Featured Project

Howlett Farm House

The Challenge

Carly and Mike purchased the historic Avon, NY farmhouse he had grown up in from his parents a few years back. The newly-married couple had only been living in the downstairs portion of the two-story, 8 bedroom, 2 bathroom home and felt that the unused space upstairs was being wasted.

The couple have always loved the character of historic homes and never saw themselves building or buying a new home. Their farmhouse had a lot of special memories to preserve and they wanted to bring the unutilized elements back to life.

While the Howletts knew the rustic-chic style they were going for, they were unsure about how to achieve the best layout. As Carly said, “We wanted to keep it very simple. It’s a farmhouse, so we wanted to maintain the structure and integrity of it.”

In the spring of 2017, they enlisted the talents of Norbut Renovations’ design team to help them reimagine the function and flow of their home. The team took precise measurements of the existing conditions and mechanical systems before creating sample renderings.

The Plan

After reviewing their options, the Howletts determined that they needed to overhaul the entire second floor to better put the 8 bedrooms to use. Here is what they changed.

Master Suite

The master bedroom was originally located downstairs. Carly and Mike chose to combine three of the upstairs bedrooms into one luxurious master suite complete with a tranquil bedroom, spa bathroom, and spacious walk-in closet.


A convenient second-floor laundry room was added with a washer, dryer, and plenty of shelving.


The second floor bathroom was also fully-renovated. Once dark and wallpapered, it was transformed into a functional work of art with vintage tile and a charming trough sink.

Open Loft Area

Two more bedrooms were demolished and opened up to the space below to create a loft area and grand entrance to the downstairs. Now open to the family room and warmth of the pellet stove, the loft creates a more natural flow in the home while anchoring the two floors.

Welcome Surprises

During demolition, the Norbut crew discovered that much of the original character of the 1860’s home had been hidden. For instance, hand-hewn, floor-to-ceiling wood columns with handmade nails were found behind layers of drywall. These columns became the centerpiece of the new design and antique beams were sourced from local barns to finish out the space. Replicas of the Bennington swirled-clay knobs from the mid-1800’s were also found to grace the new doors.

Original, hardwood floors in various styles were also discovered under several layers of lead paint throughout the second floor. The Howletts wanted to preserve the floors versus encapsulating them with another type of floor covering. Fortunately, lead-certified professionals safely stripped the floors and stairs so they could be sealed with a rustic finish.

Despite this slight delay in the production schedule, it did not drive up the carefully-planned budget. Even better, the Howletts’ family and guests can enjoy the natural beauty of the original hardwoods for years to come.

The Experience

Carly and Mike had spent a great deal of time searching for the right contractor but no one seemed like the right fit until they met Dave Norbut.

“We had heard horror stories about schedules and budgets. We’re a young couple and want to use our money well,” explained Carly. “The Norbut Renovations team described their design/build process in great detail and outlined the production schedule step-by-step.”

The Howletts had clear insight into what was being spent where and when professionals such as the plumbers, electricians, and HVAC crews would be working in their home.

“Norbut has an awesome team,” Carly said. “Dave is very creative and was always willing to try anything we wanted.”

In Their Own Words

“We doubled the space we were living in, but made the home feel cozier than ever,” said Carly. “My inlaws lived in this home for 20 years and always felt like the house was unfinished. Now, they’re blown away. They feel like it should have always looked like this. The final product is beautiful, and a much better use of all this house we have.”

Learn More About the Norbut Process

Norbut Family of Excellence

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