The foyer of the Margolis house, transformed.

Simpler Berkshire weekends, a river house and fishing

Designer William Caligari offers "downsize relief" for a couple who wanted a simpler life. River and fishing included.

A few years ago, Amy and Scott Margolis were looking for a simpler version of their Berkshire weekend life: a smaller, more efficient country home with great interior design. On a river, please, for a bit of fishing.

Take a 3D tour of  the new Margolis house through our Matterport scan.

At the time, they were spending weekends at their rambling, rural farmhouse on 29 acres, where they had invested, with gusto, time and money to connect and renovate two adjacent barns that became a dramatic hilltop home of more than 6,000 square feet. That Berkshire project and its interior design were ambitious, with a pool and other great amenities for a family-friendly getaway. But by 2017, Amy and Scott decided, “enough is enough.” It was too big.

The new house, at 2,500 square feet, was a downsized relief from the couple’s prior 6,000 square foot farmhouse. Photo: Ren Nickson, Courtesy of William Pitt/Sotheby’s

Amy, who has a human resources consulting practice in New York City, and husband Scott, who works in financial services, sold the grand farmhouse. “It was great for the family, but then the kids grew up, and we wanted a simpler life,” they told us. What Amy and Scott found was a project – but a downscaled, manageable one: a 1980s, 2,500-square-foot home on five-acres along the bubbling Konkapot River. Once the home of a renowned fly fisherman who operated a fishing shop on the home’s main level, the house is just a few steps from the river bank.

The house had not had much attention for the last 30 years, but it had good bones, a perfect location and the promise of easier weekend life. Amy and Scott set out to find a top interior designer in the Berkshires, and we are so glad they found us.

“I had overdone it in the past, and so I was on a budget this time around,” Amy told us. “We wanted a contemporary feel this time, with warm touches. And I love the color red.”

We matched the Margolis style with their clearly defined budget and some creative design. Major line items: partially gutting the house, replacing floors and installing new, larger windows to bring the outside in.

We found efficient solutions for a variety of “before” challenges. For instance, the original entry foyer was dim, small and dull. Scott and Amy considered tearing out a wall, but we suggested (successfully!) using color and a dramatic mirror to resolve the problem. The mirror captures natural light and creates interesting planes and volume; wood floors bring warmth. This is a perfect example of where a mirror isn’t perceived, but the additional space and texture are. As the photos below show, the contrast between the before and after entryways is dramatic.

The foyer, before. Photo courtesy William Caligari
The foyer, after. The foyer mirror added space and volume, and we didn’t need to remove a wall to create “space.” Photo: Steve Petrie
The new foyer at its full length. While still narrow, the foyer is now a focal point in the house! And Amy’s favorite color helped drive our color decisions throughout the home. Photo: Steve Petrie

Below, to steal some extra sleeping space, we closed off the entrance to the former “fishing lodge store” on the main floor (now a TV room) and installed a cozy sleeping nook with a bunk bed. The nook vanishes behind a sliding barn door — a great feature!

Now you see it…In the new TV room (the former fishing shop), we sacrificed an indoor/outdoor exit in this spot to create the bed nook. Photo: Steve Petrie
And now you don’t…The sleeping nook is invisible with its sliding door closed. Photo: Steve Petrie

The old kitchen had a restricting right-angle countertop. We removed it, opening the flow. So as not to lose counter space, we moved the fridge to an adjacent pantry. The free-standing island hides a discreet stove.

The old kitchen countertop was a traffic obstacle and interrupted the open feel of the home. Photo courtesy of William Caligari
The new kitchen, with counter removed and flow restored. We salvaged lost counter space by tucking the refrigerator into an adjacent pantry. The free-standing island hides a stove. Photo: Steve Petrie
Another kitchen view captures the foyer transformation as well. Photo: Steve Petrie

The living room invites a wealth of life and light, which bring emphasis to the artwork.

A view of the living room. Photo: Steve Petrie
Another view of the living room. Photo: Steve Petrie

It’s true: every great interior designer loves an expansive budget, but we also like digging into designs that call for financial finesse, creative sourcing and scouting. For instance, we were able to source some reproduction tulip chairs for the Margolis dining table, for under $200 per chair, below.

Tulip chairs in the Margolis dining room. Photo: Steve Petrie

We couldn’t be happier with the Margolis home. Our next phase is a screened porch and an expansion of the deck. After all, summer is coming.

The Konkapot River, right outside the door. Fishing awaits. Photo: Ren Nickson, Courtesy of William Pitt/Sotheby’s

William Caligari is the owner of William Caligari Interior Design in Great Barrington.