This Edwardian Colonial was built in 1911, and when designer Claire Paquin was brought in to renovate the kitchen, not much had been done to update it. However, she felt the home would not work adequately for a young family of six the way it was laid out. She suggested relocating the dining room and bumping out the entire backside of the house to accommodate a larger, open-plan kitchen and family room.
“The family actually spent about a year thinking about my suggestions, as well as looking for other homes to buy instead,” says Paquin. “In the end, they decided that their home had the potential to become what they needed and desired. They chose Ned Stoll of Partners Stoll & Stoll Architects, based in New Rochelle.”
Paquin, Stoll, and the homeowners working together as a team from the beginning was key to making this project a true success, according to Paquin.
Designer Claire Paquin preserved the original character of this Edwardian Colonial but added modern amenities and an updated design.
Before the updates.
“Ned took my initial concepts of expanding across the back of the house to a whole new level. He developed a wonderful plan that allowed the back staircase to remain in its existing position and become a focal point of a space. The transitions between the new and old spaces are quite seamless, helped along by some of the aesthetic choices we made with the homeowner, such as oak paneling, wallpaper, and lighting.”
Paquin started with the space planning. “While the home’s formal rooms were generous in size, the house was not designed for modern-day living,” says Paquin. “The family wanted an updated, open-plan kitchen with a special area for a bar, a large family room, a mudroom, and a walk-in pantry. Upstairs, they desired an expanded master suite over the sunroom, to create a true oasis where they could retreat.”
The homeowners also wanted to expand the footprint of the basement as part of the project, making it a complete-gut renovation. However, the family was very clear that they wanted to maintain the integrity and original character of the home.
Once the space was defined, Paquin moved on to plumbing fittings. “It sets the tone for the home, and it allows me to understand the aesthetic direction the client wants to go in,” she says. “You can learn so much about a client’s taste from what type of faucets they select.”
There was also a large amount of custom millwork in this project, including the kitchen cabinets, bar area, mudroom, laundry room, family room, office, basement built-ins, and custom vanities for five bathrooms.
Though she was originally brought on to tackle the kitchen, designer Claire Paquin’s ideas about reworking other spaces in the home ultimately led to the renovation of several other spaces, including the front entryway and powder room (pictured blow).
“It’s important to stay true to the architectural details when working in a historic home,” says Paquin. “It’s aggravating to see a change in door styles, flooring choices, or hardware in the newer parts of a renovated home. If kept consistent, details like these can make a home feel cohesive, and when they are missed or purposely overlooked in an effort to cut costs, it really stands out in a negative way.”
Paquin and the team chose hardware that was true to the era of the home. The contractor, Paul Fontana of Cum Laude Group, and his team, worked hard to ensure that the decorative molding was preserved during construction.
“We even salvaged three leaded, stained-glass transom windows from the old dining room and repurposed them over new French doors in the kitchen eating area,” says Paquin. “Focus on details like these is what allows older homes to maintain their character while moving into the modern age.”
“The home has a grand foyer with a beautiful, sweeping staircase, and we went all out with its design,” says Paquin. “The client had always wanted to wallpaper the foyer, and we found an amazing floral silhouette paper with a Champagne metallic background. It adds a ton of warmth and interest to the space and carries your eye both up the stairs and into the back hall, which separates the old part of the home from the new addition. We layered more patterns, textures, and colors in the space.”
The console table was painted a rich eggplant color, pillows were added to the built-in stair seat, and the light fixture was chosen because of its cracked ice pattern that adds to
“When you see this space in person, it’s a feast for the eyes!” says Paquin. “I love that it sets the tone for the entire home.”
Claire Paquin’s Historical-Home Tips
â–º Start with a good plan. “I think when you spend the time upfront to get the design right, the end result is the best it can be,” says Paquin.
â–º Respect the architecture (to a certain extent). “While I never advise my clients to decorate to the style of the home (who wants baroque, anachronistic furniture?), I do think it’s important to respect the architecture to a certain extent,” says Paquin. “If you completely ignore the existing architecture and try to swing in a different direction, you may end up with a home that feels fragmented.”
â–º Update your systems. “I am strongly in favor of updating your systems,” says Paquin. “Electrical, plumbing, insulation, and HVAC have come a long way in the past hundred years. If you are gut renovating, make sure to take full advantage of the new technology and systems available.”