Old houses have a wonderfully human scale. They may not be as expansive as houses of a more recent vintage, but their ceilings are high, the rooms are refined, and the proportions are often just right. In this charming Queen Anne summer house, a kitchen and master bedroom suite were added on without disrupting the grace of the rest of the house, which wisely retains its late-nineteenth-century dimensions.
It was important that whatever we did stayed in context and proper proportion to the original architecture. We wanted to hold on to the inviting scale that had attracted the owners in the first place. For that reason, antiques naturally work well in older houses, because their scale matches that of the rooms.
The dining room, in the original part of the house, connects to a lovely small sitting room. We linked the two rooms through a shared color palette and furnishings. The small-scale pattern of the dining room wallpaper suits the intimacy of the room; a solid gray-green was painted below the chair rail. The same color appears on the walls of the sitting room, paired with white-painted wainscoting. The chair rail and wainscoting are set low, which makes the rooms feel larger. An airy, leaf-patterned linen covers the deep seats of the dining chairs, and extra chairs migrate between the sitting and dining rooms. Simple curtains on slender poles, and pierced antiqued brass chandeliers, cousins to one another, also lend consistency. Within this quiet, sophisticated palette, the contrast of light and dark adds drama. Rich brown woods stand out against the lighters walls and fabrics, from the antique plank dining table and clean-lined chairs to the small spider table, based on an antique, in the sitting room.
See the rest of the gallery for the Queen Anne Renovation.
Excerpted from “A Country Cottage,” Alexa Hampton, The Language of Interior Design, 2010.