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Channeling Spain in a Bristol Home

Inspired by their European travels, a Bristol family creates a bit of Spain at home

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When Pamela and Joseph Farmer were house hunting nearly 25 years ago, the newlyweds, like most, were looking for something adorable and affordable. The couple wasn’t afraid of a house that needed some TLC as they also wanted a little bang for their buck. They looked at a few fixer-uppers, including one that Pam describes as an absolute “disaster.” It didn’t even make the short list, until an interesting if unexpected incentive came their way. “My mom wanted to sell her house in Seekonk and she said she would give a down payment to whoever would take her,” says Pam, laughing. Joseph, a CPA, took note, and it was game on. The “disaster house” looked better and better. Why? “It had in in-law apartment,” says Pam. The Farmers signed on the dotted line.

As is the case with many young couples, they didn’t have a lot of extra money for immediate renovations, so Pam and Joseph started the home’s transformation with cosmetic changes, like ripping up the shag carpeting and replacing it with new, modern carpet. (Years later, they installed hardwoods throughout.)

The couple had twin daughters and the new additions eventually inspired new spaces. As Pam so enjoys the outdoors, the couple commissioned an oversized deck, patio and al fresco entertaining space that takes up the entire length of the back of the home. “I love being outside, but not in the grass,” she specifies. Once she spotted a snake in the yard, the deck plans were solidified. “The girls were two at the time and the deck was like a playpen. In the summer I could put a kiddie table out there and they could color. It became an entertainment space,” explains Pam.

The next endeavor became the culmination of Pam’s personal and professional passions. Today she is the Assistant Director of Development for Alumni Relations at St. Andrew’s School in Barrington, but she also served as a Spanish teacher there for 25 years (as well as at St. Mary Academy – Bay View in Riverside for a decade). Simultaneously, she serves as a Global Education Ambassador at Education First, an international education company that specializes in language training, educational travel, academic degree programs and cultural exchange. In other words, her passport would make even an avid traveler blush. Throughout all of her globetrotting, there’s always been one country that has risen head and shoulders above the rest: España. “I use to live in Spain. St. Andrew’s sent me on sabbatical there and I spent summers there,” she says. “I have a great gig.” (She’s also referring to her ambassador role where she trains educators on running study abroad programs.)

Spain, she describes, is part of her soul. So when it came time to renovate the home’s kitchen, the inspiration was a no brainer. “It was really bad and we lived with it for a long time,” she says. Pam and Joseph turned to close friend Cameron M. Snyder, CKD, owner and founder of Roomscapes Luxury Design Center in Rockland, MA. The company is a full-service design-build firm engaged in residential space planning, interior design and remodeling. But the real luxury for the Farmers was working with a designer who knew them so well. There was a natural synergy from planning through execution, and Cameron’s longtime friendship with the couple allowed him to design a space with their specific lifestyle in mind. The appliances (think warming ovens, six-burner gas range, double ovens, an appliance garage, wine cooler, etc.), for example, had to be top notch, professional grade quality as Pam is an avid cook. That might be an understatement, actually. She had been the guest chef at Gracie’s in Providence for Spain nights, dishing up – as you might guess – authentic tapas. “We’ve done it for many years now. Ellen is one of my dearest friends… we do a big dinner. I take over the kitchen and the chef and I put out a meal identical to a Spanish restaurant.” Dishes, for example, include tortilla de patatas, mussels in a vinaigrette, paella, croquetas and Spanish meatballs. “And we use all the recipes from Spain,” Pam clarifies. “It’s quite good.” 

To capture that Spanish look and feel, the kitchen walls assume a warm hue Pam identifies as a sandy, earthy tone. “It looks like the sand in a bullring,” she says. To complement that feel, authentic vintage bull fighting posters add an artful, unique feel. “A lot of things I have hanging on the wall were painted in Spain… and I have really pretty pottery from there,” she says. Personal touches also add to the warmth and aesthetic of the space, like the photo of their daughters dancing in flamenco dresses. One of Pam’s favorites is a reproduction of the Goya painting, The Parasol (or El Quitasol in Spanish).
The kitchen renovation also opened up a wall, changing the entire flow of the living spaces. The grand bar and deck area marries the spaces. “It’s an entertaining house; everything flows,” says Pam. “From the living room to the deck to the bar room.” There’s also a “mancave” with a 65” television, lest you think Joseph didn’t emerge from the renovations without a space of his very own.

The Farmers say perhaps now more than ever, they love where they live, and appreciate being within walking distance of Bristol’s downtown with all the shops and amazing eateries. Charming as downtown may be though, most especially this month, Pam says there truly is no place like home.