This extraordinary home was built in 1890 and according to the family who owned it for more than 100 years, and from whom I purchased it last summer, it took decades to build due to the complex roof lines, detailed siding and intricacy of the inlaid wood ceilings, cherry raised paneled walls, mosaic maple floors and ornate mantels.
One of the most strikingly beautiful features of the house are the inlaid hardwood ceilings in almost every room in the house --- although they are dark stained, after we applied multiple coats of natural shellac, the ceilings shine and playfully reflect light. As a carpenter myself, I frequently marvel at how difficult it must have been for the original builders to achieve such glorious woodwork without the tools we use casually every day – those old time carpenters had all hand tools --- no electric saws, drills, nail guns, routers.
The renovation of this home was done over a six month period with a crew of eight people. Fortunately, all of the original woodwork was intact, and there had been no prior insensitive remodeling. But the house needed bathrooms, a new kitchen, wiring, exterior and interior painting, a barn roof and plumbing.
I have restored many historic homes, and built many new ones, but the restoration of this property was by far one of most enjoyable projects. I am grateful for the talented tradespeople whose devotion and skill brought this home back to its original glory.
With the original architecture so incredibly dramatic, it seemed important to furnish the home so that it was beautiful, yet comfortable. My inspiration for the interior décor were English country homes with their mix of antique furniture, a dash of modernity, a flourish of Asian touches and overall, a comforting place to enjoy a classic country home vacation.
So we brought in deep sofas, antique four poster beds, a bit of shabby chic and whimsy accessories --- seeking to create a home which embraces a bit of wear and tear, and doesn’t take itself too seriously. I framed vintage botanical prints, hung tapestries and bought nice comforters and quilts.
Another of my goals was to make the home friendly for children. Thinking that the Victorian architecture with its dark trim, tall rooms and long halls could be intimidating to young ones, I built a child’s kitchenette with a tiny working sink and Japanese tea sets. I bought a Victorian dollhouse with furniture, hung a tree swing and acquired some board games and puppets.
So your children are certainly welcome and will hopefully enjoy their stay. Note to parents: please insure that your children are slow and careful on the stairs and that they are respectful of the woodwork and antique furniture.
Oddly, the home had multiple gorgeous mantels but not a single actual fireplace, although there is evidence that at some time in the last 100 years, there may have been some coal stoves. We added fabulous electric fireplaces --- the flames are quite realistic and lovely. There are fireplaces in the living room, the master bedroom and one of the second floor bedrooms.
My goal with the new kitchen was to create a space that appeared to be a very well maintained kitchen original to the house instead of obviously new.
We spent several months detailing out a large new handcrafted country kitchen, installing wood cabinets painted in a soft blue, maple butcherblock counters, whimsical small shelves, glass knobs, tiled mural backsplashes and new appliances (gas stove, two refrigerators, dishwasher).
I found a gorgeous antique double porcelain sink with drainboards, and we also added a farmhouse sink at the far end of the kitchen for washing vegetables. With more than enough cabinets and counters, there was still a nice space leftover for a small children’s kitchen with a real sink for play time.
We rewired the original stained glass light fixture over the table and brought in an oak table which seats eight people. After months of searching, I found eight beautiful rush seat chairs that happened to match the blue cabinets perfectly (it was an eight hour round trip ride to acquire them!)
The kitchen has refinished wide pine floorboards, and at the entry, I chose old style linoleum in green and blue checkerboard pattern, seeking to create a space which felt like a classic well maintained original country kitchen.
Off the kitchen was a wood shed which we renovated as a mud room --- we added brightly painted new swing up windows, and restored the odd original quite narrow door which opens out to enormous stone steps leading to the yard.
The laundry room off the kitchen has been brightened with colorful new linoleum, full size washer and dryer and a children’s little table with chairs and coloring books. Picturing the enormous work of lugging sheets and towels down from the second floor, we found a perfect place for a laundry chute from the second floor (of course, we still need to carry the stuff UP unless we hook up a dumbwaiter?)
Off the laundry room is a nicely renovated full bathroom with large low threshold shower.
The living room is quite large, opening onto the gorgeous staircase. The original mantel has been outfitted with a charming electric fireplace (quite realistic!), two large sofas and a table with four chairs in the bay tower on the front. The ceiling is inlaid wood, and the floor is maple in a mosaic pattern. The lower walls have beautiful raised paneling. If you look carefully, you will notice that the pattern of the floor matches the ceiling.
In the stair alcove there is an Asian desk which folds open, perfect for your laptop.
The wifi, by the way, is excellent.
FIRST FLOOR BEDROOM
The first floor bedroom has gorgeous woodwork, maple floors, inlaid wood ceiling and a sitting spot in the “tower”. There is a queen size bed with dramatic four poster frame, and a beautiful large mantel (unfortunately not able to be outfitted with an electric fireplace).
Astonishingly, there was originally only one bathroom in the entire house, located on the first floor and already remodeled with low threshold shower and nice vanity.
We took one of the many second floor bedrooms, built a center wall and created two new bathrooms (master bath and hall bath) with vintage detailing --- pedestal sinks, black and white subway tiled walls and in each bathroom alcoves with deep soaking tubs. Restored maple floors and vintage towel racks imply that these are original, not new, bathrooms.
(Historical note, there was once a grand outhouse out back with three seats and ornate woodwork matching the main house. Wish we had a picture of this long gone structure … )
SECOND FLOOR BEDROOM LAYOUT
The second floor master bedroom has a four poster king bed with down duvet and vintage chenille bedspread. There is an Eastlake marble top dresser and hall coat track. There is a large wing chair by the fireplace and two soft rose colored arm chairs in the bay tower.
During construction, we broke an opening from the master bedroom and added a French door to an adjoining sunny room to create a dressing room. In addition to shelving and rods for hanging and storing clothes, there is a pretty daybed with rollout trundle. I imagined that some parents might like to have their children sleep in the adjoining room instead of down the hall. We left the original door which leads to the hall to make it more versatile in terms of access.
There are two other bedrooms on the second floor:
The bedroom at the top of the stairs has a four poster double bed, and a beautiful original mantel with charming electric fireplace. The pine floors have been refinished, and the inlaid wood ceilings a joy to see. There are numerous windows overlooking the meadows.
The second floor front bedroom also has a four poster double bed with crochet canopy. The pine floors have been refinished, and the inlaid wood ceiling restored. There are windows in the “tower bay”, a charming spot to sit. We have added a cast iron red fireplace/stove for heat and ambiance.
There are some wonderful original murals which we discovered. Every wall in the house was covered with four layers of wallpaper, the first paper being installed on bare plaster walls when the house was first built. We cheerfully (for the most part!) stripped all the wallpaper, room by room, naturally finding out that the much of the plaster was in need of repair, a process which took many months.
The living room had a 1950’s green wallpaper that I initially considered keeping so we didn’t work on this room until the end. When literally the last sections of wallpaper in the house were stripped, we discovered two hand painted whimsical murals painted on the original plaster.
One mural says “Home Sweet Home” with a picture of a woman dressed in turn-of-the century clothes and a man with barbershop quartet mustache, singing gaily at a piano. Upon closer inspection, I realized that the piano in the picture was the very one which we had discarded when I first bought the house --- the piano was huge, rectangular in shape, in terrible condition and taking up the entire stair hall (also blocking the view of the gorgeous inlaid paneling), so I had it hauled out the front door where it took two men an entire day to break up and remove. But I kept the enormous piano legs, thinking that one day I would build a coffee table with them for the living room. The piano legs are clearly visible in the old mural. (Update: haven’t built a coffee table yet but the legs are safely stored in the barn).
The other mural is of a windmill, and the story is that the original builder hailed from Holland.
Both murals are left intact and unrestored for your amusement.
A large porch on the back of the house was added by the previous owners. We are in the process of screening it in, and this summer we will bring in wicker furniture and potted plants.
There is an enormous barn behind the house; perhaps in the spring we will put a ping pong table inside. The land surrounding the house is nicely level (unusual in the Adirondacks), making it ideal for exploring. The nearest neighbors on both sides are a good distance away and not visible from our place. The property extends across the quiet country road to what was once a grand orchard although only a few of the original apple trees remain.
We will be adding a firepit and outdoor gas grill as soon as the weather breaks.
There is plenty of parking for multiple cars.
HEATING AND AIR CONDITIONING
The house was well insulated by the former owners, and new windows were installed. The hot air furnace keeps the first floor warm, but there was never ductwork run to the second floor so we opted for electric fireplaces and electric wall heaters to keep the upstairs rooms cozy.
Although the house kept quite cool during the summer months while we were renovating, we added new wiring so we could install room air conditioners in the summer. The Adirondack Mountains rarely have super hot or humid summers, by the way.
TV’s AND WIFI
There are ROKU televisions throughout the home. The Wifi is astonishingly fast.
A fine country home transports us closer to nature and seemingly out of time to a slower pace of life.
Now beautifully restored, comfortable with a veneer of elegance and informality, this home awaits you for your special gathering.