Moving from my Charming English Tudor to...?

zenfoodistJuly 21, 2010


This is my first post to Garden Web. My name is Lisa and I am 38 yrs old and about to purchase my second home here in NYC. I love old things with character, which ends up ebing a lot of work. The deed says the house is from 1920. It was owned by a very prominent NYC family who had the money to update everything- new roof, windows, heating systems, salt-water pool, pavers etc. There is not much for me to do structurally, however asthetically I do not share their taste and cant't wait to have all of my own furniture, wall colors, window treatments etc.

I have heard many wonderful things about these forums and trolled the boards for awhile. It's just now, upon purchasing this home that I have a few questions. I am hoping you can help me out.

I belive that the home I am buying is a Dutch Colonial. It is listed as a Center Hall. What do you think?

I'd like to have some shutters put on the exterior front windows. I was thinking black louvered. Any ideas?

I'll be having all of the wall paper steamed off and opting for paint intead.

We'll also have the kitchen cabinets stained to a darker wood color and the counter tops changed from butcherblock to granite or silestone. The floors are granite and the owners had recently paid $30,000 to have them put in. They are not my taste, however we will keep them for awhile. I am not certain about the idea of grainite countertops b/c I think it will feel like a masoleum with all the granite on the floors! Not enough contrast. The granite floors spill into the foyer as well. I would have liked to do a cream and black large checkered floor upon entering, however it will have to wait.

I am also wondering if this is indeed a Dutch Colonial, would having beams put into either the Great Room or Living Room be in keeping with the integrity of the house? I will really miss the beamed celings in my Tudor!

I will post the same slideshow to the garden boards to see if someone can give us some landscaping ideas for the frot as well as to identify the flowering hedges around the periphery of the pool.

Many, Many Thanks in Advance,


Here is the link to the slideshow of the house:

or if that does not work:

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Lovely, lovely house! It seems to me your task is to lessen the formality while staying consistent with the style of the house. It takes some thought and sometimes restraint.

Having a cream and black checkerboard somewhere in a house is a dream of mine, but I know I couldn't bring myself to pull out perfectly good granite to do so.

I agree with pulling down the wallpaper and changing paint. Anything beyond that, though, you should give yourself some time in the house.

There is a forum on the Garden side of Gardenweb called "Name That Plant!" Post a photo of your hedge there and likely someone will know what it is. Or ask the neighbors - it is a great way to meet people.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2010 at 10:18AM
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It is a beautiful home on the exterior, and also interior. Let me start by saying that house is so out of my financial ballpark that I shouldn't even be responding. LOL.

However, I agree with Graywings. Start with the wallpaper and paint to see what you think then. Your own furniture also can change the 'feel' of a house dramatically. Ditto light fixtures and aside from a couple really neat ones, the chandeliers do scream formal. The profusion of can lighting also tells me that low daytime light levels and windows are an issue in some of the rooms. I think that's where the sellers were going with their cabinet and counter top choices. But, having had them, I'm not a big fan of butcher block for functionality either. It's obvious the sellers were not stingy with their material choices and they like formal/classical. It's mostly high-end and right out of an HGTV program. Which just shows to go you, that not everybody automatically prefers what is the current 'in' thing. To me, the holy trinity of granite/stainless/open dates a decorating era as easily as the proverbial avocado appliances. Some homes are timeless, like a Coco Chanel suit. Go slow and keep your big toe in the water to feel how each change will suit you. You'll know when you get there. Enjoy that beautiful place!

Just from what little I could see of them, those shrubs around the pool look to be broad-leaf evergreens and if they're flowering, not being able to see the flowers I'd guess rhodies. If they are they're very nice and desireable and were not a cheap planting, unless they've been there for years.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2010 at 11:15AM
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Welcome Lisa! There is some great beauty (and some scary busy-ness) in that house! It looks Dutch Colonial to me too, but I'm not really knowledgeable about that kind of thing. I too think granite counters might be too much with a granite floor, but then I'm not a huge fan of granite to begin with (except for a few of the more out there, expensive ones). We're in the process of putting butcher block counters in our kitchen (an economical choice) and giving them many coats of Waterlox in order to make them more durable.

I don't know about the style of beams with the style of the house. I can't tell from the pictures - are the ceiling tall enough to not make the room crowded if you add beams? We had beams in the house I grew up in, but it was a cathedral ceiling (and they were structural), so I have no other experience here.

All in all I see I've give you no good advice LOL Sorry about that! But I do agree with the previous posters, take it slow and see what each change does to the feel. Enjoy and post progress!!

    Bookmark   July 21, 2010 at 7:10PM
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I am right over the border in CT and love those NY neighborhoods! Your house is lovely and just waiting for you to make it *yours*.

Your house certainly is a Dutch Colonial. That staircase is awesome, makes quite a statement when you open your front door. I can think of about 8 things to do just in that space.

I agree there is way too much granite and love the idea of a b/w. It is best to live in the house for a while, though. Of course, stripping wallpaper and painting will give you plenty of time to think about the other changes!

Your house may have gone through some changes over the years. Can you find any records of it? Some of the rooms still have the arts & crafts sensibilities, like the foyer and the dark trim in the living room. While other rooms, like the kitchen, are 80's? 90's? Anyway, congrats on your new home and please post pics as you proceed. In the meantime, go sit by pool and enjoy your new home!

    Bookmark   July 22, 2010 at 5:58AM
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Thank you all so very much for your insight :)

Paintergirl, would you be willing to share just ONE of the "8 things to do in that space" with regard to the foyer? :)

All good things,

    Bookmark   July 22, 2010 at 8:52AM
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Are we all on the same page re: the Dutch Colonial classification?

I always thought the front door was on the side of the house in a Dutch Colonial.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2010 at 8:55AM
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Are you kidding me? I live for this stuff. But, I would also like to know what your plans are.
I know you will be leaving the tile for now, so a nice carpet will be useful.
A different light fixture.
Do you want to maintain the integrity of the Dutch Colonial in your decor, or throw caution to the wind?
Remove wallpaper and paint.
What is to the right? Dining room?
I see the front door is a deep stain, I would carry that over to the banister, which should really be the crowning glory and really make a statement. The other option is to paint the wood. I just love the finials.
Are you keeping the runner?
Do you like the wood?
I'd like to see some crown moulding in there and are those your furnishings?
I know I/m rambling, but it is such an exciting space, but I would need your input before I draw any conclusions. If you'd like to e-mail, maybe I could help a lot faster. Also, you should post over in the home decorating forum. Lots of good advice over there.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2010 at 5:27PM
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I'd like to stay with the integrity of the house.

As I mentioned in my initial post, I can not wait to have my own window treatments, Persian carpets, paint colors and furniture etc. in the house. This is all the slide show prepared by the sellers. It reflects their taste.

I prefer darker wood and will have all the wood stained a cherry/mahogany color. I too love the banitser. It will be stained.

The dining room is indeed to the right. The living room to the left, with an office/library and full bath to the left of that. Behind the living room is the Great Room which connects to the kitchen.

All wallpaper will be removed.

The main chandelier and the dining room chandelier are going with the owners.

The runners will be replaced with more of a Persian design, the brass fictures will remain.

The kitchen cabinets will be stained a darker color, the countertops changed.

Black louevered or batten shutters will be put on the front of the windows. The landscaping will be changed as well.

Many Thanks in Advance for any Suggestions,

    Bookmark   July 22, 2010 at 7:19PM
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WOWZA! Gorgeous home!!!! That staircase is phenomenal! I don't have too many suggestions....I'm with Calliope...that house is wayyyyyyyyyy out of my financial comfort zone. I don't have any recommendations at all, I'll leave that to people more knowledgeable than myself.

Congratulations on your new home, I hope you'll hang around and post pictures as you personalize it and make it your own!

    Bookmark   July 23, 2010 at 12:00AM
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I like the exterior of your house, but the interior just shows me that the previous owners opted for what's trendy in decor and not what is accurate for a dutch colonial. Glad to hear the chandeliers are going, they do not go in such a house. Beams would work on the ceiling since a lot of early dutch and colonial houses were post and beam construction. Walls were usually plastered between them. The Dutch tended to paint the walls white.
Saw a tour of dutch colonials on TOH, and the double pitched roof was an English innovation--so you could include English features into the decor since it blended with the dutch styles around 1770. Please, please remove the can lights--they ruin the look of the rooms, and actually don't seem to put out much light anyway. Modern houses are lit far too brightly, beyond even what is necessary--you live in a house, not a retail store! Sconces would work, as would lamps next to the seating...if you want a ceiling fixture, it should imitate the candle-type chandeliers, not those nasty crystal things which are suited to a 19th century bordello.
Think what the dutch were doing--trading and making porceleins from China and other parts of the East...and blening it with their own styles. Think of functional yet stylish designs and decorations, no French influence, no gothic or victorian. Arts and Crafts, and Shaker would work for their simplicity, stained wood and simple window treatments also.
Can't wait to see YOUR taste in there, instead of the previous owners' high-class kitsch.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2010 at 10:20PM
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Thank you, Columbus Guy, for taking the time to post such a well-thought out, informative response. I am really at a loss with this house as I am the definitive "Tudor Girl". As soon as I figure out how to upload photos properly, I'll attach the interior of the Tudor in which I still reside. It defines my taste. We won't be at the new house for another 6 or 7 weeks. I enjoy a good asthetic challenge now and again, but this fairly daunting as it is such a large house.

My dad, who is heavily into the antiques business, has been trying to convince me to purchase one or two well-chose, tasteful Asian antique accent piece for the living room- hand-painted chests etc. I'm on the fence. He telle me Asian elements are common in Dutch Colonials. Your post seems to corroborate the possibility.

I HATE the can lighting, however I will not have it taken out right away. I simply will not use it. I have lots of torchieres, and antique table lamps etc that I am bringing from my Tudor.

The area I am currently obsessing over is the foyer. I think the entrance to a home is one of the most important areas. I am unsure as to what color to paint it. ( I can NOT WAIT to have all the wallpaper removed). I agree with a previous poster about staining the banister and the finials to the large staircase a darker shade. I'd love to have a cream and black marble large checkers floor put in, however the granite floors were $30,000 and are only three years old. I would feel terribly. What do you think? What furniture should go in the hallway? A round claw-footed table with a flower arrangement? A Hall Tree? A desk? Grandfather clock? A small area rug or none? The wall color hasn't come to me yet...

And the oblong living room ( 28 X 14) is a bit daunting in terms of furniture placement. I was thinking settees and a small table in front of the fireplace. And clusters of chairs and tables in other areas.

So much to think about.

Thank you very much.


    Bookmark   July 26, 2010 at 9:42AM
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Oooohh! And as for the possibility of beams in my formal living room, are we talking about wood beams that are dark and natural in color or white? And the beams go straight across the long way or the short way? Or the boxed type?

Thanks Again,

    Bookmark   July 26, 2010 at 10:08AM
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There is much to be said for a good quality wool rug for that foyer. Perhaps an oval and large (not small, make it functional and not something to fart with and fall over), maybe Oriental. The deep richness of it would play off the pale granite exposed from under it, and accentuate the woodwork and also work well with your antiques. Yes, to the table with flowers, hall seat and a grandfather clock as well. A small desk for keys, mail, etc wouldn't hurt either. An antique umbrella stand. I did the very same thing with an old Victorian with an exquisite entry foyer with carved woods and wainscotting. That does set the mood for everything one sees in the house from that point on.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2010 at 2:17PM
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I think you are wise to question ripping up $30,000 worth of granite (which is, after all, a non-renewable resource which required considerable energy to extract from the earth).

The problem I see in the foyer is it is far too busy with far too many colours that are in the same pallet. I have a feeling that when you get rid of the wallpaper/colour in the foyer, and stain the wood darker, as long as you choose wall colour appropriately, you may be surprised with how beautiful the granite is. In the end, in a couple years, you may indeed decide that the granite is not to your liking.

When I bought my house last year, the PO had updated the kitchen. They put in stock cabinets stained a darkish/reddish color, and granite tile floor with matching granite tile counters.

I fell in love instantly. It was the most beautiful combination. It doesn't look "busy" because it's just one type of granite, and one type of cabinet. The cabinets, being a deep red, don't add to the busy-ness. It's a greyish granite with white speckles.

So granite countertops and granite floors isn't a no-no in a kitchen but you are right, you do have to be careful.

Granted, my house cost 75,000 LOL but still.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2010 at 3:17AM
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I would feel terribly about chucking 30K worth of granite which is why I am not. I am just looking for some ways to try to like it :)

A nice paint color on the walls might be the solution. Any suggestions?


    Bookmark   July 29, 2010 at 9:54AM
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Beams could be box-type--they're cheaper...they should run opposite to your flooring in the room upstairs, since they were supposed to support that. If the flooring runs north to south, then the beams would run east-west. Chances are your first floor has things going the same direction as upstairs.
As to color, well, natural dark colors were about as popular as painted, just depended on the owner's tastes. Later owners might have painted the wood to keep it more 'healthy', as they might paint over woodwork elsewhere--my house has it's original staining except in the bath and pantry. I prefer wood's natural colors, so I am a bit biased. :) I have a Dover reprint of a 1910 Sears builder's catalog which has engravings of several types of ceiling beams, some fancy, others plain. Great for all sorts of details if you can get it!

    Bookmark   July 30, 2010 at 10:47PM
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Also, some asian pieces would be excellent--as well as jacobean english ones--they weren't called tudor for nothing. :) For asian accents, consider also beyond chests--small tables, chairs, screens and scrolls would work well.
To me a foyer shouldn't be over-crowded--it was a place to receive guests for a short time until the hosts could greet them and steer them elsewhere; I'd say a small bench for seating, a side table for keys and mail, perhaps a chest to store boots, if you have a coat closet, that lessens the need for a hall-tree, which doesn't exactly fit the dutch colonial idea--for hats and scarves, I'd think a peg-board to the side of the door? If the area is large enough, maybe a central table with a nice porcelein accent piece--but keep the table a reasonable size and simple so guests can pass safely.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2010 at 11:00PM
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I did this quick sketch a while ago, and forgot to send. Luckily, the PO gave you hints as to what not to put in the foyer, and without seeing any of your carpets or furnishings, I took a guess. I thought maybe to embrace the soft grays of the granite floor. Maybe a carpet with the b/w you were thinking of.
I also ran a wood wainscot up the right side of stairs. It sort of looks unfinished or unbalanced now.
I have a soft gray for the wall color, even though I originally pictured an olive green. I also think you should do something with the ceiling -- it looks like popcorn, not sure. I would do some sort of faux coffer and paint the insets a color or maybe even a soft creamy faux linen. Then, crown.
I have a Hudson Valley-themed landscape painting, but you can put any kind of artwork or photograph in a frame.

Mixing different styles of architecture and furnishings will be wonderful in your space. (just skip right over the 70's and 80's!).

    Bookmark   July 31, 2010 at 1:16PM
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You guys are wonderful. Thank you so very much from the bottom of my heart.

Columbus guy, I love the chair ideas and paintergirl, I LOVE the sketch and I love the wainscotting idea. You are so talented!

All Good Things,

    Bookmark   August 2, 2010 at 11:33AM
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Zen, I was so afraid of sounding critical when I wrote the first answer, but just because the previous owners obviously had money didn't mean they had taste--most likely they just threw money at someone and said 'spend it on what sells' and had no regard for the style of the house. You didn't seem that way, so I thought I'd give you some support.
My own tastes have always been for late Victorian/Edwardian...followed closely by tudor...and my house just so happens to be an Edwardian, so I lucked out. My big drawback is not having all the resources I'd like to decorate the inside, so I've been forced to buy antique pieces (inexpensive) which fit the style I had in mind. My biggest expense was a nine-piece dining room set in Duncan Phyfe style I found a month before moving into the house--I later found a matching mirror to go with it!
The hardest part about moving in was this: nearing midnight on a rainy Dec. 19th...trying to move an upright 1881 piano up planks on five front steps--it went into the garage for the winter until I could get sturdier and longer timbers to do the job, and clear the snow--but it survived fine once it was retuned. :)
I can't wait to see your pictures of your things inside...and more of your garden--I am a big fan of roses, peonies and rhododendrons, and would love to see them in bloom!

    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 12:13AM
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Don't be silly. I CRAVE critical. Your knowledge of the period has been very useful to me and I have, as a result, done quite a bit of my own research into the Dutch Colonial period.

I am going over to the house today to take some photos. Closing won't be for another month.

I ABHOR the current owners' taste. You said it best: high class kitch! I've been quoting you left and right :)

Many Thanks Again,

    Bookmark   August 4, 2010 at 9:26AM
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