A Country Castle Redux
Writer: Amelia Jeffers
Photography: Gordon Beall
Built in 1988, Easter-egg pastels and Laura Ashley wallpaper were the perfect finishes for a grand midwestern manor on the scale of an English country castle. Despite the dated decor, Mark Huffman (of Huffman & Huffman Interior Architectural Design & Decoration) and his sophisticated clients developed a plan for bringing the classic Georgian into modern perspective before the ink was dry on the purchase.
With a vision for making it what it should have been in the first place, Huffman and team set to work retooling the footprint of the home by removing walls to create a consistency in proportion and to enhance the livability for an active family who often entertains. Once a relatively blank slate was achieved, each room was meticulously styled, conceptually adding layers and detail that would elevate and enhance the sense of luxury and refinement. The renovation was designed in advance with such precision that when the contractor, Matrka Master Renovators and Builders was selected, the monumental project came in on time and within budget.
Though nearly 11,000 square feet of interior was overhauled in the remodel, the exterior remains largely untouched. An imposing facade exudes classic Georgian architecture with an expansive pedimented anterior flanked by symmetrical wings and adorned with brick quoins, an abundance of columns, and a gracious circular drive.
A palatial entrance is marked by a picturesque imperial staircase, modernized by H&H who designed a new metal and curved oak rail system, added sumptuous paneling that accentuates the volume of the space, and infused a cool palette of dusty blue, warm grey and white highlighted by a tonal custom-designed marble and glass tiled floor (created in collaboration with Classico Tile). Where original elements fell short of the golden ratio, Huffman and team improvised illusory solutions: relatively low doors were lifted by the addition of blind transoms, correcting for the height of the ceilings.
The original kitchen and breakfast room area was choppy and dark, with light filtering through a pass-thru from the hearth room beyond - the entire space too small and isolated to serve a family or entertaining well. Huffman and team knocked down walls and reconfigured the space to feel more open and to function properly whether preparing dinner for the family of five or a cocktail party for 250. Stunning cabinets by Cooley Custom Cabinetry are fashioned in the manner of furniture with cutout french feet and ogee crown molding - terminating just shy of door facings to allow for returns, an inconspicuous detail that augments the effect. An industrial-inspired hood was fabricated by Fortin Ironworks. The island was whimsically inspired by legendary English architect Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens and his Castle Drogo. Rich walnut rounded ends mimic antique tables and a trellised-steel accent lends to the upscaled country character of the home.
A beautiful butler’s pantry keeps catering efforts out of sight, and steps away, the gracious dining room is lined with a wonderful burnt orange wallcovering - establishing a comfortable coziness. For focused encounters, guests are escorted to the wine room, where drum shades filter soft light and a silver travertine tile in chevron pattern set the stage for elegant selection and tasting experiences. Soirees that retire to the impressive formal living room are greeted with opulence marked by dramatic floor to ceiling windows and lush draperies, intimate conversation spaces, and a stately limestone mantle with striking chocolate travertine surround.
Luxury was not spared in the more private portions of the home, where baths are well-appointed with bright, airy and extravagant Thassos and Calcutta marbles, highlighted by expanses of gorgeous custom built-ins by Cooley. An earthy pastel color scheme remains true to the Georgian influence, but feels contemporary and fresh - offering a serene backdrop to expertly-fashioned custom and designer furnishings and accessories.
Sir Edward Lutyens’ Castle Drogo was the last castle built in England, and though one-third of the footprint drawn in the original plan, it remains a monumental residence by any standard. Thanks to the fastidious concern for authenticity in reproduction of the landowner, the fantastical elements of the throwback manor recall the genteel nobility of a much earlier time while maintaining the modern sensibilities of a 20th Century lifestyle. Nestled into rolling midwestern hills, one Georgian manor has achieved a measure of that timeless elegance right here in central Ohio.