One Fun-Filled Weekend in Vermont Led This Couple to Buy Their Friends’ Rental House
Luckily, their new neighbor is a contractor.
Published Nov 27, 2023 2:25 AM
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In the fall of 2021, Jordan and Chris Fronk decided to embark on a weekend trip to Vermont to visit friends who were renting a spot in the bayside town of Charlotte. The plan was to explore the area and maybe—just maybe—look at some real estate while they were there. The last part never happened. In the midst of roasting s’mores by the fire and dancing on the outdoor dining table underneath the moonlight, Chris had a realization. “I would say it was halfway through wine bottle number three that he looked at me and said, ‘Wait, can we just buy this house?!’” recalls Jordan, the founder of nut milk company Fronks. The home they were staying in was certainly unique. Constructed in 1968 by architect Carl L. Bausch, Jr., it features slit windows that are almost as tall as the wood-burning stove’s chimney, cantilevered skylights that drench the living area in sunshine, and stilts that support the shingle-clad structure.
Avery Cox, the interior designer who had previously worked with the Fronks on their full-time home in Austin, had an email from Jordan sitting in her in-box the next day. “It was this long essay about her experience and how magical it was, and how they were not even sure they were going to get the house,” recalls Cox. But if they did somehow get it, they wanted Cox to design it. The only next logical step was to ring up the owner, who they’d heard was considering selling in the near future. “We had a great long conversation and the wheels were in motion,” says Jordan. They closed seven weeks later.
The goals for the renovation were to respect the land, the architecture, and the spirit of what the previous owners had done. In other words, their biggest changes weren’t sexy ones—they mostly involved updating the electrical and plumbing systems. Fortunately for the Fronks, their new neighbor, Jason Bushey, happens to be a contractor. “After that, it was a lot of freshening up,” says Jordan.
Over the decades, a number of different materials had been introduced to the space, so Cox set out to streamline the palette. She narrowed the flooring for the main level down to two options: cork (in the living and dining area) and blue linoleum tile (in the kitchen). And anywhere there was wood paneling that clearly wasn’t original to the 1968 structure, she covered it with paint. “Which made the [original] tall, skinny windows and shelving stand out,” notes the designer.
When it came to introducing color to the living room, they went to Austin-based artist Kelti Smith. The painting she created is of paint itself (the blue and red blobs are inspired by what Mark Rothko’s palette might have looked like for one of his works). Under the piece is a raw-pine side table from another creative friend, Scott Martin of Seer Studio.
In the dining room, Cox created what she likes to call a color corridor by drenching the walls in berry-hued paint—a move that gave the illusion that the barely 8-foot-tall ceilings are a little bit higher than they actually are. Cox applied a similar strategy to the bunk room where the Fronks’ kids, Owen (13) and Townes (11), usually stay. “We wanted to put wallpaper on the ceiling, too, because paint would have made it feel way too low,” says Cox. The space is so tiny, in fact, that the designer had to custom order twin mattresses that are 1 inch shorter than the standard size just so they would fit.
These days, when the Fronks are up north, their days are filled with hikes around Mt. Philo, coffee runs to the Old Brick Store, and fruit picking at Adam’s Berry. Meanwhile at night, they dream of all the changes they hope to make in the future, like turning the artist studio next to the main house into a guest suite. But for now, they’re using it as an event space. “Our friend Zach recently put on a show with a super-talented folk singer from Ireland, Anna Mieke, fresh off her European tour opening for Wilco,” notes Jordan.
Wanting to offer others the same magical experience they first had in the home, the Fronks have turned the property into a part-time vacation rental. But don’t get your hopes up for anything more: They have no plans to sell.