A Historic New Hampshire House
Perhaps one of the most challenging tasks a designer can come across is how to bring a contemporary edge to a historic home, which is exactly what New York-based Lili Hart has done with this lovely New Hampshire seaside house. By working with the client’s own extensive collection of art and antiques, Hart manages to bring together a cohesive design throughout the space, while also making it feel warm, welcoming, and modern. We were so pleased to be able to pick her brain about this fun project!
Interior Monologue: Can you tell us a little about the history of the house and its grounds?
Lili Hart: The seacoast of New Hampshire was home to many casual cottages and fishing camps used primarily during the summer months. The original house from the 30’s and 40’s was in disrepair but the property with its deep-water dock and access to the Atlantic Ocean were desirable to the owner. The owner saw the FOR SALE sign from his boat in the water and immediately knew he needed to own this charming point of land jutting into the bay with its multiple outhouses and beautiful views of the water.
IM: What was your main inspiration while working with this historic space?
LH: One of the most charming facets of this site are the 5 original shacks on the property. We renovated and re-purposed the original shacks to create practical yet fun alternative spaces for the owners. On the point there is a painting shack (the property’s original privy), a fishing shack for the husband’s fishing equipment, a playhouse for the owners’ grandchildren, a gardening shed, and a lobster shack for cooking and feasting on lobster from the bay.
IM: This project centered around the client’s own antique art and furniture collection, what were a few of your favorite pieces to work with, and how did you incorporate them to the updated, contemporary home?
LH: The owners were downsizing from a larger traditional Georgian style family home and only wanted to bring a few of their most favorite antiques with them. When designing the new home we needed to specify the location of the pieces in advance and allow enough wall space for them to inhabit.
Upon entering there is a 7′-0″ wide unusual Early American cherry apothecary dominating the entry wall. It is accented by a hand painted wall treatment and a beautiful Dutch landscape from the owners great-grandfather.
Another wall was designed around a French Canadian chest which was used in the Catholic Church. This piece was designed to look as if it had drawers but it actually opens into a cabinet to hold the priests’ robes, which have now been replaced by beach towels.
A beautiful antique pine corner cabinet anchors one corner of the Living Room. The dimensions of the Living Room were carefully chosen to accommodate this large and beautiful corner cabinet.
IM: What aspect of this project were you most excited to work on?
LH: I was particularly interested in the juxtaposition of a contemporary home with minimalist architectural features layered with a sophisticated collection of beautiful and sometimes ornate antiques.
I think the simplicity of the design really showcases the beauty of the antiques within the home.