Home & Design

Though newly built, the main house appears to have been nestled in its setting for years.

Postcard from Vermont

Postcard from Vermont

A few years ago Great Falls, Virginia, residents Tom and Diana Kelly purchased 42 acres near Weston, Vermont, with the  idea of building a getaway for holidays and  vacations. They wanted a place to gather with their family and friends where they could ski in winter and swim, fish and canoe in summer. With its proximity to the surrounding mountains and picturesque lake, the property they purchased perfectly suited their needs.

The couple, a retired executive and his wife, appointed builder Richard H. Adams of Landgrove, Vermont, for the project, which is an interpretation of a late 18th- to early 19th-century Vermont architectural style known as Noah’s Ark design. Alice Busch of Great Falls Distinctive Interiors had designed their Virginia home, and the Kellys turned to her again to help make their new vacation retreat feel like home.

The house was designed to cater to the owners’ frequent onslaught of visitors. As a result, considerable time was spent in planning the great room—living and dining rooms and kitchen all in one space—where everyone tends to congregate. This is ski territory, so the room is in high use in the winter after a day on the slopes. “When a great room is your main room, you need space and volume. We worked on it prior to the plans being drawn up and then we went through all the extensive pre-construction detailing,” explains Busch.

Heated heart-of-pine floors and beams made of old, reclaimed wood illustrate the home’s masterful blend of state-of-the-art technology and rustic charm. The stone fireplace emphasizes the high, vaulted ceiling above, enhanced with barn-style beams. Rough-hewn timbers delineate the room’s various functions without the use of walls.

Opposite the kitchen island is the dining area, with a roomy study off of it that houses a sofa and chairs, a desk and a wet bar. The living area lies to the right of the dining area; both open to the kitchen, which conveniently accommodates one cook or several. The barn red color on the island is repeated inside the glass-fronted, antiqued and whitewashed cabinets that line the periphery of the kitchen.

In the great room, furnishings have been chosen with an eye to proportion: The top of the trestle dining table is inordinately thick and the living area sofas are exceptionally deep—great to curl up in. A palette of barn red and beige with a hint of goldenrod sweeps through the room, creating an atmosphere of liveliness, comfort and warmth. Floral and plaid fabrics co-mingle throughout. Upholstered seat cushions on the dining chairs boast four separate patterns.

The sunroom closely replicates the one the Kellys have in Great Falls, but here it’s a bit larger. “It is mostly a little morning retreat—the morning is so beautiful,” explains Busch. Stone floors, a wall simulating exterior clapboard and a tongue-in-groove ceiling impart the feeling that the space was once a terrace that has since been enclosed. A leather-bound sisal rug echoes that outdoor ambiance. Unlined linen panels frame windows along two walls, permitting sunlight to filter through. Green dominates the chenille tapestry fabric on the oversized chairs that surround the limestone-topped table. “It’s a happy room,” says the designer.

In contrast to the saturated colors of the great room, the first-floor master bedroom is done in hues of soft candlelight beige. Busch balanced masculine and feminine colors and motifs through her use of wainscoting, a stylized damask-patterned wallpaper and an embroidered coverlet. Plaid draperies, a solid masculine element, counter these feminine touches.

The upstairs holds four more bedrooms, two of which belong to the couple’s grown children. The other two are guest rooms; Busch describes one of them as “a suite for a four-star bed and breakfast,” all red and tan with walls in a fabric tavern check. The other, yellow-themed guest room features a window seat in the sitting area with a marvelous view. Throughout the second level, Busch has combined plaids with free-form motifs, taming rooms filled with a complexity of patterns.

The designer’s installations were elaborately orchestrated in a process involving every member of her team. Each item was purchased and stored in her Virginia warehouse; it took only four days for everything to be moved into the Vermont house and put in place. When the Kellys arrived, the house was finished and waiting for them.

The couple now possess the retreat they wanted, and they take full advantage of it. Their day begins with breakfast in the sunroom, followed by preparations for the arrival of family and friends. Guests tuck their luggage into one of the bedrooms and head to the great room. Later, they might descend to the lower level to shoot pool or to the media room for a movie. On a warm evening there might be a shindig in the barn, where the second floor was designed for gatherings. Here, the lighting comes from bare, dangling bulbs and the chairs are bales of hay. In the winter, the lake is frozen solid and snow blankets the mountains in this idyllic landscape.

Contributing editor Barbara Karth resides in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Jeff Herr is an Atlanta, Georgia-based photographer.

CONSTRUCTION: Richard H. Adams, Richard H. Adams, Inc., Landgrove, Vermont. INTERIOR DESIGN: Alice Busch, Allied Member ASID, Great Falls Distinctive Interiors, Inc., Chantilly, Virginia.

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