A 101-Year-Old House That Feels Thoroughly Modern

An oh-so-charming exterior gives nothing away about what you’ll find inside this home from HGTV Magazine.

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Photo By: Alexandra Rowley

Photo By: Alexandra Rowley

Photo By: Alexandra Rowley

Photo By: Alexandra Rowley

Photo By: Alexandra Rowley

Photo By: Alexandra Rowley

Photo By: Alexandra Rowley

Photo By: Alexandra Rowley

Photo By: Alexandra Rowley

Photo By: Alexandra Rowley

The House

Paul and Jane Beiles had plenty of space for their family of five in their 1960s Colonial in New Canaan, CT, but the house lacked the soul of pre-1950s architecture that Jane has always been drawn to. So when the couple decided to move closer to town a few years ago, a listing for a 2,700-square-foot home built in 1916 piqued their interest. They immediately fell for the storybook-quaint exterior and colorful front yard landscaped by the previous owner, a garden designer.

But they were admittedly less enamored of the inside, with its choppy, closed-off rooms, typical of century-old construction. Recognizing the home’s potential, “truly a they-don’t-make-them-like-they-used-to situation,” says Jane, they snapped it up and asked architect Louise Brooks and designer Melissa Lindsay to help them transform the interior into a bright, open, 21st-century space. That meant knocking down walls to bring in more light, painting walls and floors white and decorating in a pared-down, uncluttered style that Jane loves. “People expect our home to look old-fashioned when they walk through the front door,” says Jane. “And judging from the outside, I get that. But that’s not us.” Sure, decorating a historic home with modern style was a risk, “but it’s one that was definitely worth taking,” says Jane.

The Family

Paul and Jane with (from left) Luke, 15, Hadley, 12 and Evan, 13.

Mudroom

To unite the newer floors in the kitchen and mudroom with the rest of the home’s original floors, the Beileses painted them all. Here, they used Marshmallow by Sherwin-Williams, then added a stenciled octagon pattern in Only Natural, also by Sherwin-Williams. 

Kitchen

For the kitchen, Jane nixed the idea of upper cabinets, opting instead for open shelving in front of the windows — clever storage! Adding to the airy feeling are the shiny white countertops by Glassos, a reflective glass tile backsplash and white paint (Simply White by Benjamin Moore) on the walls, shelves and island. The zinc-finish pendants are by The Urban Electric Co., and the oak counter stools are from Usona.

Entryway

White paint on the walls and floor (Simply White and White, both by Benjamin Moore) help the older home’s tighter spaces, like this entryway, feel less confining. Slim stools from Serena & Lily tucked under a custom floating box shelf offer a place to perch near the front door, which is where the family’s 4-year-old vizsla, Quinto, likes to stand guard. The denim and suede rug is also from Serena & Lily.

Dining Room

In their old house, the family had a hefty trestle dining table that could have fit here but would have been snug. Instead they chose an oval Saarinen table from Design Within Reach, which makes it easier to move around in the space. At 78 inches across, it comfortably fits nine people. Jane paired it with dark wood and rattan wishbone chairs from West Elm and hung a Bover pendant with a woven shade that plays off the chairs’ seats. A treasured set of colorful lithographs flank the window.

Living Room

Jane originally considered making the living room
a more colorful space, but because it’s open to the
white kitchen and dining room, she decided neutrals were the way to go. The sleek upholstered furniture works hard, with kids spinning in the Benson swivel chairs and teaching their dog to jump over the Design House Stockholm ottomans when Jane isn’t looking. The sofa is from Design Within Reach, and the wood and metal coffee table is from Pimlico Interiors.

Built-in Bookcase

Keeping Jane’s wish for a clutter-free home in mind, architect Louise Brooks designed built-in bookcases in the living room, creating cubbies for books, art and vases. The small, classically shaped blackened pewter sconce from The Urban Electric Co. mounted above is a nod to the home’s history. The X-bench stool is upholstered in C&C Milano fabric.

Master Bedroom

Jane and Paul sleep on the top floor, where they have a bird’s-eye view of their street. The downside? “Sloped ceilings and steep steps, so we have to stay nimble,” says Jane. The horizontal paneling was already painted white when they moved in, so they covered the ceiling in a similar shade (Simply White by Benjamin Moore). The Suzani bedding is from Anthropologie, and the diamond pillows and raffia-covered nightstand are from Serena & Lily. 

Back Porch

When the weather is cooperating, the Beileses eat dinner and host parties out here (a recent gathering included karaoke). To freshen up the space, they repainted the floor the color chosen by the previous owners (Kennebunkport Green by Benjamin Moore) and put down an outdoor Dash & Albert rug. Two mirrors from Wisteria, hung on the siding, reflect the trees in the backyard. The cozy sofa and oak coffee table are from Restoration Hardware; the round nest chair is from West Elm.

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