which with the black wrought-iron candle
sconces support the earthy theme.
Ruskey retained this agrarian character
while introducing state-of-the-art energy-saving features. “It was a total gut back to
the studs,” he says of the renovation. “We
totally retrofitted the shell.” This included
building a new standing-seam roofing system
from metal, plywood, rafters, and insulation
on top of the original wide sheathing boards,
which remain exposed to the interior.
The original walls were framed with
2-by-4-inch studs; Ruskey built out a second 2-by-4-inch wall for extra insulation. He
used urethane spray foam for an R-value of
33 in the walls and 60 in the roof, values that
exceed Vermont energy codes. He finished
the interior with pine shiplap that he stained
with diluted white paint to blend with the
What might have been a tricky aspect of the project — fitting a
modern kitchen into this rustic interior — turned out to be an unobtrusive success. Painted to blend in with the shiplap walls, maple cabinetry glides quietly along an entire wall, with lichen-colored limestone countertops solidifying the sense of place this cottage provides.
In designing the interior, Ruskey collaborated with Michelle Holland of Michelle Holland Interiors in Shelburne, Vermont.
The restraint both architect and interior
designer expressed heightens the charm of the
cottage. “The building called for that,” Ruskey says. “It has a nice country setting, and
that called for simplicity, with a few touches of
detail and interest to give it a little bit of character.” For example, the beadboard on the end
of the banquette that serves as both living-room seating and a place for kids to sleep, and
the rope-and-iron chandelier over the dining
table both enhance the character of the room.
The style is not exactly rustic — the finishes and feeling are more refined — but the
cottage is unmistakably tied to the horse farm
at the other end of the property. “It’s almost
as though it was a barn at one time and this
is an infill to a barn space,” Ruskey says. Perhaps that is what makes the cottage so successful as a getaway. There’s
a presence as calm and unhurried as the grazing animals about the
place that makes a visitor want to linger here.
a soapstone vanity top and a green Vermont slate
floor keep the bathroom (above) in step with the
cottage’s natural feel. Outside (below), 6-by-6-inch
timbers of Douglas fir accent the porches. The
standing-seam roof enforces the agrarian aesthetic.
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