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Heaven on Carré Court

A forgettable 'green shoebox' house becomes elegant showstopper

story and photographs by Ellis Anderson//

Adriana Metcalfe and Harry Slick met each other later in life, which makes them unafraid to share their unvarnished opinions. So the first time they pulled into the driveway of the house for sale on Carré Court, Harry said, “I’m not even getting out of the car.”

Overgrown shrubbery blocked most of the house from view. Architecturally, what was visible resembled a “green shoebox.” The curb appeal: sub-zero. Realtor Don Buisson, who had proposed showing the couple the house, was ready to turn around at Harry’s reaction.

But Adriana, an avid gardener, was encouraged by the large size of the lot. Her vision wasn’t occluded by the tangle of neglected shrubs, trees and weeds.

So Harry relented and the couple toured the house, noting that the floor plan inside also resembled a shoebox. The rectangular living area consisted of one long room, with cramped bedrooms off to the side.

Still, there was that amazing yard. Wouldn’t their two large dogs love it? And maybe, maybe, with lots of work, the house might have possibilities. Built in 1945, at least it had nine-foot ceilings.

“Think of it as a clean slate,” said Adriana.

The couple purchased the house in 2014. Three years later, it’s no longer overgrown. Garden paths meander through the yard, winding their way through beds planted with roses and lilies. The green color of the house disappeared under a deep shade of charcoal with elegant white trim.

The house can no longer be compared to a shoebox — inside or out. A large screened porch living area has been built off one side, while an addition on the other made way for a spacious master suite.

The house now possesses a sleek contemporary feel, yet the stone foundation and chimney seem to indicate that it’s historic, perhaps from the 1920s. While the architecture defies pigeonholing, the overall effect is striking. Most longtime locals who pass it now wonder why on earth they never noticed this beauty before.

Adriana, who lived on the upper East Coast most of her adult life, says she wanted the house to have the feel of “a lake house in the northeast.”

“We had no plans,” Harry says. “The house took on a life of its own as we worked. We knew some basics, but it just grew.”

“Growing” included several unexpected projects. When they ripped out the popcorn ceiling in the main living area, they discovered that the structural supports needed to be completely replaced.

Plans to simply add more windows on either side of the main room’s fireplace to allow for more light changed to allow for French doors instead, which in turn, led to building the screened porch on the side — now their favorite room in the house.

Along the way, household plumbing, electrical and HVAC systems had to be replaced and a whole house de-humidifier was installed. The kitchens and baths were remodeled from the ground up.

Outside, the driveway became part of the garden and parking was moved toward the back. They closed in the carport, which became Harry’s workshop and Adriana’s gardening shed. A stone patio ties in with the stone foundation they had installed around the perimeter of the house.

When the couple purchased the Carré Court house in 2014, they searched for a contractor who could handle the extensive remodeling and met Eddie Clark who came recommended by an old friend of Harry’s.

“We hit it off immediately. Eddie just got what I wanted to do,” says Adriana, smiling. “It’s like we had a Vulcan mind-meld.”

Harry laughs. “Live long and prosper!” he says.

That’s exactly what the couple are doing.

Now that the project is complete, they both believe it’s their dream house. The close proximity to the water allows Harry to fish on a whim. The yard is an evolving art project for both of them. Their rescue dogs — three of them now — have room to range on the property and on comfortable couches inside. Both Adriana and Harry love to cook, so the state-of-the-art kitchen makes entertaining a joy.

Occasionally, Harry will tease Adriana, saying that the Carré Court house can’t possibly be as nice as her 1740s home in New Jersey where she once lived. She doesn’t hesitate to disagree.

“Are you kidding?” she tells him. “We’re in heaven here.”

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