two buildings, Rochelle designed a wide
entry hall for the ground floor with a
spacious master suite above it. Four
bedrooms were created from what had
been dark, cramped, chopped-up space
on the second floor. The formal dining
room, living room and sitting room were
updated. Only the kitchen remained
intact. “This is a working kitchen, not a
showcase kitchen,” says Caroline.
Materials were selected to maintain
the old farmhouse feel, including stone
flooring and reclaimed wood beams.
“It’s an old body with a new frame,” says
With the design eventually settled,
the Symingtons turned to Susan’s
husband, Phil, a builder. “It was a
happy chain of events,” says William.
“We looked at several builders, and we
believe we made a very good decision
The Symingtons stayed put in the
house through nearly two years of con-
struction. “There were moments when it
was very dirty and dusty,” Caroline says.
“But we’re all still talking, so that says
The couple furnished the home
with pieces they had collected over
the years. “Our furnishings tend to be
things handed down from our family for
generations,” says Caroline. Never mind
that some fabrics are worn and sofas
are lumpy. “We like that things are a bit
quirky,” she adds.
The Symingtons are particularly
proud of the exterior spaces. Avid gar-
deners, they created distinct spaces with
flowers and vegetables. Nothing requires
much maintenance. “We love garden-
ing, but we’re very keen that the garden
wasn’t going to take over our lives,” says
Caroline. “We’ve tried to make it so
that there’s a bit of maintenance, but it
isn’t crazy.” Importantly, she adds, “the
gardens are a haven for wildlife.” Much
of the property is not mowed regularly,
and everything is chemicalfree. “We’re
trying to help the insect population,”
she says. The untended milkweed field
just off the back patio attracts caterpil-
lars that eventually become monarch
butterflies. “Monarch butterflies are en-
dangered,” says William. “The milkweed
keeps chickens—up to six at a time—for
fresh eggs. The chickens have their own
coops, but often wander around the pa-
tio, joining the Symingtons during tea.
The Symingtons’ other love is entertaining. The north-facing back patio is
the gathering spot for family, friends
and neighbors during the hot summer
months. When the weather cools, the
Symingtons serve winter cocktails on
the south-facing front patio, protected
on three sides in an alcove, prior to moving inside for dinner.
“We have quite a lot of people who
come to stay since our family and
friends are spread all over,” says Caroline. “And now we’ve got friends from
the neighborhood.” Like the house,
backyard gatherings are a quirky blend
of proper British and homey casual.
“It’s British-style entertaining,” says
Caroline, who shares cooking duties
with William. “We’re very casual, but we
resources: Philip Rochelle Building, Pittstown,
rochellebuilding.com, 908-238-9000. Susan Rochelle,
Architect, Alexandria Township, susanrochellearchitect.
home&garden NEW JERSEY
GREEN ACRES Caroline and William (at the table ends) enjoy casual backyard entertaining, but always sit for a meal. Their vegetable and flower
gardens are chemical free and generally low maintenance. Two of their chickens roam the north-facing patio.