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    Monday, March 20, 2023

    The Old and the New: Balancing Time and Style

    Built in 1750, this antique home in North Stonington has been meticulously renovated to maintain its character while accommodating modern family life

    By Gretchen A. Peck

    There is a special talent to striking a balance in an antique home, when the vintage and character of a bygone era are lovingly preserved, and yet the demands of modern life and lifestyle are accommodated, too. Such is the case at 81 Yawbux Valley Road in North Stonington, an enchanting house that dates back to 1750 and today is home to Chef James Wayman.

    Wayman co-owns several local businesses, including Nana’s Organic Bakery and Pizza Shop in both Mystic and Westerly. He’s also a co-owner of Moromi, a Mystic-based supplier of specialty seasonings, sauces and condiments. His schedule is certainly busy, but he carved out some time with Welcome Home to talk about his home in North Stonington, where he and his wife started their family and treasured this property.

    81 Yawbux Valley Road in North Stonington is offered to the market for $649,900. Associate Broker Jeff Valentine and the Valentine Team at William Pitt Sotheby’s in Mystic are the listing agents. Photo credit: Rise Visual Media

    The three-bedroom house is currently listed for sale, with an asking price of $649,900. The Waymans enlisted Broker Jeff Valentine and his team at William Pitt Sotheby’s in Mystic as the listing agents.

    Though so much about the provenance of the property is unknown, Wayman said it was certainly the first house to be built on the road—and thus, the oldest. Many of the families in the area trace their ancestors back generations, he noted.

    Wayman and his wife, Heather, bought 81 Yawbux Valley Road in 2015. He recalled how he’d gone to see the home in person. He met the owners, who welcomed him into their kitchen.

    “I kind of leaned on the counter a little bit. And someone said, ‘It looks like you feel right at home.’ And I did. I felt right at home there,” he said.

    The antique character of the 1750-era home has been preserved over time, evident in the beamed ceilings, fieldstone fireplaces and wide-planked hardwood flooring. Photo credit: Rise Visual Media

    A decade before, the previous owners had renovated the house, taking it down to the studs and almost completely rebuilding it. They painstakingly preserved some of the original architectural elements—wood-burning fireplaces, beamed ceilings, and wide-planked hardwood floors, now beautifully patinaed by time.

    The house was better insulated during the renovation. The footprint was expanded to allow for a large kitchen addition. Radiant-heat was installed to keep the floors extra cozy during the colder months.

    Wayman noted how the ceilings are high, too—atypical of antique homes of this age. “None of the rooms feel cramped or tight,” he said.

    For buyers contending with a very modern concern—telecommuting or working from a home office—there are two possible home office spaces in the 2,286-square-foot floor plan.

    Over time, they put their own stylistic stamp on the home, including painting the interiors in fresh, bright, neutral colors. Last year, they updated the kitchen, building on the existing solid-oak cabinets with a farmhouse-style sink and high-end appliances from Sub-Zero, BlueStar and Bosch. The floor is made of Belgian black terracotta tiles, and the counters are crafted in quartzite. A center island affords seating for our, and has built-in glass-fronted cabinets for additional storage.

    Wayman credited his wife for the design updates. “It’s the best kitchen I’ve ever had,” he said. “It’s lovely, and I like how the island is right across from the stove and the big farm sink and the Bosch dishwasher. The cabinetry gives us plenty of room, and everything’s nice and tucked away, which ticks down the clutter. The space works, and I feel like it’s very intuitive.”

    They furnished the home in more modern décor, which better reflected their personal style preferences than heavier period antiques.

    An authentic antique itself, the house lends itself to period furnishings and decorative elements, but taking a more modern approach to décor—as the current owners did—creates a fresh, bright and ethereal quality to the interiors. Photo credit: Rise Visual Media

    The Waymans also improved the outdoor living space and landscaping. They created an expansive patio made of pavers, intricately laid out in a herringbone pattern. They added a stone wall and reconfigured how the driveway approaches the house.

    “We planted a bunch of native trees,” Wayman said. “There are hemlocks, pine and junipers along the stone wall, which gives the yard a really nice sense of privacy now.”

    They also maintained perennial gardens, including a 25-by-30-foot organic garden. “We’ve been working on the soil for years and recently had an asparagus bed planted there,” Wayman said. Raspberries grow wild around the property and nestled in the back of the property, there’s a wild ramp patch ready for foragers.

    Previous owners completely renovated the home and added on to the floor plan to allow for this expansive kitchen. The kitchen was further improved by the current owners. It has a high cathedral ceiling, oak cabinets, quartzite counters, a farmhouse sink and high-end, “professional chef-approved” appliances. Photo credit: Rise Visual Media

    There’s a chicken coop and barn on the property. The Waymans raised chickens and enjoyed an abundance of fresh eggs. Previous owners kept a horse on the property and used the barn for that purpose.

    The house is sited on 1.75 acres in what feels like a patently private, rural setting, and yet it’s within easy reach of daily conveniences and destinations around the region.

    “The house itself is at the end of a dead-end road, so you can imagine how we see amazing stars at night. There are no street lights. It’s quiet, beautiful, but it’s close to I-95 and the casinos. It’s just 20 minutes to Mystic or Westerly,” he said.

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