A Family Home Gets a New Lease on Life
October 10, 2019
Text by Maria LaPiana Photography by Greg Premru Produced by Karin Lidbeck Brent
It sounds like an episode of Love It or List It.
The couple had made their home in a classic colonial in suburban Boston for close to a decade. Their sons were getting older, the house was feeling cramped, and their tastes had evolved, so “it was time for a big upgrade,” says the wife. They started looking at other homes with better floor plans, more space, more natural light. It was tempting to move up, move on—and yet, they decided to stay.
They laid out a wish list for architect Anne Draudt and designer Rachel Reid. At the top: the main-level common rooms (the kitchen, living room, and office) had to be expanded, be better connected, and open to the outdoors. “It’s not like the home was a warren of rooms,” says Reid, “but it was choppy. The ceilings were low, the kitchen was tiny, and it was dark.”
It would be nice, too, if the renovation would allow them to rethink the upstairs space: the master bath, dressing room, and closet. Also high on the list: a more modern aesthetic.
In the end, the remodeling added just 620 square feet, including a rebuilt sunroom on the first floor and the second-floor master bath, but the project also included a substantial renovation of most of the spaces along the back of the house.
The result was transformative. The tiny, cramped kitchen (reworked with help from kitchen designer Meaghan Moynahan of Venegas and Company) became an open, modern marvel, the dated sunroom became a favorite family destination, and the master bath became a sanctuary. The renovation completely opened up the back of the house and quite literally changed the way the family uses the home.
The homeowners love the spacious new kitchen, which now includes a casual dining area, because it allows them to cook together. Reid loves the way it looks, especially “the herringbone marble floor, the live-edge table, the light fixture—and the new relationship of the space to the outdoors.”
While furnishing a modern home with a modern aesthetic is easy, it’s trickier in a small colonial. “Rachel knew how to adjust for scale, and she made smart decisions,” the wife says. Overall, the mood is modern and refined without being too precious, a feeling Reid evoked with a palette of muted silver, gray, and blue with dashes color.
The homeowners have an extensive and well-curated collection of modern and post-modern art that had to be a centerpiece of the project, says Reid. “We incorporated it throughout, moving some pieces around.” A series of small works by Sol LeWitt found a home in the kitchen, while an intensely colorful painting remained in the living room, where it inspired the color choices.
Reid repurposed a few pieces of furniture. “Although they were a bit traditional, we chose to keep the table, chairs, and light fixture in the dining room,” she explains. “We modernized and elevated the room by refinishing the table in a rich black lacquer and covering the walls in a shimmery grasscloth wallpaper.” A French Bergère chair stayed because of its sculptural appeal and for how nicely it plays with eclectic new pieces, including a transitional Chesterfield tufted sofa and two wood-frame midcentury armchairs.
Lighting provided opportunities for creativity and statement making. “We spent a long time on this process, wanting the lighting to be sculptural, functional pieces of art,” Reid says. Her favorite is the stunning Pick Up Stick Chandelier from Billy Cotton in the sunroom.
Are the homeowners glad they decided to give their home some love rather than put it on the market? Absolutely. “We raised our boys here,” says the wife. “This will always be our family home.”
Architecture: Anne Cook Draudt, Draudt Design Architects
Interior design: Rachel Reid, Reid Design
Builder: Asher Nichols, Asher Nichols & Craftsmen
Landscape design: Matthew Cunningham, Matthew Cunningham Landscape Design