1800s Estate Proves History Is Anything But Drab
With bold colors (flamingo pink!) and whimsical wallpaper, this historic Vermont home is a fresh take on old meets new.
Steven Favreau is the type to go big — and go home.
When he set out to put down roots near his hometown of Boston, Favreau fell in love with an old country estate in quaint Chelsea, Vermont. It was the perfect place for this interior designer to escape from the hubbub of big city life after working with celebrity clients and more.
“It was a quintessential Vermont house in a quintessential Vermont town,” said Favreau, about spotting the house in 2012. “I hopped on a plane and bought it the next week.”
Built in 1832, the house was once owned by a man named Aaron Davis, whose family lived in it for at least 100 years. Davis’ granddaughter eventually sold the 23-acre property in the 1980s, and the new owner converted it into a bed-and-breakfast. (There’s still a portrait of Davis above one of the home’s five fireplaces.)
After Favreau purchased the 5-bed, 5-bath home, he sought to restore it to its original grandeur — at a frenetic pace. A contractor brought in a crew to rework everything from the wiring (it was a fire waiting to happen) to the wallpaper (there were eight layers throughout the house). The workers even put in a massive new beam to support the house and keep it from sinking.
Up next on the designer’s list: keeping the look, feel and integrity of the antique touches, while updating the space to accommodate today’s trends. He tore out a downstairs wall to expand the kitchen to 700 square feet; the master suite got a modern bath with a soaking tub.
Favreau painted walls in his signature bright colors and added bold wallpaper. He lined the master bathroom with tree-print wallpaper. The dining room got a splash of flamingo pink with a print of Victorian-looking cake plates — a nod to the era in which the house was built.
“What I wanted to use for inspiration was the house and the period of the house, so nodding to the period and updating it with a contemporary aesthetic,” Favreau said. “It says today, but it also says yesterday.”
Some things are distinctly New England. A wooden footbridge connects the main property to 22 secluded acres on the other side of the White River. On warm summer nights, Favreau’s family will pull a dining room table out onto the bridge and dine alfresco.
In the winter, the adjacent land allows for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing.
There’s also an old wood barn, which Favreau envisions becoming an event space for weddings or storage. The possibilities for the next owner are limitless, he said.
“It’s a big glorious house, and my family is a big glorious family. We’ve enjoyed it,” he added. “I feel like I’ve loved my time being there and up in Vermont, but it’s time to find the next one. Maybe an oceanside property.”
The home is on the market for $695,000. Zoe Hathorn Washburn of Snyder Donegan carries the listing.
Interior photos courtesy of Jim Mauchly of Mountain Graphics Photography. Exterior photos courtesy of Andrew Holson with Snyder Donegan Real Estate Group.