Habitat: Kent home latest project for ‘vagabond’ couple
KENT — For some, renovating an 18th century barn may have been daunting, but for Pierre Kozely and Dawn Farmer, it was their next adventure.
The couple restored the barn-turned-home at 316 Kent Cornwall Road when they bought it three years ago, adding almost completely new construction but maintaining the original floor plan, complete with a three-story silo.
“We are a bit of a vagabond, bohemian couple,” Kozely said. “Each of these (houses) involved a part of our life where we wanted to live in a place and have an experience.”
The couple found their passion for renovating homes more than 10 years ago, when they were remodeling their family home and decided instead to “get a bulldozer and start from zero.” The renovation of the 1,700-square-foot Venice “bungalow” earned them a feature in Dwell magazine for “embracing simplicity.”
It was then that Kozely and Farmer, both furniture designers, said they decided to devote themselves to rebuilding homes, which Kozely compares to raising a child.
“They’ve all been books in our lives that we reopen with the same pleasure,” he said. “We revisit them, we’ll talk about them or we’ll run into them.”
The homes have each allowed the couple to explore a different time in history or type of architecture.
Their California house was a contemporary style, the New Mexico home an adobe-style built in 1947 and the New Hampshire property a historic colonial.
Kozely, a native of France, said his upbringing in Europe gave him a love of history that makes the features from a home’s original design the first thing that stands out when he walks onto a new project. Farmer, a self-described modernist, said she begins to see the vision for the home once they go through the careful demolition process and can “feel the space.”
In the Kent home, Kozely said much of the rebuild was focused on returning the barn to its original footprint. The barn had been used on a 50-acre farm when it was built, but was turned into a residence in the 1990s.
The previous owner had created “compartmentalized” small rooms, but Kozely and Farmer decided to reopen the floor plan to reflect its heritage.
“We tried to keep the vernacular of the farm and barn while applying a modern lifestyle into it, always with the same belief (of) respecting what is truly original to the first year of the architecture,” Kozely said.
Throughout the home, its original 19th century beams, new barn siding and the silo, complete with a conical ceiling, also add to the original feel. The couple filled the home with furniture they designed or have collected through travels, antique stores or garage sales.
The couple is selling the three-bedroom Kent home for nearly $1.3 million. Kozely said they likely will find another historical home to restore.
“Our next project will probably be similar,” he said. “I don’t know where it will be ... (but we) love a new adventure.”