How Designer Lisa Ehrlich transformed a 1980s Vermont saltbox into a modern, relaxing mountain escape.
By Yankee Magazine
Jan 23 2023
In the living room, a steel beam marks where the footprint of the Ehrlichs’ home was expanded to create a window-filled sunroom they call the “snow globe.” On winter evenings, a fire can always be found roaring behind doors crafted by Stoll Industries. The 100-year-old barnboard adds to the warm feel, as does the handmade leather chandelier, by South Africa’s Ngala Trading.Photo Credit : Michael Partenio
By Lisa Gosselin Lynn
On winter afternoons when she is done snowboarding at Mount Snow, her two children are snowmobiling behind the house, and her husband, Randy, is skinning up the hills for an extra workout, Lisa Ehrlich likes to curl up for a moment of quiet in the room she calls the “snow globe.”
Light streams into her Wilmington, Vermont, ski home through the floor-to-ceiling windows. Off one end of the room, double doors open to a large, covered balcony that looks out over a stand of snow-laden pines.
Inside, deep armchairs are slung with faux-fur and nubbly wool throws. “I have a thing for throws,” Lisa admits with a laugh. Across the room, flames flicker in a fireplace set into a wall of antique barnboard.
“When we first toured the place and I saw those barnboard walls—some planks are 16 inches or wider—and the fireplace and the hand-hewn beams, I knew we could do something with this,” she remembers.
“This” was a house that looked very different from the one where the Ehrlichs now spend their winter weekends. It was an unremarkable 1980s clapboard saltbox set in a subdivision. “The interior felt small and dark,” Lisa recalls. “But there was that barnboard. And you can’t really see any neighbors.”
The original owner had added barnboard paneling to the walls and rough-hewn beams to the ceiling. Those elements became the theme that Lisa, an interior designer who works with Trovare Home Design of Greenwich, Connecticut, riffed upon.
Barnboard is etched with stories of the long New England winters that build a timeless patina. It is a material that Rob Wadsworth of Vermont Barns and Wadsworth Design/Build—a firm known for its use of reclaimed materials—works with often. Lisa reached out to the Bondville-based builder and together they completely reimagined the home, doubling the space and adding on to three sides. “We wanted to keep the original footprint, but we needed more space,” Lisa says.
The “snow globe” sunroom was added off the main living room to bring light in. A garage and small mudroom were attached off the kitchen. The house sits on a hillside, so a lower-level “sports garage” (for the snowmobiles and skis, bikes, and dirt bikes) could be built off the back, accessed from a walkway that leads to the basement playroom and small office.
To visually tie the various additions together, Wadsworth clad the entire exterior in reclaimed wood. The effect is a mountain cabin that looks as if it could have weathered hundreds of winters.
Lisa went to work on the interior. She had trained with the acclaimed New York designer Bunny Williams, who’s been called the “doyenne of livable luxury.” The influence shows in the mix of plush fabrics and textures used throughout. But Lisa tempered it with a color palette drawn from the granite, bark, and loam of the surrounding Vermont woods. “I literally picked up stones to determine some of the colors,” Lisa says. “I wanted to bring that feeling of nature inside.”
Except for the addition of the “snow globe” room, the basic layout of the main part of the home stayed the same. Lisa gutted the kitchen and rebuilt it with new appliances, cabinets done in a warm gray, and subway tiles. For the dining nook off one side of the kitchen, she found a table and benches of reclaimed wood from West Elm and had a carpenter use the materials from one of the benches to extend the table to form a larger square shape. “We’ve had as many as 15 here for Thanksgiving,” she says.
The Ehrlichs love to entertain, and the poufs that are scattered around the living room are just the right height so that they can be pulled up to the table when guests arrive. “We also have the ‘party barn,’” says Lisa as she walks into the garage that connects to the kitchen. With an interior finished in cedar, it can be converted into an additional dining or dancing area.
The master suite sits off the main living room, hidden behind a door in the barnboard wall. Lisa kept the original narrow farmhouse stairs that lead up to two small bedrooms and a full bath.
“We’re lucky that our two children still share a bedroom,” says Lisa. That allowed her to make the second bedroom a guest bedroom for sleepovers with friends. There, Lisa put three single beds with pine frames that she painted a matte black. The two rooms connect to a Jack-and-Jill bathroom.
“This is a weekend ski house and we wanted to have fun with it,” Lisa says. In that bathroom, she designed a shower curtain with the black silhouette of a skier. The metal letters “S K I” hang on the wall of the kids’ bedroom next to a metal cabinet with mesh doors that serves as a bureau. The finishing touch Lisa added was in the entryway, which has the name of the home, “Out of Bounds,” tiled in black on the white floor.
“We had wanted a ski house that was close to the slopes, but not right on them, so we call the house ‘Out of Bounds,’” says Lisa. “It’s also where we come on weekends to get away. Whenever we get up to Vermont, I feel like we leave our other lives behind. We don’t watch TV or spend much time on screens. We just unplug.”
Originally published as “Out of Bounds” in the January/February 2023 issue of Yankee Magazine.