Corinne’s Vermont House Renovation: Vision, Process & Phasing

If you know me, you know that Vermont has a special place in my heart. For years I’ve been visiting all corners of the Green Mountain State with my husband, Brian, and our two kids, August and Millie. It’s been a dream of ours to own a place where our kids can explore with fresh air and boundless activities that don’t require screen-time. So, we finally did it. We bought a house in Vermont! But, like any project with heart and grit, that’s not the end of the story. Instead, that’s just where this story begins. 

A Love Letter to the 1980s

Corinne's Vermont house
Exterior of our Vermont House

Our Vermont house was built in the 1980s, so it comes with a lot of the features that recall quintessential 1980s architecture — and all the dated wallcoverings, curious tile choices, and antiquated furnishings that echo the spirit of the decade. But it’s the bones of the house that we fell in love with, along with abundant natural light and tons of storage. The home will need a lot of updates, including a full gut renovation to a few areas. But as you know, I’m not one to shy away from a complex project, so Brian and I happily accepted the challenge of a fixer-upper with open arms.

We plan to phase-out the project over the next couple of years, focusing on the most pressing needs first, then shifting to reconfigurations and refacing of some of the more prominent features. Phase one will consist of the essentials: paint, walls, windows, electrical, and repairing any existing damage. It’s a Vermont house so yes, there’s some water damage and yes, there’s mold. 

Vermont house phases

In the spring, we’ll head into phase two, where we’ll focus on the kitchen and bathrooms. We’ve already started demolition, including knocking down a bank of cabinets to create an organic line of sight from the kitchen to the great room for an open concept that works for our family. 

Take a “Before” Tour

Earlier this fall, just before the leaves started turning, I went up north for the weekend with kids and pups. It was a great chance to get my head wrapped around some of the spaces we were still ironing out. While I was up there, I filmed a little walkthrough so you can get a good sense of the “before” of this project. For a closer look at the bones of the house, take a peek at the video below.

Tip: click the “full screen” view for optimal viewing on desktop.

The Vision

Vermont house visual inspiration
A peek at the inspiration board for the exterior of our home.

To determine our vision for the house, Brian and I approached the process just as I would any of our client projects: by asking ourselves a few simple questions. How do we want to feel when we enter the spaces? How will the spaces be used? How many people need to fit comfortably in each? Our Vermont house will undoubtedly be a family retreat for us, one that we’ll want to escape to for fresh air and a quiet respite over the years, to spend holidays, and a place to welcome family and friends. 

Beyond function and feeling, determining the vision is also about considering the house’s location — rural Vermont — and weaving in all the cozy, earthy vibes you’d find in a mountain lodge. But making our home feel like “us” is also critically important to us, so we’ll take that mountain vibe and place our personal stamp on the home; warm and natural with an industrial sensibility. So we’re tentatively describing our aesthetic for the project as a Warm Modern Mountain House — with an industrial edge. 

So what exactly does that mean for the design? Expect rich, textured fabrics, natural woods with honey hues, and soft, broken-in leathers, mixed with earthtones, charcoal grey, black, and ivory. I’ve always been drawn to classic black, a sleek, effortlessly sophisticated color palette. (Maybe it’s the former New Yorker in me). 

I’ll be chronicling the journey on the blog as we go, sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly of our home renovation. Design projects are always rife with challenges and opportunities, and I’ll share here how we tackle each as they come.