I’m Paige Wassel. WAS the Newsletter is your weekly dose of design inspiration, served straight up and dirty. 


The following Paige factoids are on a need-to-know basis:

  • I really love the games Rummikub, Sequence, and Scrabble. I also love a puzzle. I just learned Catan and did not pick it up as quickly as I would have liked to and I FELT DUMB.

  • I drink water out of a fat medium height wine glass sometimes.

  • I hosted a New Year’s Eve party and here was my invite:


This is the best time of year because everyone is Marie Kondo-ing their lives in honor of the new year. Let their decluttering resolution be your gain. This week, I’m thrifting in Portland and here are my latest obsessions:

You’re never going to regret finding the right piece at the right price.


In the not-too-distant past, many of you were lured into adopting the modern farmhouse aesthetic. Well, I’m not going to admonish you. While it’s not my style, I understand the appeal. It’s achievable. It’s cozy. It’s been front and center in all the places where you shop. Modern farmhouse design has been everything, everywhere, all at once, and most of us were not immune to its siren song.

However, if you now regret turning your home into an upscale chicken coop, don’t worry. Here’s what we do to fix it:

  • Close the barn door. Listen, a barn door is super useful, especially when you can't have a pocket door or don't have the space for real doors. You don’t need to trash the door. Instead, I suggest you swap out the heavy iron hardware for that which is hidden. Hidden hardware will make the whole door look sleeker and more modern and less like it’s sectioning off the livestock from its feed.

  • Address the shiplap. I don't dislike shiplap (that much). Believe me, there are worse design problems to have than shiplap. But if you have the ubiquitous white shiplap and you want to update the look, sand it down and stain it a nice color. Maybe paint it something bright. Or, lean into the shiplap. Instead of having the one accent wall, continue it around the room and onto the ceiling. This will make the room feel less like a farmhouse and more like a cottage.

  • Reclaim the reclaimed wood wall. I know I’ve said before that a piece like a 3-D, multicolor wood wall isn’t worth saving. But I get that maybe you can’t want to get rid of it, especially if the instillation process threatened your relationship. (We’ve all been there.) If you don’t want to break up over the wall you insisted on installing, try staining it one cohesive color. Now that everyone’s into vinyl again, you do not want to have to try to separate out your record collections because you changed your mind about a stupid wall.

  • Add some color. The modern farmhouse aesthetic is Dust Bowl chic, with lots of black and white, maybe a hint of navy or gray, or if they were feeling saucy, beige. It’s just so bland. Try adding accessories that have some orange or red (or really any other color) to help change the mood of the space. Life should be lived in Technicolor.

  • Throw some shade. Modern farmhouse style is all about exposed hanging bulbs. The easiest way to upgrade these fixtures is to first eliminate some of the bulbs. A lot of people did huge clusters of bulbs, especially over dining tables. If you’re not performing surgery there, you can back off with the collective wattage. Let the lighting be a bit moody. My other suggestion is to buy shades, which are definitely better than the exposed bulb. An iron shade could still fit in nicely without totally upending the décor you already have. 

  • Remember, it’s not an actual barn. Anything that actually belongs in a barn doesn't belong in your home. Wheelbarrows? Watering cans? Pitchforks? No. Don’t do anything that's too literal. An easy fix is to accessorize with vintage items. Just replace the things that scream farmhouse. I’m talking any type of oversized clock, any type of windowpane, any type of door that’s too on the nose. (It goes without saying that you need to trash your “farmhouse” word art.) You can keep a little country feel, but also have a little city, have a little French, have a little Swedish. Mix it up. Be eclectic. 

  • Lay the wreaths to rest. To me, wreaths seem like something reserved for holidays or funerals. But in the farmhouse world of Chip and Joanna, the faux-eucalyptus wreaths are every-damn-where, especially above a mirror or the fireplace. My advice? Stop it. Instead of having a wreath over your big mirror, why not try a little piece of vintage art there instead? We don’t need to change your vibe, we just want to upgrade it. 

Again, the modern farmhouse aesthetic is not the worst thing in the world. You needn’t gut your home and start over. Instead, I encourage you to take away the cheesy or bad pieces of farmhouse living and replace them with alternatives that still give that aesthetic, only elevated. Remember, the phrase, “What are you, a farmer?” was never meant to be a compliment.


Sherwin Williams: Relic Bronze 

Finish: Any

Room Light Level: Mid to bright