The 1980’s were known for many things — Madonna, MTV and an overall aesthetic of “more is never enough”. We at Red House Design recently completed an extensive renovation of a traditionally styled farmhouse built in the 80’s and purchased by clients who prefer a clean and contemporary aesthetic. The setting and views are stunning but the house did not offer sufficient opportunities to capture and engage them, and the interior had so much detail and variety of color that it competed with them. Off we set to transform this house.
Our clients’ brief was three-fold: First, to re-work the main floor plan, consisting of small dark rooms separated by narrow doorways, into an open main floor connecting kitchen, dining and living. Our second charge was to open up the house to engage the short and long range views and provide access that was previously cut off from outdoor patios, pool, and wraparound porch. Finally, we were asked to simplify the overall dated and busy look of the interior of the house.
With minor structural changes, we were able to open the kitchen to the dining room and create an adjacent family room. Along with this move we enlarged an existing opening between the dining room and the living room and created an additional opening to engage the screen porch — linking the indoors and outdoors and creating through sightlines.
We eliminated a dated crystal chandelier and a multitude of wall sconces, installing custom lighting fixtures and recessed LED lighting throughout the house to accommodate the new floorplans and area functions. A warren of back-of-house spaces was opened up with large windows and doorways to create a service area with a butler’s pantry, wet-bar, storage and powder room.
With flow now improved, we exchanged small French doors for new taller French doors that lead from the living room to the wraparound porch. In the dining room, we swapped a window in the center of the bay for an additional tall pair of French doors – opening up views and tying indoor to outdoor.
Between the dining room and screen porch, we added French doors where there were none. This not only increased available light, but opened up the views and created access to outdoor living.
By removing much of the chair rail moulding and beadboard wainscoting, we eliminated some of the heaviness that was felt throughout the house. We did keep it, however, in the main entry and stair hall to visually separate these “service” areas.
Ultimately the baseboards, simpler crown mouldings and back-banded window and door trim throughout the house would be restored to retain the farmhouse aesthetic that the exterior had, but we would paint the trim the same color as the walls in each room in order to modernize the look. Lastly, areas of Mexican quarry tile flooring were removed and replaced with fir flooring to match the material in the majority of the house, and these and the orange-hued original fir floors were refinished and stained a warm deep brown.
Two bathrooms on the second floor were completely renovated to update both function and visual appeal.
The house had two existing wood-burning fireplaces, each with an ornate mantel composed of highly detailed trim. We designed clean-lined stone and wood mantels to replace them and converted them to gas-burning units. The deep color of the stone plays off of the color of the floors, and they become visual focal points of the living room and master bedroom.
Upon completion, the house lives up to its challenge of combining a traditional farmhouse look with modern open-plan living. The 80’s are at rest.