During a search for a second home in the Berkshires, my clients discovered some gorgeous acreage in Great Barrington with adjacent meadow views that inspired them to build instead of buy. As the interior designer, I was intimately involved in all phases of the project, from excavation to finish. Land had to be cleared, a septic system designed, and a well dug before construction could begin.
The concept for the 2800 square foot home began with a floor plan. The goal was to create a retreat with the ambiance of a Bed & Breakfast, one with open spaces where everyone can congregate, but that also has intimate spaces where one can curl up with a book. The house is set back from the main road and sited to take advantage of the surrounding woods and meadows. Because the woods provide privacy, window treatments in the main living area, as well as the master bath and master bedroom, are either minimal or non-existent. The view becomes part of the interior landscape. The first floor includes the master bedroom with direct access to the patio, a guest bedroom to accommodate aging parents, and a library retreat. An additional guest room with full bath is on the second floor. In the bedrooms, valences conceal light-omitting shades, which create the same illusion of openness that prevails in the rest of the house.
Consistent throughout the house: materials and finishes that impart high style and low maintenance, including satin-finished nickel fixtures and hardware, pine moldings and wide-plank yellow pine floors…a deliberate flooring choice because it is susceptible to dents and scratches that add patina and charm to the spaces. Local antique shops, tag sales, and arts centers were sources for interesting pieces throughout the home, including framed prints and watercolors by area artists, a spinning wheel, a yarn holder, rustic tin shelves and an antique trunk.
Finishes and furnishings reflect the sophisticated tastes of the owners and celebrate the culture of the surrounding countryside. The double-height living room/dining room is a generously proportioned space with mellow Tuscan walls and a tongue-and-groove ceiling that balances the wide-plank flooring. The focal point of the living room is the fireplace with custom ceramic and glass tile capped by a pair of antique Moroccan urns and architectural elements rescued from the exterior of a demolished New England hotel. For the dining room, I created a personality that blends with the adjoining living room and kitchen, while setting it apart. Antique screens from a Chinese wedding bed overlook a farmer’s table that expands to seat 12 and a chandelier with etched glass shades.
A lower ceiling marks the transition between dining room and kitchen, which features honed limestone countertops, a farmhouse sink, stainless steel appliances, and cabinetry with a painted, distressed and glazed finish. The clients are serious cooks so there is ample workspace as well as a place for guests to sit and chat.
To make a big impact in the small powder room, I filled it with unexpected touches: a small sideboard became a vanity; a marble bowl and kitchen faucet make a stunning pair; a novelty mirror provides a beautiful reflection.
The master bath is a study in Old World charm, with beadboard wainscoting capped by molding that doubles as a shelf, a soaking pedestal tub with a view of the perennial garden. Other amenities include a state-of-the-art steam shower.
In the guest bedrooms, an antique door panel and an iron trellis salvaged from the surrounding area are clever headboard stand-ins. Custom-designed rag rugs and quilted coverlets provide texture and style.
The second floor library, which overlooks the Great Room, provides a cozy “away space” for reading and relaxing.
The lower level includes a 1,000-bottle wine cellar that hosts intimate wine and cheese tastings as well as a complete gym and office.
A recent renovation of the screened porch was completed to better accommodate frequent entertaining during the warmer months.
Robin Schultz is the principal and founder of Robin Schultz Interior Design LLC, a private interior design practice that services residential and contract clients in the New York/New Jersey Metropolitan area and in the Berkshires. More information at RobinSchultzInteriorDesign.com