Perched above meadows in rural Thetford, Vermont, on a former dairy farm threaded with stone walls, the three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath house had been added onto over the years, giving the first floor a railroad-flat feel. Because the house overlooks a covered bridge, "everyone in town recognizes it," says the couple's architect, Ira Clark. "Laurel and Tim wanted to be careful not to ruin its lines."
They loved everything about the house, in other words, except what was inside.
"It was in good shape, but not very practical from a 21st-century point of view," Tim explains. Previous owners had appended a kitchen at the south end, like a caboose. But it was cut off from the rest of the house, marooning the cook. The core of the house held a cluster of small spaces, including a laundry room and the stairs to an unused attic. Beyond the laundry room lay a den, a master suite, a powder room that opened oddly into the dining room, and stairs to two steep-ceilinged bedrooms and a bath. "It was like a rabbit warren," Tim recalls. "In the old days, small rooms meant you could shut off some and heat a smaller space. We wanted to open it up and think very hard about every square foot."
Shown: The new kitchen, half the size of the one that was there, has a dramatic accent wall of cabinets that anchors the open floor plan.