Lights, Chroma… Plants
Want to cultivate a timeless atmosphere in your own home? Here are a few tips to get you started.
FIX YOUR FIXTURES
Thanks to modern-day conveniences, lighting a room is much simpler than in Victorian times. Add to your ambient lighting with warm, supplementary lamps and wall lights. Choose lights that fit with your home’s atmosphere, even if they aren’t strictly from the same era as everything else.
WHITEN IT UP
White is an excellent, timeless color. In addition to introducing a fresh, clean look to a room, white also pairs well with other colors, while making a pleasant contrast. Try white on the walls and on accent furniture.
GIVE PLANTS THE GREEN LIGHT
A bit of green can go a long way in keeping an antique-rich room fresh and lively. The juxtaposition of flourishing new greens with well-kept old creates the timeless feeling exemplified in the Waldburg houses. The same can be true outdoors, where a fresh new garden adds life to the property. Massey and Franck incorporated 13 varieties of tropical plants into the new courtyards.
In keeping with the historical intent of the house, thet wo decided to restore features that existed on only
one side of the house, while adding them to the other.
BRINGING THE PAST TO THE PRESENT
Along with removing noncontributing features, the architects needed to enhance and shape the features that upheld the townhouses’ historicity and the intent of the original builders, Tully and Grady, who built multiple Savannah houses at the time. Massey and Franck performed reconstruction on the houses’ foundations: restoring the original Savannah gray brick piers, as well as creating new piers from the same old bricks, which they discovered under the home.
The flooring too was a good deal of work. At the beginning of the project, vinyl covered the original pine flooring, which had fallen into ill repair, with the occasional hole and broken plank. Massey and Franck sanded, sealed and swapped out boards to bring the pine floor back to its original status. When it came to the walls, the architects undertook the ambitious task of recasting the plaster moldings instead of simply replacing the walls with modern sheetrock. Original medallions now crown the wall, while certain areas contain new moldings modeled after the old, where the old had been removed in past renovations.
Franck and Massey removed windows and doors where necessary, making modifications when possible. To
maintain the house’s historicity, they opted to use only double-hung 6-over-6 wood windows. They removed the modern windows entirely and replaced broken glass in existing, historically appropriate windows. Franck and Massey also rehung the weights and chains, to optimize functionality as well as historicity.
The chimney surrounds involved a surprising bit of work to rediscover their historical footprints. Because of the renovations over the past several decades, the fireplace had become disguised under layer after layer of paint. The surrounds, which appeared to be constructed from wood, turned out to be soapstone, hidden underneath several coats of color. “Finding the soapstone beneath the layers of paint was a pleasant surprise.” Massey and Franck say, “The green soapstone is such a beautiful material that it adds richness to the interiors of the town homes.”The architects reopened the fireplaces and even rebuilt the chimneys. Franck and Massey restored surrounds and chimneys alike, and then hung the ornate, newly restored chimney pots over them.
In keeping with the historical intent of the homes, the two decided to restore features that existed on only one house, while adding them to the other. For example, while Franck’s side featured a newel post from the original townhouse, Massey’s side had been built over because of the apartments. However, the architects were able to model an identical post on Massey’s side, based on the existing newel on Franck’s.
RENOVATIONS WITH TIMELESS TEXTURES
After restorations, the architects had a number of decisions to make in terms of their own renovations. While they emphasized the need to find the houses’ original footprint, they also elected to make certain modernizing changes, to introduce a timeless quality to the homes. Massey and Franck say, “Intentional design elements were incorporated to give the house[s] a fresh and timeless presence. We were able to specify with great care a cohesive selection of finishes and fixtures [such as] style of cabinetry, colors of paint, lighting fixtures, plumbing fixtures, etc. that are timeless yet appeal to modern sensibilities.”
MIRROR IMAGE. A symmetrical arrangement makes this bedroom a serene, relaxing area with matching side tables, pillows and artwork. The lovely worn finish of the scrolled-arm bench adds a memorable look. Parallel styling is effective for the bedroom, because it gives off a restful, if predictable, vibe. ELEGANT ESCAPE. The bathtub is an excellent choice for restoration in old bathrooms. Where a shower could have been installed, the bathtub attests to the historicity of the current house. The electric candles on the wall also nod to the older houses’ style, while the whiteness of the room breathes timelessness. MAGNIFICENT MASTER. The gray upholstered headboard is a plush focal point of the room, flanked by the antique bedside tables; the vibe of this space is casual yet stately. The French door leading to the veranda gives this room its dream-room status.
In addition to interior decorating decisions, Massey and Franck added a few larger modern touches, contributing to the present houses’ timeless quality. One such choice was the kitchen, which Franck and Massey clarify was “the greatest deviation from the historic home’s floor plan.”They constructed the new kitchen on the site of the original dining room, at the middle of the house, because“today’s residents spend a majority of their time in the kitchen.”The new kitchen has a good deal of storage space, which is uncommon in a traditional Victorian home, while the old kitchen became a new den.
The homes’ original trunk rooms, a traditional second-floor storage element in Victorian homes, became laundry rooms with adjoining bathrooms. Additionally Franck and Massey added garden courtyards at the rear of the property, as well as a guesthouse on each side. “This new building,” Massey and Franck say, “helped form contained private garden courtyards with soothing fountains on each side of their dividing wall.”They also topped off each twin with a new apartment or office space, and freshened up the outdoors with “an abundance of tropical plants,” from sable palms and saw palmettos to azaleas and autumn ferns.
GARDEN ROOM. Twin wicker chairs look out at the charming outdoor scene, complete with an exquisite trellis-inspired backdrop and décor from around the world. The woodpile beneath the columns, as well as the inviting fern, draw the outside into the room, making it a transitional area between indoors and out.
VINTAGE EDGE. This sitting room is a pleasant blend of compare and contrast. While the glowing burl wood frames on the far wall are a picture of contrast, the complementary tones of the urns and the armchair on the right are a visual comparison. The two-tier table is a good choice for a small room—it offers double function without the bulk. The industrial style light fixture gives the room its touch of edge.
|TOP| UPDATED FOR LIVING. One of the most modernized areas in the houses are the newly renovated kitchens, which feature modern plumbing and cooking amenities. The stone countertop and the sink are newer features, as are the two hanging lights. The glass-fronted cabinets allow the homeowners to display vintage and antique tableware that harks back to the original home.
|LEFT| KITCHENETTE. The simple chic open-plan studio divides along the rug line, and features a relaxing sofa rest area, as well as a table for two. Details like the pagodaesque light fixture, the geometric patterns on the sofa cushions, and the painting overhead, add definition and glam.
EAT AND HOST. This gorgeous kitchen affords heavy-duty meal prep and easy-going entertaining, thanks to the cozy seating area.
QUAINT COUNTRY CHARM. This bedroom is a
seamless combination of old and new, as the quilted bedcover and mantel mirror tout shabby and chic roots, while the antique desk and chandelier add a
fine antiques feel.
|BELOW| EVERYDAY EXOTIC. A bit simpler, the second courtyard features outdoor seating and a more open feel. The designers used a planting pattern for the ivy fence to create a simple yet unique
|TOP| OUTDOOR OASIS. The new courtyard features an abundance
of tropical plants, as well as seating for guests. It also affords a private entertaining space for each
of the town houses.