A Loving Renovation Updates a Rustic Family Home with Reclaimed Materials

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By Emma Janzen / Published by Dwell
A couple renovates one of their childhood homes to suit their modern taste, while preserving some sentimental value.

After living for seven years in the rural Pennsylvania home in which she grew up in, Eve Metzger and her husband, Alloy 5 Architecture president Michael Metzger, decided it was time to make the place their own. From the start, the couple, who share the 3,500-square-foot residence with their three children, knew they wanted to devise a new identity for the Colonial-style house that would fuse their love of modern and rustic design. "The difficult part was trying to make what was her family’s home into something that was unique in itself, but at the same time didn’t take away from her memories of the home," Michael says.

A Loving Renovation Updates a Rustic Family Home with Reclaimed Materials - Photo 1 of 8 - The original Colonial-style exterior included a few small dormers that weren’t large enough to maximize views or welcome natural light into the home. To fix this, Michael installed a series of new ones. Made of standing seam aluminum, they're designed to evoke the feel of local barn windows with a slightly modern twist.

The original Colonial-style exterior included a few small dormers that weren’t large enough to maximize views or welcome natural light into the home. To fix this, Michael installed a series of new ones. Made of standing seam aluminum, they're designed to evoke the feel of local barn windows with a slightly modern twist.

In order to achieve this fine balance, a handful of aspects from the original scheme were preserved, while the rest of the interiors and some exterior features were updated. The Metzgers made sure the renovation paid homage to the surrounding rural landscape, with plenty of floor-to-ceiling windows and reclaimed local materials.  

A Loving Renovation Updates a Rustic Family Home with Reclaimed Materials - Photo 2 of 8 - The first level is designed for the family to socialize. The biggest priority was an open kitchen that would seamlessly connect with the living areas. "When we entertain, everyone is in the kitchen, so we thought let’s just make the kitchen the whole first floor, because everyone’s going to be in there anyway," Michael says. "We had the luxury of living in the house for a few years to see how we used it and how we lived. Decisions like this were based on experience."

The first level is designed for the family to socialize. The biggest priority was an open kitchen that would seamlessly connect with the living areas. "When we entertain, everyone is in the kitchen, so we thought let’s just make the kitchen the whole first floor, because everyone’s going to be in there anyway," Michael says. "We had the luxury of living in the house for a few years to see how we used it and how we lived. Decisions like this were based on experience."

A Loving Renovation Updates a Rustic Family Home with Reclaimed Materials - Photo 3 of 8 - A few elements of the original home were preserved, such as the brick fireplace in the main living room, where an existing beam was repurposed to act as the mantel. The wood flooring is made of reclaimed fence boards, treated with a black finish originally employed to prevent horses from gnawing on the boards. "We all walk around barefoot, so it’s nice to feel the texture of the wood and all the history that was put into those boards. Over time, the dents and bruises will be put in there by our family, so it’s going to weather with us, which is nice," says Michael.

A few elements of the original home were preserved, such as the brick fireplace in the main living room, where an existing beam was repurposed to act as the mantel. The wood flooring is made of reclaimed fence boards, treated with a black finish originally employed to prevent horses from gnawing on the boards. "We all walk around barefoot, so it’s nice to feel the texture of the wood and all the history that was put into those boards. Over time, the dents and bruises will be put in there by our family, so it’s going to weather with us, which is nice," says Michael.

A Loving Renovation Updates a Rustic Family Home with Reclaimed Materials - Photo 4 of 8 - The staircase works as a visual transition from the cozy first level to the more modern second floor. When standing downstairs, the staircase pulls away from the dark anchoring floorboards with angled steel beams, stainless steel cables, and wood caps. "It’s thin and light so that it wouldn’t impede connection to the first floor," says Michael. "It’s meant to be pretty modern, but the wood cap softens the look a little, and makes the experience of touching the railing softer."

The staircase works as a visual transition from the cozy first level to the more modern second floor. When standing downstairs, the staircase pulls away from the dark anchoring floorboards with angled steel beams, stainless steel cables, and wood caps. "It’s thin and light so that it wouldn’t impede connection to the first floor," says Michael. "It’s meant to be pretty modern, but the wood cap softens the look a little, and makes the experience of touching the railing softer."

A Loving Renovation Updates a Rustic Family Home with Reclaimed Materials - Photo 5 of 8 - A quiet reading area sits on the second floor landing, where the home’s existing wood floors remain intact. Previously, that nook housed a closet, so views to the outdoors were obstructed. Michael felt it was important to have a continued connection to the yard when moving throughout the house, so he created a scheme to bring natural light inside and a view to the outside from the second floor.

A quiet reading area sits on the second floor landing, where the home’s existing wood floors remain intact. Previously, that nook housed a closet, so views to the outdoors were obstructed. Michael felt it was important to have a continued connection to the yard when moving throughout the house, so he created a scheme to bring natural light inside and a view to the outside from the second floor.

A Loving Renovation Updates a Rustic Family Home with Reclaimed Materials - Photo 6 of 8 - Marble was used throughout the master bathroom in order to create a timeless feel that would age well. "The hope is that in 15 years, you won’t look at the room and think, ‘oh, that tile was only popular in 2015," Michael says.

Marble was used throughout the master bathroom in order to create a timeless feel that would age well. "The hope is that in 15 years, you won’t look at the room and think, ‘oh, that tile was only popular in 2015," Michael says.

A Loving Renovation Updates a Rustic Family Home with Reclaimed Materials - Photo 7 of 8 - A small wooden deck originally anchored the backyard, which has since been transformed into a larger social area. "We wanted something that was sunken into the earth that would feel like you’re enveloped by the surroundings," Michael says. In order to achieve this, he installed a concrete retaining wall that's level with the soil above it, so foliage will gradually grow into the living space. This feature creates an almost ruin-like feeling and a direct connection to the surrounding landscaping.

A small wooden deck originally anchored the backyard, which has since been transformed into a larger social area. "We wanted something that was sunken into the earth that would feel like you’re enveloped by the surroundings," Michael says. In order to achieve this, he installed a concrete retaining wall that's level with the soil above it, so foliage will gradually grow into the living space. This feature creates an almost ruin-like feeling and a direct connection to the surrounding landscaping.

A Loving Renovation Updates a Rustic Family Home with Reclaimed Materials - Photo 8 of 8 - Large windows are located in every room to ensure views of the pond remain unobstructed.

Large windows are located in every room to ensure views of the pond remain unobstructed.