Touring Lucas Farmhouse
The embroidered artwork immediately on the left as you enter the front door can easily be overlooked. The friendly greeting from the resident dogs, the scenic glimpses of the seven-acre property, or the wraparound porch that invites you to sit and stay are what grab your attention first.
But this subtle, embroidered sign says a lot about the LUCAS FARMHOUSE.
AMY NEWBURY-SMITH, one of the owners of the property, had something similar in her childhood home. The original now belongs to one of her thirteen siblings, but her sister has been making replicas for others in the family. The needlework shows a poem that invites guests to feel at ease, ending with “Sit deep and come often, you’re one of the folks.”
“That’s exactly how I want everybody to feel when they’re here,” Newbury-Smith says.
She wants to create the kind of home she grew up in, one with a relaxed charm that has lots of room and special spaces for family and friends. And she does mean lots, they’ve hosted family sleepovers for thirty-two people.
Although there usually aren’t that many people there – just the owners and perhaps an Airbnb group taking advantage of the rural getaway in Rocky Point.
Amy and Glenn Newbury-Smith have lived in the Wilmington area for many years. He’s co-owner of the of the popular Duck & Dive pub downtown, and she is a photographer. Several years ago, though, they began driving around Southeastern North Carolina looking at farmhouses.
When they found this one in Pender County so close to Wilmington, they knew they’d found their place.
It did require creative vision, though, to see beyond what was there. The 1903 farmhouse has had many additions and changes over the years, including dropped ceilings and thick layers of carpeting. In the five or so years the couple has owned the home, they’ve been renovating it room by room.
Now, the beadboard ceilings and hardwood floors are revealed. The windows are open on warm days to let in the breeze. The ’70s-style wood paneling is gone. One renovated bathroom was a top vote-getter in a contest for This Old House.
“I am obsessed with that show,” Amy Newbury-Smith says.
Many of the rooms, including that one, have a small clipboard on the doorframe that holds “before” pictures. The couple also added her dream bathroom upstairs, one with a tub, a balcony, and French doors.
When they found extra space above the living room, they added a “secret” place that’s now hidden behind a wardrobe, a la the gateway to Narnia. The couple is also actively researching the history of the property but haven’t had much luck so far, although they are uncovering clues. One staircase and room was likely once reserved for the domestic help.
And more is ahead for the property.
Renovation of another bedroom, which will have an en suite bath and a rustic barn door is underway. The Newbury-Smiths are still trying to decide when and how to update their kitchen. Still, for the past three years or so, they’ve opened the property to overnight visitors and are looking to obtain a permit to host events throughout the year.
“We’ve had success with Airbnb,” Amy Newbury-Smith says. “We really try to spoil our guests, and encourage them to enjoy this little escape from Wilmington.”
Farmhouse Chic Tips
The Lucas Farmhouse, at 511 Lucas Avenue in Rocky Point, is a relaxed, rural home-away-from-home for those who visit. Here are some of Amy Newbury-Smith’s tips for how she created the look.
1. Design a cozy atmosphere.
Newbury-Smith is inspired by the rustic luxury look and prefers casual comfort over fussy style.
2. Search out unique decor.
“I’d rather have an ugly piece of original art then something that everyone has,” she says.
3. Rehab and experiment with found furniture.
One of her favorite pastimes is curbside shopping.
4. Embrace purposeful imperfection.
“I get really uncomfortable when things are too perfect and match-y,” she says.
5. Find just the right spot for those things you love.
Newbury-Smith adds unexpected touches throughout the home. A shelf that runs just below the ceiling in one of the bedrooms is now home to a collection of antique toys and books. A branch with little greenery-filled vases hangs in the main hallway. And a children’s playhouse is the backyard home to the couple’s two goats
To view more of photographer Terah Wilson’s work, go to www.terahwilson.com.