A New Beginning


A New Beginning

Seeking a change of pace, this New York family moved from Manhattan into a victorian home in the heart of Portsmouth, NH. Their approach to updating their hundred-year-old home, rich with ornate detailed woodwork and stained glass windows, and a number of single-use rooms, was to weave together modern conveniences and sensibilities with the original architecture. 

Photos by Morgan Karanasios

The husband's family had owned a marble quarry and marble became a common thread tying together the old and new in a very natural and meaningful way. Portoro marble guided the direction of the powder room towards a moody sexy feel. Smokey antiqued mirrors clad the walls above Farrow and Ball’s gold deco wallpaper and stage the way for the centerpiece—a black & gold veined marble countertop rests on an aged brass pedestal. The faucet and sconces would sit comfortably in a Boardwalk Empire set, and the travertine tiles used in the kitchen and hallway were custom cut and patterned with black tiles to encourage the 1930s feel of the powder room and blend effortlessly with the rest of the home.

Desiring an open space in a master bath, with a relatively small footprint, shifted the design towards a modern aesthetic. Here, Carrera and Calacatta marble cover the floor, the shower walls, and the countertop, while a sleek vanity with modern pulls and faucets continues to work in theme; combining its limitations with efficiencies, its classic beauty with the hot new thang. The modern master bath offers space and warmth that comfortably connects to the more traditional aspects of the home.

The high gloss butler's pantry was part of a new addition but maintains the proportions of a bygone era when people were smaller and life moved slower. The result was more of an NYC apartment-sized passage than you'd expect from a current renovation but is very much in theme with the original character of the home. The cabinets are 16" deep rather than the modern depth of 24", but still tasked to incorporate entertaining accouterments; a sink, and a pull-out waste bin, which was a challenge Mari Woods rose to meet. The smokey mirrors lend an expanse to the petite room and complement textures found in the Cristallo marble countertop and travertine tiled floor, while the vibrant Naples Blue clearly define where the Manhattans are made.