Inspired by the European-inspired makeover in Riverbahn Reef Home

    Images via Spacecrafting

    Traditional beauty, thoughtful design, and classic European elegance abound in the formal dining room of this 9,000-square-foot twin estate.

    On a nice mild November day, the golden glow of a Sunday afternoon sunset streams through the windows of interior designer Bruce Kading’s sunroom—washing over a burgundy nailhead sofa bolstered perfectly against a west-facing wall. A handful of Quality Street chocolate litter the cocktail table nearby, the History Channel ringing faintly in the background. Countless sheets of grid, triangle and eraser are ready.

    Kading leans back with a cup of hot coffee in hand and frames of Anne & Valentin’s glasses elegantly placed on the bridge of his nose. He’s laser-focused—he works hard at drafting, sketching, dreaming up detail drawings of soon-to-be new buildings and completely remodeling the home for his namesake company, Bruce Kading Interior Design, which he’s created for clients across the country. In these fleeting moments, when ornate moldings, decorative inlays, enliven entire spaces, his craftsmanship flows to the fullest. “I’ve been drawing all my life, and these drawings are an important part of my design process,” says Kading, who uses raw documents to explain ideas to clients and collaborators alike. “I feel they have more integrity, emotion, and nuance than a mechanical computer does.”

    This, in its deceptive simplicity, is Kading, a process during which every detail of the design is painstakingly portrayed to conform to the mundane and historically accurate style that has been nationally lauded. These graphics demonstrate not only unparalleled ingenuity but also an innate ability to visualize spaces before placing the first 2×4.

    This includes those within this approximately 9,000 square foot property located in the suburban countryside of two private towns. After acquiring the 12-acre plot and its current home, Kading’s clients had two options: demolish the structure or remodel it. The new homeowners chose the latter option, and Cadding promptly assembled his artisan workshop—builder Lee Cornelius, decorative painter Jennifer Raskob Kranz, and expert woodcarver Eric Wyckoff—to fulfill his clients’ primary goal of ridding the property of Western style. Letter. Desirable aesthetic? An authentic European-inspired mansion.

    The transformation began by bidding on the original home’s “bold masculine aesthetic” of dark woodwork, outdated glass, and suede-colored walls and ceilings. “We also painted the woodwork, and added embellishment to the base blocks to make them look more French,” explains Kading, whose experience has been largely inspired by his travels and throughout his life on cruises. “We replaced all the wood floors, so they now have a life to them and they seem to have been there forever. We even replaced the stair railing with fancier one and put the walls in a delicate glaze that looks like hand-bonded plaster that you might see in Europe.”

    To the right of the entrance, the large room provides a first true look at the traditional European interiors of the four-bed, eight-bathroom home. It features one of six custom fireplaces, plaid pillows, and decorative furnishings, plus tufted velvet furniture and pretty pops of red—two of the wife’s personal orders.

    This formal gathering space effortlessly flows into the adjacent open-plan dining and kitchen area, and among its new floors, cabinetry, and pewter-covered island, a restored cooking center immediately catches the eye with its subtle, yet dramatic, detailing in grained black. Hand-carved French Rococo-style fireplace mantel, antique fire back, and mantel. “It was really in the perfect spot, but the original proportions were wrong,” Wyckoff says of the original stove outside the kitchen. “Bruce had me create a replica of it. That is the level of detail he will go to.”

    Woodcarver Eric Wyckoff’s hand-carved detailing on the refrigerator door speaks volumes of centuries past.

    But perhaps the jewel in the kitchen is Wyckoff’s “cup carving” on the wooden fridge Door. “In classic 18th-century French panels, they would make carvings with emblems reflecting hunting, royalty, or the military, for example, above a large entrance or cupboard,” says Wyckoff, who works in his studio in Minneapolis. “Bruce had the idea to add items from the owners instead.”

    The second level pub extends to the evening festivities.
    Attic wine heralds an ounce of rustic history at home.

    Again near the lobby, a staircase with a salon-style gallery wall of vintage portraits and paintings climbs to the upper level, where the British pub and temperature-controlled wine attic attract lovers of beautiful design and fermented drinks. Jerusalem sourced stone coats the attic floor, while a worn plank of wood adds a rustic touch of originality. The space also features a lead-glass window, traditional slats, commissioned metalwork, wood panels, and custom racks and wands to appropriately display clients’ wine collection. “Not many people have wine in the attic, but that was the only space we had,” Kading adds with a laugh.

    The pub, on the other hand, has a replica of a London pub sign (a collaboration item by Wyckoff and Raskop Krans), whimsical tiles with “little gnomes doing funny things,” Kading says, and plenty of seating for guests who prefer hanging out parties. After dinner.

    Huge wardrobe that makes folding clothes and putting them away a daunting task.

    But as the night draws to a close, two spacious guest rooms await overnight visitors in the basement in the left wing. Next door is a romantic master suite that features its own sitting room flanked by handcrafted bronze fireplace doors. Its spacious bathroom features classic mosaic floor tiles and a pewter-porcelain bathtub that is no less exciting. But the dreamy wardrobe—the mirror-paneled doors, washer-dryer combo, a safe room, and a marble-topped Carrara island—is bigger than the master bedroom itself.

    Kading was commissioned to create an elegant and serene retreat for the homeowners – a request easily delivered in the master bedroom suite.
    Two antique swans who spent the first 200 years of their lives in Europe perch on top of a waterfall in their backyard.

    Here, Kading allowed stunning views of the surrounding landscape to guide his choices, choosing a physical palette of muted tones that reflect the calm outside environment. Not only did he replace the existing floors with herringbone linoleum, but he also refreshed the walls with special glazes and crackle paint—both designed to bring an age-old aesthetic into the space. Raskob Kranz also refinished ceiling beams to imitate old European timbers. “All of the beams that looked gray were actually dark redwood beams, and they were scraped by hand,” Kading says. “I had Jennifer come in and aged them, and she did a delicate makeup. It was just making her look natural.”

    Across the hall is a library (one of Kading’s favorite rooms), where custom embroidered curtains create a luxurious sense of access, a feeling cemented by black-lacquered panels and bookshelves that invite an epic ambiance. A rolling staircase, antique lighting, nickel fireplace, and book collection amplify the look clients desire—one that’s updated, but at the same time adds historical significance to the property.

    The final product is a gorgeous, globally influenced home executed with the highest degree of originality, proportions and patina. But after nearly half a decade of dedication to the job, it all comes down to one common denominator: Kading’s hand-drawn concept graphics.

    From gold-clad sconces to tufted stonework, the designs Kading selects from the custom Hickory Chair sofa in the cozy, light-filled sunroom has a story to tell. In this event, a story that began with soft mechanical pencil number 2 and ended with a reimagined castle très magnifique – for its new function, its wonderful spaces for family and friends, and ideas inspired by French flair.

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