Ovoka is a historic farmhouse that sets the bar high for Virginia farmhouses all over. Situated on rolling hills in Paris, Virginia at the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Ovoka is gasp worthy at every turn. Originally built in 1830, it is an icon that is what historic farmhouse dreams are made of.
The front of the property has an old stone wall running parallel to the road, and these stunning stone columns flank the gates leading to the driveway.
Exterior of the House Itself: A View to Take In
Most of the time, the best views are from a house looking out. Ovoka’s placement in the rolling hills of the Blue Ridge mountain foothills is nothing to scoff at. It is utterly serene. In my opinion, though, the best view is of the house itself. The front of the house has four beautiful two-story columns that look out to the fields in front of it and beyond that, the stone wall the runs parallel to the road. It is perfection.
The way the house looks now is far different than how the current owner, Karen Way, believes it was originally constructed. It appears that it may have originally been known as Avoka. How the name changed along the way is a mystery.
The house has been renovated and added on to many times, most recently by Karen when she added the rooms in the back. The view from the back is just as beautiful as– perhaps even more than– the front. I love the symmetry and all the details that go into making this so beautiful.
The two wings going straight out are not original to the house, but you wouldn’t really know what is original from the outside. The little balcony connecting the wings allows for more light to reach the upstairs. I love the wall of French doors bringing light into the downstairs and also inviting people to go in or out.
One small detail is that even though some of the additions are new, they were built to look as if they really were old. Check out the shutters below, for example. Real shutters with real shutter hardware make it impossible for me to tell how long that window has been there! It’s something so small and subtle but with a house of this size, I love the attention that went into every square inch. The culminating effect is just gorgeous.
I loved having a chance to see this gorgeous house in person. Something about the red metal roof makes it cheerful and farmhousey. It is both approachable and statuesque.
Ovoka follows the Southern tradition of painting the ceiling of the front porch haint blue (I’m totally into this trend!). I love the blue ceiling bringing out the blue in the blue stone floor of the porch. One of Karen’s two rescue pups, Bryce Harper, was the perfect model for me when I was taking photos of the beautiful transom glass around the front door.
The boxwoods surrounding the porch are what Virginia farmhouses everywhere seek to emulate: healthy, large, not overbearing, and accentuating the timeless design of the farmhouse itself.
Front Hallway: Understated Elegance
As soon as I stepped into the front hallway, I knew I was going to love this farmhouse from first scent. Old house lovers know the scent. It’s something about antique wood furniture, or maybe old wood floorboards. Going along with that perfect scent was a perfectly elegant hallway entrance. The creamy yellow walls make you feel like the room is drenched in sunlight.
The banister was simple and clearly old. I love the effect of the wainscoting against the wall with the wood trim on top mimicking the wood railing.
Like most 1800s farmhouses, the woodwork on the stair risers was beautifully made.
Serene Country Living Room
To the immediate right of the hallway is the calm living room, with an unexpected chartreuse wall color. I haven’t seen this shade of green in a historic Virginia farmhouse but wow does it work well. It picks up the natural surroundings of the green rolling hills but it’s a little bit different, too, which makes it interesting. I love how the piano just pops against it. You can tell lots of gatherings have happened in this room.
On the other side of the hallway is an office space that is just elegant. It is dark and full of warm wood tones. I love the fireplace in this room and the paneling above it. Check out the leather fireplace fender– that seat going around the hearth. I love how much character and warmth that adds!
There is a large antique desk in this room with a view looking out of the windows in the front of the house. The view with the giant two-story column and green hills in the background is so calming (side note: if I lived there, I’m 99.9% certain I would get no work done in this room because of the view from the window and the fireplace… I’d just stare at my surroundings all day long!).
Beyond the front hallway is a spacious room connecting one wing of the house to another.
It backs out to the patio behind the house, and on one side is the dining room/ kitchen, and on the other side is a den and guest room.
I love the red throughout the house; it feels vibrant and picks up on the cheerfulness of the red metal roof outside.
Karen said when she bought the house, she kept finding antique skeleton keys. She eventually just decided to put them all in a glass bowl in the hallway and figured if she ever needed a key she could search for one from there! Definitely an old house dilemma isn’t it?
Generous Light-Drenched Dining Room
The dining room I think made me actually gasp when I stepped in. It. Is. Gorgeous.
It’s just so simple. No fancy wainscoting or wall paneling. No fancy art on the walls. (The chandelier is clearly a work of art, but the real showstopper is the windows with the amazing views looking outside.)
I love the beautiful wood floors too. The room comes together so beautifully.
Jaw Dropping Farmhouse Kitchen
The wing to the left of the house appears to be historic in that the dormer windows are little, tricking you into thinking there are short ceilings downstairs and a little space above them like how smokehouses used to have extra space on top. Karen says she can’t take credit for this addition; the previous owners designed it and constructed their dream kitchen inside, and it turned out to be anything but little with short ceilings!
The room inside actually soars to the top of the roofline and it manages to be cozy, inviting, and crisp at the same time. Wood beams go across the whole room with the dormers coming out above them, which just adds so much light. The slate floor is reminiscent of Virginia farmhouse porches and works so well against the cream colored kitchen cabinets.
The overall effect is cheerful and utterly charming.
This kitchen design has thought of everything. I could spend hours looking at it all. Check out the little key molding at the top of the upper cabinets, which is cool because they don’t go up to the ceiling. And also note the stainless steel countertop on this little area below. I love the juxtaposition of the stainless with the country wide wood plank backsplash.
The piece de resistance is the AGA range. Set against a brick backsplash that appears to have been an old fireplace, the blue pops and can’t help but be the focal point of the room.
I love the timeless molding around the brick and how it echoes the cabinetry throughout the kitchen.
The coolest detail in the kitchen, which Karen also credits the previous owners, is the handpainted tile backsplash behind the kitchen sink. At first glance, someone wrote the names of herbs on the various tiles, which is nothing to write home about. But upon closer inspection… the name “Ovoka” has been painted on as well!
Karen was inspired by the subtle personal touch and when she was in Italy a few years ago, commissioned a set of handpainted Ovoka pottery to be made too.
I love the shade of blue in the pottery and how well it goes with the AGA stove. This kitchen has thought of it all, folks.
Behind the kitchen cabinets are two Dutch doors that open up into a well designed mud room.
Every farmhouse could benefit from one of these, but especially a kitchen on a working farm like Ovoka where you really do come in for meals after being out with livestock. It’s got storage and a place to clean up (I wouldn’t mind scrubbing my hands while enjoying those views through the windows!).
On the other side of the house opposite the kitchen is a room known as the “cherry room,” where the walls are made of boards of cherry trees that grew on Ovoka’s property. This room is certainly older. When you walk in, it smells like leather.
This fireplace also has a fire fender seat that appears to be antique. Wouldn’t you love to sit there next to a fire in the fireplace on a cold night?
This room is absolutely cozy and feels tailor made for curling up and staying a while. There’s a television in the corner, of which I appreciate the placement. (We also stuck our television in the corner of our family room and have the focal point be the fireplace, but all too often the television is made the focal point these days.)
These door handles and locks are just awesome! Look at that! It makes me think of all the times the door’s been used to welcome in a friend. Ohhhh if doors could talk.
Downstairs Guest Bedroom
The downstairs guest room mirrors the dining room in that it juts out behind the house and has windows on three sides. I love, love love this room. Something about the natural light just feels amazing. Karen used a professional interior design firm to help her with Ovoka and their work certainly paid off in my opinion.
Don’t you wish this were your guest room? Talk about tranquil.
Every bathroom at Ovoka is well designed. I wanted to include this half-bathroom downstairs because I love the way the antique mirror picks up the wallpaper. So much attention to detail in every inch of this house!
Split Staircase Landing
Going upstairs is actually a treat to experience. The staircase is stunning. At the top, it splits into three sections: you can go right, pass a window and go left, or make a U-turn and keep going toward the front of the house. (This reminds me of Beauty and the Beast. Anyone else?)
There’s a lot of light coming in and the beautiful white wainscoting adds depth.
This is a view from the top if you’d made a U-turn. I love the wood trim at the ceiling that matches the top of the wainscoting. No art on the walls is needed when you’ve got such stunning architectural details to look at. (And be sure to notice those floor boards, swoon!)
The master suite is perfectly simple and continues the calm vibe from the rest of the house.
(As if naming her rescue dogs after Washington Nationals baseball players weren’t enough, #1 fan status is proven by the way Karen decorates her bed!)
The master bathroom is anything but simple. Look at this gorgeous wall tile mural!
I love the glass shower walls and all the storage space.
Upstairs Guest Rooms
There are what feels like dozens of guest rooms upstairs. I’ll just share some of my favorite pictures.
I love how each room has a fireplace.
The guest room in the photo below sits above the dining room and it is also light-filled on three sides. It feels feminine without being overly so. (Side note: I love all the different fireplace mantles.)
The bedroom below actually sits above the cherry room with little dormers sticking out. I love the twin beds with classic white bedspreads. (Seems like a perfect place for teens to hang out!)
All of the bathrooms upstairs were cute, but this one in particular stuck out to me because of the charming blue and white wallpaper with the dogs in the motif. I love the cream trim and light blue ceiling too!
Karen told me she wasn’t planning on renovating the basement at Ovoka, but the house needed some structural repairs when they bought it so it went on the list. An engineer helped design the repairs but for some reason (and I don’t know HOW this happened) there was a miscalculation. As the crew was working on reinforcing the foundation on the front wall of the house, it started to cave in! Karen said this was a massive, hugely expensive mistake that required emergency support from lots of people to prevent the house from falling over. Can you imagine owning this gorgeous property on the National Register of Historic Places and being responsible for it accidentally collapsing?
Needless to say, they fixed the foundation. With all the work that went into repairing the basement and beefing up the exterior walls, Karen decided to make the basement usable and finished it out. She put in an at-home movie theater that she said she ended up loving!
Working Cattle Farm
Ovoka is a beautiful farmhouse, but there’s more to the property than the house. The farm itself raises cattle (you can see their website here with more gorgeous photos of the farm!); a mix of Angus and Wagyu. There is quite a production going on with hundreds of acres in sustainable farming practices. If you have ever tried Wagyu, you know how excellent this premium beef is.
Karen didn’t grow up aspiring to be a farmer. In fact, she was an attorney in Chicago before she and her ex-husband purchased Ovoka. She told me she only wished she’d known how much she would love farming so she could have started it 30 years sooner!
Karen bottle fed many of her cattle and decided to keep a few as pets, but she raises the great majority for beef production. She also has some miniature horses (she said they serve absolutely no purpose other than to make her happy!) and chickens (for the fresh eggs).
Tucked away to the side of the house in between some gorgeously tall boxwoods and fields of cattle is a saltwater pool.
This pool and its surroundings belong in a magazine. It’s a dream. There’s an outdoor kitchen and game area with a television, a hot tub, plenty of places to sit, you name it.
I love the stonework everywhere that imitates the front porch floor. And I really love the boxwoods and views of fields everywhere you look.
I hope my photos have conveyed the historic elegance that Ovoka exudes.
The patio in the back actually looks out on an old, old stone house that predates the current farmhouse. According to old diaries, George Washington actually stayed there when he was surveying this property as a young adult.
Karen has done such an incredible job with this beautiful property. Her love of Ovoka shines through the way she’s renovated and decorated it, and of course kept it all up. Houses this old are never low maintenance endeavors and the excellent condition throughout just makes my heart happy knowing this house is well taken care of.
I hope you enjoyed touring Ovoka as much as I did! This is such a special property that does Virginia proud.