Breathing new life into a mid-century split-level home
“Jen and Eric had a fair number of antiques. I love marrying an antique and eclectic vibe with an open and modern space,” says designer Abbey Flores.
Photographs by Hulya Kolabas and Sabrina Cole Quinn Photography
Jennifer Meyers and her husband, Eric, moved back to her hometown after meeting post-college in San Francisco and living briefly in Boston and Manhattan. Jen had grown up on Mianus River Road in Bedford, while Eric grew up in suburban Cleveland. “We rented in Pound Ridge, and we were looking to buy when we found this house back in 2010,” she recalls. “The property was gorgeous.”
The couple lived in the split-level ranch as it was for about six years, thinking about how they might update and enlarge the house to accommodate their growing brood.
Avid Maine vacationers, they had a long-term friendship with another Bedford-based Maine-ophile, architect Keith Kroeger. “Keith and Eric shared an eight-hour ride home from Maine one summer because they missed their flight,” Jen says.
“We spent the majority of the car ride talking about the renovation of the house which included Eric’s great desire to have an indoor swimming pool,” adds Kroeger, a partner at Kroeger Intinarelli Architects. “Our office has done a great many swimming pools—both indoor and outdoor—so we had a lot to talk about, and the normal eight hour drive went by in no time at all.”
Kroeger says that during a follow up meeting, they drew up a wish list that, in addition to the indoor pool, included “a generous working kitchen with a place for dining and also the ability to park a car under cover adjacent to the kitchen door to facilitate generous quantities of groceries to keep the family fed after all their exercise in the new indoor pool.”
While dated, everyone agreed that the original house had some good basic features which included the great room with a two-sided, stone fireplace, but that it needed to be enlarged.
“We told Keith that we loved his house, and we wanted a similar vibe. Definitely ‘warm modern farmhouse’ but also sleek. What I love about Keith is that he’s kind of timeless. His designs are classic, and they weather different trends. I wanted that, too, and didn’t want it to be too fussy.”
After they hired Kroeger and his partner Craig Intinarelli, Jen turned to her friend Abbey Flores to make sure that the interiors would reflect her and Eric’s taste. “We’re a little more California and a little more Bohemian than Keith. Abbey, who runs her eponymous interior design business in Boston, knows us well—her husband grew up with Eric in Cleveland, and we met as couples in San Francisco. When she and Keith met, they liked each other right away,” Jen recalls. “She worked so well and has such a sensibility with everybody.”
Once the plans were underway, Jen and Eric sent the project out to bid, interviewed contractors, and selected Joe Cusato of South Salem-based Cusato Management Corp. “I wanted to find people who were positive and worked well together. Joe is a really honest, kind person, who tried to make everybody happy and did a really great job,” says Jen.
“Often a builder’s input on design and execution is not well-received,” notes Cusato, “but Keith, Craig, and Abbey were more than welcoming and open to our ideas and perspective. That made for great teamwork and the best end result.”
Tucked away on a private four-acre lot on Indian Hill, just outside Bedford Village, the completely re-imagined mid-century home is now clad in vertical planks of high-performance Boral siding, painted an earthy Benjamin Moore shade of Iron Mountain. The two-story entryway harkens ever-so-slightly back to the home’s split-level origins (thanks to a telltale staircase) but is now a welcoming, light-filled, 21st-century space. “We kept the bones but rebuilt the stairs with glass railings,” says Jen. “I could never have imagined how awesome it would turn out.”
The floor plan is similar to the original, with the brand new eat-in kitchen settled in to its predecessor’s space, albeit a bit larger due to the fact that an old front porch was sacrificed in exchange for more storage and better flow for the family of six. Jen chose navy blue cabinets to complement the identically hued Blue Star range. “I wanted it to look crisp and clean and not feel outdated in 10-15 years,” she says. A new mudroom was added that leads to the port-cochère and adjacent garage that boasts a playroom on its second floor.
Sliding barn doors allow Jen and Eric to close off the kitchen space when entertaining in the great room. Cusato installed new windows and glass doors, painted the ceiling beams black, and re-stained the inlaid wood floors. Flores helped Jen pick new furnishings, and a timely discovery of a Persian carpet hiding in Jen’s parents’ home pulled the seating area together perfectly.
Beside the home office, the split staircase leads to the upper-level bedrooms as well as the ground level. The original house had three family bedrooms, but Kroeger was able to carve out a fourth from attic space, enabling all four Meyers children to have their own rooms. He then extended the staircase to provide access to the new master suite that Cusato built atop the main level. In their aerie, Jen and Eric enjoy not only a private suite of rooms but also a terrace overlooking the property.
Everyone’s favorite space seems to be the indoor pool room. “Our dream when building the house was that we could use it year-round,” notes Jen. “With the pool we can always be active, but the unexpected benefit of this space is the way the light pours in and how the reflections bounce around. From here, you can look outdoors and into other parts of the house. There’s no place in the house where you feel like you can’t look both ways and see natural sunlight coming in. Keith has an amazing eye for that and for bringing the outside in.”