What do you do when you outgrow both your house and your work space? You have your architect husband design a spacious modern farmhouse that includes your new office.
At least that’s what Vanessa Parry Zoog and Chris Zoog of Cinnaminson did, and they couldn’t be happier.
Theirs is a love story. As teenagers, they met at a swim club. They continued dating while both attended the University of Massachusetts. They married 18 years ago.
Three years ago, Vanessa, the owner of Serenity Counseling, had outgrown her practice and needed to hire another therapist.
“It was either find her a bigger space, or build that dream house and include her office,” says Chris, 42, an architect in the Center City office of H.O.K., a global design firm.
But there was one challenge: They wanted to stay in their Burlington County hometown, where vacant lots are few and far between.
Then, last year, the fates smiled on them. They discovered a lot on a quiet cul-de-sac listed on Zillow. They purchased it and set to work.
But before Chris could get the blueprints underway, they needed to agree on a style.
“We both knew we wanted a house with large open spaces where everyone gathers for games, dance parties, and holidays,” says Vanessa, 40.
But since Vanessa is a little bit traditional, and Chris is a little bit modern, they needed an equilibrium, which turned out to be a modern farmhouse, a layout that has proven to be a perfect fit professionally, and for their family, which includes son Noah, 14, daughter Lottie, 8, and miniature dachshund Toby.
These days, the term modern farmhouse sounds like an architectural contradiction, particularly to those living in vintage homesteads. But architects and designers are remaking the style with reproductions and features that are sophisticated, yet functional.
Though the 3,700-square-foot house (which includes Vanessa’s 600-square-foot office) was just completed in July, it has touches that make it seem as if it’s been around for a century.
It wouldn’t be a farmhouse without big porches. On the front of the house are two: one with rocking chairs and another that leads to both the front door and to a separate entry to Vanessa’s office. In the back, one large porch runs the length of the house, with a portion screened-in and with a dining table that’s perfect for buggy summer nights.
For the exterior, they chose a board-and-batten look made of Hardie siding, a mixture of cement and natural fibers.
They hung black utilitarian lanterns, a signature farmhouse detail, outside over the porches, and inside over the expansive 13-by-7-foot quartzite kitchen island.
Rounding out the kitchen are walls of Wellborn Shaker-style cabinets in light gray and black matte hardware.
A noteworthy feature: A black ladder attaches to a metal rail, installed just below the nine-foot ceiling, for easy access to special-occasion china stored in upper cabinets. For contrast, a chevron-patterned marble backsplash was added.
A favorite of the couple is their integrated Wolf coffeemaker that, with the blink of an eye and tap of a button, grinds beans and brews a cup of coffee.
Above the gas fireplace is custom casework that covers the flat screen — the two doors disappear into pockets when viewing. Two slate-hued sofas and two Pacific blue chairs from Joybird surround a large brown coffee table.
The centerpiece of the dining room is a wooden farm table from Restoration Hardware that easily seats up to 12, perfect for this year’s gathering for the first Thanksgiving dinner in their new home. A built-in for storing decanters, glasses, and wine bottles separates the room from the kitchen.
Vanessa’s new headquarters, which includes her office, her assistant’s office, and the patient waiting room, are decorated with comfortable and modern sofas and chairs in whites, grays and beiges.
Chris designed the industrial metal railings and spindles that lead to the second floor, and that complement the white shiplap on the walls.
Upstairs, the bedrooms were organized around a single-loaded hallway, similar to a hotel corridor, with the laundry and bedroom doors on one side, and a row of two-over-two windows on the other.
The property, once part of a bigger estate, came with an enclosed in-ground pool, which needs work and is their next project.
They say the project went off pretty much without a hitch, thanks to their contractor, Peter Genzano of Insight-Genzano Builder in Maple Shade.
“We’re very comfortable in this town. We’re near family and friends, and we like the schools,” says Chris.
Now they’re ready to make memories.