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Clean & Simple

A Contemporary Take on a Classic Country Home



The original dark wood paneling in the living room was restored and painted in a soft grey; the furnishings are a mix of mid-century modern and Scandinavian influences.

Photos by Amanda Kirkpatrick

The circa-1880 home had lovely grounds and a stately exterior, but the interior hadn’t been updated in decades. Rooms with low ceilings and dark wood paneling were uninviting, the kitchen and baths needed to be gutted, and the layout wasn’t conducive to entertaining. The prospective buyers’ goal was to seamlessly marry the old and new—to retain the country farmhouse look but with a clean minimalistic sensibility. Before committing to purchasing the house, they asked local contractor Bob Torre to walk through the property and weigh in on its possibilities. 

“The hardest part about a project like this is figuring out how to bring the home up to modern standards without losing the authenticity and originality of the home,” Torre says. Together with architect Rafe Churchill and interior designer Kathryn Fagin, that mission was accomplished in this stunning Bedford residence, now a sunny and serene retreat. 

“New construction typically offers many more design opportunities, but the real challenge is knowing when to tread lightly during a renovation,” Churchill says. “And honoring the history of a house has always been our top priority. These clients bought the property as a weekend getaway and were hoping to improve the interior spaces without losing any of the charm. We’ve found that some clients fall in love with an old house and then want to gut it. We tend to discourage that—it’s better to embrace the elements they fell for in the first place. It’s the irregularities of an old house that distinguish it from anything else.”

Because past additions were done at different times—the most recent renovation was nearly 40 years ago—one irregularity to contend with were all the different levels on the main floor. You had to step up or down each time you entered a room. “Plus, the kitchen ceiling was very low,” Churchill recalls, noting his six-foot-five-inch height made this obvious every time he stepped into the room. “It was clear that we needed to lower the floor system to increase the headroom. Bob Torre and his crew were great with this challenge–we increased the ceiling by eight inches–it now feels like we picked up twice that!” In addition to the extra headroom, the kitchen was extended by about seven feet.

“When the client first asked if we could lower the floor, both Rafe and I thought that it would be prohibitively expensive,” Torre says. “But since we had to replace all the heating vents and plumbing anyway, we were able to find a cost-effective way of making the kitchen the same level as the rest of the house. Now, instead of lots of levels, there is just one step up into the living room.” 

New windows were added throughout the house, along with oak flooring finished in Woca oil, which gives the floor a subtle matte luster and is easy to maintain and repair. “You can just buff out any imperfection, and then oil and buff it again.” Torre says. “When feasible, existing wood paneling was restored and painted. When not, reclaimed materials, such as old beams, were purchased and used to give rooms the look of being from the late 1800s.

The homeowners brought in Boston-based interior decorator Kathryn Fagin early on in the process. “I had worked with these clients before, so I knew that they liked to be very involved with the design process,” Fagin says. “For example, the wife saw that we could create a dramatic double height entry by opening up the stair area.” This also added much needed light, one of the priorities of the renovation.

One of Fagin’s biggest challenges was settling on a defined vision of the style the clients wanted to achieve. “It could be easy to get caught up in a very ‘country’ feel or a very ‘modern’ feel,” she says, “but getting a balance of the two was where we wanted to end up. The mix also included mid-century modern and Scandinavian minimalist influences.” 

Fagin enjoyed the collaborative process, working with the owners and the architect on everything from the paint colors, tile selections, and lighting to the furniture and the rugs. “When you work as a team, everyone brings different sources and ideas to the table and together we really brought the entire space to life.”

An apt description indeed. This property is still an antique, but a living one designed for the family to enjoy. The homeowners are delighted with their “new” old house. “The most fun part was seeing the final result, followed by being able to use the house as we had envisioned it from the outset. It has also been really enjoyable seeing the overwhelming response of family and friends to the end result!”

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January 2019

The Bruce Museum is organizing an exhibition of small artworks created entirely by the public for the public. We invite art lovers of all ages, interests, and abilities to submit a depiction of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bruce Museum
One Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-869-0376
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Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Jae Ko: 漂流 Drift,” the artist’s first solo exhibition at the gallery.   In addition to showcasing...

Cost: Free

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Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
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Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
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Celebrating its 50th anniversary, the Hartford Boat Show (HBS50) features the newest boats on the market including center consoles, fishing boats, luxury cruisers, deck and pontoon boats, sport and...

Cost: $12 in advance online, $14 at the door, $10 Senior/Military one day pass

Where:
Expo Center at Mohegan Sun
1 Mohegan Sun Blvd
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Sponsor: Connecticut Marine Trades Association
Telephone: 860-767-2645
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The Bruce Museum is organizing an exhibition of small artworks created entirely by the public for the public. We invite art lovers of all ages, interests, and abilities to submit a depiction of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bruce Museum
One Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-869-0376
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Jae Ko: 漂流 Drift,” the artist’s first solo exhibition at the gallery.   In addition to showcasing...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

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The Bruce Museum is organizing an exhibition of small artworks created entirely by the public for the public. We invite art lovers of all ages, interests, and abilities to submit a depiction of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bruce Museum
One Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-869-0376
Website »

More information

Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Legacy based on his famous "I Have a Dream" speech by creating a mobile that expresses your own dreams—for yourselves and your community. Each...

Cost: No Cost

Where:
Mount Kisco Public Library
100 East Main Street
Mount Kisco, NY  10549
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Telephone: 914-666-8041

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Drop in for help with any of your technology devices.  No appointment necessary.  First come first served.   PC, Google, Microsoft savvy volunteer with help you with troubleshooting,...

Cost: No Cost

Where:
Mount Kisco Public Library
100 East Main Street
Mount Kisco, NY  10549
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Telephone: 914-666-8041

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Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Jae Ko: 漂流 Drift,” the artist’s first solo exhibition at the gallery.   In addition to showcasing...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
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Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

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The Bruce Museum is organizing an exhibition of small artworks created entirely by the public for the public. We invite art lovers of all ages, interests, and abilities to submit a depiction of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bruce Museum
One Museum Drive
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View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-869-0376
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More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Come be a paleontologist for the day and create a dinosaur of your own imagination out of cardboard and tissue paper. Materials will be provided.  Ages 4 to 11 (under 5 with caregiver)Sponsored...

Cost: No Cost

Where:
Mount Kisco Public Library
100 East Main Street
Mount Kisco, NY  10549
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Sponsor: Friends of the Library
Telephone: 914-666-8041

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Wednesday, January 23rd at 7:00 PM Create a cool yarn hat in a single evening! All materials will be provided. This event is free and no registration is required. Ages 12 and up. Hosted by North...

Cost: Free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
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Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
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The Bruce Museum is organizing an exhibition of small artworks created entirely by the public for the public. We invite art lovers of all ages, interests, and abilities to submit a depiction of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bruce Museum
One Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-869-0376
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Jae Ko: 漂流 Drift,” the artist’s first solo exhibition at the gallery.   In addition to showcasing...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
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View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Bruce Museum is organizing an exhibition of small artworks created entirely by the public for the public. We invite art lovers of all ages, interests, and abilities to submit a depiction of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bruce Museum
One Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-869-0376
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Jae Ko: 漂流 Drift,” the artist’s first solo exhibition at the gallery.   In addition to showcasing...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

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Cost: Member price: Free Non-Member price: Free with Museum admission

Where:
Katonah Museum
134 Jay Street
Katonah, NY  10536
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Sponsor: Katonah Museum of Art
Telephone: 914-232-9555
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Cost: Member price: Free Non-Member price with Museum admission: Free

Where:
Katonah Museum of Art
134 Jay Street
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Sponsor: Katonah Museum of Art
Telephone: 914-232-9555
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Cost: Free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
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The Bruce Museum is organizing an exhibition of small artworks created entirely by the public for the public. We invite art lovers of all ages, interests, and abilities to submit a depiction of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bruce Museum
One Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-869-0376
Website »

More information

  Touchon transforms verbal language into handsome geometric compilations, to reveal the beauty and musicality of language characterized by warmly colored shapes, interlocking irregular grids and...

Cost: free

Where:
Canfin Gallery
39 Main Street
Tarrytown, NY  10591
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Sponsor: Canfin Gallery
Telephone: 914-332-4554
Contact Name: Jean-Claude Canfin
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Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Jae Ko: 漂流 Drift,” the artist’s first solo exhibition at the gallery.   In addition to showcasing...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
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View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

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Hudson Chorale, the area’s largest mixed voice chorus, is poised to please.  The group will begin its 2019 season with two matinee concerts on Saturday, January 26, 2019 at 3:00 pm and Sunday,...

Cost: Advance Sale-$25; Door-$30; Students-$10.

Where:
The Chapel at Maryknoll
55 Ryder Rd
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Sponsor: Hudson Chorale
Telephone: 1-800-838-3006
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