Christmas at the Ranch
Owners of a California almond farm fill their rustic home with primitive antiques, vintage-style signs and frolicking folk-art Santas.
A California shopowner goes all out for the holidays, turning her rustic ranch into a showplace filled with antiques and a different theme in every room.
One of Lori Barnard’s earliest memories
is picking out a white antique iron bed and decorating her childhood bedroom, and she still gets excited by the opportunity to make a space her own. When she and her husband, Mike, married in 2004, she couldn’t wait to put her stamp on the Turlock, California, home he had built on his 20-acre almond farm. At that time, Lori was just beginning to buy and sell primitive antiques, so she set about giving the house a rustic makeover.
She found hand-hewn chestnut beams in Massachusetts and used them to accent the living room ceiling, frame the doorway between the living and dining rooms, and fashion a fireplace mantel. She then installed red brick flooring in the kitchen and added primitive flair to the dining room with a portion of a reproduction fireplace wall once used in her antiques shop, American Country, which was formerly located in downtown Turlock.
During a trip to Lancaster, Ohio, the Barnards discovered a disassembled 1810 cabin, which they bought and had shipped westward. It was rebuilt on their property for use as Lori’s shop. “My dream was to have my business on the ranch so I could spend time with my grandchildren,” she explains.
It also gives her more time for decorating and plenty of inventory to draw from. Each room of her house has its own year-round theme, such as a Maine tavern in the formal dining room and a seaside retreat in the master bedroom. “I like to decorate rooms with themes that bring back different memories,” Lori explains. A holly-trimmed throw obscures the flat-screen TV in Lori and Mike Barnard’s living room, while a muslin drape keeps speakers from view. Candle-cut shutters flank the fireplace with an Arnett’s snowman and Santa guarding each side below. Above the mantel, the apt Barnard’s Blacksmithing sign is accented with a quilt crane; the golden tones of the sign’s lettering coordinate with other furnishings in the room.
Lori, a Seattle native, became immersed in the antiques world after the death of her mother, Loraine Mullins (whose home was featured in the May 1997 issue of Country Sampler). She says being in the business has given her a new group of friends and has also kept her feeling connected to her mother and her childhood growing up in a home that was filled with antiques. “My favorite thing about being in business is meeting people who enjoy the same things I like—antiques, reproductions and folk art,” she says.
Now another generation has a chance to grow up surrounded by primitives— 5-year-old grandson Blaine, who lives with the couple, has a room befitting his spunky spirit and love for life on the ranch. The room’s focal point is a wall mural that depicts a ranch scene complete with Blaine himself, wearing a favorite cowboy hat. Lori happened upon the muralist at an auto-repair shop, where she was painting a Disney-style scene.
The other walls throughout the home sport warm neutral tones, which makes it a breeze to incorporate primitive furnishings and accents in varied hues, easily transforming rooms to showcase new favorites. It also makes decorating easier at Christmas, when red items begin to dot the decor, including Arnett’s Santas in red wool coats, a pair of old candle-cut shutters flanking the fireplace, a brilliant red sled, and a pair of red-tipped children’s skis that nearly didn’t make it back from an Ohio buying trip.
“Security wouldn’t let me take them on the plane,” Lori recalls. “When I tried to check them, the woman at the counter thought I was crazy. ’Do you really want to pay $90 to have them sent through?’ she asked. When I said yes, because I wanted to hang them on the front door at Christmas, she relented and didn’t charge me anything.”
Lori begins her holiday decorating by adding a realistic-looking faux tree in every room. To round out the holiday look, she also includes other types of trees throughout her home. In the master bedroom, for example, a wood tree is festooned simply with a string of cranberry garland. Small twiggy trees make appearances on mantels, in dry sinks and atop cabinets.
After the trees, Lori hangs seasonal vintage-style signs, many of which pay homage to local winter venues such as Lake Tahoe’s Heavenly and Northstar ski resorts. “I come up with ideas while driving past unique places,” says Lori, who has a craftsman in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, handpaint the signs for her on salvaged wood.
Although she has plans to further personalize the ranch, including installing reclaimed pine floors in the bedrooms and encircling the property with a splitrail fence, Lori says she is very pleased with how the home reflects her warm and welcoming free spirit and celebrates the past. “It’s funny; some people want new houses, but I had a vision to make a new house look old,” she concludes.
Above: In the breakfast nook, mix and match chairs gather around Lori’s mother’s antique game table. On one chair, a cover fashioned from an old feed sack boasts a pouch in the back that holds greens, twinkling lights and a gingham Santa. To ensure smaller baskets don’t get lost in the shuffle, Lori dangles them from a decorative metal pot rack.
Right: Elsewhere in the breakfast nook, a yellowware collection highlighted with a garland made of nuts and dried fruit stands out against the warm brown of an antique stepback cupboard. The baking theme continues with cookie cutters dangling on cup hooks below a sweet sign and all manner of gingerbread figures popping up here and there.
Above: During a 2006 kitchen remodel, Lori had the kitchen cabinets updated and replaced the flooring with full-size bricks cut to 1/2" thick. “You can buy skinny bricks,” she says, “but the look is too busy. It was a bit of work, but I love the real brick.”
Left: Tasty treats and a heartfelt sentiment written on an old chalkboard bring old-fashioned Christmas charm to the kitchen counter.
Above: An original Sally Whims fireplace wall purchased for Lori’s downtown Turlock shop now adorns the couple’s formal dining room, which is styled to resemble a Maine tavern. For a centerpiece, a handcarved Canada goose hobnobs with a large blue dough bowl filled with greens and a battery-powered pillar candle. A wreath of berries around the goose’s neck unites the two elements.
Right: In a corner of the dining room, Lori’s Northstar Ski Lodge signage really pops when set against a contrasting cranberry red wall above a silvery cupboard topped with a wintry vignette.
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Lori was drawn to the old T.H. Miller Saddler sign now hanging in the living room because her mother’s maiden name was Miller. The blue corner cupboard from Massachusetts is crowned by an early metal horse weather vane. Nearby, a Merry Christmas sign adds that special pop of red. 24 NOVEMBER 2017 Decorating IDEA Bring hanging baskets down to ground level for the holidays and dress them simply with fresh greens.
A horse theme harnesses the living room decor, replete with an antique hooked rug above the sofa and an equine pull toy positioned atop the rare stepback apothecary. Red quilts and seasonal pillows, along with a stuffed Santa, enliven the everyday furniture with holiday cheer. Lori and Mike teach grandson Blaine how they haul supplies in Mike’s tractor and trailer, which he uses to farm 160 acres of almond fields, including their 20 acres. 25
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