Storied Fenwick Home Restored

The House dates back to about 1871 and has been an integral part of the storied history of Fenwick, CT ever since. Hurricane House was aptly named after it was one of the few survivors of the famed 1938 hurricane that struck the shores of Connecticut. The enclosed black and white photo shows just how close the house came to destruction.

Restoring this home to its former grandeur was simply a dream project on so many levels. First, the vision of the clients to maintain the historic character and feel of the home and create a wonderful weekend/summer retreat for their family was a vision we kept front and center throughout the process. The history of the home was something we never forgot and something we truly wanted to honor. Given the age of the house, no floor plans were available, but in keeping with the original character of the home, many of the interior walls were left unchanged. Those design changes that did occur were done with an intention to primarily enhance water views throughout the first floor or create serviceable closets for the bedrooms on the second floor.

To ensure the integrity of the restoration, the first step was to conduct an exhaustive review of the condition of the home. Crawling beneath this 138 yr. old home to assess the foundation understructure was something we will never forget. After a thorough structural review revealed that there were multiple failed components, the decision was made to completely gut and re-level this home from the foundation up through its three stories.

It was at this point, we realized that we could not only restore this home, we could also incorporate a multitude of energy efficient features and home automation enhancements that would thoroughly modernize the home from the inside out. Our clients were only too enthusiastic to pursue these enhancements, and with that, the scope of the project expanded to remodel the entire house with an eye towards modernizing and updating the infrastructure while preserving the historic character of the home.

In terms of modernizing the home, a very sophisticated home automation system was installed (Homelogic) in conjunction with a Lutron lighting package. The Homelogic interface subsequently was employed to control the entire house both remotely (even from an iPhone) as well as while the owners are in residence.

The home was also remodeled to be highly energy efficient with Windsor windows and exterior doors (custom made to match original window/door design), high efficiency heat system (Hallowell heat pump), on demand Noritz water heater, energy efficient light controls (via Homelogic which initially illuminates lights at 70% of wattage output) and open cell foam insulation for the entire structure (including sound proofing the entire house) which was pivotal in creating an airtight envelope.

Once the restoration process was complete, an energy audit was conducted and as a result of green building practices and the enhancements mentioned above, this home achieved a HERS rating of 66 and received an award from the Ct. Homebuilders as the Best Energy Efficient Remodel in the state for 2009. Simply amazing for a 138 yr. old home!

In addition to integrating science & technology into this historic home, many of the design aspects that required creative problem solving also made this project really satisfying to us.

An excellent example of the intent to preserve the original character including replacing the interior bead board in the nearly 6000 sq. ft. house with a replication of the original bead board (custom milled to be historical accurate), which covers virtually every square foot of the walls and ceilings and is stunningly beautiful.

Additionally, the new energy efficient windows had to be custom made to a "T" to ensure they were architectually correct in matching the historical details of the original windows. So, too, the railling on the 2nd floor screened porch had to be custom crafted to match the original porch railings which were restored on the expansive wrap-around porch.

Our client also had an unusually keen eye for design; particularly in regard to selecting antique artifacts (ship lanterns, barrels) or antique light fixtures that had to be custom wired and/or retrofitted in order to hang as a modern light fixture.

Finally, as the project expanded to be a total home restoration, the renovation of the 3rd floor which had been unconditioned & unheated space gave us an opportunity to combine geometry with design by exposing the original angles of the framing and rooflines to create interesting volume spaces and showcase beautiful structural lines. As you can see from some of the photos, these spaces were ultimately accentuated by many of the owner's handpicked antique artifacts and custom light fixtures.

We are so proud and thrilled to have had an opportunity to restore a home of this nature while also collaberating with clients who shared the same passion for preserving its authenticity while making it "green". On top of that, working with someone who also had a keen and creative eye for design elements that would ultimately complement their home made this project so enjoyable and rewarding.
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“lots of windows & a large deck” — lenieweenie
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“kitchen island” — ctcshore
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“Beadboard ceilings” — Celebration Contracting
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“simple, jute rug” — Sophie Shuman
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“Fab coffee table” — ellyatt
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“I'm really enjoying the rustic tables.” — amylherzog
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“furniture, lighting and colors” — Jim McDonald
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“built-in” — Jim McDonald
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“Custom beadboard walls and stairs” — Celebration Contracting
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“mirror” — Sophie Shuman
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“Dormer windows” — Lisa Schanz
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“jaime's room” — Jim McDonald
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“countertop bath” — jcampbell1877
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“light fixture in hallway” — juliede
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“cabin navy bathroom” — lmdeck
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“Bath” — tonyehutzelman
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“Different” — mgcaron
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