willowbrook farm

historic yellow springs


The Revitalization of a Stone Smoke House Turned Artist Studio

Artist Studio

There is a building on our farm that grabbed my heart strings when we first looked at this place. Actually all of it grabbed my heartstrings but there were certain components that spoke to me… screamed at me in fact and this was one of those. The artist studio as it was called, for the former owner was a writer and this was his enclave. When my son and I researched the history of the house, we found an old sale brochure of the house from the 1940’s that depicted this structure as the smoke house where you could “hang your hams.” That verbiage endeared me to this structure even more for it gave me a glimpse into its past. 

Stone artist studio

When we moved in, the beautiful stone was covered in a white peeling and flaking stucco and the door was an aluminum heavy duty rusting white one. One of the fist projects we tackled upon moving in, was to take off the damaged stucco from both the barn, which you can see in the back ground and the smokehouse. Not only was it covering up the heart of these buildings, but it was damaging them as well. Peeling and damaged stucco traps moisture which breaks down the integrity of the building in many ways. The results were astounding and with the addition of the new wooden door made by Rocky and Roger Stone of Lumber and Wood Products, LLC, this building became a showstopper itself.

stone house

The “artist studio” adjoins the house through a roofed courtyard and is being eaten up by ivy right now which is actually being trimmed back this week by some young men…who are on their summer break. One teacher and some students who worked hard yesterday on landscaping other areas of the property. We hope that the poison ivy spirits were on our side for some of us started pulling it out before consulting with the resident horticulturist Christopher. Sorry for the digression, but upon living here, one can see the largeness of maintaining these structures and this land. So while we were out working on the exterior of this building and farm, the inside got a little neglected. Does anyone have that closet that you fervently hope and pray no one opens up when you have house guests for you fear that they might be killed should the stuffed in contents “that do not really belong there” tumble out upon the unsuspecting???

I DO! Several of them in fact… but my spaces are larger. Unfortunately there is a perfect storm that exists should a person who loves to collect anything that could possibly be made into something else or used for a later date owns a home that has many opportunities to stash this stuff. When a family of seven stashes their stuff there as well, all bets are off that it does not become a dumping ground! 

I had good intentions when we moved in eleven years ago next month. All of my collected craft supplies and paint project materials would be housed here. Since this building is right off the courtyard which is off the kitchen, it has sort of become the garage, in the sense that anything that could be stored there is stored here since it is much closer. Add the art supplies to that and well, it has become mass chaos. One could probably find whatever they are looking for in here… some crutches for that meniscus surgery, a ladder used to trim that ivy, a football, soccer ball, hockey helmet for that backyard play, a rusty bird fountain…

plenty of paper,

flower pots,

art supplies, ribbon,

boxes of past projects,


boxes of sequins and other goodies.

I think you can get a pretty good idea of what is stored in here. But alas, that is not the only area that I have to store stuff in, oh no…

the past owners were so kind as to extend the space by putting in a nifty second floor that enables you to store even more stuff!  Yes, the ladder getting up there is a bit treacherous but guess, what? I have filled that up as well!

The upstairs contains all of the other Holiday decorations besides Christmas for there was no way Christmas was going to fit up here. That stuff needed the vastness of the attic, much to the chagrin of the entire family as we bring box after box, down three flights of stairs. This space not only contains Fall, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Mardi Gras, New Years, etc. etc. etc….

but decor and goodies from past Birthday parties that I have had for the kids or school events that I was decorating for. You never know when you might need it again!

In the beginning, my organizational systems were good. I had brought with me, many of the craft supplies from the basement of my old house, as well as the bins of decor. They were all labeled and this was the perfect spot to work on projects and manage all of the materials that I was using on the house projects now. Slowly, that changed.

The super cool work table that I had built for the space became covered with whatever was being discarded. As I have mentioned before, I have a fettish for recycling so ANYTHING that can be recycled instead of thrown out has ended up here. We have bins for the recycling that gets picked up every week but what about the lightbulbs, egg cartons and other such treasures that have to be brought somewhere to be recycled? They need a place to reside before they are brought to their final resting spot… so this table has become that.

Well people, things are about to change and today marks the start of the purging and the revitalization of this place back to what it is intended to be. No, not the smokehouse but as an artist studio. The light from the wall of windows is amazing and the space is so cool that I have had plans in my head for the last few years and just too much to tackle in other arenas to tackle this space. In life, and on our To- Do Lists, we always seem to have a multitude of projects to complete. You have to prioritize, based on a multitude of factors; cost, time, is this something I can tackle myself etc. Now is the time… I am going to jump in this summer and go through each and every item in here and determine where its final resting spot will be. Some items may remain in this building, some might go but all will be organized and there will be a couple of cosmetic changes to this space as well. I wanted to take this time to introduce this space to you because we are going to highlight the revitalization of this room and as we do so, give you some pointers on how to get this chore accomplished as well as to show you some of the design elements I plan on incorporating into this studio. 

Stay tuned if you want to follow this summer project as time allows for we have many things on our To- Do list this summer as I am sure you all do as well. This is one of those breathe deeply, roll back your sleeves projects that will be incredibly rewarding once finished, so stick with us and maybe some of that satisfaction will rub off on you and motivate you to tackle that “I really don’t want to go there area that you have been shutting the door on!” 

FYI friends~ the humidity this summer has caused the normally difficult door that shuts off this space to the rest of the world to not close, so I can no longer easily close anyone out.  The structure also needs a power wash on the inside courtyard stucco that still remains and there is a broken window pane up top. That is how we prioritize around here! 


Stay tuned~





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  1. Monique says:

    love it! You are so fortunate to have such a great space and loads of light! It will be a fabulous art studio!!

    • Meg Veno says:

      Hi Monique! That I am, truly blessed to have such a space!! Thanks for the positive words and I know that you would truly appreciate a space like that!

  2. Kathy says:

    Oh how exciting, Meg! I love an organizational project of really any size. Wish I was able to come
    help but still with a big full time job and I don’t live exactly around the corner…….. I will certainly
    find joy in watching this one unfold. Will be great and good luck!

    • Meg Veno says:

      Thanks Kathy! I too love organizational projects for they make you feel so much better when the clutter is gone! Today I unearthed a bag of rooting apples in there that had been stored there in the Spring when it was cooler in there. Ugh!!! Stay tuned and thanks for commenting!

  3. Can’t wait to see the transformation. Good luck!

    • Meg Veno says:

      Thanks Heather! I need it to process 30 years pf stuff! You know where I’m coming from!! Thanks for the good luck vibes!

  4. Wendy Walton, The Enchanted Potter says:

    Such an amazing space! I wish you lots of luck and cool days! Let me know if you would ever like me to come do an artist pottery demo weekend in the finished space! Would love to do a pottery workshop in there during one of your retreats! I know by the time you finish this space it will be an unique and utterly amazing space with an incredible positive vibe!

    • Meg Veno says:

      Hi Wendy! Thanks for commenting! Your idea sounds like a great one and yes, we would be totally interested! That is one of the ideas I have for the space… to use it for artists to demonstrate the art that they are passionate about. Thank you for your kind words and looking forward to working on something when we get our plan in motion! xx Meg

  5. ki says:

    i get it! loove this. i have a FABulous craft room, that is smaller…where i store many beautiful possibilities. actually, i’m working on a fairy forest 3d scene in a frame i bought in your barn!

    • Meg Veno says:

      A fairy forest 3d scene in a frame… please do share the finished project! Would LOVE to see it! There is something about a craft room that is so enticing, even if it’s just a small space but one that is all your own where your creative goodies surround you! I used to have a closet where I kept all of this stuff and then a basement and now this. So glad that you get it! Thanks for visiting and shopping in the barn Ki too…we really appreciate it!

  6. Debbie caprara says:

    Good luck to you Meg! I look forward to updates on this wonderful project and transformation to your beautiful space. Hopefully it will provide motivation for me to do the same.

    • Meg Veno says:

      Thanks Debbie! If you get the motivation to do your space, let me know. It is a daunting task but one with a rewarding outcome!

  7. Denise says:

    What a great studio that will be!! I know it will be beautiful when you are done! Good for you Meg!!!

    • Meg Veno says:

      Thanks Denise! I wish I had your talent so that I could paint in it…the light is beautiful! You will have to paint in it!!