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Layering comfort and style in a Hamburg family hub

The sun flows into Vanessa Fermani’s living room through giant bay windows, drenching the space in a natural glow that extends up to its sprawling cathedral ceilings. Collections of cozy pillows on the couch and window seat invite picking a spot to curl up. Filled with rustic accents that warm up the white backdrop, the room looks spotless at a glance—but the mother of four promises this central gathering spot in their Hamburg home is very much lived in.

As the owner of Nigh Road Farmhouse in East Aurora, Vanessa styles for clients, sources antiques, transforms furniture with paint, runs DIY workshops and more. Opened in May 2018, it serves as her main source of inspiration, and the style of her store and home are very much infused.

“When I make decisions for my store, selfishly they are decisions I would make for my own home,” she says. “I would totally bring things from the store into my home.”

Vanessa on her comfy cream Pottery Barn sofa. The vintage wood chest, one of her estate-sale finds, now hides her kids' toys and games. (Basically Emily / Lindsay Sisting)

Her love for natural textures, earthy tones and age-worn finishes came from growing up in Southern Ontario on a farmhouse on Nigh Road. Her grandfather and stepfather were carpenters, always inviting her to help with little projects on the weekends. At the time, she had zero interest; her passion for design kicked in nine years ago when she and her husband bought their house.

Vanessa started the living room’s transformation by painting the light brown walls white from ceiling to trim. Standing in front of the blank slate, she then knew she had to update the green marble fireplace. Growing up watching her family work with their hands inspired her to embark on her first DIY adventure.

“I knew I wanted the fireplace to be a focal point, but I didn’t know what I wanted,” she says. “I went out, got a couple of quotes, then was like, ‘You know what? I can do this myself.’”

Vanessa built a new mantle by framing over the existing one and ran shiplap up to the ceiling and painted it white. Adorned with an arch mirror, the revamped spot is now her favorite to decorate.

Her latest project was creating cushions for the 14-foot windowsill in front of the bay window. After discovering how much a custom solution would cost, she got crafty. Armed with foam inserts, pieces of plywood, Target curtains and a staple gun, the cozy nook was born—and it’s become her favorite spot in the whole house. Her kids love it as well, reading and playing there whenever they get the chance.

The pair of cutout lamps is just one of the pieces Vanessa brought home from her store. A main element of the fireplace transformation: painting the green marble fireplace surround white. (Lindsay Sisting)

As the mother of four kids under 7, it can seem impossible to keep the room spotless. Her clients often say they could never have anything white in their spaces due to kids or pets. Her answer to that? Create a place that makes you happy and feels like home.

“If I had a brown leather couch in there, I wouldn’t be happy,” she says. “It would be great because I could wipe anything off, but it wouldn’t bring me joy.”

She says there’s a delicate balance when keeping a space functional yet styled. No food is allowed in the room (despite the occasional snack sneaking in) and anything fragile is out of the kids’ reach.

“Does my room always look like this? Of course not. There’s blocks on the floor, coloring books on the windowsill and all that kind of stuff.”

As for future projects, Vanessa’s thinking of adding beams to the ceiling and built-ins on either side of the fireplace. But for right now, she’s enjoying the space as is, snuggling up with her family whenever she gets the chance.

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