper color to add pizzazz.
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BEHIND THE SCENES
Paint Colors – Sherwin-Williams: Sea Salt (living room, dining room and office walls), Agreeable Gray (kitchen, powder room and master bath walls), Bohemian Lace (kitchen cabinets), Repose Gray (master bedroom), Waterscape (master bath cabinets), Bohemian Lace (front porch swing), Decisive Yellow (front door)
Kitchen Faucet: Lorain by Delta from Lowe’s
Kitchen Canisters, Three-Herb Planter and Assorted Dishware: Rae Dunn
Powder Room Shower Curtain: HomeGoods
Living Room Slipcovers and Chandelier: Amazon
Coffee Table: The World’s Longest Yard Sale
Rugs: World Market, Ross and HomeGoods
Curtains and Pillows: HomeGoods and TJ Maxx
Corner Hutch in Dining Room: Vintage Interiors in Pelham
Tables on Front and Back Porches: Encore Resales in Pelham