Combining the Old and the New in a Historic Easton Home
Mar 24, 2016 02:52PM ● Published by Cate Reynolds
These Easton homeowners love the old ways but want the modern conveniences of the 21st century. Now they have the best of both worlds in their historic Easton home.
Artist Jill Ferrier was seeking the type of village life she had known as a child growing up in a small New Jersey town where everyone knew their neighbors. She found what she was looking for in Easton. She also found an early 20th century historic home that continues—with Jill and her husband Ian’s attention—to stand the test of time.
To be accurate, it was actually Ian, who had previously lived on the Eastern Shore, who first saw the 1911 Colonial Revival home built by Judge J. Harry Covington II, co-founder of Covington & Burling, the oldest and largest law firm in Washington, D.C. “How do I get this house?” was Ian’s reaction. For Jill, the house had her in its hold as soon as she saw the statement-making, crystal-laden Regency dining room chandelier.
In the heart of old Easton, the Covington Home, as long-time residents know it, is “grand” without being too large or pretentious, says Jill. It’s also in pristine condition. “When you walk through the door it looks brand new, but it’s an old home restored to its former glory,” she says.
It’s rare to have an elegant foyer and Jill’s artistic sensibilities make the most of the welcoming space, with new flower arrangements every week that reflect the season. Downstairs there are cozy spaces for reading, relaxing, and visiting with family and friends, and upstairs are two master suites and two additional bedrooms, enough room for the couple and their seven offspring and their families, but not so much that they’re “rattling around” when Jill and Ian are on their own. “We never feel lonely,” Jill says, “but at the same time we always feel the grandness of the home.”
The Ferriers didn’t have to do major renovations when they bought the home; the previous owners “did a wonderful job” of restoring the house, such as adding millwork that reflected the home’s beginnings. “We wanted to carry on the work they had started and continue to respect the integrity of the house,” Jill says.
Helping them in that task has been Louise Christoffers, ASID, of St. Michaels-based Higgins and Spencer. “We wanted the house to look elegant but also feel inviting,” Jill enthuses.
For Christoffers, that meant having the right backdrop against which to place the Ferriers’ many beautiful furnishings. In the living room, for example, the existing Clarence House draperies were the inspirational starting point, which were then paired with a subtle grasscloth wallcovering. In the solarium, on the other hand, Christoffers found the draperies “heavy-handed and encumbering.” Her solution was to cut them down for a more proportional and less formal look. “It’s cozier now,” she says, and an ideal spot for catching the afternoon sun.
Jill and Ian brought much of their antique furniture and artwork with them when they moved into the home, but Christoffers has not only freshened up the soft furnishings with new upholstery and draperies, but designed the floor plan for maximum comfort and flow, worked with the couple on purchasing new furniture, created the lighting design, and coordinated the project of realizing Jill and Ian’s vision of their dream home.
“There’s always a little something to do,” says Jill, noting that the couple has added an artist’s studio for her, converted the garage to a coffered-ceiling office, and landscaped the exterior to include a series of gardens.
Christoffers says that working with the Ferriers has been—and continues to be—an opportunity to be involved with the preservation of a historically relevant home. “It warms my heart,” she says.
For the Ferriers, living in this town and in this house is a blessing. “We’re privileged to be the family who’s living here now,” says Jill.