Case Study

One of the reasons why many folks choose to make the North Fork their home is because they appreciate its low-key lifestyle and deep agricultural and maritime traditions.  Clients often come to us because they are drawn to the New-England influenced Craftsman and Farmhouse-style homes, which are very much a part of North Fork culture and history.

At NFWW, we share this love for Craftsman and Farmhouse homes. We have earned a solid reputation for our work in successfully renovating and modernizing these types of structures, many of which are often over a century old and in disrepair.

“It’s easy to fall in love with the idea of an old farmhouse,” says Shane Burgher, Project Manager for North Fork Woodworks, “But transforming that idea into a livable reality can be challenging.”

That observation proved true recently when we had the good fortune of working with the noted architect and interior designer Elizabeth Roberts to renovate and modernize a circa 1870’s farmhouse in Orient, N.Y.

From a design standpoint, the goal of this project was to open up and modernize the home’s interior without losing its essential agrarian charm. Realizing this would require a complete overhaul of the home’s first floor and additional renovations to the second. In our experience, it is the nature of these

older structures to have evolved by necessity over the years. This practice often results in a home that is essentially a compilation of shortcut renovations, small rooms, and non-standard construction.

“We’re often asked to renovate older homes,” says Shane, “When modernizing the interior of a classic farmhouse, like the Orient project, it is important to understand in advance that these homes were not built to today’s more exacting standards.”

For example, in older houses like these, floors are typically not level, there are very few 90-degree angles, and walls often need to be re-plumbed.  We have to bring the interior to a point where it can structurally accommodate new tiles, inlays, millwork, flooring, and fixtures. Plus, we are introducing modern mechanical systems such as plumbing, electrical, and HVAC technology to a framework built 150 years ago.

“Our goal was to maintain and preserve the aesthetics of the past while still creating a modern and functional home for today,” said Kyle Schadt, Founder of NFWW. “In some ways, you’re being asked to put a Tesla engine in a Model T, but it’s our kind of challenge.”

Like so many renovations, this project, which took about a year to complete after architectural plans were finalized and approved by the town’s historic preservation commission, always brought a new puzzle to solve. From our discovery of old ‘Knob and Tube’ electrical systems that were still active to the need for remarkable delicacy in retaining the plaster lathe walls, challenges were many. In addition, we were required to stay within the home’s original footprint, which was essentially in opposition to the desire for better flow and open space by the home’s owners.

From the thoughtful decision to replace existing heating elements with modernized cast iron radiators to successfully converting the farmhouse’s original fireplace into a functional wood-burning grill (set right in the living room), we used ingenuity and creativity to meet every request and are very satisfied with the result.

And, most importantly, so are our clients.

This project was featured in Architectural Digest, where you can learn more about the thinking behind the design and evolution of this lovely modern old farmhouse.


Photography by Sarah Elliot, Architectural Digest © Conde Nast

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