Furnishing a rural space on a budget can be a challenge for cottagers and homeowners alike. Newlyweds Jason and Brittany Vardamaskos welcomed this challenge as they designed their Napanee, Ont. home with repurposed furniture and affordable decor pieces. With a little creative vision and a lot of sanding and painting, the two managed to create a custom living space that reflects their taste without emptying their pockets.
Their design aesthetic
Before diving into their DIY projects, the couple knew they wanted to achieve a cohesive farmhouse feel with rustic touches and a hint of buffalo check. “My love for decor goes all the way back to high school,” says Brittany. “Anything aesthetically pleasing has always been interesting to me. Jason has the biggest love for the outdoors, so that’s how our aesthetic ties together.”
Where they source their furniture and decor
When it comes to furniture, the two mainly find their pieces on Facebook Marketplace, on curbsides, at garage sales, or from family and friends. The dollar store is their go-to for smaller decor pieces like the greenery featured in many of their displays. “We are newly married, so I do like to spend less when it comes to decorating,” Brittany says.
Jason and Brittany display their DIY projects throughout their home—but the living room houses some of their favourites. Here, you’ll find their dining table, gifted from Brittany’s parents who received it when they got engaged 30 years ago. After six hours of sanding paint off the table’s surface and adding some black chalk paint to its legs, it was reinvented to fit their vision. “We painted the chairs, which were from a family friend, with the same chalk paint for about $25,” says Brittany. “We love bringing old pieces back to life.”
In the kitchen, the two set up a coffee station on an old wooden spool and painted it with white chalk paint to add a farmhouse accent to their home. “We were at a friend’s place for a bonfire and I noticed it sitting there,” said Brittany. “They were going to burn it for firewood, so I asked if I could take it.”
The couple also makes creative use of deer antlers throughout their home. An antler is used in the dining room as a centrepiece and in the bathroom as a toilet paper holder.
“Deer lose their antlers during shedding season every year so Jason went out and found those pieces in the woods,” she pointed out.“The toilet paper holder was all Jason—he can get full credit for that. I came home from work one day and it was just done.”
“The Euro mount on the fireplace is from a deer that Jason hunted himself,” says Brittany. They painted their fireplace to match the table and added an $8 pine ledge from Home Hardware to contrast the black chalk paint.
Next to their dining table, you’ll find a large curio cabinet that was a free garage sale item they picked up and flipped. Again, with some patient sanding and some black chalk paint, they had a new piece of furniture at no cost.
Old ladder renewed
Brittany and Jason even found a way to incorporate an old ladder they found on their property when they first moved in. Due to its length, they were able to cut it in half and make use of it in the bathroom and living room. “We noticed a year on the bottom half dating back to the 1840s, and I just whitewashed it with some chalk paint,” Brittany says.
Advice for furnishing a home or cottage on a budget
Brittany and Jason keep an open-minded approach to decorating and furnishing their rural home. They’ve saved thousands by thinking outside the box and reinventing older, used furniture. “I’ve adapted to our budget by finding and creating nice pieces for less. I want people to know you can decorate your house exactly the way you want it without having to pay designer prices. I recommend drawing inspiration from magazines or online photos and then finding a way to make it your own,” says Brittany.