By Emma Kent
Nothing in Carmen Butler’s house is too precious, and that’s intentional. With three little ones, a dog and 15 acres for them to roam – inevitably bringing mud, bugs and sticks inside – she knew simplicity would be the best design style for her family. When she and husband Jeremy set out to build their Baldwyn farmhouse, she honed in on a design that was both beautiful and practical.
“I kept telling myself I wanted it to be comfortable,” Carmen said. “I want people to come in and feel comfortable.”
The family moved into the house in March after eight months of living on the property in an 800-square-foot shop. Carmen and Jeremy designed the house from top to bottom, using a pre-made floor plan as their guide.
“This has been a long time coming, so I did my homework,” Carmen said.
Carmen picked the home’s decor – from the paint to the tile to the light fixtures – drawing inspiration from Pinterest and frequent antiquing. But when it came to the kids’ rooms, she wanted them to be a part of the process. They helped her shop for accessories and had input on how they wanted their rooms to look and feel.
“All of the kids have something unique about their room,” she said.
Their oldest son has metal vaulted ceilings in his room that give it an industrial vibe. Their daughter’s room features wainscoting on the walls and a vintage dresser turned vanity. A reclaimed wood accent wall is the eye-catching element in the bedroom of their youngest son.
Carmen homeschools the three kids, so when they decided to build a house she knew a dedicated homeschool space was a must-have. The homeschool room features three vintage desks, each one the perfect size for its occupant. Above the desks, Carmen painted a chalkboard and framed it out using reclaimed wood. The room is energetic, with bright pops of color coming from a rug and three bean bags the kids use to read or watch their online lessons.
The house features a healthy mix of new items mixed with vintage and reclaimed decor, giving it a collected and cozy feel. Carmen, whose parents live in Pennsylvania now, said she often scours antique stores while visiting them to find things. She also sources items from vintage stores and auctions online. Her style is definitely farmhouse, but Carmen said she’s not trying to be Joanna Gaines. She simply decorates with things she loves and tries to stick to shades of white, gray and brown.
“I went with classic, neutral colors and then you can add a pop of color if you wanted to, so you don’t get tired of it,” Carmen said. “I love the fact that you can find different things and they all end up going together.”
She also wanted the home to feel lived-in, with imperfections that add to its charm. The wood flooring, shiplap walls and other architectural elements have a worn-in look to them despite being new.
“I wanted something that looks old so that if the kids come in and scratch it, it’ll be OK,” Carmen said.
The most difficult part of designing and building the house was deciding where to save and where to splurge. With so many light fixtures to buy, rooms to decorate and features to consider including, Carmen said managing the budget proved challenging. The whole process was a family affair, with Carmen’s dad helping out on many of the woodworking projects and Jeremy doing some construction work himself.
“I have to brag on Jeremy,” Carmen said. “Every holiday, every chance he could, he was over here working.”
That brings a personal touch to the home, too. The large wood dining table was made by her dad from 99-year-old wood that came out of a gymnasium at the University of Florida, which is right down the road from where both Carmen and Jeremy grew up. Her father also made the butcher block top for the kitchen’s larger-than-life island.
The whole living area is wide open, allowing everyone to spend time together whether they’re doing homework, watching TV or cooking in the kitchen. Most importantly for Carmen and Jeremy, though, is that the big, airy space is large enough to accommodate visits from family. The shop the couple and their kids lived in while building will also eventually be turned into a guest house.
“A lot of our family lives out of town, so we wanted to have room for all of our family to come and stay,” Carmen said.
The couple are from Florida, but relocated to Mississippi when Jeremy got the chance to become a co-owner at Reed’s Metals.
Like any house, the Butlers’ farmhouse is still a work in progress, with plans under way to landscape in the front and back of the house as well as spruce up their large back patio and outdoor kitchen. For now, though, Carmen said they’re just happy to be home.