Designer Christina Roughan has always loved history and interesting spaces. It’s no wonder that she and her family reside in leafy Weston, on a property that houses several buildings in addition to the main house. Earlier this year, with everyone home, she decided to convert one of these spaces, a late-1700s shed, into an office and design studio. In its past lives, it was also a cobbler workshop and a toll house. It retains a cottage-like feeling with the stone-wall interiors, a fireplace, kitchenette, bathroom and loft. Walls are white so that it stays bright and provides a neutral backdrop to work from and showcase her Roughan Home products collection. It works perfectly in this time period as a work space and as an escape for a busy professional, mom to twins, and wife.
BACK IN TIME
“We renovated the entire building as we put new floors in, painted the ceiling, added electrical and changed out windows,” says Christina of the updates and upgrades needed in her work-at-home space; and, yet, she wanted to preserve the best of the original structure. “We wanted to keep the integrity of the building and not disrupt the historical significance. We love working on historic homes; it was always our intent to love this house and make it better while improving its significance.”
The property is on the Weston Historical Register as the Silliman Godfrey House circa 1800. “The Godfrey Family was a well-known family in the Weston/Westport community,” says Christina. “They made their income through farming, railroad and wood mills. Remnants of their mill can be found in Devil’s Den Nature Preserve, which is located in the back of our studio.”
She not only looked up the history of the place, but also parts of the past came to her. “The Godfreys milled chestnut wood, and our now office was a former toll both/cobbler shop that people used to get to the mill. There are several horseshoes in our studio on the walls, which we kept as they are antiquated and preserved. When we renovated, we found a shoe in the floorboards from the Boston Rubber Shoe Company, which closed in the late 1800s. It was a common practice to bury shoes in the walls and floorboards for good luck.”
A SPACE OF HER OWN
Through all of the many uses, when it finally landed in Christina’s hands, it had lost both form and function—and badly needed her skill set. “When we moved here, it was an almost demolished building,” she says. “We created the office. In running a design firm, it was important to be able to not only have a library, but also an area for product and samples. It was important to be able to separate myself from my family—this space allows my team to work together when need be, and we can have client’s meet us there.” So while it is now one cohesive and efficient space, it still serves multiple purposes.
She recalls that back in 2014 she started the project. “Our main office for the firm was in Greenwich and New York City. At the time I had twin newborns and wanted to be closer to them. That is what really drove my decision,” she says. The renovation was done in 2018, and additional details have been made over the years that followed. “We painted the interior white and kept the chestnut beams their natural color, and we added a small kitchen and renovated the existing powder room. It is the best of old and new, preserving the past while celebrating the present.”
What she loves most about it, she says, “The chestnut beams, which are over 225 years old, are pretty cool, and the fireplace in the winter is very cozy. It works as an office as it feels more residential and inviting. And, speaking as a designer, it helps create the right environment for not only inspiration, but also for the day-to-day running of the business.” She adds that her goal was “to create a happy, chic and welcoming environment for myself, my team and my clients. Sometimes a renovation that keeps on going, gives quite a bit as it relays to function.”
While the space eventually will become a general office or a guest house in its next life, for now, Christina is enjoying it. The best part of her home office, she confesses, “My commute is the best!”