The inside matches the outside again at Michael’s on the Hill, an award-winning restaurant that has occupied a sprawling white clapboard house off Route 100 in Waterbury Center for a decade.
To mark their 10th anniversary in the space, owners Michael and Laura Kloeti have completely remodeled the interior to restore its rustic character.
The work began in early April and is almost complete.
“We thought, what better way to celebrate than with a renovation,” said Laura. “We wanted to bring it back. This really is an old Vermont farmhouse again.”
The inside of the farmhouse, which dates back to the 1820s, was altered by its former owners Tony and Patricia DiRuocco to invoke a Mediterranean villa. The light and airy look — which included open arches and white walls — worked well for the DiRuocco’s Italian restaurant, Villa Tragara.
But the décor felt too formal for the simple, farm-fresh cuisine on offer at Michael’s, said chef Michael Kloeti.
“Visually, it didn’t match our food or our service,” Michael said. After the recent renovation, he said, “all of a sudden, it had our touch to it.”
The couple hired Stowe interior designer Wendy Valliere to come up with the new design. Valliere, a frequent customer at the restaurant, already had a good sense of what the Kloetis hoped to accomplish. Her company, Seldom Scene Interiors, also has offices in Nantucket and Boston, so she drew on a wide range of contacts.
“We totally put it in her hands,” Laura said.
The revamp begins in the vestibule of the entryway, which has been repainted a mustard yellow and black, and runs through the entire dining area and back into the large barn space, which can be reserved for private parties. Dramatic colors run throughout, with the yellow yielding to brick red in the bar area and dark blue in the back room.
The windows and doorways are square again and trimmed with thick wooden beams painted black. The interior windows have been filled with paned glass, which has cut down on noise overall and increased the sense of privacy for diners, said Michael.
Two of the restaurant’s long walls are decorated with a mosaic of candles. The warm flickering light is visible now to drivers below on the state highway at night. Two unique chandeliers made of uncovered bulbs at varying heights add interest in the back dining room.
The changes have also made the restaurant more flexible for different uses. The front room, now appointed with lounge tables, sofa and chairs, serves as a comfortable spot for drinks and appetizers or desserts. A large barn door between the bar and the back room can be opened or closed, depending on whether there is a private party.
“We wanted it to look great even when we are in full action,” said Michael.
Valliere also brought personal details from the couple’s lives and culinary careers into the redesign. Pillows in the lounge are made out of military blankets from Switzerland, where Michael was born and raised. The wallpaper in the men’s bathroom is a repeating map of the French countryside, where he spent a lot of time. The antique door to the wine cellar came from Laura’s parents’ collection. And the larger, handicapped-accessible bathroom features an artful collage of snapshots and menus from past seasons.
The Kloetis have a new spring menu, with appetizers such as watercress salad and white asparagus, entrees including roasted trout, Maplewood smoked pork loin and spring pea gnocchi, and desserts such as carrot pistachio cake and cherry chocolate cream torte. Appetizers range in price from $8 to $14 and entrees from $26 to $43. There are two tasting menus that cost $43 and $67 per person, respectively. The restaurant is open from 5:30 to 9 p.m. daily and reservations are encouraged.
The Kloetis hope people will come and experience how different the space looks and feels. According to Laura, “people walk in and they are just stunned.”