As smoke and flames billowed out of third floor windows of the old Victorian house, neighbors frantically hauled art, antiques, and whatever else they could carry out onto the surrounding lawn. Hours later after the fire trucks had gone, the skeletal remains of the huge structure looked starkly silhouetted against the mountains.
Although the fire didn’t consume the lower floors, the added insult of smoke and water damage rendered the house all but a total loss. The owners, who had been away at the time, had tough decisions to make in a timely fashion. The huge but stately lakeside house had been their dream home for 30 years, and seeing it in ruins was devastating.
After weeks of weighing alternatives, they decided to build a similar house with a smaller footprint that would better suit their empty-nest lifestyle and environmental consciousness. Yet, they wanted to retain the elegant feel of their former home and incorporate the artwork from their travels that had been salvaged by the neighbors, as well as original architectural elements that were able to be restored. “I was excited to be included early in the space-planning phase as the interior designer,” said Carin Cross, ASID, of Cross Design. “That’s the ideal time for me to ensure that a new plan will both flow well and meet clients’ expectations.”
With input from the architect, contractor, and Cross, the clients decided on several changes, including the elimination of an unnecessary third floor. Eliminating it improved the flow and livability of the house without compromising its graciousness. They also moved the master bedroom downstairs and added a cozy sitting room adjacent to it that opened onto the garden.
“We all spent hours poring over the recovered architectural items, including the original woodwork, paneling, mantels, railings, and lead windows to decide how best to integrate them into the new design,” said Cross.
Once she developed a paint palette that reflected the clients’ preference for pastels, they worked together to seamlessly blend the old and the new in the selections of interior surfaces, furniture, fabrics, and window coverings.
All the architectural and design elements complemented one another in the end, creating a beautiful home that was reminiscent of the original, yet contemporary and accommodating of the clients’ needs in the coming years.
Carin Cross is a professional member of the American Society of Interior Designers. For more information, call Carin Cross Design at 406-862-6277 or visit online at www.carincross.com.