Shades Of Country (October 2006)

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An Old Farmhouse Reborn

by Chippy Irvine

An early 19th century farmhouse sits comfortable on the side of a hill, part of a 30-acre property in upstate New York once used to raise sheep and chickens. Its new owners, a couple with two young children - as well as two bouncy black Labs - have given the once-undistinguished farmhouse a new lease on life by transforming it into a home that embodies the best of both the past and the present.

When the family first discovered this rural retreat, the only structural change they planned was to glass in the existing porch to create a year round room. This turned out to be a more complex job than anticipated, requiring the removal of the roof, so they turned for advice to Architect Jimmy Crisp of Millbrook, New York. Crisp redesigned the roof with three dormer windows, which gave a graceful uplift to the south elevation, and added under-the-eaves built-ins throughout the second floor.

In tackling the interior of their new home, the owners amassed a pile of magazine clippings and realized that what the rooms they liked had in common was a pared down look with comfortable furnishings, simple fabrics, and pale, subtle colors. The limited palette of colors - creamy butter yellow, pale avocado, soft blue - is used in combinations with white trim to add light and sense of brightness to every room. For fabrics, they chose simple woven patterns with a homespun feel, all of which combines for a welcoming, enveloping warmth.

Like many farmhouses where function trumps formality, the everyday entrance is at the back, near where the cars park. The door leads into a small brick floored mudroom, today's version of a stone-flagged farmhouse entry hall. The adjoining kitchen has modern appliances, but a sense of the past is present in its wide pine floorboards, small window panes, and glass-fronted overhead cupboards. Given that the kitchen is the hub of most farmhouses, a nearby breakfast area with an antique country table is used for family meals as well as for games and other projects.

For larger gatherings, there is a dining room with a distinctly rough-hewn, tavern feel to it, suggested by wide floorboards and handsome beams that were exposed when a sagging plaster ceiling was removed. The paneled wainscot, painted a pale creamy green and providing a touch of period elegance, was added to conceal a hole in the wall that was left when a wood-burning stove was removed. Around the long antique monastery table, Shaker-style chairs mingle with painted-back country chairs.

(end of excerpt)

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