Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

A Forever Home

“House Hunters” stars honor old with new



Photos by Emily Sidoti

The Isaac Jennings House, which stands on a prominent corner adjacent to the Fairfield University campus, is said to be the first home rebuilt in Fairfield after the Revolutionary War. The current structure dates back to 1780, however an addition was built in the 1930s, and yet another renovation occurred in the 1950s. Amazingly, much of the original home was left intact, including two fireplaces, original Douglas-fir flooring, and the original front door with hand-hammered hardware. After many years of neglect, the historic property had fallen into disrepair, and in 2014 was put on the market. 

To say this home was a fixer-upper is something of an understatement. Enter Fairfielders Susan Vanech and Matt Brodtman, and sons, Samson and Jonah. After flipping nine houses over the course of five years, they were finally ready to find their family’s forever home. “We wanted a yard,” says Vanech, a realtor, “and my husband wanted a pool,” she explains. “Plus, sharing a bathroom with three boys was painful!” 

When they first saw the Isaac Jennings House, and its one-and-a-quarter-acre lot near the center of town, Vanech knew it was home. “As soon as I walked in the house, I had a vision, and it checked all our boxes,” she says. “I knew which walls were coming down, but I wanted to retain as much as possible while also getting my dream home.” Must-haves included creating an open kitchen, a master bath, and designated space for the boys, plus room for a pool. However, before they could start picking out kitchen cabinets, the first order of business was shoring up the existing structure, which was badly deteriorated.

“I could stick my finger through the dining room wall right to the outside,” she recalls. While removing these walls and the ceiling in that room, they discovered the original, hand-cut posts and beams, which they decided to keep exposed to add visual interest. “I made them save everything during the demolition,” she says, including the sheathing from the roof, which Vanech later turned into a reclaimed-wooden accent wall in the family room. “We wanted to honor as much of the integrity of the original home as possible.” 

While Vanech loves the original front door, which opens into a small vestibule featuring a 1950s mural depicting the Revolutionary War, she made an 11th hour design decision to shift the primary entrance to the east side of the house. There, a new foyer was created and opens out into the center of the home, where the kitchen, dining area, and family room are located.

The kitchen is bright and airy, and boasts white cabinetry and marble counters, a marble subway tile backsplash, and a center island large enough to accommodate the entire family. The cabinets and most appliances are from Green Demolition, which sells repurposed, high-end kitchen and bath materials at discounted prices. “I like the idea of reclaim and recycle,” Vanech says. “But I did splurge on the kitchen faucet, which was an ‘out-of-budget’ item,” she admits of the Watermark polished-nickel fixture. “I love the mechanism. It’s like a piece of art.” 

The kitchen opens into the spacious dining area and family room, which was enlarged by enclosing what was once a screened porch. “

We wanted to take advantage of the views with lots of windows and glass,” Vanech explains. At the center of the home, both figuratively and literally, is a huge, 70-inch round, custom-made marble table, which seats ten. “I always wanted a big table at the heart of my home,” she says, and at around 500 pounds, “it’s never moving!” Through a wide opening in the reclaimed wood accent wall is the formal living room. Because of the large, original hearth fireplace that sits on the interior wall, Vanech believes this room was originally the kitchen. They even found two cooking cauldrons and an antique well wheel during the renovation. “There was a little half-door on the exterior wall with this pump. It was ‘indoor plumbing’ in the 1780s.” 

Up a steep set of stairs are the family bedrooms—one for each of the boys, a master suite, and a “reptile room” for their pet bearded dragon and Russian tortoise. Original wide-plank flooring runs throughout the second floor, past the 1930s-era hall cabinetry, which now serves as linen closets. The boys share the hall bath, featuring the home’s original porcelain-enameled cast-iron tub, which was reglazed and is set upon classic penny tile. When it came to the master suite, Vanech went all out. There is a private deck off the bedroom, which is painted in calming blue hues.

A custom-made barn-style door gives way to Vanech’s long-coveted master bath, which includes a massive marble-tiled shower and claw-foot tub. Small, teardrop-shaped tiles line the floor, and are mirrored by a marble accent wall featuring the same pattern. “I really wanted a giant chandelier right over the tub, but my electrician felt it would be a safety issue,” she laments. “He was just looking out for me.”

If all of this sounds vaguely familiar to you, it may be because you caught the episode of HGTV’s “House Hunters” that starred Vanech and her family. Five days of filming captured both their house search and parts of the renovation project. “People who didn’t know we’d bought this house couldn’t believe it when they saw the show,” said Vanech. “It was more work than we anticipated, without a doubt.”

“I don’t ever see us leaving this house,” Vanech says. “I don’t feel like I compromised on anything. Budget is always an issue, but there were splurges and savings,” she continues. “The fact that it was a historical home made it meaningful. We fell in love with the historical integrity and character.”

Add your comment:

Connect With Us

               

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

TownVibe Green Awards 2018

Fairfield Out & About - May/June

Inner Artist

Places for adults to express themselves in the Fairfield area

Warmer, Safer, Drier

Fairfield Fixer-Uppers in West Virginia––Senior Pilgrim Fellowship

Art: Tropical Waters

Artist Katy Ferrarone is inspired by nature and the sea

Profiles

Your Guides to Leading Local Professionals

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Edit ModuleShow Tags

April 2018

Earth Day with The Wildlife Line FREE admission ~ You’re invited, to come and celebrate ( : Sunday April 22nd, from 11-4, at beautiful Harrybrooke Park, in New Milford, CT. Live...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Harrybrooke Park
100 Still River Drive
New Milford, CT  06776
View map »


Sponsor: Harrybrooke Park
Telephone: 860-799-6520
Contact Name: Billy Buckbee
Website »

More information

Registration Closes: Friday, April 13th Jenna graduated from F.I.T with a degree in Fashion Design. She started her career working for the high-end Accessory Brand, Isabella Fiore and later moved...

Cost: $155.00

Where:
DayDreamer Studio
@ The Yellow Monkey Antiques
792 Route 35
Cross River, NY  10518
View map »


Sponsor: DayDreamer Studio
Telephone: 914-977-4243
Contact Name: Nicole Mata
Website »

More information

The Theatre Artists Workshop (TAW) will present a reading of Norwalk writer Jim Gordon's new comedy "The Incident” President Durak's approval rating has crashed. He needs...

Cost: ​A donation of $15 is suggested

Where:
The Theatre Artists Workshop
5 Gregory Blvd
Norwalk, CT
View map »


Telephone: 203-854-6830
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Lecture by Dr. Courtney Doucette, Visiting Assistant Professor of History at Connecticut College. This talk explores the material, political, and cultural challenges of collecting Soviet art during...

Cost: $10 non-members; Members and students free

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


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-869-0376
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

In Deconstructing Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, composer, musician, and Beatles expert Scott Freiman looks at Sgt. Pepper from multiple angles, exploring the history behind the...

Cost: $10

Where:
Fairfield Theatre Company StageOne
70 Sanford Street
Fairfield , CT  06824
View map »


Telephone: 203 259 1036
Website »

More information

The winter exhibit at the City of Norwalk Parking Authority’s Maritime Garage Gallery entitled, “Worth a Thousand Words" features artists’ renderings that convey...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Maritime Garage Gallery
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The winter exhibit at the City of Norwalk Parking Authority’s Maritime Garage Gallery entitled, “Worth a Thousand Words" features artists’ renderings that convey...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Maritime Garage Gallery
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

On Wednesday April 25 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. join us for a leisurely stroll down our stream-side trail in memory of one of our founding Board members, Helen Hermes, to discover some of her...

Cost: FREE

Where:
New Pond Farm Education Center
101 Marchant Road
Redding, CT  06896
View map »


Telephone: (203) 938-2117
Website »

More information

Join us for a FREE lecture! In the U.S., back pain is the second leading symptom driving patients to their doctor’s office. Degenerative conditions of the spine can lead to chronic pain...

Cost: Free

Where:
HSS Stamford Outpatient Center
1 Blachley Road
Stamford, CT  06902
View map »


Sponsor: HSS
Telephone: 203-705-2956
Contact Name: Pamela Villagomez
Website »

More information

Come see Edith+Eddie, a 2018 Academy Award® nominated best documentary short film, followed by a panel discussion of esteemed experts in the fields of estate...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Ferguson Library
One Public Library Plaza
Stamford, CT  06902
View map »


Sponsor: SilverSource, Inc.
Telephone: 203-324-6584
Contact Name: Kathleen Bordelon
Website »

More information

Join Grace Farms Foundation and New Canaan Library for an insightful conversation about global policy and America’s potential for growth and leadership with retired United States Army General...

Cost: Free

Where:
Grace Farms
365 Lukes Wood Road
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Grace Farms Foundation & New Canaan Library
Telephone: 203-920-1720
Contact Name: Regan Hayes
Website »

More information

The winter exhibit at the City of Norwalk Parking Authority’s Maritime Garage Gallery entitled, “Worth a Thousand Words" features artists’ renderings that convey...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Maritime Garage Gallery
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Discovery Museum Art Exhibition The Paintings of Dr. Jeffrey Rosenthal Reception and Viewing of Dr. Rosenthal's Art - 22 Inspiring Paintings Thursday, April 26, 2018 5:00...

Cost: Donation

Where:
The Discovery Museum Of Bridgeport
140 Sherman Street
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Sponsor: The Discovery Museum
Telephone: 203-335-3223
Contact Name: Jeffrey Rosenthal
Website »

More information

Support your local artists! Pequot Library is proud to partner with Music for Youth with this concert series. Each artist is an emerging and extraordinary talent who is either attending a music...

Cost: Free and open to the public.

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346
Contact Name: Tracy Steneken
Website »

More information

The rustic Jonathan Edwards typified the young, folkie troubadours of the early '70s. It's fair to say that Jonathan Edwards' claim to fame as a recording artist rests upon...

Cost: $38 Members Save:$3 /tckt

Where:
Fairfield Theatre Company StageOne
70 Sanford Street
Fairfield , CT  06824
View map »


Telephone: 203 259 1036
Website »

More information

The winter exhibit at the City of Norwalk Parking Authority’s Maritime Garage Gallery entitled, “Worth a Thousand Words" features artists’ renderings that convey...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Maritime Garage Gallery
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Ages: K-5 Registration Closes: Wednesday, April 25th In this workshop, Lil’ Dreamers will have a ton of fun learning marbling techniques while creating their own unique papers.  Each artist...

Cost: $30.00

Where:
DayDreamer Studio
@ The Yellow Monkey Antiques
792 Route 35
Cross River, NY  10518
View map »


Sponsor: DayDreamer Studio
Telephone: 914-977-4243
Contact Name: Nicole Mata
Website »

More information

Join us Friday, April 27 from 8pm – 10pm for a Live Jazz Night at the Carriage Barn Arts Center. Performing jazz musicians are Rob Duguay’s “Songevity Trio” featuring Noah...

Cost: Advance tickets $15 / $20 at the door

Where:
Carriage Barn Arts Center
681 South Ave.
Waveny Park
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Website »

More information

Our 2nd Annual Dance Party celebrates disco and the dance-floor divas, one-hit wonders, and out-and-out legends who made the music that, to this day, signifies nothing less than good, clean,...

Cost: $100 Single Admission + Open Bar / $50 Single Admission

Where:
The Warehouse at Fairfield Theatre Company
70 Sanford Street
Fairfield , CT  06824
View map »


Telephone: 203 259 1036
Website »

More information

The winter exhibit at the City of Norwalk Parking Authority’s Maritime Garage Gallery entitled, “Worth a Thousand Words" features artists’ renderings that convey...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Maritime Garage Gallery
Website »

More information

One-Time Cladies Night for Adults Interested in Learning to Use the Potter’s Wheel Looking to get your hands dirty and learn how to use the potter’s wheel? Try Clay Center’s...

Cost: $50

Where:
Clay Art Center
40 Beech Street
Port Chester, NY  10573
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

On Saturday April 28 from 10 – 11 a.m. veteran fly-tier New Pond Farm Program Director Tim Laughlin, would like to introduce you to the art of fly tying. Learn to tie a “Woolly...

Cost: $15 per New Pond Farm member child, $20 per non-member child

Where:
New Pond Farm Education Center
101 Marchant Road
Redding, CT  06896
View map »


Telephone: (203) 938-2117
Website »

More information

Take Part in this Entertaining and Interactive Afternoon of Clues, Challenges, and a Race to the Finish Line and After Party! Saturday, April 28, Meet-up 10:30 AM, Hunt 11 AM-1 PM,...

Cost: $40

Where:
??? :-)
Norwalk, CT


Website »

More information

Norwalk Now Presents a City-Wide Adventure NORWALK CITY HUNT Saturday, April 28, Meet-up 10:30 AM, Hunt 11 AM-1 PM, After Party 1-3 PM Norwalk Now presents Norwalk City Hunt, an...

Cost: $40

Where:
93 N Main St
norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Now
Telephone: 203-561-9878
Contact Name: Linda Kavanagh
Website »

More information

On Saturday April 28 from 1 – 2 p.m. join New Pond Farm Program Director, Tim Laughlin, and learn how to fly cast. Fly-fishing is becoming a very popular sport for ladies. Once you learn the...

Cost: $15 per New Pond Farm member and $20 per non-member

Where:
New Pond Farm Education Center
101 Marchant Road
Redding, CT  06896
View map »


Telephone: (203) 938-2117
Website »

More information

Children’s Learning Centers of Fairfield County to Honor Margaret Keane at Benefit Concert Children’s Learning Centers of Fairfield County (CLC) will honor Synchrony Financial CEO...

Cost: $55

Where:
Palace Theatre
61 Atlantic Street
Stamford, CT  06901
View map »


Sponsor: Children's Learning Centers of Fairfield County
Telephone: 203-653-1369
Contact Name: Mike
Website »

More information

Ability Beyond's signature annual black-tie “Masquerade Gala" fundraiser seeks to unmask the ability in everyone. The elegant evening will feature both...

Cost: Individual tickets are $250

Where:
Amber Room Colonnade
1 Stacey Rd
Danbury, CT
View map »


Sponsor: Ability Beyond
Telephone: 203-826-3183
Contact Name: Kelsey Rondeau
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags