Home & Design

A custom bar cabinet in the living room is flanked by McGuire chairs with cushions covered in Scottish plaid.

The great room is visible from the charcoal-hued living room.

A Vanguard banquette is paired with a Tritter Feefer table and chairs from Lee Industries.

The family can curl up on the Lee Industries sectional in the family room before a coffee table from Lorts.

The wife’s home office retains its original beadboard walls and fireplace—now painted crisp white.

Gold Phillip Jeffries grass cloth contrasts with white wainscot in the dining room.

Kaplan lightened the existing kitchen by painting the cabinets white and the island blue.

The home’s original heart-pine floors pop in the upstairs hall, which houses a rustic bench made of branches.

Kaplan transformed the great room with new tongue-and-groove paneling, a stone floor and white-painted millwork.

Farmhouse Fresh

Designer Kirsten Kaplan transforms an 1885 home in Harford County with easy elegance and a touch of Americana

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 grasscloth. 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. 

INTERIOR DESIGN: KIRSTEN ANTHONY KAPLAN, Haus Interior Design, Rockville, Maryland. BUILDER: Griffith-Brilhart Builders, Fallston, 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 protected]. 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.

KITCHEN  Stools: woodbridgefurniture.com. Stool Fabric: carletonvltd.com. Dining Table: lorts.com. Chairs: stanleyfurniture.com. Pendants over Island: feiss.com. Fixture over Table: visualcomfort.com.

UPSTAIRS HALL BY BACK STAIRS  Art above Stairwell: paragonpg.com. Bench & Throw Pillow: nellhills.com. Pendant over Stairs: Vintage.





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