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Charming old homes come with their own host of maintenance issues, but they make up for it in appeal. This house had a lot of problems typical of an older home, including water in the basement; Smith and her client went to great lengths to preserve the antique home.
"The client came to me to help her renovate the kitchen and gain more functional space, like laundry," Smith says. "The project snowballed from there."
Roof: "Englert Kynar Ultra-Cool Low Gloss" metal roof in a matte black finish.
Here is the back of the house, which will give you a good feeling for the plan. Here you can see the garage/mudroom with studio overhead on the left, the connecting piece of the house in the middle is the kitchen with the guest suite overhead; on the right is the living room with the master suite overhead (the part most prominently seen in the first image).
The footprint of the house stayed very much the same; the biggest difference was the garage wing, which was torn down and rebuilt so that it could contain a one-car garage, a mudroom and office and a studio overhead.
See the exterior before
"The client lives outside a lot," Smith says. Thus, in the renovation, a major regrading of the land was in order, creating level areas for a series of outdoor rooms. This welcoming covered porch is off the garage. The door leads into the mudroom, and was intended for dog traffic.
A new patio contains a new outdoor dining area and a stone walkway to other parts of the yard. In the distance you can see the client's barn and a white fence that marks the edge of the property.
It's hard to believe that the stone walls were newly built. They are composed of stones from reclaimed walls.
From an engineering standpoint, all of this beautiful earthwork also incorporated solutions to the potential flooding problem in the basement.
This is the space between the single garage stall and the kitchen/dining room in the first volume, or form of the house. In a space approximately the same size as a single garage stall, Smith was able to fit a mudroom, dog shower, laundry room, powder room, pantry and hallway.
"Because the owner has two big labs, we needed a sturdy, durable route to the back porch and yard for the dog traffic," Smith says. The floor is a multicolored slate that coordinates with the transferware tile composition in the dog shower.
The next part of the house contains the kitchen/dining room on the first floor, and measures 16 feet wide by 20 feet deep. This is perhaps the most dramatic transformation in the home; you will not believe the "Before" shot, next.
"We wanted to maximize storage without losing light, so we used very few upper cabinets," Smith says. "We also tried to create storage pieces that looked like furniture." The china cabinet on the left is this kind of piece, and displays more of the client's collections.
The kitchen before: It is really hard to believe that this is the same room. One can see why the homeowner was dreaming of a kitchen renovation for so long.
Here's another picture of the kitchen before
Here's a better look at how the windows were designed around the sink. The countertops and backsplash are local Vermont Danby marble.
In addition to the new windows, a carefully planned scheme adds all kinds of lighting options from very bright to a soft glow. It includes a combination of vintage-style glass and brass pendants, small modern LBL lights and a contemporary fabric-covered drum pendant over the table.
Pendant Lights: Conant Metal and Light
LBL Lights: Bare Head Swivel I
The front door opens directly into the living room, which is the main form of the house.
"The whole house is a library," Smith says. "Our client is extremely organized, with each room containing different genres of books. She has just as many design books as we have in our office."
This section contains the living room on the first floor and the master suite above, as well as a staircase connecting the two. "The client had work done on the living room upon moving in, including adding all of the bookshelves, so all that was really required here was refinishing the floors, changing the paint palette and adding lighting to illuminate the books and art," Smith says. This lighting system is composed of monopoint track fixtures.
Slanted walls and dormers made for an already-cozy master bedroom, which received a light makeover. Windows were repaired and walls were repainted, while storage was enhanced with a reconfigured closet and new built-in drawers and shelves contained within a knee wall (not shown; opposite the bed).
Knee walls are common on the second floor of Capes. Instead of having the of the room extend all the way to where the roofline meets the floor, they cut off this space at about three to four feet high. "There are little triangles behind knee walls that can be used for shelves or drawers," Smith says.
To reach this guest room space, one needs to ascend the staircase off the kitchen/dining room (there were always two staircases in this house). The staircase entered from the dining room/kitchen leads up here to the guest room and the homeowner's studio (which is through that cute little angled door that follows the roofline of the garage form of the house).
"By stepping each form back you get nice corners you can fill," Smith says. If you look back at the second picture in this ideabook, you'll get a good idea of how this works from the exterior. Whenever you spy a diagonal inside this house, it helps you read a roofline or the line of a staircase.
The thick bookshelf on the left makes the most of what is almost always a wasted space, the space above a radiator. The radiator is encased in a perforated cabinet on the bottom of the shelf.
Paint: DKC-22 latex in eggshell finish, Donald Kaufman Color Collection (by Pratt & Lambert)
This is the studio across from the guest room; it sits atop the mudroom/garage portion of the house. The client's hobby is making custom cards, and this studio full of storage and light is a wonderful workspace. The skylights let in natural light, and also open to let in the fresh air.
More vintage plumbing fixtures were used here; the shallow sink on the right is made of soapstone and Smith designed a custom base for it. In addition, an antique ribbon rack holds the client's ribbon collection. In contrast to that, George Nelson's midcentury modern pendant lights and a modern fan hang overhead.
Let's wrap up with one more ingenious space-saver. This cabinet is much deeper than it looks; as the roofline goes down, the drawers take advantage of the increased depth provided by the angle. The bottom drawers here are 42 inches deep. The drawer pulls are, you guessed it, part of the owner's collection; they were card-catalog labels in the days before the Internet.
"This was a really fun project; it's so much fun to collaborate, to have clients who have ideas and help them bring their visions to light," Smith says. "This client had really lovely taste and has become a good friend."
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