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Clean & Simple

A Contemporary Take on a Classic Country Home



The original dark wood paneling in the living room was restored and painted in a soft grey; the furnishings are a mix of mid-century modern and Scandinavian influences.

Photos by Amanda Kirkpatrick

The circa-1880 home had lovely grounds and a stately exterior, but the interior hadn’t been updated in decades. Rooms with low ceilings and dark wood paneling were uninviting, the kitchen and baths needed to be gutted, and the layout wasn’t conducive to entertaining. The prospective buyers’ goal was to seamlessly marry the old and new—to retain the country farmhouse look but with a clean minimalistic sensibility. Before committing to purchasing the house, they asked local contractor Bob Torre to walk through the property and weigh in on its possibilities. 

“The hardest part about a project like this is figuring out how to bring the home up to modern standards without losing the authenticity and originality of the home,” Torre says. Together with architect Rafe Churchill and interior designer Kathryn Fagin, that mission was accomplished in this stunning Bedford residence, now a sunny and serene retreat. 

“New construction typically offers many more design opportunities, but the real challenge is knowing when to tread lightly during a renovation,” Churchill says. “And honoring the history of a house has always been our top priority. These clients bought the property as a weekend getaway and were hoping to improve the interior spaces without losing any of the charm. We’ve found that some clients fall in love with an old house and then want to gut it. We tend to discourage that—it’s better to embrace the elements they fell for in the first place. It’s the irregularities of an old house that distinguish it from anything else.”

Because past additions were done at different times—the most recent renovation was nearly 40 years ago—one irregularity to contend with were all the different levels on the main floor. You had to step up or down each time you entered a room. “Plus, the kitchen ceiling was very low,” Churchill recalls, noting his six-foot-five-inch height made this obvious every time he stepped into the room. “It was clear that we needed to lower the floor system to increase the headroom. Bob Torre and his crew were great with this challenge–we increased the ceiling by eight inches–it now feels like we picked up twice that!” In addition to the extra headroom, the kitchen was extended by about seven feet.

“When the client first asked if we could lower the floor, both Rafe and I thought that it would be prohibitively expensive,” Torre says. “But since we had to replace all the heating vents and plumbing anyway, we were able to find a cost-effective way of making the kitchen the same level as the rest of the house. Now, instead of lots of levels, there is just one step up into the living room.” 

New windows were added throughout the house, along with oak flooring finished in Woca oil, which gives the floor a subtle matte luster and is easy to maintain and repair. “You can just buff out any imperfection, and then oil and buff it again.” Torre says. “When feasible, existing wood paneling was restored and painted. When not, reclaimed materials, such as old beams, were purchased and used to give rooms the look of being from the late 1800s.

The homeowners brought in Boston-based interior decorator Kathryn Fagin early on in the process. “I had worked with these clients before, so I knew that they liked to be very involved with the design process,” Fagin says. “For example, the wife saw that we could create a dramatic double height entry by opening up the stair area.” This also added much needed light, one of the priorities of the renovation.

One of Fagin’s biggest challenges was settling on a defined vision of the style the clients wanted to achieve. “It could be easy to get caught up in a very ‘country’ feel or a very ‘modern’ feel,” she says, “but getting a balance of the two was where we wanted to end up. The mix also included mid-century modern and Scandinavian minimalist influences.” 

Fagin enjoyed the collaborative process, working with the owners and the architect on everything from the paint colors, tile selections, and lighting to the furniture and the rugs. “When you work as a team, everyone brings different sources and ideas to the table and together we really brought the entire space to life.”

An apt description indeed. This property is still an antique, but a living one designed for the family to enjoy. The homeowners are delighted with their “new” old house. “The most fun part was seeing the final result, followed by being able to use the house as we had envisioned it from the outset. It has also been really enjoyable seeing the overwhelming response of family and friends to the end result!”

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July 2018

Take a one-hour guided tour of the historic Lyndhurst mansion overlooking the Hudson River. The Gothic Revival mansion has been used as a movie set for six major motion pictures...

Cost: $18

Where:
Lyndhurst
635 S. Broadway
Tarrytown, NY  10591
View map »


Website »

More information

Kykuit, a hilltop paradise, is now a historic site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, was home to four generations of the Rockefeller family. Read our review of...

Cost: $25

Where:
Kykuit
381 N. Broadway
Sleepy Hollow, NY  10591
View map »


Website »

More information

Looking for some family-friendly activities this summer? Visiting museums is educational and engaging for even young children, but tickets can often be expensive. Luckily, The Friends of Keeler...

Cost: free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 titicus road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

Make and decorate your own house for fairies! July 12th and 19th at 4:00 PM You are welcome to one or both sessions For kids in grades Kindergarten and up. Younger children need to have...

Cost: free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Take a one-hour guided tour of the historic Lyndhurst mansion overlooking the Hudson River. The Gothic Revival mansion has been used as a movie set for six major motion pictures...

Cost: $18

Where:
Lyndhurst
635 S. Broadway
Tarrytown, NY  10591
View map »


Website »

More information

Kykuit, a hilltop paradise, is now a historic site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, was home to four generations of the Rockefeller family. Read our review of...

Cost: $25

Where:
Kykuit
381 N. Broadway
Sleepy Hollow, NY  10591
View map »


Website »

More information

Looking for some family-friendly activities this summer? Visiting museums is educational and engaging for even young children, but tickets can often be expensive. Luckily, The Friends of Keeler...

Cost: free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 titicus road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

Make and decorate your own house for fairies! July 12th and 19th at 4:00 PM You are welcome to one or both sessions For kids in grades Kindergarten and up. Younger children need to have...

Cost: free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Take a one-hour guided tour of the historic Lyndhurst mansion overlooking the Hudson River. The Gothic Revival mansion has been used as a movie set for six major motion pictures...

Cost: $18

Where:
Lyndhurst
635 S. Broadway
Tarrytown, NY  10591
View map »


Website »

More information

Kykuit, a hilltop paradise, is now a historic site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, was home to four generations of the Rockefeller family. Read our review of...

Cost: $25

Where:
Kykuit
381 N. Broadway
Sleepy Hollow, NY  10591
View map »


Website »

More information

Looking for some family-friendly activities this summer? Visiting museums is educational and engaging for even young children, but tickets can often be expensive. Luckily, The Friends of Keeler...

Cost: free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 titicus road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

Make and decorate your own house for fairies! July 12th and 19th at 4:00 PM You are welcome to one or both sessions For kids in grades Kindergarten and up. Younger children need to have...

Cost: free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

In Ayurveda, health is achieved when there is a balance in body, mind, and spirit. Stress effects all of these components, and so balance must concentrate on all three. Come and discover:...

Cost: Free

Where:
Lewisboro Library
15 Main St
South Salem, NY  10590
View map »


Sponsor: Dr. Somesh N. Kaushik
Telephone: 914-875-9088
Contact Name: Dr. Somesh N. Kaushik
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Take a one-hour guided tour of the historic Lyndhurst mansion overlooking the Hudson River. The Gothic Revival mansion has been used as a movie set for six major motion pictures...

Cost: $18

Where:
Lyndhurst
635 S. Broadway
Tarrytown, NY  10591
View map »


Website »

More information

Kykuit, a hilltop paradise, is now a historic site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, was home to four generations of the Rockefeller family. Read our review of...

Cost: $25

Where:
Kykuit
381 N. Broadway
Sleepy Hollow, NY  10591
View map »


Website »

More information

Looking for some family-friendly activities this summer? Visiting museums is educational and engaging for even young children, but tickets can often be expensive. Luckily, The Friends of Keeler...

Cost: free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 titicus road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

Make and decorate your own house for fairies! July 12th and 19th at 4:00 PM You are welcome to one or both sessions For kids in grades Kindergarten and up. Younger children need to have...

Cost: free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Take a one-hour guided tour of the historic Lyndhurst mansion overlooking the Hudson River. The Gothic Revival mansion has been used as a movie set for six major motion pictures...

Cost: $18

Where:
Lyndhurst
635 S. Broadway
Tarrytown, NY  10591
View map »


Website »

More information

Kykuit, a hilltop paradise, is now a historic site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, was home to four generations of the Rockefeller family. Read our review of...

Cost: $25

Where:
Kykuit
381 N. Broadway
Sleepy Hollow, NY  10591
View map »


Website »

More information

Looking for some family-friendly activities this summer? Visiting museums is educational and engaging for even young children, but tickets can often be expensive. Luckily, The Friends of Keeler...

Cost: free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 titicus road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

Make and decorate your own house for fairies! July 12th and 19th at 4:00 PM You are welcome to one or both sessions For kids in grades Kindergarten and up. Younger children need to have...

Cost: free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Fridays, July 20, August 17, September 21, 9:30 - 10:30 AM Katonah Museum opens its doors to babies and their new parents and caregivers for an enriching experience, a chance to meet local...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Katonah Museum of Art
134 Jay Street
134 Jay Street, Katonah, NY 10536
Katonah, NY  10536
View map »


Telephone: 191-423-29555

More information

Take a one-hour guided tour of the historic Lyndhurst mansion overlooking the Hudson River. The Gothic Revival mansion has been used as a movie set for six major motion pictures...

Cost: $18

Where:
Lyndhurst
635 S. Broadway
Tarrytown, NY  10591
View map »


Website »

More information

Kykuit, a hilltop paradise, is now a historic site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, was home to four generations of the Rockefeller family. Read our review of...

Cost: $25

Where:
Kykuit
381 N. Broadway
Sleepy Hollow, NY  10591
View map »


Website »

More information

Join fellow seniors for an afternoon of art viewing and socializing. Dive deep into our current exhibition with a knowledgeable docent and mingle with other art enthusiasts over coffee and treats....

Cost: Free with admission.

Where:
Katonah Museum of Art
134 Jay Street
Katonah, NY  10536
View map »


Telephone: 191-423-29555
Contact Name: Margaret Adasko
Website »

More information

Looking for some family-friendly activities this summer? Visiting museums is educational and engaging for even young children, but tickets can often be expensive. Luckily, The Friends of Keeler...

Cost: free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 titicus road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

Little Radical Theatrics Inc (Fatima Viegas, Executive Producer) is thrilled to be presenting its Summer 2018  Production of "Ragtime".  In an effort to truly live up to...

Cost: $10-$25

Where:
Grinton Will Library
1500 Central Park Ave
Yonkers, NY  10710
View map »


Sponsor: Little Radical Theatrics
Telephone: 914-589-1669
Contact Name: Fatima Viegas
Website »

More information

 Little Radical Theatrics Inc (Fatima Viegas, Executive Producer) is thrilled to be presenting its Summer 2018  Production of "Ragtime".  In an effort to truly live...

Cost: $10-$25

Where:
Grinton Will Library
1500 Central Park Ave
Yonkers, NY  10710
View map »


Sponsor: Little Radical Theatrics
Telephone: 914-589-1669
Contact Name: Fatima Viegas
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Westchester Community is in need of more than 40 foster homes to provide the county’s most vulnerable children with housing in a safe and stable environment. For more information and to...

Cost: Free

Where:
United Way of Westchester and Putnam
336 Central Avenue
White Plains, NY  10606
View map »


Sponsor: United Way of Westchester and Putnam
Telephone: 914-997-6700
Contact Name: Toyae Liverpool
Website »

More information

Take a one-hour guided tour of the historic Lyndhurst mansion overlooking the Hudson River. The Gothic Revival mansion has been used as a movie set for six major motion pictures...

Cost: $18

Where:
Lyndhurst
635 S. Broadway
Tarrytown, NY  10591
View map »


Website »

More information

Kykuit, a hilltop paradise, is now a historic site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, was home to four generations of the Rockefeller family. Read our review of...

Cost: $25

Where:
Kykuit
381 N. Broadway
Sleepy Hollow, NY  10591
View map »


Website »

More information

Explore two private gardens in Cortlandt Manor, Mt. Kisco, open for self-guided tours to benefit the Garden Conservancy. Highlights include a series of seven bridges, statuary, woodland walks,...

Cost: $7 per garden; children 12 & under free

Where:
The Merrin Garden
2547 Maple Avenue
Cortlandt Manor, NY  10567
View map »


Sponsor: The Garden Conservancy
Telephone: 888-842-2442
Contact Name: Open Days Program staff
Website »

More information

Looking for some family-friendly activities this summer? Visiting museums is educational and engaging for even young children, but tickets can often be expensive. Luckily, The Friends of Keeler...

Cost: free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 titicus road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

Little Radical Theatrics Inc (Fatima Viegas, Executive Producer) is thrilled to be presenting its Summer 2018  Production of "Ragtime".  In an effort to truly live up to...

Cost: $10-$25

Where:
Grinton Will Library
1500 Central Park Ave
Yonkers, NY  10710
View map »


Sponsor: Little Radical Theatrics
Telephone: 914-589-1669
Contact Name: Fatima Viegas
Website »

More information

 Little Radical Theatrics Inc (Fatima Viegas, Executive Producer) is thrilled to be presenting its Summer 2018  Production of "Ragtime".  In an effort to truly live...

Cost: $10-$25

Where:
Grinton Will Library
1500 Central Park Ave
Yonkers, NY  10710
View map »


Sponsor: Little Radical Theatrics
Telephone: 914-589-1669
Contact Name: Fatima Viegas
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

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