When an environmentally conscious couple and their two young children moved from NYC to a 100-year-old home in West Hartford, CT, they wanted to preserve as many of the original features as possible. The house is historically protected, but the family needed the property to make them a comfortable and practical living space. They wanted to adapt the interior to their modern family lifestyle while preserving the historic charm. They engaged an interior designer to achieve the right look.
The resulting redesigned home provides exactly the balance the family was looking for. A stylish combination of new and original features, alongside upcycled and repurposed elements, preserves the character of the original building and makes it one of the world’s best homes.
The family called on interior designer Georgia Zikas (opens in new tab), who was happy to come up with inspiration and practical solutions for a complete renovation of the historically listed 1920s residence. She understood their desire to preserve many of the existing original features and reduce waste. The ideas Georgia presented included upcycling as much of the house’s existing materials as possible within the new redesign and the family is delighted with the results.
We’ve picked our top 9 design takeaways from the reconfigured home.
1. Open kitchen
The house is packed with clever ideas for upcycling and reusing materials in a way that honors the original character of the house and adds a fresh sense of style. Plus, since a major motivation was to make the redesign environmentally conscious, it really didn’t cost the earth – both planet-friendly and budget-friendly.
Anyone looking for kitchen ideas will find plenty of inspiration in this spacious open-plan setting. Designer Georgia Zikas says the kitchen is her favorite space. “We broke down walls and combined the butler’s pantry with the kitchen,” she explains. “We’ve scrapped the old dining room to function as a fresh open kitchen instead, leading to their new family room.”
2. Lighter and brighter
One of the main requirements in updating this family home was to make it brighter. All of the original 1920s woodwork was dark and dated, Georgia explains, and the wood wasn’t in good shape to repair. “It was in great shape to take coats of paint, though,” she says, and a light, neutral palette from Benjamin Moore (opens in new tab) Paint has been used on all walls and woodwork, brightening up the entire property.
Georgia suggested removing the walls between the old butler’s pantry and the new kitchen to open up the space. Remnants of the old pantry—including the original walnut countertops (seen around the sink, above)—are preserved in the family’s dining room as a reminder of the home’s history. The oval walnut table provides a landing spot for family dinners and school projects. And this casual open plan dining space is another great takeaway for those looking for dining room ideas.
3. Island made from upcycled cabinets
Georgia describes the kitchen island as “a Frankenstein-esque creation made from old kitchen cabinets, combined with new pieces for padding.” This is a great way to repurpose unwanted parts of an old kitchen and save money for anyone looking for kitchen island ideas.
Georgia respected and shared her clients’ sustainable approach to renovation, adding: ‘We didn’t want to be wasteful by throwing away beautifully made cabinets, so we were careful during the demo phase to save them, and we painted them fresh to to contrast against the white border.’ The couple found the bar stools online and chose cheap ones that could withstand the kids’ greasy fingers!
The hanging lamps above the island are from Visual Comfort (opens in new tab).
4. Multifunctional space for adults and children
By opening up walls and incorporating the old dining room into the new open plan kitchen, there is now room for a relaxed sitting area at the far end of the kitchen. This fits in with the family’s ideas of creating a multi-purpose space suitable for both adults and children. “The result is a refined space, yet nothing too precious for the kids to destroy,” explains Georgia. ‘We designed the bookcases on either side of the windows for a modern living and storage function. With young children around, space to store toys was essential.’
5. Fresh yet timeless look
The updates to this 100-year-old house had to balance its history and original features with the family’s desire for a new look. “They wanted it to feel fresh, but timeless — and nothing trendy,” Georgia says.
Benjamin Moore’s soft palette painting in off-white, with the occasional touch of fresh coastal blue really ticks the boxes for anyone looking for living room ideas. The modern abstract blue painting gives a large scale and dose of color to the room.
6. Fireplace surround made from old marble countertops
In a masterful move of upcycling genius, the couple decided to repurpose the old marble countertops from the kitchen to create a fireplace for their new living room. It’s certainly one of the best living room fireplace ideas we’ve come across for those who like to save and reuse old materials. “We kept everything we could,” Georgia says. “Not really to save money, we just didn’t want to be wasteful.”
Highland House’s Custom Sectional Sofas (opens in new tab) are covered with high quality fabric as they are widely used in this family room. The ottoman is also custom made, with the legs painted in Benjamin Moore paint. The rug is from Stark (opens in new tab).
7. Dining area for entertainment
Why dedicate an entire room to formal dining and entertaining? That’s the question Georgia asked as she approached the redesign. And it’s a question we should all ask ourselves when looking for dining room ideas.
“While they need a place to socialize and have adult food with their friends, it rarely happens, so the location of the grandstand was unnecessary,” she explains. The reconfigured downstairs layout creates a formal dining space at one end of their living room. This also has the advantage that the conservatory, the outdoor terrace and the outdoor kitchen are easily accessible.
Dining table from West Elm. Lexington chairs (opens in new tab).
8. Bathroom for family use and luxury spa time
When you think about bathroom ideas, how on earth do you combine two seemingly contrasting needs—child showers and a luxurious adult spa vibe—into one master bathroom?
Here’s how Georgia’s full gut renovation of this family’s primary bathroom fared:
A double sink offers plenty of storage space, along with recessed medicine cabinets and a flat floor so you don’t trip in and out of the large shower. “The mother explained that it’s often easier to clean the little boys at a ‘big people wash’,” Georgia says, “so that’s it, toys and all. Moreover, it is a luxury life for the adults when they start or end their busy working day.’
9. Calm Bedroom Style
Updating an old house in a sympathetic way and in keeping with its character doesn’t mean sticking strictly to furniture styles specific to the era.
“Customers appreciate mid-century modern design,” says Georgia, “so we stayed true to that style in the primary bedroom with sleek walnut furniture, which still allowed for great bedside storage.”
The bed and nightstand bring fresh, clean lines and a calm, uncluttered look, essential elements in all great bedroom ideas.
Bed and nightstand from Room & Board (opens in new tab). Throw Pillow by Rebecca Atwood Designs (opens in new tab).