New road, new beginnings
Photos by kc kratt
This typical family of four—dog included—lives atypically. They are flippers-in-residence: they don’t mind the chaos of living amid their work in progress. Whereas most homeowners loathe the dust and displacement, this couple actually enjoys the process of tackling one room at a time, doing most of the work themselves.
This is the third family home for the couple, married twenty-two years and in their forties, and their eyes are on number four—a home with good bones but in need of aesthetic fine tuning—at the time of this writing. (Hunt Real Estate’s Robert Measer was able to sell this beauty in a matter of days.) They intend to keep moving and renovating until retirement.
They are the second owners of this five-bedroom, four-and-a-half bath home on New Road in East Amherst, which was built in 1996 and sits on three acres, some wooded. The family reports various wildlife sightings and shares that when the dog raced off into the woods—apparently channeling his inner wild beast—he returned unscathed. The family has loved “the benefit of privacy,” she says. “It feels like you’re living in the country, but you are still so close to the city, shopping, and all conveniences.” Says he, “It’s the best of both worlds.”
What was an outdated nineties interior of black, gold, and white and “mirrors all the way up the fireplace to the twenty-foot ceiling,” is now a palette of neutral shades and organic materials. The kitchen is a gorgeous pass-through design adjacent to a dining area that overlooks the sumptuous, resort-worthy yard. And in one of the kitchen walls is a built-in espresso machine: bravo.
Some changes to the floor plan (moving walls on the main floor and raising a floor in a sunken sitting room) enlarged the master bedroom and its en suite full bath with luxe Japanese influences. “In the master, we moved the wall a little farther out toward the landing, so it gave us another two feet of depth, making the master bedroom twenty by sixteen feet. We then also had more room for the en suite tub and shower,” she says.
In the master, “we wanted to incorporate some cooler colors; we do have a lot of grays and neutrals, but the tones of the woods that we have warm it up,” she says. “When we moved in, the walls were all plain white, and there was carpeting in here–we took that out and put in hardwood.” The floors are premium engineered wood, which is imperviousness to moisture, a great feature for a room adjacent to a bathroom.
“We redesigned the layout of the bathroom, moved the shower, toilet, and tub. We moved the sinks. It originally had wide French doors and we took those out to gain more square footage in the bathroom,” he shares. “There was a bathroom shower that was small and narrow, all enclosed, and now we have a shower and a separate tub; when we moved the wall and removed the French doors, we could make the shower larger.” The couple also took some space from the master closet to further enlarge the shower.
“We put in a European toilet that floats off the floor, and a streamlined, simple tub with rocks around it,” he says. The rocks, contained in a raised wooden frame, echo the smooth river stones on the shower floor, set with a rough, sandy grout.
Some lovely flourishes in the en suite bathroom are an electric warming towel rack that was acquired on eBay, minimalistic stainless steel Isenberg fixtures (available from online sources) in the shower that incorporate squares in their design (shower head, hand wand, and temperature knob), and pine wood slats on the ceiling.
The repeating of the river stones up the wall between his and hers sinks, earth-toned smooth tiles and elongated stones, make for a cozy space that recalls a luxury spa. The couple added a sleek medicine chest from Ikea in the bathroom, next to a wall-mounted dispenser for soap. And added into one wall is a good old-fashioned clothes chute that harkens back to his childhood home and is a great convenience for the family, as it delivers laundry right to the laundry room below.
In the master bedroom, the earth tones repeat, as does the blending of materials: textured grass wallpaper, ship lathe, and quality lighting fixtures for an effect that he calls her “shabby chic tendencies” and what she calls “a comforting feeling from the mixing of textures and elements.” Most of the wall and ceiling fixtures were found at Lowe’s, but the couple emphasizes that they don’t seeks brands as much as a look. To balance the room’s various materials, the couple whitewashed the ship lathe to balance the tones of the wallpaper and the two painted walls: the effect is restful.
On either side of the king bed, outfitted with a leather headboard, are wall sconces also purchased at Lowe’s. To keep a crisp look in the master, the couple outfitted the two windows with blinds instead of drapes.
“We love to work and make a home our own with the design elements that we choose,” she says, adding “we invest a lot of sweat equity, but we work really well together: our styles of work and our aesthetic choices complement each other. And when he wants to do something too crazy, I bring him back down to earth.”