Like many renovation projects, there was no shortage of surprises in Karen and Thomas Richter’s 1850 farmhouse transformation in Pound Ridge, NY.
When couples, partners in an interior design firm are called White arrow, Found a rundown home in late 2017, believing they could refresh it with cosmetic renovations, and it would serve as a buzzing weekend getaway from their primary home in Brooklyn. Both those assumptions turned out to be wrong.
“We would often come to North Westchester on weekends and drive around, and we were always so mesmerized by how it felt to be in the country, even if you were actually only an hour away from the city, “The said 40-year-old Ms. Richter, who praised Fieldstone’s walls, old houses and generous lots.
After the couple decided to work on their dream of owning a house in the area, they quickly found their home: a structure of peeled clapboard, with three sections built over the course of a century, five green acres. In. The house had charm, but needed work. It appears that it was last updated in the 1950s with a worn linoleum and formica. The unruly bushes were captured outside.
“It was in a state of property,” Ms. Richter said. “As we work inward, we thought this would be a great opportunity for us to restore something and give it our touch.”
Such a time-consuming project is not for everyone, so they were not anticipating a bidding war. “Developers were interested in this because they could demo it and build two houses on the lot,” Ms Richter said. The asking price was $ 650,000, but Ricketts eventually paid $ 818,000; He suspects that a letter he wrote to the seller detailing how he planned to restore the house helped to secure the purchase.
As he began to watch the house more closely, his initial excitement became a matter of concern. They knew that they wanted to raise the roof in parts of the top that were so low that Mr. Richter, who is 6-foot-3, could barely stand. But he did not rely on changing the foundation under the part of the house built in the 1950s.
“It wasn’t really built on a proper foundation,” Mr. Richter, 39, said. “We hired a structural engineer to look into it, and they said we would have to redo the foundation under that part because it was basically sinking.”
They also found that all electrical wiring and plumbing had to be replaced. Then the septic system failed. Long ago, it was clear that the project would involve much more than a cosmetic refresh: it would be a down-to-the-framing and dig-up-the-earth reconstruction.
With a Brooklyn-based firm INCA As their record architect and Robert Lord Construction, Richters mapped out their renovation plans for a year before starting construction in December 2018. When the weather was warm, they sometimes camped there.
“We got a porta potty, and our friends came,” Mr. Richter said. “We had a fire pit and tent, and they encamped on the ground, because the house was a shell.”
To restore the exterior, they found photographs of the house from the early 1900s and aimed to recreate what was there more than a hundred years ago, including the front veranda that was removed Was.
Inside, they hoped to create rooms that remembered not only the early American homes but also the English country houses. “Initially, we were joking that we wanted it to feel like a Cotswolds country house, even if we were in North Westchester,” Ms. Richter said. “But I think, in some ways, that’s the vibe.”
It helped that the British-made AGA range became the centerpiece of his kitchen after selling it to someone on Craigslist in Montana. “Thomas flew from there and took him back to U-Haul,” Ms. Richter said.
“It was the best trip of my life,” said Mr. Richter, who grew up in Germany and had never experienced an American cross-country road trip. “This trip was very epic, and I did a lot of detours.”
The range is now a prized feature in the extended kitchen with sugar-inspired cabinets, beadboard paneling and a custom worktable, all painted a deep teal.
Upstairs, he designed a new primary suite, including a bathroom equipped with a free-standing cast-iron bathtub and a shower under the newly raised ceiling. In the attic, he built a home office for his design studio.
The four-bedroom, 3,000-square-foot house also has a linen playroom, which was of major importance. The Richters have two daughters, Meera, 4, and Laila, born last February.
This is why the couple decided to leave Brooklyn and make Pound Ridge their primary home. They never got to use the house as a weekend getaway: it was completed at a cost of about $ 340,000, following the epidemic last March, at which point they moved in.
Now, with a growing family, he has found that his five acres of farmland and forest are too irresistible to leave. “We have more of this nature-oriented experience than before, and it’s really great for kids,” Ms. Richter said.
And with the rules of social distance being relaxed, she said, “We hope our friends from Brooklyn will be here a lot.”