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.
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.
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.
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.”