When Halena Ernst found this Amery, Wisconsin, farmhouse, it was in foreclosure and falling apart, but that didn't stop her and her husband, Josh, from wanting to fix it up. After three months of renovations, Halena filled it with her family’s signature colorful style and plenty of mismatched, chippy antiques from her online shop, . Take a peek inside the cheerful abode.
After swapping out the front door with an antique one, Halena coated it in a punchy, can't-miss hue (Coral Flower by ) to pop against the dark gray steps (Revere Pewter by ).
In the sunroom, a favorite spot for family story time, pretty pillows hand-sewn by Halena’s mother, including one crafted from a Wisconsin souvenir handkerchief, dress up all the chairs—including Harry’s mini rocker. Also handcrafted: the light fixture featuring a reclaimed wicker basket.
Halena created an office space in the entry nook. The yellow and green paint on the stairs was revealed when she removed outdated carpeting.
A vintage schoolhouse chalkboard showcases favorite recipes (and occasional kids’ artwork) while providing a visual break from the “shortcut” shiplap. (“They’re just strips of plywood nailed to the wall,” says Halena.) Built by Josh, the floating bar top in front of the window was a small-space solution, as were the wall-mounted crates. “It’s basically our pantry,” says Halena.
Halena’s collection of Fiestaware platters and bowls—almost all family hand-me-downs—brings pops of color to the handcrafted open shelves. Faux butcher block countertops and oversize wood knobs lend cottage appeal to Ikea cabinetry. (The sink and pendants are also from Ikea.)
“As soon as I saw the dining room table, I could visualize a bunch of kids sitting around it, eating, laughing, and playing games,” says Halena, who bought it before she even had children. A painted bench and mismatched antique chairs offer ample seating. “I’m kind of a pack rat when it comes to chairs. I probably have seven or eight more in the basement.”
A narrow hallway between the bedrooms serves as a gallery for the kids’ artwork.
Halena's mother stitched the Ernst family portrait, right down to mixed-breed pup Hector. You can purchase your own through Halena's .
Like much of the rest of the house, Josh flexed more DIY muscle on kid-related projects like the triple bunk beds in the boys’ bedroom. “I just handed him a sketch, and he ran with it,” says Halena.
Behind the boys’ shared desk, a woodland- patterned peel-and-stick paper adds youthful spirit to standard shelves. It also appears as a makeshift headboard behind the triple bunk bed, custom-built by Josh.
In the playroom, plain canvas toy bins get a cute and practical upgrade with flashcard labels (marked “marble,” “doll,” “train,” “army,” and so forth).
It’s usually the colorway of these old heirlooms that attracts Halena’s attention, which was the case with the patchwork quilt at the end of Ada’s bed. (This one even set the tone for the room’s soft blue walls.) On a newer note, colorful curtains (hand-sewn by mom) are a response to Ada’s insistence that Halena uses too much white when decorating. “I thought, I’ll show you!” says Halena.
Josh built the kids’ dreamy playhouse with wood salvaged from a neighbor’s discarded fence.
Not only does the design, envisioned by Halena, boast a Dutch door, but it also has a loft, secret door, and its very own patio complete with a pint-size picnic table.
After tackling the nitty-gritty of the yard—a lot of weeding and pruning, says Halena—the couple added wooden boxes, stenciled to look like old fruit crates. The garden beds, which house carrots, tomatoes, herbs, and flowers, border a sitting area with a galvanized fire pit and spray-painted chairs. Halena also painted the “Fresh Produce” sign that provides a unique focal point.
With the home more or less complete—"When you're a picker and a crafter, no room is ever 'done,'" Halena says—the Ernst gang has happily settled in. "It took a lot of work, but there's something satisfying about looking around and knowing we've made our mark on every last inch."
The homeowners Halena and Josh Ernst with their four kids Ada, Charlie, Felix, and Harry.