Merci Garance September 5, 2020 Home Design
Betsy and Peter have kept close to their love story, literally: they met in college, married in Saratoga Springs, NY, and now their home is just down the street from their alma mater. The family was planning to relocate to be closer to Peter’s job and had one weekend to find their house; coming back to their college hometown was a happy byproduct. Despite the varying styles of homes they toured, Peter and Betsy knew the moment they stepped into their now home that it was “the one.” Betsy had actually always wanted to live in a barn, and loved how open the spaces were. The fact that it was somehow an in-town barn made walking to restaurants and shops incredibly convenient, it had a space for an on-site design studio as well — it was the perfect fit.
To tackle the overhaul, Sam, a creative director at an ad agency, and Jonah, a securities regulator, enlisted the help of architect Sarah Jacoby to helm the 2,400-square-foot transformation. The long list of renovations included enlarging the home’s garden level, adding a guest suite with a new bathroom and laundry room, adding a new kitchen to the parlor level, opening up the living room wall to expose the central staircase, and designing an updated master suite with ensuite bathroom, among other changes.
While the bones of the home were heavenly (while sitting in the living room you can look up and see all the way through the cupola) the style felt a little more like a lodge than a home. So, the timbers and doors and windows were all painted white (Benjamin Moore “Linen White”), in a terrifying process using plywood sheets and ladders to reach the some 40 feet up. Iron balusters were updated with steel cable and tempered glass. In Betsy’s studio, she took the dark green former stables and painted everything white and added casements under the window to allow for more natural light in the somewhat cave-like space. The last vestige of the lodge feel for Betsy and Peter is their fireplace, and because of the scale, it will take a while for them to figure out what the perfect replacement will be. While the open spaces were something Betsy had dreamed of, and one of her favorite features, they do create the design challenge of being able to see everything from one end of the house to the other. Betsy had to make sure when she was designing the space that everything felt cohesive. Scale is also a key design element in their home — pieces that once felt huge in their last home were now dwarfed in the massive barn house.
Nestled down a country road, past oak trees, off the road and out of view from anyone passing by, sits a home built from the ground up, for and by homeowners and artists, Vivian and Walter Neill. Also on the large, wooded property is the blacksmith studio of homeowner Walter, a full chicken coop, and the art gallery that the Neill’s run together, Oxford Treehouse Gallery.
“While the renovation added many new features and opened up several spaces to create a better flow, the design was simultaneously careful not to overwhelm or compromise the spirit of the historic features,” Sarah says.
And comfy it is. The living room is the most inviting space to unwind and imbibe in style. “Matthew has been writing about booze and drinking culture for 14 years (culminating in his book You Suck At Drinking) so we have to have a good bar!” They also have a side table in the living room with whiskey on it for those occasions when they are “too lazy to get up and walk to the bar.” Contentment, Sarah reminds us, is often found in the small, thoughtful details.
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