Updating a Small Cape from the 1820s in Vermont

Wiley Hill Cape Norwich VT Smith & Vansant (1)This “petite antique cape” in Vermont was built in the 1820s and reminds me of one of my favorite movie houses–Diane Keaton’s in Baby Boom. After a recent renovation, the homeowners shouldn’t have all the problems she did with hers, though (remember when it was snowing on her stairs?).

Wiley Hill Cape Norwich VT Smith & Vansant (12)

The architectural firm of Smith & Vansant was enlisted to update the old house, and on their website they explain the design challenge: “The size of the original building is very small, so everything we did needed to respect that scale, especially as seen from the road.”

Wiley Hill Cape Norwich VT Smith & Vansant (4)

“The house is quite small by today’s standards,” Pi Smith, the project architect, told Houzz. “All of the spaces we designed are working really hard.”

Wiley Hill Cape Norwich VT Smith & Vansant (6)

Two of the client’s primary goals were to have a better indoor-outdoor relationship in the house and to use “every conceivable nook & cranny as creatively as possible for storage.”

Wiley Hill Cape Norwich VT Smith & Vansant (11)

Wiley Hill Cape Norwich VT Smith & Vansant (9)

I love all the bookshelves throughout the house.

Wiley Hill Cape Norwich VT Smith & Vansant (10)

Wiley Hill Cape Norwich VT Smith & Vansant (8)

The homeowners also wanted a new “sunlit, eat-in farmhouse kitchen to be the center of the house.”

Wiley Hill Cape Norwich VT Smith & Vansant (13)

“The client had owned the home for 15 years, dreaming of and planning for a kitchen renovation for every one of them. While she waited, she filled her barn with collections in anticipation of the day they would rebuild, storing vintage plumbing fixtures, light fixtures, cabinet hardware and antique tiles, among other things.”

Wiley Hill Cape Norwich VT Smith & Vansant (5)

“The renovation began with the kitchen, and the kitchen began with this oversized salvaged sink, which had been waiting in the barn for years for its moment in the sun,” according to an article in Houzz written by Becky Harris. You can read the rest of it and get all the details about the renovation there.

Wiley Hill Cape Norwich VT Smith & Vansant (7)

The outdoor spaces are as beautiful as the indoor. For more photos and information about the Wiley Hill Cape project, visit the Smith & Vansant website. Photos by Rob Karosis.

Wiley Hill Cape Norwich VT Smith & Vansant (3)

P.S. You can see my post about the yellow Cape from Baby Boom here:

Diane Keaton's yellow house-Baby Boom cvr

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  1. says

    This is an amazing farmhouse! I love the kitchen and all the little nooks you can find in this house. What a gorgeous place!

    Have a blessed week, my friend.


    Luciane at HomeBunch.com

  2. jep says

    What a sweet house and so livable. All the bookshelves and storage areas are great. They did a fantastic job updating the kitchen…oh my, that sink is amazing! Thanks Julia!

  3. Alie B says

    They have certainly maximized the limited space in this home. I love the authenticity of this reno. It all looks like it’s been there since turn of the last century.

  4. 65andcounting says

    As a Houzz junkie, I have saved a few of this projects photos into my own Ideabook, the sink I believe I labeled as “yes please!” The whole renovation is simple elegance. They get an A+ from me.

    Houzz is the single best invention since Hooked on Houses and the projects listed there are, as someone commented to me on my own blog, “decorating porn”! :-) Anyone else Houzz?

  5. mary says

    One of my favorite kitchens ever! Recently featured on the cover of This Old House magazine.

  6. Sarah says

    A precious house, and an example of how good design can trump square footage.

  7. Rebecca says

    I love this home, and I say HOME not house, because that is the feeling I get when I look at the pics..home! like you Julia, I am so loving all the bookcases. Books are one of my passions..I never throw or give away books ( I may loan them..lol)!!, so to have all those bookcses,,fantastic. I can see waiting for that kitchen.. beautiful. The home looks lived in, not cold as some have seen. Give me a home like this one over a brand new home ANY day. This home has character!! Thanks :)

  8. says

    I adore this house, I don’t think there is a space within that has gone unused. I love all the bookcases, as I am a hoarder of books. The kitchen is incredible and I absolutely love that kitchen sink. I am now following you through bloglovin and on twitter. I would love for you to stop by my blog sometime at http://homeandlifestyledesign.blogspot.com where I just did a post on a home tour of a lake house here in the Dallas TX area.
    Thanks, Patty

  9. Sherry says

    The owners are people after my own heart – book-filled shelves on every wall, even in the bath. Light & bright, yet cozy, beautifully designed. Are they taking dates for houseguests? 😉

  10. Teresa says

    I looked at the “before” pictures on the Smith & Vancant website and you can hardly believe its the same house. Loved all the creative ideas to utilize space such as the built-in book shelve under the stair well in the powder room. I would love to wake up every morning under that large dormer window in the bedroom and even washing dishes wouldn’t be a chore in that gorgeous oversized farmhouse sink!

  11. says

    Amazing – it is adorable! I love how the owners have lived with the house for so long (15 years!) and planned with such love and care how the updates would look. This house is clearly cherished.

  12. says

    Hi Julia! I just read about this cape in This Old House magazine! I thought it was so creative that they used an old boat mast as a stair railing! It’s a beautiful renovation – I cut out some of the photos for my own idea book :)

  13. Jen says

    how adoreable is that there is something very classicabout it I love the bookcases kitchen sink bath and some many other things
    thank you juila

  14. Laura says

    Love the bookshelves, the hooked rugs, the sink, and all the light. I also love the size. This house is SO much better to me than a giant, characterless modern house. They did a wonderful job!

  15. Jane Susan says

    It’s perfect – I would only add a little more color. And I wouldn’t want it to be one speck bigger (well, maybe a cozy library would be nice).

    Love it!

  16. Mary says

    I was so entranced when I first saw these pics on Houzz. Then I found out the house is only about 20 minutes from where I live! Time to make some new friends!!

  17. Beth says

    Perhaps my favorite house of all those you’ve featured over the years.

  18. says

    Hi Julia,

    One of my favourite houses in cyberspace, and it’s a BIG space!! This home speaks to me, in soft, quiet tones, full of warmth and welcome. The kitchen, in particular is a harmony of hue, texture and views. I will never fall out of love with this its sweet and charming personality!!


  19. says

    It’s perfect! Even though the house on the smaller side, there is not one room that looks like it would feel small. Most especially like the kitchen and whole homey feel the owners created.

  20. Rebecca C. says

    Now I remember seeing this house. It’s that wonderful kitchen! Love that you posted pictures that I hadn’t seen. All those bookshelves are perfect. I adore this house.

  21. says

    This house is fabulous, just fabulous. Doesn’t seem small to me! I could easily see a newlywed or retired couple living there – at least I would! And I wouldn’t change a thing! 😉

  22. Sharon Reid says

    My kind of house. Especially love the kitchen and all the nooks and crannies, windows.

  23. Jane George says

    Perfect! I can tell a lot of pre-planning went into this remodel.

  24. Tracie says

    Stunning! There is not one thing about this home that doesn’t have me drooling. wow!

  25. Kate says

    My favorite house to date and I’ve been reading this blog for a long time.

  26. Kim says

    What a charming home. Every detail was perfectly done. There’s not one thing I dislike about this place.

  27. Destiny says

    This house makes me feel happy, comfortable, relaxed and homesick…

  28. jignesh says

    could you post beekman boys- manor and barn…i like that :)

  29. WendyMI says

    I’m in love… with everything from all of the windows, to the bookcases, to the white trim, to the pendant light fixtures in the kitchen.. absolutely everything. What a wonderful home.

  30. rachel says

    i can’t believe how many books they have. this is probably as close to my dream house as possible.

  31. MissFifi says

    Those windows over the sink! Sigh, they are living my dream.

  32. Carolyn says

    This is one of my all-time favorite houses. I saw it on Houzz, too (Becky Harris is one of my favorite Houzz bloggers – she finds the best stuff), and visited the architect’s website to learn more about it. I have it all bookmarked. Why do I love it so much? Well, first of all, I love old houses – can’t beat the character, materials, craftsmanship, and the sense of time. I also live in an older Cape Cod, so this is a real inspiration. I have more books than places for them (though I have shelves in every room), so I love all the bookshelves. I love the artistic individuality of the owner that comes through and how the things she collected find their place (kitchen sink, cabinet knobs, art work, for example). I adore the country antiques that look like they belong here. I love the clever use of space, the scale (no overpowering ‘great rooms’ here), the nooks and crannies, sloped ceilings, and low doors. I love the dog bath (not shown) of Victorian tiles in the mud room. The kitchen is my ideal. I love that it all looks fresh while retaining the old character. Most of all I love the feel of the place. Kudos to the owner and architect.

  33. Jonia says

    Love at first sight and I was not disappointed once inside! My hubby and I could definitely use that wonderful storage for our books. In love.

  34. Elvira says

    Superb house, human-sized and cosy. I wouldn’t change anything there. Looking at the pictures, something became clear in my head. If I was asked my favourite decorating style this would be it. Understated yet elegant and so welcoming. I think my favourite house yet. Thanks, Julia.

  35. says

    I like this house! Charming and cozy! Similar to the look I’m going for in in my new bedroom design. Thanks for the inspiration!

  36. Jenn says

    One of my all time favorites! Utterly charming, cozy, comfy, and full of love. And the property is gorgeous! Be still my heart…

  37. Linzy says

    I have actually been in love with this home for a VERY long time. I saw it on Houzz quite a bit ago, and checked out the S&V portfolio because of it. I live in VT, so to me it was very exciting stuff. I cannot express how well done this space is, and all the more for using what was available creatively, instead of just adding so much more on and building bigger. And looking at the comments, I see that I am not the only one! :)

  38. Anne says

    Oh, Julia. This is it for me. I have been looking at fine examples of restoration (with contributions which reflect modern living) for years. We built a saltbox house three years ago and if I had these architects/designers………..well, some things would have been different. The floors, that sink, the furnishings, I simply love it. Thank you for posting this.


  39. Ann says

    I keep coming back to this post Julia. I think this truly has to be THE most interesting and warm house I have ever seen.

  40. says

    Well done renovation.If it weren’t for the winters I would be back in my home state of Vermont.

  41. Robb7 says

    Vermont perfection!! It’s a home to dream about and enjoy lots of good times.

  42. tammyCA says

    How did I miss this charming house? It’s a winning design along with the client’s antique taste…and, Baby Boom is a favorite movie, too.