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House & Home: A little piece of Italy in Peterborough

  • The Peterborough home of James Aponovich and Elizabeth Johansson is inspired by Italian architecture that features a galley kitchen, large living area, three bedrooms, a three-season space, pristine gardens and a view of Mount Monadnock. Photo by Craig Hermle—

  • The Peterborough home of James Aponovich and Elizabeth Johansson is inspired by Italian architecture that features a galley kitchen, large living area, three bedrooms, a three-season space, pristine gardens and a view of Mount Monadnock. Photo by Craig Hermle—

  • The Peterborough home of James Aponovich and Elizabeth Johansson is inspired by Italian architecture that features a galley kitchen, large living area, three bedrooms, a three-season space, pristine gardens and a view of Mount Monadnock. Photo by Craig Hermle—

  • The Peterborough home of James Aponovich and Elizabeth Johansson is inspired by Italian architecture that features a galley kitchen, large living area, three bedrooms, a three-season space, pristine gardens and a view of Mount Monadnock. Photo by Craig Hermle—

  • The Peterborough home of James Aponovich and Elizabeth Johansson is inspired by Italian architecture that features a galley kitchen, large living area, three bedrooms, a three-season space, pristine gardens and a view of Mount Monadnock. Photo by Craig Hermle—

  • The Peterborough home of James Aponovich and Elizabeth Johansson is inspired by Italian architecture that features a galley kitchen, large living area, three bedrooms, a three-season space, pristine gardens and a view of Mount Monadnock. Photo by Craig Hermle—

  • The Peterborough home of James Aponovich and Elizabeth Johansson is inspired by Italian architecture that features a galley kitchen, large living area, three bedrooms, a three-season space, pristine gardens and a view of Mount Monadnock. Photo by Craig Hermle—

  • The Peterborough home of James Aponovich and Elizabeth Johansson is inspired by Italian architecture that features a galley kitchen, large living area, three bedrooms, a three-season space, pristine gardens and a view of Mount Monadnock. Photo by James Aponovich—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 5/18/2020 1:52:40 PM

At first glance, James Aponovich wasn’t all that impressed.

After seeing about 25 houses, all of which were a disaster, Aponovich didn’t have much interest in the Mediterranean villa that was next on the real estate tour of the Monadnock Region list. At the urging of his wife, Elizabeth Johansson, Aponovich agreed but from the outside it didn’t look like anything special.

Then he walked through the front door.

That was almost eight years ago and ever since the husband and wife artists have lived in the 14-acre Old Dublin Road property in Peterborough that almost seems like it was destined to be their home.

For more than a decade, Aponovich and Johansson have spent months at a time living in Italy, and more recently rotating three month intervals between Peterborough and Panicale, a small town in the Umbria region.

When in search of their new home on a short deadline due to the sale of their Hancock home, things just weren’t working out. But walking into the Peterborough home that soon would be theirs, Aponovich got a feeling that he was “in the right spot.”

“From what we heard it was based on a villa in Florence,” Aponovich said.

Aponovich had been studying Italian residential architecture and was immediately drawn to the features of the home that was built in 1953 using a Tuscan-inspired design. When you walk through the front door and into the foyer, the marble floors immediately grab your attention as does the view ahead. The scene from the foyer looks directly into what was originally constructed to be an atrium – although in the 80s it was finished off to be a three season area with six sliding glass doors that showcase not only the exquisite garden areas but the distant views that include a glimpse of Mount Monadnock.

“That mountain dominates the entire region and one of the best views you can have is in Peterborough,” Aponovich said.

Stepping into the converted living space that serves as the perfect spot for entertaining on a warm weather afternoon or evening, it’s hard not to get drawn in by the flowers and trees and impressive scenery. You might even miss the two columns and archways that are classic Italian architecture.

“It’s very unique – for Peterborough particularly,” he said.

To the right from both the foyer and the atrium is the large living room which carries the large windows and columns theme through another portion of the house, providing even more opportunity to enjoy the backyard scene. The bedrooms, living room and dining area all have oak hardwood floors. The home even includes a buzzer system.

The fireplace is a great feature point of the living area and the ceiling has decorative chestnut beams to give the grand room another beautiful touch. Off the living room is the formal dining area and through another doorway you’ll find a galley kitchen, renovated by Aponovich and Johansson almost four years ago with a six-burner gas stove, black granite countertops and repurposed cherry cabinets. It features shelf brackets and light fixtures from Italy.

“The house was built with the best materials,” Aponovich said.

If you head down the hallway to the left of the foyer, there’s two bedrooms on the left side, both with bathrooms, the one at the end of the hall serving as Aponovich’s studio. The master bedroom is the only room on the right and is complete with a master bath, which Aponovich and Johansson expanded to create a true retreat, that features a double sink and a large shower.

Off the atrium is a small room that is used as a library, which was a little bigger before the master bath renovation. Aponovich likes to think they upgraded in a manner consistent with Earth, Air, Fire and Water.

They added central air, upgraded the electrical system, installed a water filtration system and brought the gardens back to pristine condition.

As well constructed and breathtaking as the inside is, the outdoor areas won’t disappoint. They only grow flowers as the wildlife would have a field day with any vegetables. The property came with a grounds keeper and gardener, and since “they wouldn’t leave,” Aponovich and Johansson decided to keep them on.

In the backyard, they built a concrete wall and helped revamp the gardens, which includes a perennial border. Along the north side, they cut back a grove of overgrown hemlocks and added a shade garden and surrounding the courtyard there is a mixed border. On the lawn grows a European Beech tree, somewhere around 60 to 70 years old Aponovich said, and is a great feature as you drive in. Around the driveway there are rhododendrons and lilacs and on either side of the front door there is a Japanese Stewardia tree.

“The grounds are very interesting,” he said. “It’s a very pleasant, sophisticated setting.”

The home was built in 1953 by Carl and Marian Keller, who Aponovich said he heard loved Italy. It was a summer home for the couple for a few years before Carl died. It continued as a summer home until the 80’s, Aponovich said, before it was purchased by a local developer, who created the three-season space.

The previous owners, Aponovich said, had eclectic taste, but one particular wooden chest caught his eye during a tour of the house. Turns out, Aponovich had seen the very same piece in an East Village gallery in the early 80s, but didn’t have the money to buy it. When he saw that piece, it was proof this was the right house for them. He even ended up striking a deal to have it stay with the 3,760 square foot home.

Right now, Aponovich and Johansson should still be in Italy, as they go every year from March through May. But just prior to leaving for their three months abroad, the coronavirus put those plans on hold. They hope to return in September like they always do, but that remains to be seen.

They recently put the house on the market, hoping to downsize since they spend half the year in Italy, but Aponovich said he doesn’t know what Italy will be like after the pandemic and how things will change.

To view the house, visit https://www.sothebysrealty.com/eng/sales/detail/180-l-85439-e4dcfy/282-old-dublin- road-peterborough-nh-03458.


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