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Round Top Winter Antiques and Design Show Guide 2023

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Page 35 of 67

with the town's first bank in Smithville. By the end of the 19th century, a thriving downtown district had popped up around the Hills' stately Antebellum home, making it one of the most visible and admired in the area. Although the house remained in the Hill family for 133 years before the Bledsoes expressed interest, it hadn't been occupied in two decades. The family was reluctant to part with it, but no one was up to the task of restoring it, Bledsoe says. The Hill family interviewed the couple before unanimously agreeing to sell to them, citing the Bledsoes' wish to live in the house as one of the deciding factors. It took more than a year of extensive restoration and renovation to return the house to its original glory. "I knew that we would have to replace all the systems: HVAC, electrical, gas, plumbing. There was a lot of work to be done," Bledsoe says. "But the week we found the soil termite colony embedded between the shiplap and drywall, there were some tears." The interiors had to be gutted and rebuilt. Despite the insect damage hidden behind the walls, much of the original millwork, shiplap, siding, and beadboard could be salvaged and was reinstalled elsewhere in the house. "So many things in this house are original; they're just not in the place they used to be," she says. In addition, 61 windows were restored, along with six fireplaces, and century- old pine and oak floors were sanded and pickled. Four members of the Hill family who grew up in the house with their grandmother would regularly stop by to monitor the restoration progress. The real challenge came in pleasing the townsfolk, who viewed the elegant old house on Main Street as a part of their own legacy. "During construction, people from the town would just come trucking through, and they weren't shy about their opinions," Bledsoe says. Many remembered attending parties in the house or babysitting the Hills' children. Above: Custom cabinetry in the kitchen designed by Mary Bledsoe. The living-room chandelier is from Arteriors. Antique French train bench from Carol Hicks Bolton, Fredericksburg. Shiplap on the ceiling was reclaimed from kitchen walls during restoration. Opposite page: A breakfast nook doubles as a workspace. Original pine and oak floors. A custom banquette upholstered in Belgian linen is hung by leather straps. Wall is painted in Sherwin Williams Tarragon. Vintage leaf drawing. The kitchen's center island was created with repurposed shiplap and a newel post from the original staircase. Bledsoe designed the drum lighting pendants from antique German grain sacks. Mosaic backsplash is Ann Sacks Zellige tile. Sherwin Williams Tarragon paint. Painted glass lamp. Brizo faucet, and Silestone countertops. (Continued) 34

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