The first purchase Nancy Gracia made for her new home was a piston. Along with the plumbing issues, there were also wiring and structural issues.
The house and detached garage had been vacant for three years when Gracia discovered it while driving in Newtown, Bucks County.
It was 2009 and Gracia was covering the songs after her marriage ended.
Her two sons were almost adults, she had returned to college after dropping out more than 20 years earlier to get married, and she had an ambition: she wanted to buy a property where she could live and run an interior design business. residential interior.
Despite the dilapidated appearance of the house, she parked her car and, finding the back door open, went inside. Although plasterboard was falling from the ceiling and ivy was growing through the windows, she thought to herself, “This is my house.
The house purchased by Gracia had been built in two phases. The original structure was built by stonemason John Milnor in 1800 with stones collected from the stream behind the property. A clapboard addition, which was later stuccoed, was built in 1900.
Postponing major renovations, Gracia made necessary repairs when she moved in and put off buying new appliances, except for the La Cornue French cooker she found on eBay.
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In 2012, Gracia graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the New York School of Interior Design. That same year, she hired Amish contractors to build a half-timbered addition to her home. The exterior has been stuccoed to match the previous addition.
The addition with its vaulted ceiling doubled the size of the house and included a large room with a fireplace and a spiral staircase leading to a loft, two powder rooms and a full bathroom, and a work area in the basement. floor for his business, Bare Root Design Studio. There are three bedrooms and two further bathrooms in the older parts of the house.
Gracia renovated the 1900 wing kitchen in 2019, installing forest green cabinetry with white marble countertops and backsplashes. She ordered new appliances, including a coffee maker and a high-tech steam oven, but kept the La Cornue stove.
When planning her home’s decor, Gracia said she didn’t want to “impose herself with a modern design.” She integrated the different sections with wooden furniture in warm tones, white and red oak woodwork and floors. The heating system uses vintage embossed metal radiators.
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Gracia, of Hispanic descent, grew up in South Texas. It was not a culture where people paid for luxury services such as interior designers, she said.
During her marriage, Gracia and her family moved often for her husband’s work. She became her own interior designer, furnishing homes in California, Maryland, New York and Pennsylvania. “I always wanted to live in a nice house,” she says.
Fortunately, she had a particularly useful decorating talent. Her mother, Julia Alaniz, a seamstress, had taught her to sew. Although now she often asks others to do the sewing, she enjoys using a variety of textiles in her home.
The sofa is upholstered in emerald green silk velvet. The pouffes in the dining area are upholstered in tiger-patterned velvet. The multicolored striped cushion on the banquette behind the half-moon table complements the anthracite and white stripes of the Schumacher wallpaper.
Pale blue and peach curtains provide a chic window treatment while still allowing in maximum light. Gracia made the pillows strewn over the chairs and sofas. She also sewed the leaf-green cushions to the sculptural concrete chair on the patio by the front door. The chair, a concrete table and several planters came from Opiary Studio in Brooklyn.
A large square basket above a fireplace was made by the famous weaver Jonathan Kline.
Popular artist Judith Key, whom Gracia found on eBay, painted the whimsical rendition of Washington Crossing the Delaware. Another work by Key, a painting of a village by a river, hangs nearby.
A decorative tin piece by Pennsylvania artist Deborah Sielski glistens above a tiger maple desk.
“I work with fantastic artisans,” Gracia said. “I’m still looking for the guy who works in his store.”
Although she has owned other homes, the dilapidated property in Newtown has been her greatest challenge.
“It was the start of a pilgrimage,” she said. Over the past twelve years, the house and the owner have “acquired patience, authenticity and peace”.
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