A Daugh­ter of Amer­ica

Victorian Homes - - Contents - By Rebekah Wahlberg

This Colo­nial home in Litch­field, Con­necti­cut, em­braces the beauty of the na­ture sur­round­ing it.

Sur­rounded by pic­turesque new eng­land forests, this colo­nial- era home in rural litch­field, con­necti­cut, was built in 1868 and has Stood the test of time. The 4,000-square-foot home is the daugh­ter of the home next door—lit­er­ally, as it was built by a man for his daugh­ter, as well as ar­chi­tec­turally, in its sim­i­lar­ity to the ad­ja­cent prop­erty. Its five acres over­look the Ban­tam River and in ad­di­tion to the main house, con­tain a swim­ming pool, pri­vate guest cot­tage, three-car garage and ad­join­ing apart­ment.

THIS COLO­NIAL HOME IN LITCH­FIELD, CON­NECTI­CUT, EM­BRACES THE BEAUTY OF THE SUR­ROUND­ING NA­TURE.

A CON­NECTI­CUT RAM­BLER

Fol­low­ing the tra­di­tion of most Colo­nial homes, the 10-room lay­out isn’t de­pen­dent on a cen­tral hall­way, but winds from room to room, with walls and doors clearly de­lin­eat­ing rooms de­pend­ing on their pur­pose. “It’s a Con­necti­cut ram­bler in ev­ery sense of the word,” home­owner Su­san O’brien says.

While the Colo­nial bones have re­tained their in­tegrity, a ren­o­va­tion at the turn of the cen­tury added twin par­lors and built onto the kitchen, and an­other ren­o­va­tion in the 1970s added a master suite up­stairs and recharged the kitchen. The cur­rent home­own­ers have lov­ingly re­stored the home over the past three years, breath­ing new life into ev­ery corner, in­clud­ing the kitchen and bath­rooms, and tak­ing care to pre­serve much of the orig­i­nal wood floors, man­tels and mold­ings.

From the gravel drive­way, tra­di­tional Corinthian columns and a por­tico wel­come vis­i­tors into the home. Ev­ery part of the home wel­comes you in and in­vites you to get com­fort­able: Twin par­lors fea­ture a fire­place and a wall of win­dows with French doors lead­ing to the pa­tio, and the study and con­ser­va­tory are bathed in light and floor-to-ceil­ing book­cases. The spa­cious kitchen has a vaulted ceil­ing and ex­posed beams that make it feel like a cathe­dral, while quaint fur­nish­ings and pas­tel col­ors are ca­sual and com­fort­able. The ad­join­ing but­ler’s pantry and ex­pan­sive din­ing room both ex­tend the kitchen’s reach and cre­ate an en­vi­ron­ment per­fect for en­ter­tain­ing.

An el­e­gant switch­back stair­case leads up­stairs to an­other sit­ting area, the master suite and three more bed­rooms. The 1970s ren­o­va­tion built up the master suite to its mag­nif­i­cent cur­rent state: vaulted ceil­ings, a fire­place, French doors that lead out to a pri­vate deck and a roomy master bath­room with dou­ble sinks, a walk-in shower and a claw-footed tub.

In ev­ery room, wide, invit­ing win­dows—un­usual for an older home—bring in the out­side by pro­vid­ing views on ev­ery side of the nat­u­ral beauty sur­round­ing the home.

While the Colo­nial bones have re­tained their in­tegrity, a ren­o­va­tion at the turn of the cen­tury added twin par­lors and built onto the kitchen.

A PROD­UCT OF ITS EN­VI­RON­MENT

The home­own­ers also have an apart­ment in New York, so “all this liv­ing space is a lux­ury,” Su­san says. Out­side the home, a three-car garage—con­verted from the prop­erty’s orig­i­nal sta­ble—and an ad­di­tional, 1,000-square-foot cot­tage are ideal for host­ing guests. “It has a won­der­ful sense of na­ture,” she says; one of her fa­vorite as­pects of the home is its gar­den and all the na­ture sur­round­ing it. The home’s quiet, com­fort­ing pres­ence is re­flec­tive of its en­vi­ron­ment. Litch­field is a rural com­mu­nity, and the acreage of the home backs up to the Ban­tam River and is sur­rounded by na­ture con­ser­vancy land.

Be­yond the in­her­ent peace of mind in­trin­sic to the home, it’s also a prod­uct of its ori­gin as the daugh­ter house of the prop­erty next door. The builder de­signed this home with the idea of cre­at­ing a fam­ily-cen­tered home and com­mu­nity, and im­bued the Colo­nial with comfort and life. “It would have been eas­ier just to build some­thing new than to lov­ingly undo dam­age and redo it,” Su­san says, but they were sym­pa­thetic to the home and wanted to keep its in­tegrity. They en­listed the help of lo­cal crafts­men who ex­pertly in­te­grated the new renovations with the old bones of the home.

A PLACE OVER TIME

When she went about dec­o­rat­ing the home, Su­san wanted a look that was fresh and new—“no gild­ing the lily, as it were,” she says. Dark hard­wood floors con­trast the walls in white, cream and pale gold, and the wall­pa­per that’s usu­ally so present in a Colo­nial or Vic­to­rian home is con­fined to the bath­rooms, where flo­ral and damask pat­terns rule. Ac­cent col­ors are sub­tle, but the pale blues and reds that adorn pil­lows, pat­terned rugs and bed­spreads add vivid depth to the bright, neu­tral airi­ness of the light color pal­ette.

The home­own­ers have been col­lect­ing an­tiques for many years, and one of the very first pieces they bought, a mid1800s linen press with den­til mold­ing, has found its home in Litch­field. Su­san’s fa­vorite piece is a flame ma­hogany high­boy

Litch­field is a rural com­mu­nity, and the acreage of the home backs up to the Ban­tam River and is sur­rounded by na­ture con­ser­vancy land.

The cur­rent home­own­ers have lov­ingly re­stored the home over the past three years, breath­ing new life into ev­ery corner, in­clud­ing the kitchen and bath­rooms, and tak­ing care to pre­serve many of the orig­i­nal wood floors, man­tels and mold­ings.

in the par­lor, where its brass trim, fan de­tail, scrolling and or­nate finials make the piece a work of art. Su­san also has trea­sured col­lec­tions of English porce­lain and sil­ver from the mid-1850s; mean­while, all the paint­ings in the home are mid-19th cen­tury Amer­i­can pieces.

The home’s long­stand­ing place in his­tory is vis­i­ble in ev­ery inch of the home—even in the not-so-ob­vi­ous places. In the kitchen, Su­san has con­verted an old laun­dry basin into a dou­ble sink, and in­stalled a stain­less steel sink with a brass faucet in the pantry af­ter she found it in the base­ment and re­stored the piece. The win­dow seats in the break­fast nook and study are part of the orig­i­nal home’s build, invit­ing one and all to cozy up to read and en­joy the view for more than a cen­tury and a half. “It’s a place over time, not in time,” Su­san says.

Wall­pa­per that’s usu­ally so present in a Colo­nial or Vic­to­rian home is con­fined to the bath­rooms, where flo­ral and damask pat­terns rule.

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