The rehabilitation of Keren and Thomas Richter’s 1850s farmhouse in Pound Ridge, New York, has its share of unexpected twists and turns just like any other project.
After finding a dilapidated property in Brooklyn in late 2017, the couple, who own an interior design firm called White Arrow, thought they could give it a fresh coat of paint and use it as a getaway from their primary residence in Brooklyn on weekends. It turns out that both of those assumptions were incorrect.
She says she and her husband “would often come up to northern Westchester on the weekends to drive around, and we were always so enchanted by how it seemed like you’re in the country even though you’re really only an hour away from the city.”
With their desire of buying a home in the neighbourhood finally realised, they quickly discovered their house: a three-story clapboard house built over the course of a century, situated on five acres of land. With a little TLC, it might be a beautiful home. The linoleum and Formica flooring appears to have been installed in the 1950s. Outside, wild bushes had taken over.
“It was in estate condition,” Ms. Richter added. Since we specialise in interior design, we thought it would be a perfect opportunity to restore something and add our own personal flair to it. ”
They didn’t expect the bidding battle that ensued because such a lengthy endeavour isn’t for everyone. According to Ms. Richter, developers were interested in the property because they could demolish it and build two new residences on the lot. However, they ended up paying $818,000 for the mansion, which they believe was facilitated by a letter from them describing how they planned to renovate it.
When they started looking about the house, their initial delight turned into apprehension. Mr. Richter, a 6-foot-3-inch man, was unable to stand up in several of the upstairs areas because the ceilings were so low. But they hadn’t factored in the fact that they would need to replace the foundation under the 1950s portion of the house.
This was not built on a solid foundation, said Mr. Richter. As a result of this, a structural engineer determined that we needed to replace the foundation under this area because it was effectively sinking.
In addition, they found that the electrical and plumbing systems needed to be completely redone. Septic system failure followed. In short order, it became evident that the renovation would be far more extensive than a superficial facelift.
The Richters worked with INCA, a Brooklyn-based architectural firm, and Robert Lord Building for a year before beginning construction on their home in December 2018. They used to spend the night there if it was warm enough.
Mr. Richter stated, “We got a Porta Potty, and our pals came up.” “Because the house was a shell, we tented on the land with a fireplace and tents.”
They used images of the house taken in the early 1900s to rebuild the façade, including a front porch that had been dismantled more than a century earlier.
Rooms would be modelled after both colonial American residences and English country estates. Initially, “we were sort of kidding that we wanted [the house] to feel like a Cotswolds country cottage, even though we’re in northern Westchester,” Ms. Richter recalled. “However, I believe that’s the vibe,” says the author.
It helped that they spotted a Craigslist listing for a used British-made AGA range, which became the focal point of their kitchen. According to Ms. Richter, “Thomas flew out there and drove it back in a U-Haul.”
In the words of Mr. Richter, “it was the best journey of my life.” Mr. Richter was raised in Germany and had never taken a cross-country American road trip. A number of detours were taken on this excursion, which was “very amazing.”
The range is now the centrepiece of an extended kitchen with Shaker-inspired cabinetry, beadboard panelling, and a bespoke worktable painted a deep turquoise.
An entirely new principal suite was constructed upstairs, complete with a cast-iron bathtub that stood alone and a shower that was built into the newly elevated ceiling. They set up shop in the attic, converting it into a home office and design studio.
The house’s 3,000-square-foot, four-bedroom layout includes a bright playroom, which was a must for the family. Mira, 4, and Laila, born in February, are the two children of the Richter family.
That was a factor in the couple’s decision to relocate to Pound Ridge from Brooklyn. They never got to utilise the house as a weekend getaway because it was completed just after the outbreak last March, at a cost of roughly $340,000, and they moved there shortly thereafter.
Having a growing family, they can no longer resist the allure of their five acres of land and forest. According to Ms. Richter, “it’s a lot more nature-oriented than our previous experience and it’s simply really excellent for kids.”
“We do anticipate our friends from Brooklyn will be here a lot,” she said, referring to the loosening of social distance limits.
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