What could be better than a French style home tour (and hobby farm) inspired by the beautiful countryside of Provence! Today we are sharing a mid-century home and farm that is set in rural Illinois yet with all of the trappings of a French lifestyle. Let’s get right into this fabulous and interesting home tour and be sure to scroll down for some dramatic before and after shots!
Amy is a budding entrepreneur and former accounting professional. Inspired by the timeless elegance of Provence, Amy strives to bring a bit of France to her rural country life. Established in 2016, Maison de Mings is a lifestyle brand founded by Mat and Amy Mings from Raleigh, Illinois. “Maison” is French for house, so the name of their blog means the “House of Mings.” Visit the blog HERE. You’ll also find Amy over on Instagram here – Maison de Mings.
They love traveling abroad to Provence and collecting French antiques.
A French Style Home Tour
Over the last few years, they have been renovating their mid-century Bedford stone home and continually strive to bring a bit of France to their country life!
This husband and wife team loves all things DIY and believes in hard work. Their objective is to combine their passion for the timeless elegance of the Côte d’Azure with the rugged simplicity of rural America. Amy is the designer and creative force and Mat brings many of her ideas to life.
In 2019, they expanded into hobby farming: Olde English “Babydoll” Southdown sheep, ducks, chickens and a llama are now part of the bustling activity of Maison de Mings.
About The Home
“We purchased our 1970’s Bedford stone home in 2018 when we moved back to Southern Illinois. My husband and I both grew up in the same area (we met at church camp in 6th grade), but both left for college and to pursue our careers. We’ve lived in a number of big cities due to Mat’s career. Once our girls were born (14 months apart), we knew at some point we would leave city life and move “home.” We wanted our girls to grow up on the farm (like we did) and be able to see their grandparents anytime they wanted.”
“It was a big change and took a few years to make it happen, but life in Southern Illinois is simpler and you can’t beat a small town community! We are thankful our girls only live a few minutes from all their grandparents and great-grandparents.”
“When we first started searching for a home, we were in a bit of a time crunch. We knew we wanted more than an acre and the housing market was limited. Taxes in our area are crazy high (especially for new construction) and building wasn’t an option. Mat is very handy and with my design ideas, we knew if we found an older home that needed work on a property we liked we could transform it.”
This French style home tour is special, as the work was done by the couple themselves!
“We settled on a home that had been on the market nearly two years which was for sale by owner. Honestly, it wasn’t ideal and needed a ton of cosmetic work, but it was on 5 acres and in a location we liked.”
“Within a month (since we were on such a time crunch), we had completed demolition and ripped up all the flooring and painted every inch of the home (walls, trim, ceilings – EVERYTHING). We were trying to do as much as possible before we had to move in.”
“With two little ones under 3, we knew it would be much more difficult to renovate while living in the home. My husband was working full time and worked every additional second on our home late into the evenings. Many nights after he would come in around midnight (or later) I would leave to go to the house and paint so we could keep moving forward the next day.”
“It was a whirlwind, but we did have help from our family too. In the end, our hard work paid off. When we moved in, we had all new flooring and freshly painted walls. Many of the spaces remained “in process” and have seen multiple little makeovers as our budget allows.”
“Our kitchen was one of the biggest makeover projects and we lived without countertops for a few weeks while we waited for them to be installed. I also painted our cabinets with the help of my dad. We used a finishing sprayer and they look like they came from a factory. I was so pleased with how they transformed our kitchen.”
Kitchen Before –
Kitchen After –
A few more before and afters in this French style home tour…
Pantry Before (Closet)-
Pantry After –
Dining Room Before –
Dining Room After –
Full Bathroom Before –
Full Bathroom After –
Half Bath Before –
Half Bath After –
Farm Shed Before –
Farm Shed After –
Christmas In The Farm Shed –
“Over the last 2 years, we have tried to be intentional with our design decisions and make timeless upgrades. We are inspired by all things French and slowly have tried to incorporate our love for Provence into our home as well.”
“We have chandeliers in every room – even our bathrooms and barn. We also have a lot of custom wood pieces made by Mat which bring in the handmade charm. My favorite DIYs are the French-inspired baker’s rack and our custom island. We are also getting ready to make some new pieces for our breezeway as we tackle that makeover in 2021. Throughout it all, we’ve just tried to use what we have and make our home “better than before.”
See more about the – DIY French bakers rack – on Amy’s blog!
Holidays At Home –
The Hobby Farm – French style home tour
“When we moved our family back home to Southern Illinois finding a property with room to grow was key. My husband and I both grew up on family farms and we shared a strong desire to teach our children responsibility and instill a strong work ethic.”
Our Farm Life Why?
“In 2019, we started looking at options to cut down on grass and weed control and we decided to start a hobby farm. We felt like life among animals would be such a wonderful way for our kids to grow up. Not only would interacting with the animals teach them communication and patience, we thought it would provide a positive model for future human relationships as well. For us, we really took our time researching the types of animals we wanted to bring to our farm and it has just evolved naturally over time. We knew it would be important to start small so we could dedicate the attention and care required.”
Preparation For The Animals
“Before we were able to bring any animals home initially, we knew we would have to prepare our property for farm life. Fortunately, when we purchased our home, it came with an outside storage barn. During our first year, we gave our barn a makeover and in 2019 my husband added onto it and enclosed a new area to offer protection for our animals against the elements. We also added welded wire fencing and several gates to protect our livestock.”
“We quickly fell in love with the Olde English “Babydoll” Southdown sheep. They met our need for grass and weed control and we loved how their small size would be much easier to handle than many other farm animals. We started our hobby farm with purchasing two wethers and this fall we added twin lambs from Indiana. It has been such a joy to see our girls interact with our sheep.”
“The sheep have such a sweet temperament and will come right up to our girls and eat out of their hands. When our girls are old enough, I hope they will show sheep in 4-H like my grandmother once did.”
“Since we already had a shelter for the sheep, we did a little more research and settled on adding two jumbo Pekin ducks to the farm. They were very messy at first, but now that they are fully grown and outside with the sheep they have been much more manageable. They are great layers and we typically get two fresh eggs each morning. It is amazing how well the ducks get along with our sheep!”
Predator Protection (at the French style home tour)
“With winter approaching last year, we focused on tightening up our fencing and considering options for predator control. With smaller farm animals, safety was upmost importance. My husband and I built the fencing ourselves and while we felt it was secure, we knew we should also consider adding a large guard dog or llama to the farm. Did you know that llamas can instinctively bond with other animals and provide a high level of protection from predators like a coyote? After talking to other sheep owners, we decided a llama would be the best option for us. We loved that they would eat the same things as our sheep and we were lucky enough to find a llama that had previously been with Southdowns.”
“Once again, we worked quickly to expand our fence to accommodate the new llama and give our sheep more room to graze. Our animals mostly feed on fresh grass, but throughout the winter they have more hay. We also supplement with grains and offer minerals. The grain is mostly used as a special treat to help them bond with us and feel comfortable around us.”
French style home tour – Family Hobby Farm
“Last spring we added 9 hens and a rooster to our hobby farm. They all free range and get along great with our other animals. We transformed one of the bays in our barn to a chicken coop which as worked perfect. Having multiple fresh chicken eggs daily has been a game changer!”
“I hope this gives you a glimpse into our “why” for starting a hobby farm and how we’ve prepared for them along the way. In our area it is definitely not common to raise babydoll sheep, ducks or own a llama, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. Our house truly feels like a home and our new animals have brought our entire family so much joy!! It seems like our favorite days are ones spent outside watching the animals interact or our girls helping care for them. We are always learning something new and I love that we get to do it together as a family.”
Amy is delightful and I know that you’ll want to follow her on Instagram for more inspiration at Maison de Mings!
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