House for Sale: A Little Bit of England in Vermont
Let’s begin with the kitchen. No, it’s not the biggest we’ve been in, not even close. But how many kitchens have massive oriel windows that extend up two stories on three sides? When you stand there, you’re surrounded by granite counters with old-fashioned tiles depicting English nursery rhymes, placed randomly along the sides. There are gorgeous rusty-red glass-framed cabinets and the best of appliances, all within your easy reach. It feels as though you’re also virtually standing in the fabulous English garden outside–looking up into the surrounding trees and sky above. A truly spectacular place in which to cook a meal.
Actually, the entire house–in Marshfield, Vermont, 12 miles northeast of Montpelier, designed and built in 1989 by the present owner, renowned furniture maker Lark Upson–is pretty spectacular. In fact, when the editors of Better Homes and Gardens magazine featured this place nine years later, they didn’t even choose the kitchen for their cover photo. Instead they opted for the gorgeous master bedroom, located on the second floor, with its dreamy master bathroom (one of three). Their cover line read simply, “Storybook Cottage,” and, for sure, that’s what it is. Incidentally, Lark’s husband is Jack Hoffman, the well-known journalist for the Vermont Press Bureau, but now working for the Public Assets Institute, in Montpelier. They were married in their “storybook cottage” the year of its completion.
“The cottage was my ‘poor man’s tribute’ to both Edward Lutyens [Britain's premier Arts and Crafts architect] and his frequent collaborator, Gertrude Jekyll [the famous 19th- and early-20th-century garden designer],” Lark told us as we sat briefly in the second-floor family room, which dramatically overlooks the kitchen below. She was showing us photographs of Lutyens’ work, stopping at one point at a full-page photo of a house outside London, with massive oriel windows extending up two stories on three sides of a room. “There’s my kitchen!” she exclaimed.
Other gorgeous features include the large first-floor living room, with brick fireplace; a dining room across from the kitchen, to which one descends several steps; a beautifully designed and decorated guestroom with its own bath; a basement with shop area; an unfinished attic; and, via a door and short walkway off the living room, a gazebo-like screened-in porch, with massive overhead beams and handsome all-weather wicker furniture.
Eventually, we had to ask Lark and Jack why they’d decided to sell their … well … dream house. (They’re asking $629,900, which includes a detached two-car garage and 53-plus acres.) “We’d like to continue living here in Marshfield,” Lark replied, “but in a smaller house.” Smaller? To us this six-room gem seemed the ideal size for a couple like them. But we didn’t press. After all, Lark and Jack are not the proverbial old-time Vermonters. For instance, we don’t know any Vermonters who own a small house in France. Lark and Jack do, in the village of Turenne. They love spending about a month over there every year. And Jack once owned and operated a motorcycle safari business in Kenya. How many Vermonters have done that?
Anyway, we do know one thing: If we owned this place, although we might part with a few of those 53 acres, we’d never sell. Never.
For details, contact Lisa Grady, Pall Spera Co. Realtors, 1800 Mountain Road, Stowe, VT 05672. 802-760-7719 (cell), 802-253-9771 x19 (office); firstname.lastname@example.org