A Post and Beam Home in StoweText by Robert Kiener Photography by Daniel Nystedt
Commercial real estate developer Todd Finard knows a good property deal when he sees it. But the house he saw for sale in Stowe, Vermont, when he was hunting for a getaway for his family, left him scratching his head. The three-story, 4,900-square-foot structure boasted drop-dead views of Mount Mansfield and included a richly forested five-acre lot. Yet it had never been completed. It was basically just a post-and-beam shell, and was now in the hands of a bank. “The big question my wife, Andrea, and I had was, could we make this ours?” Todd recalls. “Or would we be buying trouble?”
Enter architect David Boronkay. He had worked with the Finards on their main residence and had done numerous restoration and redesign projects in the region. “I knew Todd and Andrea wanted a ‘fun’ house, one they could enjoy with their three children and for entertaining friends,” he says. “When I walked through it with them, I knew we could turn it into a home they would love. It had great bones and marvelous views. It would be a challenge, but we all agreed that it could work. Call it a reimagining.”
Happily, the post and beam construction allowed Boronkay to give the interiors an airy feeling. On the main floor, the kitchen opens to the dining and living rooms, creating a great room that takes full advantage of the dramatic slope-side views in the distance. Because the Finards are keen entertainers, Boronkay included an area between the kitchen island and the dining area, which he dubbed “the gathering space.” Says Todd, “David really got it. He knows that during parties, people invariably gravitate toward the kitchen, and this space would be the perfect spot for guests to hang around—to gather—with their drinks.”
Boronkay calls his design a modern interpretation of a post-and-beam structure. “Todd and Andrea have a great art collection and modern and transitional furniture and fixtures, so I wanted to keep things simple and elegant,” he explains. The result plays up the the rusticity of the structure and its mountain setting, while also being a fitting backdrop for the couple’s contemporary art.
For example, says Boronkay, who worked closely with Andrea on interior design matters, “We wanted the home’s wood to speak for itself.
So we picked finishes, such as reclaimed barnwood paneling, that reference the blond tones of the posts and beams but don’t completely blend in.” A twenty-foot-long live-edge walnut dining table includes both wooden benches and leatherette chairs to, as Boronkay explains, “find that balance between rustic and modern.” A neutral palette in the furnishings lets the rich woods shine; the couple’s art collection takes care of providing the occasional pops of color.
Contractor David Potvin oversaw the plumbing and wiring and took care of the finish work throughout the house. “It was fun seeing how the house evolved,” he says. “I especially like the way Andrea and David opened things up by getting rid of a lot of little nooks and crannies and letting the light flow in.”
Boronkay included three bedrooms for the couple’s children on the second floor. Instead of a fourth bedroom, he removed a wall to create an open lounging area, complete with a comfy couch and chairs, that overlooks the great room.
The entire third floor is dedicated to a spacious master suite that serves as an in-house getaway for Andrea and Todd. “It’s like having our own luxury suite at a great hotel,” Todd says.
The exterior of the house also went through a reimagining of sorts. To break up its mass, the architect replaced the horizontal clapboards with board-and-batten siding and added a portico. A decorative grid motif in the portico echoes a similar detail in the front-facing gable. A band of slate veneer at the base of the house creates a horizontal counterpoint to the vertical siding.
The Finards plan to enlist Boronkay’s help soon to get going on phase two of their reimagining—a finished basement that will hold gathering spaces and guestrooms. But for now, they are thrilled with things just the way they are. A far cry from “buying trouble,” the resurrected house has become a true home, tailor-made for its occupants and guaranteed to foster happy memories for years to come.
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