By Nancy Peevy | Interior photos by Chadwick Turner
Legacy of the Land
Six generations have lived on this land in Prairie Grove, and this family continues the tradition by remodeling their grandparents’ home to make it their own
For six generations, Natalie West Bartholomew’s family has lived on and worked their family farm in Prairie Grove. In 1860, Roger J. West, Natalie’s great-great grandfather, founded the farm. Part of the Civil War Battle of Prairie Grove was fought on their land, and legend has it that the original house was used as a Union hospital during the battle.
Natalie, community president at First Community Bank, grew up on the farm. Her parents, Randy and Cheryl West, still live down the hill. When Natalie’s dad was about 16 in the 1970s, his parents built the house Natalie currently lives in with her husband, Colt, and their two boys.
Colt also grew up in Prairie Grove and now works the 500-acre farm with Randy and Cheryl, raising 400 head of Black Angus cattle and producing 25,000 to 30,000 square bales of Bermuda grass hay every year to sell to local horse owners.
“I refer to my husband as a real-life cowboy — that’s his full-time job,” Natalie said. “Colt’s family, the Bartholomews, owned the Washington County Livestock Auction for 75 years. He knows cattle inside and out. He and our boys are the future of the farm.”
High school sweethearts, Natalie and Colt built a house in Prairie Grove after they married. However, Natalie always wanted to go back to living on the farm, so she and Colt discussed remodeling the house, once occupied by her late grandparents, and moving back. “Dad gave us the blessing to do the remodel,” she said. “The biggest challenge was to reconfigure the space for a family in the 2020s when it was built in the 1970s,” she said.
The full remodel meant keeping the original bones of the house but enlarging bathrooms and bedrooms, adding a primary bedroom, and turning the original primary bedroom into an en suite bath with a walk-in closet. Taking out a large rock fireplace in the center of the house created better flow between the two living areas. The couple added a mudroom and bathroom on the far end of the house for showers after dirty farm work.
Sometimes the mudroom has even been a refuge for baby calves. “We’ve been known in winter to bring in babies and put them in the shower to give them a better shot at survival during their early hours of life when temps are subzero,” Natalie said. “So, that’s why I wanted to make sure everything was tiled and easy to clean on that side of the house — as crazy as that is.”
Finished in 2018, the 2,750-square-foot house also boasts an extensive outdoor kitchen with a fireplace, television, Evo grill, refrigerator and antique sink. For the rock in the outdoor area, the couple reused the rocks from the fireplace they demolished in the house. “The rocks have a history to the house and the community,” Natalie said. “They originally came from the old Viney Grove Mill that, once upon a time, operated not far from the West’s farm in Viney Grove, a small community outside Prairie Grove.”
The family frequently entertains friends and family outside, hosting al fresco dinners and special brunches for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. “We can sit out there and overlook the hillside,” Natalie said. “The horses are not far away. It’s the most peaceful place to sit, eat and enjoy company. That’s probably my favorite room in the entire house.”
The Bartholomews plan to host a formal outside dinner this fall. “We are on top of a little hill that is on top of the farm and so the view is unbeatable, and there’s always a cool breeze,” Natalie said.
Inside the home, the décor is clean and simple with navy blue accents. Wanting the house to fit the farm location, Natalie decorated in a modern rustic style, pairing family antiques with modern furniture. “Think Yellowstone but more farmhouse,” she said, referring to the popular television show. “I love to mix old with new.”
In the den, she hung Colt’s original photographs taken on the farm, which are images of a Palomino horse, a colt, a baby calf and feeding cattle during a snowstorm.
Natalie enjoys decorating the house for holidays, going all out in both living spaces, dining area, kitchen, entryway and back porch. She finds ideas on Instagram and Pinterest while also getting inspiration — and her love of holiday decorating — from her mother. “I do it for the boys and for myself,” she said. “I love it.”
This year for Halloween, Natalie has bats climbing on the fireplaces, self-lit candles that look like they are floating in front of the fireplace, heirloom pumpkins, and live plants including mums and cabbages. Her table is decked out with blue glassware, fall-themed dishes on orange chargers with orange napkins, and pumpkins gracing the center of the table. She describes her Halloween décor as “not spooky scary.”
“No skeletons,” she said. “I like cute pumpkins, cute ghosts. That keeps it spooky chic. It’s classy but not spooky.”
Natalie and Colt love how their home turned out. “What we spent on the remodel, you could have probably built a new home, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world,” she said.
“The fact that we were able to do the remodel, make it our own, and still have the character and uniqueness that was once my grandparents’ house means a lot to me.”