After a Devastating Fire, a Farmhouse Rises from the Ashes

·1-min read
Photo credit: Stephen Kent Johnson
Photo credit: Stephen Kent Johnson

From ELLE Decor

When interior designer Shawn Henderson saw a 19th-century farmhouse in upstate New York 16 years ago, set far off the main road and near a spring-fed pond, it was pretty much love at first sight. “The minute I laid eyes on it, I knew it was the one,” Henderson says.

Photo credit: Stephen Kent Johnson
Photo credit: Stephen Kent Johnson

So when a fire took out the back of the house three years ago, undoing years and years of renovation work, it was no small heartbreak. “The house was filled with the things I love,” the designer says, recalling the day when three dozen firefighters showed up to stop a blaze that had started in the living room’s fireplace. “It was completely devastating.”

Photo credit: Stephen Kent Johnson
Photo credit: Stephen Kent Johnson

Thinking quickly, he’d closed the living room door, halting the fire’s spread. Still, there was extensive damage. For Henderson, there was no question that he would immediately rebuild. The tragedy also presented the opportunity to rethink the layout and the decor. He redecorated the entire downstairs while creating a new addition with a main bedroom suite and a home office.

Photo credit: Stephen Kent Johnson
Photo credit: Stephen Kent Johnson

Having grown up working in his family’s tavern, Henderson paid particular attention to the kitchen, where he custom designed bleached-oak cabinets and installed a new brick floor. This summer, he added a pool and now plans to convert the barn into a poolhouse. “I do this for a living,” he says. “So I probably won’t ever stop.”

Photo credit: Simon Upton
Photo credit: Simon Upton

This story originally appeared in the October 2020 issue of ELLE Decor. SUBSCRIBE

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