Updating a 1940 s colonial house

Coffee table: Restoration Hardware Woods helped the couple put their stamp on the second floor as well.She overhauled the baths and made the master suite prettier and more practical, with pocket doors closing off the bath and a washer and dryer poised near the enlarged walk-in closet Shown: Scale, proportion, and style mix it up in the master bath. Towel racks: Restoration Hardware Nine months after taking possession of the house, the couple finally moved in."We took out every fixture and many pieces of molding and some doors," Sigura recalls.His crew opened up walls so that i Tunes could be piped to speakers around the house and lighting activated by an automated system. Curtain fabric: Kravet Raising the family room floor was a challenge, Woods recalls, because it meant lifting the firebox, rebuilding the hearth, and finding doors short enough to fit existing headers."We needed to freshen it and make it feel a little more modern." She had a pretty clear idea of how that might be done."I'm a total decision-maker," she says with a laugh, and no amateur when it comes to Googling home accessories or combing sites like Pinterest.

"The house had been well loved, but it was dated," says Emily.

Shown: A box bay replaced a set of doors off the kitchen, allowing an eating area to sidle up to the built-in banquette. Wall paint: Benjamin Moore's Arctic Gray General contractor Ilan Sigura drew up plans that would allow a slight reconfiguring of the layout and a staircase more in keeping with the house's Colonial style, plus new insulation, flooring, plumbing, and wiring.

Along with a same-size but better kitchen, the couple wanted refurbished baths and a mudroom that doubled as a watering hole for their border collie, Bo, complete with a doggie-eye-level spigot.

"He's very visual," says Emily, by way of explanation, "and so am I." Shown: The mosaic-tile inset in the master bath's shower echoes the one on the floor. "We wanted the living spaces to read as one and flow seamlessly, for ease of use and entertaining," says Woods.

Barring the way between the kitchen and family room were bulky cabinets functioning as half walls separated by a 4-foot opening with a step down—just the thing to send an unsuspecting guest flying.

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She had two houses on the Sugar Hill farm, which she dubbed Butternut Cottage and Butternut Lodge.

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