A modern family touches some history when it updates this old house.
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Before Alonso and Horton bought the house, the third floor was relegated to storage. It now has a new life as a haven for the twins, with two bedrooms and a shared bath. Because it didn’t get much traffic, the upper story yielded interesting architectural clues to the home’s past, such as the thumb latches and decorative hinges on the doors. Beneath the blackened haze on the floor, workers discovered treasure—heart yellow pine.
The family is establishing a new tradition for the farmhouse as a place to live, work and gather. A seldom-used dining room is now devoted to music. Instead of a table, there’s the grand piano Alonso brought from New York.
In spring the property glows with electric yellow forsythia. Rhododendrons and azaleas unfurl their purple and pink blossoms. Horton barbecues on the old outdoor fireplace.
“This truly feels like home,” he says.
- Connect with nature. The house, on a rare and verdant swath in North Wilmington, is surrounded by towering mature trees and flowering shrubs that can be enjoyed from open-air porches.
- Make compromises that will still enable you to maintain your aesthetic goals. For example, replacing the damaged cedar clapboards on the house would be prohibitively expensive. Hardie planks provide the look and feel of wood with the added benefit of greater durability.
- Bring ideas home with you. Terry Horton was inspired by the columns on porches in the Catskill Mountains of New York.
- Look for treasures in the attic. In the farmhouse, restorers found heart yellow pine beneath a blackened haze.
- Designate rooms to suit your lifestyle. The waiting room and office for Maria Alonso’s psychology practice could be re-interpreted as a mudroom and den. What once was a dining room is now devoted to music and is home to her grand piano.