What comes to mind when you think of the word farmhouse? For most, the major themes that are associated with that word would be function, comfort and simplicity. Sturdy and well-built, farmhouses have dotted roadsides across America for hundreds of years. They've provided functionality by allowing a farmer to be close to their animals and crops. They've provided comfort from the howling storms that raged across the prairies as settlers built the West. And they've beckoned a simpler way of living through floor plan and decoration. For a long period, only the farmers and their families who inhabited them paid attention to such a home. However, most recently, Americans of all ages and occupations now desire to update and inhabit what they are calling "the modern farmhouse".

No one truly knows how this new trend of the modern farmhouse came about. Maybe home renovation television shows highlighting fixer-uppers sparked imaginations. Possibly magazines or internet sites featured the look so often that readers felt compelled to follow back roads to a new home. Or could it be that our desire to disconnect from the fast-paced, technologically-driven world has focused home buyers on the comfort and simplicity of this farmhouse trend? For Ohioans Beth and Mark DeLaney, it was the latter, mixed with a big kitchen table, that led them down a back road outside Lexington, Ohio to a farmhouse fixer-upper of their own.

Remodeling homes isn't something new to the DeLaney family, as their farmhouse venture is their third over the past 25 years. Mark, a lifelong resident of Ontario, and Beth have found it a challenge and a blessing to find properties that are in need of updated attention, and bring the houses and grounds back to life. A challenge because they enjoy studying the interiors of the homes and deciding which walls stay, what needs to go and how can they make their changes work while staying within the money budgeted for the project. And then, you might ask, how does the blessing fit in? In two ways: first for family, second for community.

Beth and Mark are all about their family, their grown children and their growing group of grandchildren. The deciding factor in whether or not the couple will take on another fixer upper project is if the kitchen is large enough to fit a dining table that can seat their entire family for dinner. While it was the red tin roof of the country home that originally attracted the DeLaney's attention, once they stepped inside, and Beth saw that the nook beside the kitchen and hearth room had potential for a three-sided banquette eating area, the deal was done! Couple that with a covered front porch with red rocking chairs, horse barns, and a beautiful setting, the couple quickly realized that what they thought would be a flip property would instead become a spot of respite from the busyness of their lives. Busy lives for sure! The DeLaneys own Spherion Staffing Services, a local recruiting, staffing and workforce solutions provider with four offices across mid-Ohio, and are very involved with many Richland County nonprofit organizations. Their entire team of employees works alongside the couple to support organizations like Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Catholic Charities, The Domestic Violence Shelter, Harmony House and many more. They are also supporters of the Raemelton Therapeutic Equestrian Center, where their special needs granddaughter attends horse-riding classes. Spherion sponsors the Spherion 13ER, a running event that brings light to organizations that are actively involved in drug prevention. All proceeds of the event are given to a grant entrusted to the Richland County Foundation, where Beth serves as Chairman of the Board of Trustees, and are allocated back to the Richland County drug prevention community. And while the DeLaneys enjoy giving back through financial means, they also believe that purchasing and fixing up foreclosed or neglected properties is yet another way to show support to their home county by creating beauty and inspiration to other homeowners

Their farmhouse fixer upper was built in 1947, and like most farmhouses, was built sturdy and strong. The exterior of the home had been well maintained, but the interior had received few updates. Beth and Mark removed some walls, opened the stairway, removed and replaced the existing flooring, updated the bathrooms and kitchen, repainted, repurposed and restored the interior. They had the Amish build them a large boot bench and storage cubby unit in the mudroom, and a huge square dining room table large enough to seat 20 people around it for the nook area that won Beth's heart. I partnered with the couple to assist in interior design decisions, window coverings, furnishings, accessories, rugs and wall d├ęcor. We used the home's red tin roof and the Delaneys ' love of hunting and outdoors as our inspiration for design . Why, we even painted the treads of the stairway red!

A red stairway that rests in the center of this lovely home, where a family allows themselves to rest, surrounded by the ones they love.

Now that's what I call... decorating for a makeover with blessings.