Resting comfortably on the terrace of the historic Joab Center House, circa 1812, in Greenport, New York, is a selectiion of mid-19th-century Gothic Revival chairs. The intricate decoration and styling of these and other Gothic-style elements make them idea accent pieces in a wide range of relatively simple interior settings.
A myriad of lovingly preserved Federal and Georgian-style public buildings and private homes punctuate the rural landscape of Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Architect Laura Kaehler focused on blending the area’s history with the scenic beauty of the local farmlands, forests, and tidewater tributaries flowing into the Chesapeake Bay when designing a home for the owners of a 500-acre horse farm in the area.
Kaehler embraced her clients’ vision of creating a residence that looked as if it was built around the same time that America’s forefathers established this nation. From her office in Connecticut, Kaehler collaborated on the project with interior designers Deborah Lipner and Andrea Robinson and landscape architect Diane DeVore. As a result, Kaehler says, "The house has a seamless design and looks as though it evolved gracefully over time. We were really in sync with one another and worked as a team throughout the entire project."
Following the example set by prominent settlers more than 300 years ago, Kaehler designed a formal two-story brick residence flanked by a pair of less formal wings. Resplendent with architectural details indicative of large-scale residences built in Maryland during the early 1700s, the main section of the 7,500-square-foot house has a central hail with a dramatic floating staircase, a living room, and a dining room. The kitchen, bedrooms, and study are located in the adjoining wings.
Hiding the home’s true age, Kaehier buried all evidence of modern heating and plumbing by installing radiant heat beneath the hardwood floors and by concealing vents behind crown molding. Some other tricks used to maintain the home’s classic appearance: The timeworn color and patterned mortar of the structure’s facade replicates bricks found in area homes built around 1760, and the terrace work features bluestone pieces with chiseled edges separated by rows of soil planted with fresh thyme in the Colonial fashion. Inside, the dining room walls are painted and glazed to give an aged look.
Lipner and Robinson also used the farm’s pastoral landscape for inspiration. "When planning the interior, we wanted to bring the eye out to the landscape," Lipner adds. "The colors found outside inspired the palette. The pastures, trees, and plantings were all reflected in the color scheme."