An Entertainer’s ParadiseText by Lisa H. Speidel Photography by Michael Partenio Produced by Stacy Kunstel
The very first thing Amy Beth Cupp and her husband, Scott, did when they finished renovating their 1772 center-hall colonial and barn was throw an epic Fourth of July party. It was a fitting way to christen the new space, a foreshadowing of the fun to come—and a nod to Cupp’s favorite pastime: entertaining.
Cupp is a bit of a Renaissance woman in the lifestyle arena; she has studied fine art and textile design, plant-based cooking, and floral design, and has worked in event planning and interior design.
Even in total disrepair, the bank-owned property that comprised a six-room inn and two adjacent barns connected by a breezeway spoke to her. “I thought, ‘Hey, I went to cooking school, I can do breakfast.’ ” She imagined living in the barn and renting out the rooms as a B&B through word of mouth and social media.
No strangers to a rehab project, she and Scott have renovated four properties in twelve years. “I’m my own best customer,” she jokes. “I don’t question myself. I just say it and go with it.” The designer is steadfast in her aesthetic both in terms of fashion (“Don’t tell me to wear jeans anywhere, I don’t have any!”) and furnishings—she likes to mix vintage and modern and hit second-hand stores (“I find what I call junk and elevate it.”)
While the 4,000-square-foot loft-like barn was start-from-scratch, the interior design was anything but. Cupp says all the furniture from their last house made the trip, which was no small design feat given that the couple and their poodle, Tauren, previously called a 100-year-old stone cottage with eight-foot ceilings home. It took some creative repurposing: console tables, for example, became wood holders flanking the new Wittus Shaker stove, and nightstands took on a different role as drinks tables. “The white chesterfield has been in every house I’ve had for the last thirteen years,” she notes.
The kitchen, by contrast, is all new. Designed to be a workhorse and a central gathering space, it has a huge island—fourteen and a half feet long by five feet wide. The island is topped with concrete (“I don’t like seams, and there’s no stone slab that long,” Cupp explains), poured offsite and, due to its heft, installed via a car lift. All of the appliances are hidden, including an integrated Miele coffee system. “Push a button, and I’m caffeinated,” she says with a laugh. Known for whipping up whole wheat orange blossom muffins and baked French toast with cinnamon-swirl bread to rouse her B&B guests, she opted for the grande dame of ranges—the Lacanche Sully 2200—and built two dishwashers into the island to make light work of the cleanup.
Cupp also installed two electrical outlets on top of the island—a brainstorm she had while originally touring the property. During the year they power a pair of glass-based lamps. Come the holiday season the lamps give way to two seven-foot-tall illuminated Christmas trees that cast their glow through the bank of gridded windows. They, along with five others trimmed in the center hall, set the scene for her annual winter solstice fête.
“If you listen hard enough, the house tells you what it wants,” she says of the embellishments—and her design in general. In this case, it called for owners who would fill the rehabbed barn with a wonderfully eclectic mix of furnishings and fixtures, not to mention plenty of good friends and good times.
Amy Beth Cupp, Warren, Conn.
February 25, 2020
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