Cam and Jen Gamble bought an old farmhouse and farm in 2021, and Flatrock Farms was born. The property was sold "As-Is" in dire condition, but they knew the home had good bones. The house was remodeled in the 60s with wood paneling covering the walls, linoleum, and particle board on the floors. What lay under the 1960s remodel was a complete mystery and an exciting intrigue. As they began pulling back the layers, they discovered the original bead board, wood flooring, stone fireplaces, ceilings, shiplap, and exterior siding hiding beneath.
The remodel had preserved the old home, so Cam and Jen set out to restore as much of the original as possible, saving anything that wasn't damaged. They named their new home Flatrock Farms because of the flat rocks the original farmers took out of the fields in the 1800s. These massive flat stones had been used for the home's foundation and to build the incredible double-sided fireplace.
Cam and Jen noted, "We didn't set out to restore or remodel an old farmhouse with the intent of modernizing it. Our vision for this home, and what sets it apart, is how we have incorporated the design and feel of a European Old World farmhouse." This can be seen in the handmade faucets from Morocco, antique chandeliers from France, an 18th-century preparation table from Hungary, concrete countertops, and the stonework incorporated in the kitchen and throughout the home.
If you scroll through the Flatrock Farms Instagram account, you will immediately notice the entire family participates in restoring the whole farmhouse themselves. From day one, from clean up to demo, to building/restoring, Cam and Jen, along with their five children, have worked together to bring the old beauty back to life. They have documented every step of the way on their Instagram account, including the good, the bad, and the ugly. Each project has taught many lessons, from leveling the entire home to insulating the floor in the crawlspace with only 18 inches of clearance.
With every item they have purchased throughout the house, The Gambles have been patient in choosing time-period-appropriate pieces and pieces that tell a story. Sometimes they find details and know right away it fits the place perfectly; Nostalgic Warehouse was one of those rare instances. They initially discovered our Meadows front entry handleset and fell in love with the classic and patina look of the rest of the collection. Even though it is new, it fits perfectly with the unique and timeless old-world look they envisioned for their home.
Jen told us the installation instructions and kit were extremely well done and thorough. She did have a tip for those who install door hardware with the faux skeleton keyhole: "It is a good idea to paint the door behind the keyhole with the color black to give the appearance of it being all the way through."
Most of Flatrock Farms' inspiration comes from Europe and Old World buildings. Their vision in restoring the old home was to leave her character and add unique features that highlighted what was already here. The last thing they wanted to do was create another modern farmhouse that looks like most of what you see online.
Cam and Jen always go into each of their projects with a design concept in mind but then let the space tell them what it wants to do. They spend a tremendous amount of time sitting, thinking, and analyzing each space from every angle. Eventually, they find what makes the most sense regarding creativity, flow, and function. Cam always says the blueprints are in his head, but ultimately the house will tell them what it wants.
Renovating and living in a historic farmhouse has always been a dream of Jen's. Cam grew up in a farmhouse built in the late 1800s and learned a lot from his father about structurally maintaining an old home. With a career in the military and as a military instructor, the Gambles have moved 19 times in 20 years. When it was time to put down some roots for the family, upstate South Carolina was the ideal location, with several old farmhouses to choose from. After doing some due diligence on the structural integrity, Cam bought the house as a gift for the family.
Regarding how long the house has been under construction, there is a running joke in the family about this topic. As told by Jen: "When we first moved in, Cam said it would take roughly four to six months to complete the initial restoration. This wasn't taking into account any additions we would build later. We are currently on month 15 and are about 90% finished with phase one, which entails the original farmhouse. Cam says we all heard him wrong, and what he really said was 46 months. We are working hard, but a job like this takes time, patience, and a lot of creativity."
The Gambles have a lot of good advice for anyone looking to buy and renovate an old farmhouse, starting with, "Find a home with good bones." Make sure the foundation is in decent condition, and termites have not eaten the house apart. Be ambitious, be patient, be willing to make mistakes, preserve as much of the old as possible, and do as much as you can yourself to save money. But also budget for the projects you have no desire to do or the capabilities required. Get creative. Learn from others who have gone before you. Be prepared for things to take longer than you expect. Don't be discouraged when it gets difficult because it will get difficult. You will be proud of staying the course. Be patient when making decisions, whether designing, picking out lighting, or anything in between. Do what you love and not what is trending. Trends come and go, but your home should be built around what you adore and what will stay in style.
When asked what was next, Jen had a laundry list of projects. They are beginning additions to the house and so far have added a washroom, butler pantry, an extension of the foyer, a downstairs bathroom, an upstairs bathroom, and walk-in closets. Once those are complete, they plan to expand the house even further with a two-story addition. Downstairs will be a large living room with a stone fireplace and guest bath. The upstairs will be the primary suite with balconies, a stone fireplace, his and her walk-in closets, and a large bathroom. Eventually, they plan to convert their silo into an outdoor kitchen area with an upstairs guest house.
Jen's parting words during this interview were inspiring: "Renovating an old farmhouse is not for the faint of heart. It takes a tremendous amount of grit and perseverance. We often say, "All it takes is all you've got." But the satisfaction of renovating far outweighs the pain of the process. Stay the course. You will be proud."
Thank you to the Gambles for being such a positive influence in the Instagram renovation world and working with Nostalgic Warehouse on this project!