Old is new again. The Essex House has graced Kirkwood’s ‘main street’ since 1939, but it just recently received an award from the town’s Landmarks Commission for an Addition of Merit. Husband-and-wife team Steve and Phoebe Smith (architect and interior designer, respectively) are responsible for the graceful addition, which the commission applauded for its sensitivity to the surrounding neighborhood. Indeed, it is hard to tell where ‘old’ ends and ‘new’ begins. Elegant Georgian details are consistent throughout the single-story home in features like the coined brick corners, dentil brick molding and round window, which looks out onto a central courtyard.

“This is my favorite part of the house,” says Phoebe Smith of the newly created urban oasis. It is the heart of the property, a lush, 2,000-square-foot outdoor ‘room’ with beautiful landscaping, a bluestone patio, iron gates and a refurbished antique fountain. “The courtyard unifies the space and creates flow between old and new,” Smith says.

Breezy living continues inside where the living room’s large semicircular window and French doors draw the eye outward. Grand details like barrel-vaulted ceilings, theatrical lighting and a wood-burning fireplace are fitting of the more formal living room. The addition’s light-filled family room with a second fireplace is open to the new kitchen with blisteringly white cabinets and black quartz countertops. Such stark contrast is echoed in the four bathrooms, where fixtures are fashioned from natural materials like white Carrara marble and cocoa-brown maple. There are four bedrooms on the main level, two with en-suite bathrooms.

“This is a house for someone who loves historical homes with fine architectural detail,” Smith says. While most of the house is on one level, the couple built a basement beneath the addition. “Everyone wants one floor these days, but everyone also wants a basement,” Smith says. The lower level provides an extra bedroom, recreation room and plenty of storage, and brings the total living space to 4,253 square feet.

The house sits on an unusually large lot. The Regency ironwork, brick entry court and wraparound drive mimics a petite estate. There is ample parking, and new landscaping provides both privacy and year-round color. “This isn’t just any house on a street,” Smith says. “It’s much more special than that.”

listing price | $1,150,000
listing agent | phoebe smith, redkey realty leaders

Photos: Steven B. Smith Photography