Fresh Start

Photographs by Jane Beiles
Above: Kitchen Duty A center island painted gray contrasts with the white cabinetry. Gray leather counter stools by Nuevo Living provide inviting comfort.

Rob and Elise Kipness craved an open floor plan. They believed the layout of their traditional home did not suit the way their busy family—think teen boys, dogs and a dad with a small farm on the property—lived and shared space. To execute the change, they turned to Emily Fuhrman of Sage & Ginger for her expert hand in overhauling the ground floor. “The goal was to transform what was a 1980s boxy Colonial into an open living space with an easy flow, a modern-classic vibe and hardworking finishes,” says Fuhrman, who tells us how she pulled it off.

How did you come up with the farmhouse look the Kipnesses wanted?
Rob curates his own farm, complete with chickens, rabbits and goats. It inspired this farmhouse chic design aesthetic. We gutted everything and started from scratch to achieve this vision.

Were there any specific requirements?
The Kipnesses wanted a kitchen with a large island where people could work and convene. It had to be durable, so we chose absolute black granite for the countertops but elevated them with a textured (Venetian) finish and built-up mitered edges for a chunkier profile. We juxtaposed the heavy counters with a lighter, more modern but still classic glass subway tile. The sheen of the glass lightens the overall feel and delivers the chic quotient. We carried the glass concept through to the island pendants, which are clear and light but make such a statement. The thick clear glass, unique shape and configuration all contribute to their bold, yet understated style.

The lighting in the dining room is also bold.
In our farmhouse chic design, our plan was minimalist but to make every piece pop. The custom-made twelve-foot reclaimed wood dining table is a piece of art in and of itself, but far from precious. The two-tone starburst fixtures are substantial enough to stand up to the table with their undeniable edge. The mix of materials (metal and wood) makes them funky with an earthy element. Perfect for the space. The painting on the wall had been in storage. In its new home, it provides just the right amount of color and texture to our scheme.

The overall color palette is clean and neutral. How did you select it?
We wanted a light feel, so we chose colors that would provide a crisp, natural backdrop. Likewise, the newly installed wide-plank wood floors were stained a light weathered oak finish. The property also sits on a beautiful pond, so we designed the back of the house­—kitchen, dining room and family room—to have as many picture windows as possible to capture the natural light, optimize the view and bring the outside in. We intentionally left all the windows bare—no treatments—to enhance the light, the view and the clean, minimal look.

Did you encounter any challenges?
Rob and Elise were open-minded and easy to work with. We had a clear vision and stayed on course with every detail combining to create the perfect farmhouse chic home.


Let There Be Light

Picture windows at the sink with a Rohl Modern Architectural pull-down faucet provide a view of the backyard pond.

Left: The prep sink in the center island is brightened by fixtures from Troy Lighting.
Right: A separate counter run with a glistening Clear Glass Rain subway tile by Garden State Tile—from Paramount Stone in Stamford—is ideal for a bar area.


Rise and Dine
Whimsical starburst fixtures from ELK Lighting complement the custom-made twelve-foot farmhouse table and benches by Steve Harris, and leather dining chairs with nailhead treatment from Orient Express Furniture. A pop of color in the artwork, also by Steve Harris, rounds out the look.

Room With a View
The new large-cased opening connects the kitchen and the dining room for easy access and flow of natural light.



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