A Dream House Comes True
Comfort was the key to designing an elegant home with extraordinary views.
A lakeside retreat was top-of-mind when a Lake Sunapee-area couple started planning their dream home more than ten years ago. But, sometimes, dreams change.
The couple discussed their perfect home for a long time before building. "We started designing our house years ago on paper napkins when we were out at dinner," says the wife. Recently retired, the couple had lived in Germany, Mexico, Chile, Argentina and New York; now the couple wanted a spacious home on a lake to welcome their adult children and grandchildren.
After three years of searching, the couple's Realtor contacted them about a new property on the market: a small, 1950s-era ranch house on six acres. It wasn't right on the lake, but it had obvious appeal: a beautiful meadow and stunning views of Lake Sunapee with Mount Sunapee in the distance. Once the couple visited, they knew right away this was the site of their new home. "We were the first people to see the property and we bought it immediately, without even going into the house," the wife says.
A fitting design
Another criteria for the couple's new home was period-design details. The wife is a historical research volunteer at The Fells, a nineteenth-century estate and garden that was the summer home of John Milton Hay, secretary to President Abraham Lincoln and secretary of state to Presidents William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. With the homeowner's interest in history, combined with a desire to have a home that matched the early-twentieth-century architecture found on Lake Sunapee, she was eager to work closely with the design/build firm, Northcape Design of Sunapee. "We were really involved with the design of the home," wife says. "We wanted it to be the house we had imagined."
The result is a gracious, two-story, four-bedroom, 4,500-square-foot home (the ranch house, deemed too small and out-of-date, was torn down). The gray, cedar-shingled home-built in a style that Northcape owner Everett Pollard calls "Victorian country revival"-offers space for entertaining and accentuates the views that captivated the homeowners. The design is also in keeping with the older homes that grace Lake Sunapee. "It's a revival of the Victorian style," Pollard says. "It has elements of Victorian homes-such as trim details, gable decorations above the front door, a Palladian-style window in the rear-but it's not as formal as a true Victorian."
The home, fittingly called "Sky Meadow," is nestled among mature trees that were preserved during building. The back side of the house, which is mostly windows, faces south, and a large, brick patio with a stone wall enables friends and family to relax and take in the natural environment. It's not unusual to see wild turkeys, deer, fox and even the occasional bear in the area, Pollard says.
While designing the home, Pollard's team also considered the owners' eclectic collection of art and furniture, acquired while living in Europe and Latin America. "We paid a lot of attention to areas they could use to set up their art and furniture," Pollard says. "We put a lot of windows along the 'view' side of the house and tried to maximize wall space in other areas for artwork and taller pieces
A home built for entertaining
Last year, the homeowners opened Sky Meadow to the public for The Fells' holiday house tour. The tour showcased the home's easy flow for entertaining. The festively decorated, formal dining room comfortably accommodates the family's existing dining set. A family-friendly kitchen-featuring a central island topped with dark green, Vermont Verde Antique serpentine stone and custom-
designed painted maple cabinetry by Crown Point Cabinetry of Claremont-opens into the light-filled, informal dining area.
During the tour, the table was set with Mexican pottery, painted with holiday designs inspired by the drawings of New England artist and author Tasha Tudor ("I met her when I was a little girl," the wife says. "I had the dishes made because she had such an influence on me."). While sitting at the table, family members and visitors can enjoy picture-perfect scenes of the lake and Mount
Sunapee through large windows ringed with custom-grill patterns, echoing the home's Victorian detail. Old growth, southern heart pine flooring is used throughout the home.
The living room, with its high ceilings and a large Palladian window, plays up the family's collection of Latin American folk art. Oil paintings by Mexican and Argentinian artists hang on the walls, and other pieces are tucked in bookshelves framing a large stone fireplace. Made of New Hampshire fieldstone by Joe Rolfe of Stone Mountain Masonry in Belmont, the fireplace is "one of my favorites," Pollard notes. "It's not over the top, and every stone has been hand-shaped and -fitted."
Throughout the house-which includes a master bedroom and office on the first floor, three bedrooms upstairs, a finished basement as well as four-and-a-half bathrooms-are spots of color provided by seasonal plantings, such as geraniums and amaryllis. The wife, a master gardener, designed all of the greenery and arrangements featured on the holiday tour.
Sky Meadow was clearly a collaboration from beginning to end, ultimately becoming the house of the homeowners' dreams. "We really feel our home is eclectic and easy, which is what we wanted," the wife says. "It's a place to be comfortable."