Take Me Home

take me home

An art and animal lover lives the good life in an Auburn farmhouse.

When Tamara Diederichs reached out to Laura Neuman of PepperJack Interiors to help her design a farmhouse on a tree-studded 20-acre parcel in Auburn, her directive was clear: Create a light-filled dwelling with touches of Craftsman architecture, a big kitchen island with ample room for canning produce from her garden, and a neutral backdrop where her eclectic art collection wouldn’t have to compete with the home’s colors and finishes.

“I had lived in a dark Tuscan-style home prior to this, so I knew I wanted something light and bright and with a color besides brown,” says Diederichs, who had previously worked with Neuman on a successful master bedroom remodel.

tamara diederichs
Tamara Diederichs inside her barn, which, liker her home, is decorated with whimsical art.

The resulting four-bedroom home ticks all the boxes and then some. “It’s super comfortable, feminine without being grandma-ish, and it has a little bit of whimsy, too,” says Neuman. “Everything has a classic look to it but is fresh and relevant to today.”

Vibrant and fanciful works of art—some purchased from local artisans, others collected during Diederichs’ travels—fill every room. Many of the paintings and figurines depict birds, a passion of Diederichs’. The art lends a sense of personality and warmth to a space that never feels stiff or overly styled. “Everything here is a reflection of me,” says Diederichs.

living room
‘I like the design to feel like an intentional accident.’ Laura Neuman

Neuman, who likes her designs to feel like “an intentional accident,” guided her client through the process of choosing colors, fabrics, fixtures and finishings at the same time that they were drawing up the floor plan so that there were never any guesses as to how a space would come together after construction.

To make the homeowner’s job easier and keep the design process moving briskly, Neuman narrowed each of Diederichs’ design options to three categories—inexpensive, middle end and high end—instead of laying out, say, two dozen fabric swatches or 20 styles of tile to mull over. “Tamara was so amazing to trust me enough to have me show her just three options,” says the designer.

The 4,400-square-foot home, which is nestled into a gently sloping section of the property just downhill from a 30-bed garden and a small barn containing a chicken coop and greenhouse, was carefully sited so that—per the homeowner’s instructions—no trees needed to be removed for construction.

Diederichs, who spends as much time outdoors as she can, selected the property in part because there were no restrictions on the number of animals that could live there. She currently shares the acreage with 70 or so chickens, two mini donkeys, five goats, two parrots, bees from two hives and five dogs, who appear to enjoy puttering around the house every bit as much as their owner.

Diederichs and Neuman collaborated on developing a floor plan that would take advantage of the surrounding views and concentrate all of the main living space on the ground floor. “I knew that I didn’t want to have to go upstairs to get to my bedroom,” says Diederichs. That practical decision, along with other design details like zero-entry showers and wide doorways, makes the home suitable for aging in place.

dining room
The vintage rake and pitchforks on the dining room wall are Neuman’s way of communicating a farmhouse feel.

Not that Diederichs shows any signs of slowing down. Up by 4 a.m. most mornings, she often goes on a trail run (she’s an avid long-distance runner), tends to her chickens, spends time with a book and harvests some veggies in her sprawling garden before most people have crawled out from under the covers.

There’s no denying that country living suits Diederichs well. “I love it here. I love being outdoors. It’s my happy place and my stress reliever,” says Diederichs. “I’ve been to a lot of beautiful places, but I always love coming home.”

Photography by Michelle Drewes
Interior Design: PepperJack Interiors
General Contractor: Knudtson Construction

yard
Diederichs, who enjoys relaxing outdoors, went to great lengths to site the house so that none of the existing trees needed to be removed. The landscaping emphasizes the property’s natural beauty, including its hilly topography and large boulders.
Diederichs handled all of the plant selection herself, largely choosing specimens that attract beneficial bees and butterflies. “If they’re attracted to it, chances are the plant is healthy and will thrive here.”
animal
Diederich chose to build in a community with no restrictions on the number of animals she can raise.
guest room
An avid art collector, Diederichs is drawn to fanciful paintings and sculptures that depict flowers, birds and other animals, such as the donkey on the wall of the guest bedroom. Neuman added a woven basket and magnolia-leaf wreath to invite texture to the space.
Neutral wall colors, bed linens and furniture fabrics allow the artwork and accessories to be the star in every room.
kitchen
The kitchen pendants, which are shaped like honey pots, are a nod to the home’s playful farmhouse motif as well as Diederichs’ two bee hives.
pantry
The pantry off of Diederichs’ kitchen is a monument to her love of canning produce picked fresh from her garden. “I grow just about everything,” she says. “I’ve always loved plants and been fascinated with wildlife.”
The cheerful color of the cabinets and chandelier made with silverware are the antithesis of the style of her previous home, which was dark and serious. Even in small spaces like this one, designer Neuman wanted to achieve a look that exuded both “a little Victorian elegance” and “a little bit of whimsy.”
craft room
Diederichs, an avid crafter, devoted a spacious, light-filled room to her artistic hobbies, which include stained glass and collage. “For me, working on stained glass is so fun because it’s like one giant puzzle,” says the homeowner.
The custom-made table is where she can spread out to work on a project and get lost in her creativity. The turquoise on the table’s legs makes an appearance in other parts of the house.