Creative decor lands Level Green home in pages of 'Country Sampler'
Ed and Joni Barnes have lived in Level Green for 46 years, where they raised two daughters and have worked hard to make their house a home.
Joni is a self-taught home decorator with a decorating style that has evolved over four decades.
“I'm a mix of colonial, country and primitive,” she says. “When we first got married, I was into modern contemporary. I'm never done. I'm constantly rearranging and changing.”
She never dreamed that their modest, four-bedroom home would grace five double pages of a national country-lifestyle and home decorating magazine with more than 700,000 readers that share her passion for country furniture, family heirlooms and American folk art.
Joni belongs to several home decorating groups on Facebook, where she and friends share their photos and decorating ideas. She admits she was excited — and a bit surprised — when a photographer from “Country Sampler” saw some of her photos back in November 2016 and said she wanted to feature their home in the magazine.
“In March 2017 she contacted me and said our house would be featured in a spring 2018 edition,” Joni recalls. “The husband-and-wife team came last June for a two-day photo shoot. It was fascinating.”
The article appeared in the March issue of “Country Sampler” with the headline “Heirloom Quality.” The writer said the couple “captures the true spirit of country decorating by updating rooms and refreshing collections throughout the home they have cherished for more than four decades.”
Joni first became interested in antiques when her mother gave her a set of Bubble Blue Depression glass dishes that were a “barn find.” She started visiting antique shops to add more pieces to her dishes set and collect more pieces of the same color and pattern for her two daughters.
“That's how my love of antiquing got started,” she says.
Among the furnishings she treasures most are those that have been passed down from her family, including an antique pump organ, circa 1879, given to her by her father. A pair of his baby shoes rests on a shelf in the living room.
Her husband built the pie safe with punched tin panels in the family room and a dry sink that showcases her antique Redware pottery collection. He also did major renovation work when they added a large addition to the house and remodeled the kitchen.
Rustic wood signs are part of the décor that express her feelings about her home and family, including one with the message, “A family is life's greatest blessing” and another that reads, “Life is full of blessings.”
Joni says she changes her room decorations with the seasons.
“I decorate according to the weather — with winter greens, fall colors, spring and summer silk flower arrangements and lighter colors,” she says.
The couple originally from Central City in Somerset County met when she was 15 years old and was married in 1969, when she was 17. They moved to Level Green in Westmoreland County in 1972 when her husband had a job transfer to Pittsburgh. Ed, now retired, installed sprinkler systems for a fire protection company.
They will celebrate their 49th wedding anniversary on Aug. 30. Their daughters are Shelly Wilson, 47, of Level Green and Denise Spena, 40, of North Versailles, and they have two granddaughters, Nicole, 17, and Ariana, 10.
Joni also spends time caring for her mother, Pauline Keller, who lives nearby and will be 89 on May 18. She says her mom looked forward to their magazine article when she told her about it but got anxious when it took so long until the piece was finally published.
“She told me, ‘I hope I live to see it,' and wouldn't you know, she had two heart attacks before the issue came out. But she lived to see it and was thrilled.”
Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.