This extensive renovation breathes new life into an historic English Revival home, honoring the century-old details while enlivening the space with color, natural light, and modern amenities. The clients, a family with three young children, knew they wanted to remain in their current Brookline neighborhood but were in search of a home with more space—both indoors and out. This 1906 English Revival on a large corner lot provided the desired location and square footage, but the existing home did not meet the clients’ wish list in terms of aesthetics or livability; the layout was not ideal for a young family, its systems were outdated, and the interiors were dark and at odds with their modern design aesthetic. Once the design team helped them realize the house’s potential, however, they were ready to embark on an extensive renovation of what would become their forever home.
The building’s entire program was reimagined for ideal functionality and flow. The kitchen, originally upstairs, was relocated to the first floor to create a large open kitchen/dining/living space, combining rooms and removing two chimneys in a structurally complex feat that would allow for the open plan at the rear of the house. An expansive wall of glass windows and doors in this open living area welcomes abundant natural light, provides spectacular views of the large, landscaped yard, and offers a modern exterior counterpoint to the traditional brick masonry.
The project’s main challenge—and accomplishment—is finding the right balance between traditional and contemporary—celebrating the home’s unique history and character while embracing the clients’ modern, eclectic taste. In many instances, it is achieved by applying traditional materials in more contemporary ways, such as the sleek, streamlined design of the kitchen’s walnut cabinets. It was also brought about by treating significant architectural features as art pieces. In the pre-renovation foyer, all of the paneling and woodwork had been stained dark, but in the updated space, the stained staircase is an elegant structural element set against a backdrop of existing millwork painted white. The stair’s ombre wool runner, whose colors reflect the meticulously rebuilt stained glass window above, further highlight this architectural feature’s treatment as a work of art.