As a result, the new custom cedar windows were crafted with chain-and-sash weight construction, just like the originals. Exterior shingles were hand-cut in a staggered crazy quilt pattern and nailed up individually. Metal railings were hand-forged by a local blacksmith. “We had terrific contractors who got into the spirit and were empowered to be craftsmen,” Hassig says.
The renovations were designed to preserve the past in spirit and detail, but they also serve the present: new French doors enhance the indoor-outdoor connection, raised ceilings add lofty spaces in the upstairs bedrooms, and modern conveniences are cloaked in old-fashioned charm. It is almost impossible to tell the new areas—the kitchen, breakfast room, laundry room and some bedrooms—from the old.
Hassig credits the homeowners for being enthusiastic and intimately involved in envisioning the house. “There was a high level of care and attention to detail on their part,” he recalls. “Nancy was terrific at finding fixtures and fittings, tiles, paint and wallpaper.” She scoured local antiques stores and shopped New York City sales during the two years it took to complete the renovation, and mixed in her great-grandmother’s sofa and her mother’s curtains.
“I just kept finding things that appealed and suited the period of the house,” Deering says. “It all came together in my head. I had a strong idea of what it should feel like—happy and homey and real to me.”
Friends tell Deering that the house has a distinctly old feeling—the feeling that someone loves it again. The previous owner visited her rescued and renovated former home and heartily approved. “It looks like it has always been here,” says Hassig. “That was the real success of the project.”