IN LITCHFIELD, AN URBANE COUPLE WITH CREATIVE ROOTS SAVES A FARMHOUSE FROM DISREPAIR AND FILLS IT WITH SOPHISTICATED PIECES, OLD AND NEW
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PUT A SPIN ON IT (click photo for larger view)
TO MOST PEOPLE, AN ABANDONED FARMHOUSE WITH
unlocked doors and a hole in the roof—not to mention the dreary, eerie background of a January afternoon—would be sound reason to turn away and never look back. But Carol Bokuniewicz and her husband, John Smallwood, are miles from most people—she's the creative director of her eponymous design and branding firm and he's the owner of Smallwood and Stewart, a book producer specializing in interior design, cooking and art. Tipped off to the property by a friend, they saw in the fixer-upper a retreat from their apartment in Manhattan's Financial District, one that would indulge their oh-so-cool, oh-so-eclectic tastes.
The house, built in 1805 and renovated in the 1930s, sits on a contoured plot in Litchfield; with floor-to-ceiling windows, a spiral staircase and a great flow, it had "a grace to it that was really special," says Bokuniewicz. Once winter warmed to spring, though, the couple noticed something that hadn't been apparent before. "The ladies that lived there before had been living in the house with their ducks and goats," says Smallwood. "The house stank to high heaven." To get rid of the stench, they had to replaster or rebuild nearly every wall and rip up and replace the ground floors and joists. "I'm a complete devotee of lost causes; there's nothing more charming than taking on a lost cause," he adds cheerily.
A new kitchen, French doors off every room on the ground floor and landscaping that unearthed incredible old gardens completed the transformation. To unify the patchwork jumble of wood floors left in the renovation's wake—new ones in the kitchen, original floor boards elsewhere—the couple sanded, bleached and finished them all with a semi-transparent white stain. "It brought a lot of light into the house and made it contemporary," Smallwood says. "We wanted to keep the house away from 'country'; we wanted it to feel modern and a little more urban," adds his wife.
MESHING AROUND (click photo for larger view)