Set on preserving all that was salvageable, the couple decided to renovate—but only after revising history. They handed designers Rick and Liz O’Leary a fictional story line for the place: It would look like an antique house that had been lovingly “modernized” in
the 1920s and meticulously maintained. They even had a name for it,
Sunset Valley Farm, borrowed from a sign found at an antiques show.
The real house was a real wreck: No insulation and antiquated plumbing and heating systems meant the job wouldn’t fall far from a gut-and-rebuild. But the project would preserve original details and promote Yankee thrift: Who needs a new one when we can fix the one we’ve got?
On the exterior, today, detailing takes cues from the “parent” home, still standing next door, and from traditional New England farmhouse style. These features include cedar clapboards and shingles, and window trim mimicking elements from the original 1834 exterior. Three dormers with six-over-six windows now top the home’s original core, though the roof was raised to fit them in.