Under the blue sky of a perfect autumn day, a country road in Harford County, Maryland, bursts with vibrant color as it winds towards something even more idyllic: a charming 19th-century stone-and-clapboard farmhouse nestled into 25 expansive acres of pasture rimmed by woods. Complete with a 100-year-old barn, a carriage house, a pool and tennis courts, this slice of heaven was a recent purchase for a couple who fell in love with the home’s quaint antiquity and bucolic setting.
The previous owners had updated the main house; however, its dark, formal interiors were not to the new owners’ taste. “It was the style we wanted to change,” says the wife. “I could see the path but it was overwhelming to think how much there was to redo.”
The couple, who have four kids ranging in age from eight to 21, contacted Kirsten Kaplan after seeing her work online. The designer paid a visit armed with project pictures and ideas. She and the wife quickly discovered a meeting of the minds. “We both envisioned brightening the house up and making it very family-oriented and comfortable, sort of an elegant American farmhouse,” Kaplan explains. Coincidentally, they also had the same idea for a color palette: a mix of charcoal-blue, red and white that would impart crisp contrast and vibrancy while remaining true to the home’s rustic feel.
The original stone structure, a center-hall colonial, is flanked by 1970s-era clapboard additions—one housing the great room and the other the kitchen and adjacent family room. Architectural elements such as deep-set windows and extensive wainscoting distinguish the rooms, while wide-plank oak floors on the main level and the original 1880s heart pine floors on the second level are a nod to the home’s heritage.
“We wanted to find a balance between what was here and what we were adding to the house,” Kaplan notes. “They loved its character and didn’t want to lose it, just to lighten things up.”
One of the designer’s first moves was to paint all the millwork—most of which was either dark yellow-green or black—in a crisp white. This included the mahogany fireplace wall in the great room, which might have been beautiful in another setting but “was too heavy,” Kaplan says. She also replaced the wood floor in the great room with the same stone that’s in the kitchen, which started life as a sunroom. In the great room, she covered the drywall with tongue-and-groove paneling to add visual interest.
Charcoal-gray walls are striking in the living and family rooms, while the dining room is papered in gold Phillip Jeffries grass cloth. In every room, the white woodwork offsets the bold primary colors Kaplan has introduced.
When it came to furniture, the husband, a technology consultant, and his wife “decided to take the plunge and do it right.” They agreed that the furniture they had in their previous house, with its open-plan interiors and two-story foyer and family room, would not have looked right in the farmhouse. As the wife observes, “It would have been almost like a clown house, with the big couch and chairs in the smaller rooms.” So they started from scratch, with Kaplan selecting smaller-scaled pieces made of wrought iron or wood that are clean-lined and comfortable with a rustic flair. A custom bar cabinet in the living room was crafted by a local artisan, and a banquette occupies a cozy corner of the great room.
Rugs and drapes in bold hues complement the furnishings, while Americana-influenced wall art mixes with dynamic black-and-white photography. Personal touches abound, from chair cushions covered in Scottish plaids that are part of the husband’s family history to nature photography for the wife—an animal lover—and framed art by the kids. “Anyone can come in and make a house look pretty,” the wife enthuses of the results. “But to come in and also make it look like us—that’s hard to do.”
The family is enjoying their home, hosting parties on hay bales in the cavernous barn and visitors in the carriage house, also redecorated by Kaplan. The designer was thrilled with the opportunity to revive this unique residence. “I think we all felt honored to play a role in the renovation of such a special place,” she says. “I don’t know when I’ll have another opportunity like this.”
Stacy Zarin Goldberg is a photographer in Olney, Maryland.
GENERAL Window Treatment Fabricator: gretcheneverett.com. Painter: Shawn DeVoe; 410-420-3668. Custom Framing: mcguirefinearts.com. Stone Floor: Summerfield Masonry; 443-677-7772. Hardware Throughout: baldwinhardware.com. Art Installation: kramerinstallation.com.
LIVING ROOM Tufted Sofa: wesleyhall.com. Coffee Table: charlestonforge.com. Upholstered Ottoman by Entrance to Great Room: leeindustries.com. Rug: coecarpetandrug.com. Elephant Photograph: federicoveronesi.com. Custom Bar Cabinet: Shawn Ohl; email@example.com. Vintage-style Art: Jennifer Ament through rivermarketantiquesmall.com. Occasional Chairs: mcguirefurniture.com. Fabric: Scottish heritage plaid. Walls: Benjamin Moore Gray.
GREAT ROOM Tongue-and-Groove Wall Panels: griffith-brilhart.com. Twin Sofas & Chairs by Round Table: leeindustries.com. Stone Floor: Summerfield Masonry; 443-677-7772. Coffee Table: centuryfurniture.com. Chests Flanking Fireplace: stanleyfurniture.com. Art above Chests: Through hausinteriordesign.com. Table Lamps on Chests: potterybarn.com. Chandelier: troy-lighting.com. Rug: annieselke.com. Wreath above Fireplace: nettletonhollow.com. Banquette: vanguardfurniture.com. Round Table: tritterfeefer.com. Round Mirrors above Banquette: worlds-away.com.
FAMILY ROOM Sectional & X-Frame Stools: leeindustries.com. Throw Pillows: leeindustries.com, crlaine.com. Coffee Table: lorts.com. Shelves Flanking Windows: gjstyles.com. Curtains & Fabric: gretcheneverett.com. Rug: annieselke.com. Striped Armchair: wesleyhall.com. Armchair Fabric: ralphlaurenhome.com.
HOME OFFICE Matching Plaid Chairs: leeindustries.com. Coffee Table: Owners’ collection. Floor Lamp: visualcomfort.com. Rug: annieselke.com. Deer Head: etsy.com/shop/paperunleashed. Round Wood Sculpture on Coffee Table: Through hausinteriordesign.com.
DINING ROOM Wall Covering: phillipjeffries.com. Table: oldbiscaynedesigns.com. Chairs & Upholstery: leeindustries.com. Console between Windows: rh.com. Drapery Fabric: Horse Art: artaddictioninc.com. Rug: Custom. Chandelier: visualcomfort.com.