hange is good, as the saying goes. That’s exactly how a couple with two young children viewed their move from a hip Brooklyn neighborhood to a forested 2-acre lot in Chappaqua, New York. The early-aughts Colonial they purchased included a guesthouse and a swimming pool. But the husband and wife–he works in finance, she’s a stay-at-home mom–saw no reason to completely abandon the style of their Williamsburg loft with exposed beams. “They wanted their new home to feel more like a bohemian farmhouse,” explains designer Amy Hirsch, whom the couple commissioned, along with architect Jimmy Crisp, to reimagine their new home.
The team approached the project by planning a new layout. “It was a lot of pushing things around and improving the flow,” Crisp says. “The house needed updating and some design sense.” To open up the dining room, the doorways on both sides were widened, and a nearby hallway was eliminated. In the front foyer, a new stairway with a blackened-steel railing and squared-off treads cuts a more modern profile than the traditional one with rounded wooden spindles it replaced.
Reminiscent of the couple’s previous abode, salvaged wood and reclaimed beams were installed throughout the interior, including wood planks on the dining room ceiling. Glass pendants suspended from varying heights over the dining table add an unexpected touch of whimsy, and a grass-cloth wallcovering with a watery lavender gradient introduces color and pattern in an understated way. “It’s very artistic and light, but it has a density because of the grass cloth,” Hirsch says. “There’s a balance between the ceiling and the walls.”
Wooden ceiling beams also add character to the kitchen, where crisp white Shaker-style cabinetry, white quartz countertops and a large island with additional seating evoke the classic aesthetic the owners requested. And although the porcelain-and-concrete backsplash tile was a leap for the owners, they are thrilled they heeded Hirsch’s advice to go a bit bolder. “She pushed us a little outside of our comfort level,” the wife admits, “and that made something ho-hum into something beautiful.” Bronze–in the form of cabinet hardware and lighting, including oversize island pendants with milk-glass globes and a large lantern-style chandelier over the breakfast table–also makes a strong statement. “How do you connect the dots?” Hirsch asks. “You have to have this constant language, a continual thread throughout.”
Playing on a common factor throughout the residence, the beams continue into the adjacent family room, this time placed vertically on both sides of the new floor-to-ceiling concrete fireplace, which has been stamped so it appears to be board-formed. A graphic blue rug with a white geometric design adds a pop of color and defines a comfortable seating area furnished with a plush, neutral-toned sofa.
More blue tones can be found in the living room’s antique silk carpet, which Hirsch layered atop a large braided-jute rug. Rustic lamps, Asian pieces and modern furnishings covered in crisp white fabrics create the eclectic boho feeling the designer and clients imagined early in the project.
Although the homeowners bring a new style to the house, some of the most significant changes are also the subtlest, builder Joe Pisoni points out. To eliminate bounce and squeaks, for instance, he reframed the floor system and installed new wide-plank oak beams. Just as importantly, insulation was added to every wall–interior and exterior–and between the first and second floors. “It’s a much quieter place,” he says.
Serenity is a hallmark of the master bedroom, where a light-colored wallcovering with a textured horizontal stripe illustrates the power of pattern, however subdued, to transform a space. “Bedrooms should be a retreat,” Hirsch says. “This one is very clean and comforting, and there’s no massive stimulation.” Texture plays a key role: The tailored bed is covered in bouclÃ© with moss-colored trim, and the Lucite bench at the foot of the bed has a hide-covered seat. There are also embroidered-linen draperies, layered rugs and a casual upholstered lounge chair.
The owners are overjoyed with their modern farmhouse. “It checks all the boxes,” the wife says, noting it’s also become a beacon of sorts for their harried city friends seeking a summer escape. “It’s a larger house, but it feels cozy,” the husband adds. “Sometimes I can’t believe we live here.”
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