Writer: Janet Purcell; Photographer: David Van Scott; Interior Designer: Miriam Ansell, Allied Member ASID, Professional Member IIDA
Third-floor renovations returned the Warren County home from a sloped roof to its original center “A” design with two adjoining windows. Three wide arches detailed with sandblasted white wrought iron create a picturesque front entrance. Gray shutters accent the windows, which on the first floor are floor-toceiling with four-over-four panes. Double doors flanked by lantern lights, rocking chairs, wicker planters and hanging baskets complete the storybook façade.
The front doors feature etched-glass details and a faux milk-glass transom. The spindle staircase begins with a one-of-a-kind oak newel post bearing a brass nameplate indicating it was designed and handcrafted in 2006 by homeowner Julie Van Scott’s uncle, Hans Jaensch of Vermont. Three area rugs, each a different shape, are spaced along the entry hall (two are shown). Above Right: Gleaming white trim and doors set off the green walls in the entry hall, where a single French door stands open to the living room.
Natural light streams through living room windows dressed with double café curtains featuring a velvet pattern on lace. The walls are covered with a cream-and-white wallpaper above a chair rail and lower expanse painted soft white. Colors from the carpet are dispersed throughout the room. Shades of terra cotta, ochre, cream and loden are found in chair and sofa fabrics, bolsters and a plaid ottoman. Antique bronze metal rods used on two large windows open into the room to adjust the amount of light.
A blue-painted oval table that had belonged to another family member was refinished to become the centerpiece of the Van Scotts’ dining room. Beside the red brick fireplace, a drape is tied back over a lacy curtain that diffuses the view of an outside parking area. David Van Scott built the bookcase, which can also serve as storage for china. He also built the fireplace mantels and a corner storage bench for relaxing by the fire.
One step down from the dining room is a slate-floored room with a lighted alcove where a marble-top cherry server holds linens and serving pieces. A handpainted torchiere blends mood lighting with the ambient light coming through floor-toceiling glass sliders that lead to a potting room and views of the pool and gardens.
When Julie and David Van Scott and their children first saw the circa 1865 farmhouse in Asbury that would be their home, the grounds were overgrown with weeds, brambles and fallen trees. But they saw potential.
“We were looking for a house with some property,” David Van Scott says. “Julie knew down the line she would like horses, and I wanted a house with character. Plus when we found the history of the property, it only enhanced our interest.”
They learned the home was first owned by the area’s postmaster and then served as a getaway for actor Ralph Bellamy and his wife. Bellamy added the swimming pool and screened cabana (complete with a bunker beneath), a garage and other enhancements.
“We knew with a lot of hard work it could be brought back to what it deserved to be and we’d end up with something very special,” says Van Scott, a professional photographer.
Before moving in, they updated the kitchen and renovated the third floor to expand living space and add much-needed light. Having photographed for designer Miriam Ansell and knowing she would respect the roots of the house, he and his wife called her in to help keep the inviting feel of a country farmhouse.
With Ansell’s vision, along with help from her assistant Abby Birk, a pedestrian master bedroom and bathroom were transformed into a restful getaway complete with French doors opening onto a small balcony. The suite also includes a working fireplace with a comfortable chair and chairside table nearby—hard to resist when the Van Scotts are tired but not yet ready for sleep—and a vintage high four-poster bed waiting a few steps away when they are.
Now the double front doors open to an inviting foyer that extends to a hallway that leads to the back of the home and, just inside, to a sun-filled, 17-by-21-foot living room. In the living room, a cast iron fireplace painted Guilford Green with ochre medallions anchors a loden sofa and loveseat in a come-in-and-relax-with-us conversation area. "We went on a treasure hunt through the house finding furniture to create an old-with-the-new mood," says Ansell, an allied member of the American Society of Interior Designers, professional member of the International Iterior Design Association and owner of Miriam Ansell Interiors in New Hope, Pennsylvania, and New York City.
They re-covered two extra dining room chairs and an ottoman, pulling in colors from the living room rug. One chair that’s part of a living room vignette can be moved into the conversation area or to the dining room. No fabric is repeated, but they all tie together in color," Ansell says.
FORMAL YET FAMILY FRIENDLY
The room steps down to a slate-floored space that features a server tucked into an arched alcove as well as a butler’s pantry that serves the dining room and kitchen. Larger windows open the space to a view of the potting room and the yard beyond.
The newly positioned dining room conveniently shares open space with the breakfast area, where an existing oval table was reduced to round to differentiate it from the dining room table. New breakfast area chairs are laminated fabric except for their floorlength skirts and lumbar pillows. This adds softness to an expanse where wood is prevalent in cabinetry, flooring and furniture.
Just beyond is the entry the family uses more often than the front. To make it welcoming as well as utilitarian, Van Scott constructed an alcove with padded bench and storage beneath—a comfortable spot to sit and take off shoes before going into the rest of the house.
Make no mistake about it: This is a farmhouse. Although Julie Van Scott is an accountant and David Van Scott, as noted, is a professional photographer, they and their two young children share their eight acres with three ponies, eight chickens, three dogs, two cats and two guinea pigs. The property includes two barns and a utility barn for equipment.But there also are artfully landscaped lawns, flowerbeds and tree plantings as well as a swimming pool and screened cabana positioned to complement the home. “We now have the home we envisioned a decade ago,” David Van Scott says. “Working with Miriam was an absolute pleasure, and we couldn’t be more delighted with the final result.”
Two armchairs from the dining room collection were reupholstered and brought into the living room for movable seating. One placed casually in what might otherwise be an awkward corner brightens the space and gives balance to the large room.
A bay window with a plaid cotton valance and simple yet elegant chandelier set the stage for the family’s convivial breakfasts and casual meals. The chairs are covered in matte lamination over an English cotton Old World print. Fringed lumbar pillows add comfort and color contrast. Ansell suggested the use of fabrics to balance all the wood cabinetry in the 12-by-15-foot kitchen beyond.
The butler’s pantry, which serves the kitchen and dining room, includes a soapstone counter topped by three pastoral scenes set into the wall under non-glare glass and illuminated with undercabinet lighting.
The mudroom entry off the breakfast area gets heavy use. Van Scott built a storage bench in an alcove and paneled it with bead board. A shelf at the top holds special objets d’art.
The master bedroom is cozy and comfortable. A gas fireplace brings warmth and soft light with no messy cleanup. Just a few steps across the wool area rug sits a high fourposter bed dressed with an antique quilt, ecru spread and ruffled and fringed pillows.
Double French doors open to a wrought iron balcony while a similar glass-paned door with a sheer lace curtain offers a glimpse into the master bathroom that Van Scott designed and built. Louvered double doors open to a large closet—a rare treat in an old house. A step away is an antique dressing table and bench nestled in an alcove beneath a window swagged and draped in muslin.
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