19TH-CENTURY FARMHOUSE GERMANTOWN, NEW YORK
With one rehabilitation project under our belts (see Our House), we were looking for a challenge. This house on Germantown’s Main Street, slightly outside of the hamlet center that was just beginning to crackle with new energy (thanks to Otto’s Market), frankly frightened us. Over 3,000 square feet, broken up into three apartments and before that dentists(!) offices, covered in vinyl siding, languishing on the real-estate market for several years, sitting on a slight rise near one of the primary approaches to town…there would be no place to hide and no option to fail.
Fortunately, Kate’s mother Ethel, equally committed to the goal of rescuing “hinge” properties like this one, stepped up and funded the project. Kate’s brother Chip (the architect) drew up the plans to restore the main floor to a semblance of its original configuration (following ghost lines found on the old hardwood after layers of plywood and carpet were removed), peel back layers of wallpaper and restore plaster where it survived, reveal and repair the exterior clapboard siding, restore all of the double-hung wood windows and 1940s steel storms, replace the asphalt roof with more appropriate standing-seam metal, rebuild and extend the front porch (after finding old footings that suggested its original footprint), reuse existing bathroom fixtures and introduce some vintage fixtures, and open up the house to the back yard with new exterior doorways (the doors themselves are salvage!).
Host to many Wood/Sprouls family gatherings and shared with guests via AirBnB, the house now contains two apartments (downstairs and upstairs) that can easily be combined into a single home by opening up the pocket doors in the main stairhall.
BEFORE & AFTER:
House projects are never really finished. This one keeps evolving as we rethink and circle back. The dining room (pictured above as it was several years ago, showing how we replaced a bank of windows with a pair of salvage French doors to provide access to the back terrace) now has sturdier chairs and an antique chandelier with more personality (refurbished by Quittner Home with custom shades using Les Indiennes fabric).