The idea, according to Wesley Turner and Daniel Schavey, was to buy a few acres to grow some natural materials for their retail store Roots, An Urban Gardener’s Oasis, and possibly have a place to raise some small animals, like chickens and bees.
What the couple stumbled upon was a salvage yard on 14 acres, a disjointed 5,200-square-foot main house, multiple falling-down outbuildings, a massive barn full of reclaimed wood, and a pond with a bait shack.
“We knew of Old House Salvage,” says Wes, “and we’d been out here before to buy props for the store, but we never really paid attention to the property.” When the address suddenly posted on Zillow, the couple couldn’t help but drive by. “It started off as just plain being nosey, but you couldn’t see the house from the fence and it hit me, what could that house be like on the inside?”
Everything about it felt open: the floor plan, the land, the pond, the driveway, the expanse of sky overhead. Its Piedmont address—20 minutes outside of town—suddenly felt liberating. They were living in a 1,000-square-foot bungalow near the zoo, with their two businesses, Roots and 4Rooms, just a mile away. It was utterly convenient, and that was the problem.
“We always had a reason to run up to the stores,” remembers Daniel. “It was just a stone’s throw away so we’d go check on things, constantly.”
Funny enough, it was the outbuildings that spurred them to make an offer. “We stood in the workshop and could see it as a growhouse,” says Wes. “We suddenly saw the potential to have a house and a farm and we liked how the property was set up as a business on one side and the house on the other; the pond and animals over here and flowers over there.”
Yep, the farm will be flowers, a cutting farm to be exact where once stood a field of toilets and tubs. The silent army of moldering fixtures revealed itself in astonishing mass when the tall meadow died back from the cold, nearly six months after Wes and Daniel took up residence.
They moved to the farm exactly a year ago and haven’t stopped moving since. They tackled the main house with a massive upfit of the great room, followed by the kitchen, butler’s pantry, dining room, and powder room. Next, they repurposed the upstairs landing into a comfortable den and resurfaced the master suite and laundry room. A guest bedroom and bath and a mother-in-law apartment (both upstairs) remain to be renovated, as well as the back deck, patio, grounds and outbuildings, but the couple, who met soon after college, have nothing but time or can we say good timing ahead of them.
Shortly after moving to the farm, they postponed their wedding date. In the midst of multiple ongoing projects, they realized if they waited, their vows could be exchanged under a future planned arbor in the center of the flower field on their 10-year anniversary, about 15 months from now. “We think everything will be done and filled in by then,” says Wes.
Daniel agrees. “We’re not really ones for ceremony but we love to plan. It feels right that we’ll do it here, surrounded by everyone and everything we love and celebrate.”
After moving to the farm Wes created an Instagram account, naming it Farm Shenanigans. It quickly garnered nearly 15,000 followers, something surprising to the pair since neither knew much about the social media platform.
“I wanted to document the experience of this big project — renovating not just the inside of a farmhouse but the whole property,” says Wes. “But the thought of blogging felt like homework, so instead we snap pictures and post about what we’re up to on the farm. It really is our daily shenanigans.”
They share the homemaking process tip-to-tail with posts and stories and videos along the way, at times even allowing their followers to make design decisions. The painted staircase was one, a DIY feat they accomplished by precisely taping off the “voted-upon” grey and white key pattern. It was an inexpensive fix to piecemeal treads found under very blue carpet and a perfect example of their can-do, ‘Why not?’ attitude.
“You do not have to spend a lot of money to get a great look,” says Wes. “Sometimes what you have to spend is the time to locate materials you can afford. And, give up on being perfect. The end result doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be pretty.”
A really great room
It took four months for Wes and Daniel to move downstairs. They lived in the tiny, unrenovated mother-in-law suite in the back corner of the house while painstakingly re-facing what they call the great room.
“Everything we owned fit into those two rooms,” says Daniel. “That’s when we realized what we took on, but Wes had vision about how to transform it into a modern take on a farmhouse.”
The house is not old. It was built in the 1990s with all the expected late-century quirks including strange floating shelves and an interior window with shutters that looked down on the great room (the window is no more, but the shutters today flank the breakfast nook).
Phase one was to shiplap over the existing diagonal siding and paint over the stained, second-story wood siding. “Anything installed vertically we kept, everything else got covered, primed, and painted,” says Wes.
Not one thing was ripped out because, according to the guys, it would be messy, expensive, and unnecessary if another fix could be found. For weeks, they visited sawmills searching for half-inch thick boards. In desperation, they walked into Home Depot looking for the thinnest application available and found it: exterior concrete board. They succinctly covered the diagonal shiplap, allowing it to butt up against existing moldings and baseboards.
“It’s all about working with what you have,” says Wes. “This house, it had good bones, but it needed a family.”
The coffee bar (aka: the kitchen)
Though its footprint was sizeable, the kitchen failed when it came to counter space, something the couple valued. Design decisions were quickly made and put into action: gone were most of the upper cabinets as well as an installed double oven.
“We love coffee; we drink it all day,” says Daniel, “and now our espresso maker and our Keurig and all its stuff have the perfect home.”
Wes playfully styles the coffee bar with massive jars artfully filled with donuts, cinnamon rolls, marshmallows, and K-cups. The loss of storage meant little in the long run. The house was built with ample floor-to-ceiling storage in a butler’s pantry located behind the kitchen; even a corner pantry has been repurposed into a tool and utility project closet.
Cabinets were painted a host of grey, and a modern-leaning sink, countertop, and hardware were installed. The island is a perfectly hued turquoise (St. Barts by Sherwin Williams) and the appliance suite makes an aesthetic statement in what’s currently being called “black stainless steel.” The sink is notable for not being of farmhouse design. It is a massive, single black granite composite bowl, undermounted and ideally suited for well water, which could have eventually ringed a white enamel finish.
The art of collecting
The dining room at the farmhouse features some stellar collections. Wes has an uncanny eye for a mix of scale, structure, and substance. (Could it come from styling not one, but two home stores season after season?) The room accommodates an extra long 12-foot farmhouse table with six chairs on each side, yet none on either end. It also houses a pair of buffets, flanking each side of a north-facing window.
In perfect symmetry, white wood light fixtures hang over the table. “I fell in love with them, that they were transitional-farmhouse in style,” says Wes. “I liked the carved detail. It’s almost a simplistic spindle, but they make such an impact.”
The buffets feature layered collections with references to bee-keeping (a passion for Wes) and horses and regional travel. There’s a grouping of modern botanicals mixed with vintage finds too.
“One-of-kind pieces set your house apart from someone else’s, but really it’s about how you combine elements that make a collection feel right,” explains Wes.
The couple offers this tip when it comes to collecting: Pay attention to texture. A change in texture pleases the eye, keeping a grouping from feeling visually flat. And though Wes and Daniel lean toward the eclectic, always favor pieces that fit the scale of a space.
“Yes, we have the farmhouse stuff and lots of vintage and antiques, but because we’re very connected with our stores we also want a modern take that feels fun and current,” says Wes, “and always an unexpected moment of color.”
A Lived-In Landing
The upstairs landing is a beautiful space, overlooking the pond and its pastoral setting. “It’s all about the view up here,” says Daniel. “We spend a lot of time here with our dogs.”
The flooring may echo repurposed plank barn wood but is actually sanded plywood cut into strips, painted and sealed with porch enamel. An oversized iron chandelier, installed above a super comfortable sectional, pulls double-duty matching in scale the massive beaded fixtures of the great room, as well as creating a central point of light visible from the road and driveway.
Lots of plants people this den, lending the space softness and connection to the outside. Daniel says homeowners go too small when it comes to interior plants adding that the colors of nature act like a good neutral in a room. “It’s really fun to watch them change and evolve,” he says, “and larger plants are easier to care for than you think.”
Nearly all of the furnishings and light fixtures in the home are from 4Rooms or Roots. “We wanted to show how what we sell in the stores can translate in real life,” says Wes.
A masterful suite
The master bedroom suite has been transformed into a space with ties to the rest of the house, but it certainly didn’t start that way. First and foremost, there was no wood. The bedroom was small; the bathroom was massive (and there were lots of funny closets and a fireplace to boot).
The obvious solution was to gut and move walls, but Wes took a different approach.
“I wanted to fall asleep around darker, richer colors, so we started with paint.” The entire bedroom, moldings and all, have been coated in a warm cashmere (called Urbane Bronze by Sherwin Williams). Scale became important to tricking the eye when it came to the bedroom. Wes added a single, oversized chair under the window and designed the rest of the furnishings around it.
“Do a large scale item as a punch in any room,” says Wes. “Always add one thing bigger than it should be.”
Every surface in the master bath has been updated including the ceiling, which may look like wood, but is actually specially installed wallpaper. The vanities have been dressed up with a collection of mirrors arranged asymmetrically by Wes with his artful eye for design. “We wanted it to feel like a masculine spa retreat and it reads that way now,” he says.
Now that the projects are winding down, Daniel says the property has become a place that is hard to leave. “You come home to all this peace and light and comfort. It just feels like us, though I never imagined it would be on a farm.”
The Salvage Barn
An open barn was overflowing with salvage wood: barn wood, flooring, heart pine. It was a massive rotting heap but much of it was valuable. It had been collected over 17 years (by the former owners Old House Salvage) but the new owners, Wesley Turner and Daniel Schavey, were overwhelmed by the shear amount of it. They posted on Facebook that anyone could haul away a truckload for $10 a trip. They expected to post this every couple of months, possibly for years.
“Our initial plan was to save it, use it, repurpose it into the house and buildings, but the post went kinda viral and we just had the most fun meeting people who showed up,” says Daniel.
250 of them, in fact, came to pick up and pick through wood to find what they specifically desired. There were calls from California and Kentucky, Georgia and North Carolina. Everyone was looking for the materials of their craft. It was shared thousands of times on Facebook.
“We stopped what we were doing for two weeks and just directed traffic. It was gone, down to the dust, in three weeks. We made $2500 and didn’t lift a finger,” says Wes, “and got to know some amazing people.”
Animals are a big part of the Farm Shenanigans story. To date there are two dogs, two inherited cats, three goats, fish and bees with chickens, ducks (and possible a donkey) coming soon.
The goats are a dwarf Nigerian breed, with beautiful blue or gold eyes. They act just like dogs loving on their owners, hungry for attention. A cinderblock outbuilding with a dirt floor will become a future coop. Wes says the Roots chickens will be relocated to the farm once it’s done.
As seen on TV
A casting director with HGTV heard Wes and Daniel were looking for property in Upstate, South Carolina, and asked if they’d be interested in being a part of the second season of We Bought a Farm (the same production team as Beachfront Bargain Hunt and Caribbean Life). The episode first aired in May and can be seen in syndication now.