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December 05, 2016
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Something old, something new; A country house lovingly restored

Brand new appliances bring modern convenience and a sense of style to this country kitchen.
Photo by Ramona Jan

By Isabel Braverman

There’s a reason that people are obsessed with home makeover shows. There’s nothing like a good transformation story and the big reveal. We constantly tune in to “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” and “Trading Spaces” to watch cringe-worthy spaces become homes you want to live in, all led by the skilled and snarky renovators who have become household names (Ty Pennignton, Genevieve Gorder). Not to be outdone by celebrity makeover artists, Ramona Jan of Country Home Restoration (Abrahamsville, PA) has recently completed a project to restore an 1800s farmhouse in Hortonville, NY, owned by Westchester resident Cheryl Greenberg.

Jan orchestrated the makeover and restoration of Greenberg’s house. (She doesn’t like to use the word “renovate”). The restoration was a dramatic change. Jan said, “Everything from the landscaping down to finishing off the basement [was restored], so that it looks and feels like it did when it was first built.” Jan and Greenberg wanted to keep the historic qualities of the house, so the resulting finished product is a mix of the old and new.

The restoration included starting from scratch in the kitchen. “We completely tore out the kitchen, because the kitchen looked like it had been redone many times, and the last time it was done was probably the ‘70s,” said Jan.

There were about four layers of wallpaper on every wall and ceiling of the house, so Jan and her team took all the wallpaper down and exposed and repaired the plaster, rather than get rid of it, which is what a lot of people do. They gutted out two bathrooms, made archways where there used to be doors, and built a shower where there used to be a closet. These were the large transformations. The house is filled with many special touches of restoration: for instance, repurposing barn wood to create a closet for the washer and dryer. During the restoration, when they knocked down walls, they discovered hidden treasures—like the sliding wooden doors that separate the dining room and living room and the kitchen cabinet glass front doors. I said to Greenberg that it must have been like opening a present, and she smiled in agreement.