A 1790s Home in Bedford, NY Is Painstakingly Restored

Photo credit: Thomas Loof

From House Beautiful

You know you’re detail-oriented when you visit a house 14 times before buying it. Of course, when the structure in question is more than two centuries old, that’s also known as due diligence.

Photo credit: Thomas Loof
Photo credit: Thomas Loof

“I was so enamored with the bones of it, and yet also terrified by its benign neglect,” says designer Brittany Bromley of the house, a center hall Colonial built in 1790 on five acres in Bedford, New York. It had long ago lost its luster: Shag carpeting could be found in nearly every room; linoleum in brown, orange, and cream covered the kitchen floor; a bathroom was insulated “solely with newspapers from 1931.” Bromley and her husband, landscape designer Matthew Bromley, even discovered a toilet hooked up to a cistern under the kitchen floor. Still, they were undeterred. “We told each other that it would be a 30-year home, which meant that we would need a 30-year plan for bringing it back to life and giving it all the love it required,” Bromley says. They ended up making it livable in just eight months: “We were newly married, we had the stamina.”

The Bromleys approached their task with a preservationist’s precision, installing era-appropriate touches like hand-forged flathead nails in the new kitchen flooring and reclaimed granite front steps at the exact height that would have been required for dismounting a horse.

Photo credit: Thomas Loof
Photo credit: Thomas Loof

Each room in her home typifies the Bromley aesthetic: eclectic, layered, and rooted in a classic approach to design. “I love the traditional tropes of decorating, and yet I think we like to sort of turn those things on their ear,” she explains. Take the dining room, where the family blanketed the walls in hand-cut strips of tortoiseshell bamboo, or the kitchen’s inky cabinets, painted Farrow & Ball’s Pitch Black.

The finished house became an unofficial calling card for Bromley, whose professional design career took off after a visit from the neighbors. “When they saw what I had done with my home, they asked if I would do theirs. I said, ‘Well, do you know that I don’t even have a resale number?’ They said, ‘We don’t care. We’ll pay retail.’ ” Within six months, she had two employees and a dozen projects.

“This house has been awfully patient with all of our endeavors to better her!” Bromley says. “I believe that every home has a soul, and ours has been gentled and seems to be happier and brighter as a result of our being here.”

Family Room

Photo credit: Thomas Loof
Photo credit: Thomas Loof

“From every room of the first floor, you can walk into the gardens; it feels very much like California here six months out of the year,” Bromley says. “I wanted the walls to have the same kind of life.” Wallpaper: Chinois Palais, Mary McDonald for Schumacher. Pendant: Visual Comfort. Sofas: custom, in Christopher Farr fabric. Table: custom, in Fermoie fabric. Pillow fabrics: Fermoie (blue woven), Schumacher (blue trellis and green print), and Thibaut (blue-and-green pattern).

Dining Room

Photo credit: Thomas Loof
Photo credit: Thomas Loof

Wallcovering: bamboo. Curtains: custom, in Schumacher white silk with Samuel & Sons trim. Chandelier: antique French toleware. Chairs: antique French bergères in Kravet fabric. Tablecloth: Quadrille.

Kitchen

Photo credit: Thomas Loof
Photo credit: Thomas Loof

“What I really wanted was a kitchen that felt like a library,” says Bromley. It took the designer nine days to custom mix a floor stain with the perfect “Jacobean bent” that allowed the grain to show through. Cabinet and trim paint: Pitch Black by Farrow & Ball. Range: Viking. Rug: Moroccan Beni Ourain. Pendant: Christopher Spitzmiller. Table: custom. Chairs: antique. Pillows: Peter Fasano. Wallpaper: Schumacher.

Gigi’s Bedroom

Photo credit: Thomas Loof
Photo credit: Thomas Loof

Bromley went all out with a classic David Hicks for Clarence House wallpaper in the room she designed for daughter Gigi (right, with older sister Charlotte). Window shades: custom, in Claremont velvet with Christopher Farr trim. Pillow fabric: PMC and Claremont. Rug: Stark. Chair: antique, in Chelsea Textiles gingham. Giraffe: Melissa & Doug.

Charlotte’s Bedroom

Photo credit: Thomas Loof
Photo credit: Thomas Loof

Antique twin beds are made for sleepovers. “Lately, her favorite guest is her younger sister!” Bromley says. Wallpaper: Thibaut. Bedding: Charmajesty, D. Porthault, and Schweitzer. Canopy fabric: Penny Morrison.

“Make It Magic!”

Bromley created fanciful yet practical spaces for her two daughters.

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