Respectful Renovation in Western Massachusetts

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Respectful Renovation

An Eighteenth-Century Farmhouse Is Transformed into a Twenty-First-Century Vacation Retreat

“Our reputation is that we respect old homes, but at the same time, we try to open them up, make them brighter, and modernize the

[interiors],” says architect James Crisp of Millbrook, New York-based Crisp Architects. That reputation drew the owners of this western Massachusetts home to the firm. The 1790s farmhouse had passed through several owners’ hands before reaching them. A prior owner began but ultimately abandoned renovations, and the house sat neglected for years, suffering water and weather damage in the process. With their primary residence in New York City, the homeowners dreamed of turning the property into a weekend and summer getaway.

Historic-home updates require a careful balancing act between renovation and preservation. “When we can, we save the historic artifacts and details of the home, and then take our cues from those details for anything that we add,” says Crisp. The architect, who is originally from Louisiana, developed his passion for restoration from friend and renowned Louisiana architect, A. Hays Town. “He worked all throughout the South. He recreated the vernacular architecture of Southern homes,” says Crisp of Town. “He’s the first person I met who used reclaimed materials. When I moved North, I tried to incorporate that into my designs—using the vernacular architecture of the local area.”

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