When designer Stephen Saint-Onge first walked into the carriage house behind an old Victorian home just outside of Boston, he could see its potential as a guest house and home office.
His first task with the ramshackle house was opening up its gray interior. New windows, white denim slipcovered furniture, and white plaster walls flood the room with light.
Because the carriage house had drafty windows, the team searched for replacements that functioned well and suited the style of the main house. Eventually they found wooden double-hung windows with true divided lights (panes). Windows with snap-in grids may be easy to clean but they just don't look as good as the old-fashioned kind. The team quickly installed the replacements, which were worth the expense not only for authenticity but also for promised energy savings.
A steep stairway to the second floor felt especially narrow enclosed in dark wood.
Stephen's crew removed the stair's enclosure then cut away part of the second floor to create a balcony and loftlike space that allowed light to flow down to the seating area below.
Saint-Onge considered saving the original wood floors, but they were unsalvageable. He opted instead for new prefinished Brazilian cherry floors. He also replaced the stair treads with new cherry pieces but kept the original risers, which needed only a good cleaning. The day the new flooring went in was amazing. Gone was the smell of old lawn equipment and musty storage rooms. Now there was light, openness, and peace about the place again.
Saint-Onge transformed the second floor from a warren of tiny rooms into one large space containing a sitting area and home office. He added recessed lights, new cherry floors, and old-fashioned plaster walls. "From the first moment I saw the spaces, I envisioned white slipcovered pieces for the finished rooms," he says. The washable white denim fabric used both upstairs and down created a clean palette that made the finished rooms look comfortable and serene.