Spring Lake – Modern Renovation of 1750s Dutch Tavern

renovations and remodels
July 6 2017

Originally built as a tavern, the original Dutch structure dates back to 1750. Over the years, the house went through a series of renovations that layered on Federal, Victorian and 1980’s design features and obscured the original Dutch detail. The renovation plan, rather than trying to force the house into a single stylistic period, sought to allow the different historical features to continue to exist side-by-side.

The design focused on three primary issues: removing the badly-done 1980s bathrooms in favor of something more functional and elegant, enlarging the way-too-small kitchen and finding a way to access the basement that could be safer and more functional than the tiny, steep, closet-sized servants stair.

The bathrooms were moved to new locations that allowed more of the original floor plan to show through. Historic fixtures were mixed with modern elements to create an old-world elegance. Spectacular tubs and sinks were set alongside the house’s original wide board floors, wainscot walls and reclaimed pocket doors. Classic elements like white subway tiles and black marble hex floor tiles were chosen to evoke early Art Deco bathroom design.

The kitchen renovation was solved with a bold gesture. The Victorian wall that separated the dining room and kitchen was removed entirely, leaving only a single room with a truly spectacular exposed-beam ceiling.  The 250-year-old nine-inch beams were joined asymmetrically into a massive central 17-inch beam to form a rib cage-like pattern on the ceiling.   The rest of the kitchen was designed with restraint so as not to distract.

Modern whitewashed ash kitchen cabinets with white Corian counters were situated in a white room so as to allow the gnarled wood of the ceiling beams and original floors to visually dominate the room. A massive kitchen island was designed with legs so as to leave the floors untouched and to read more like a piece of furniture than traditional built-in cabinetry.

A big part of the overall challenge of the project was to do the renovation without disrupting the historical elements of the house. There was a need to find a new basement stair location since the old stair was displaced by the new open-plan kitchen. There was no good solution, so careful engineering, and drafting was employed to create a narrow but otherwise code-compliant stair to the basement by squeezing it in next to a tiny powder room and stacking part of it under the main stair of the house. A leaded glass interior window was added to the powder room as a design flourish and to bring light to the small, landlocked space.

Design: The Art of Building
Build: The Art of Building


The Art of Building is a design-oriented construction and development firm. We are not licensed architects or engineers. We use third-party licensed architects and engineers whenever required or otherwise appropriate, and provide our clients with full transparency as to their involvement in the development process and their payment for these services.