‘We consider ourselves stewards of this historic property, and our goal was to preserve or restore the home’s original details where possible,’ says Keren Richter of the picturesque 1850s farmhouse, one of the world's best homes, in New York state, where she and her family live.
Keren and her husband Thomas are the founders of interior design company White Arrow. ‘We remodeled the home for our own family,’ says Keren. ‘The first iteration of the house dates back to the 1850s. It has undergone several additions over the years – one in the early 1900s, the 1950s, and now.’
The design of the home took a year and construction another year. ‘We restored the home's front porch, which an earlier owner had eliminated,’ says Keren. ‘We returned the living room to its original footprint and reoriented the house, so you now enter through the front door again. We removed some walls, shifted others, and raised the low ceilings over two rooms. Our ultimate goal was to bring in additional functionality (we now have a walk-in pantry, a primary bedroom closet, a home office, and an additional bathroom). We also added historic wavy-glass windows and shifted other locations to bring in more light and views and create more symmetry.’
And when it came to the decor, the couple were careful to choose a look that chimes with the age of the house. ‘Our vision was to create a retreat reminiscent of a Cotswolds country home,’ says Keren. ‘The house feels a bit British by layering in block printed and antique floral patterning, rich wall colors, and warm textural upholstery in velvets and wool. And ultimately, the atmosphere is both storied and timeless, just like the home itself.’
The exterior played a huge part and influenced the design of the interior. ‘We added windows and prioritized the views from our home,’ says Keren. ‘We often thought about how views or light would impact color and the feeling in each room. Five acres of meadow and trees surround our home, and we love how the four seasons affect the atmosphere within the house and the colors you see in conjunction with furniture.
‘Now the house is beautiful both inside and out!’
The house's historic charm influenced the interior scheme in this space with living room ideas centering on creating a cozy, period feel. ‘The living room is the oldest part of the home, and we often sit in the room with a roaring fire going,’ says Keren. ‘To play up the warmth and history, we incorporated a layered mix of traditional furnishings while mixing in rich textures and colors.’
The George Smith-inspired English roll arm sofa is reupholstered in a blue Elitis linen, while vintage armchairs are reupholstered in a bordeaux-colored Sandra Jordan wool. The coffee table is vintage Maison Baguès and the side table is an 18th-century American antique.
The priority in the kitchen was to create a larger space and this was achieved by removing a wall and adding a pantry to accommodate the larger kitchen footprint.
Evoking a country kitchen look was top of Keren and Thomas's wishlist and among their kitchen ideas was giving pride of place to a vintage white Aga. ‘I found it on an American Classifieds listing. Thomas flew to Montana and drove it in parts back in a U-Haul,’ says Keren.
To enhance the period feel, custom Shaker cabinets and beadboard were installed, with open shelving added to display Keren's collection of antique Ironstone ware.
The room was then painted in a smart deep blue by Fine Paints of Europe, with the counter topped with a honed Arabescato and the island topped with chestnut wood.
Period furniture such as the 19th century Italian chestnut table, vintage Windsor chairs and distressed cabinet were among Keren's dining room ideas for enhancing the traditional feel.
Keren was keen to create a fun scheme in the playroom. The sofa was upholstered in a Rose Uniacke velvet, while vintage mushroom stools are reupholstered in a pale pink velvet. A patterned rug injects quirkiness.
‘We have two daughters under five, so we spend most of our time in the kitchen and playroom. We love the flow between the two rooms and how they are child-friendly, sophisticated, and a joy for our whole family to use.’
An atmospheric scheme has been created with deep green walls helping to disguise the large flat-screen television. Library lighting, lamps and a Hans Bergström pendant light enable the room to glow at night.
‘We love the custom-designed sectional we created, covered in Dedar velvet,’ says Keren. ‘We paired the seating with an antique Chinese Art Deco rug, a 1950s Gio Ponti chair in marigold mohair, and a campaign coffee table that's deep enough for party games.’
The downstairs powder room is the epitome of elegance with a French Ananbô scenic mural on the walls and a 1900s antique pedestal basin.
A range of bedroom ideas have created a nostalgic scheme. The antique spool bed takes centre stage and has a carefully crafted feel, while the the chest of drawers and printed cotton toile lamp shades are 19th century antiques.
‘The room is small in size, but a Shaker peg and rail and ensuite bath give it great functionality, and with views onto the land from three cardinal directions, it is one of our favorite rooms,’ says Keren.
Bathroom ideas for evoking a period look include a traditional style bath tub and a standalone footed shower basin.
Pale gray paneling injects an elegant touch on the walls.
The guest bedroom features a historic Shaker-inspired bed, which is dressed with a patchwork quilt.
Elegant sleigh beds are teamed with William Morris wallpaper and a vintage Chinese Art Deco rug. A vintage 1930s frosted pendant light finishes off the look.
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Interiors have always been Vivienne's passion – from bold and bright to Scandi white. After studying at Leeds University, she worked at the Financial Times, before moving to Radio Times. She did an interior design course and then worked for Homes & Gardens, Country Living and House Beautiful. Vivienne’s always enjoyed reader homes and loves to spot a house she knows is perfect for a magazine (she has even knocked on the doors of houses with curb appeal!), so she became a houses editor, commissioning reader homes, writing features and styling and art directing photo shoots. She worked on Country Homes & Interiors for 15 years, before returning to Homes & Gardens as houses editor four years ago.
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