A House in Concord is Decorated with Wit and Whimsy
February 17, 2023
A twenty-year-old residence in Concord receives a chic update that matches its owners’ playful style.
Text by Alyssa Bird Photography by Jared Kuzia Produced by Karin Lidbeck Brent
After two decades in the same home, there’s no harm in spicing things up.
When Albert, Righter & Tittmann Architects designed this Concord, Massachusetts, residence nearly twenty years ago, the firm drew inspiration from the area’s history and surrounding architecture. “Concord has a strong Greek Revival tradition, so our goal was to connect with that while also exploring the idea of traditional New England farm complexes consisting of a main house, little house, back house, and barn,” says architect John Tittmann.
Times and tastes change, and the clients recently reached back out to Tittmann to refresh the property. “They wanted something that felt a little more grown up, so we unified the style of the components to look more Greek Revival,” Tittmann says. It was critical, however, that the homeowners’ affinity for fun continued to shine through in the house’s second iteration—hence its new exterior color scheme, which shifted from a primary palette of blue, red, and yellow to a dramatic deep aubergine.
Inside, Tittmann rebuilt the kitchen, breakfast area, and adjacent family room, and reworked the mudroom and butler’s pantry. “We stripped the family room and kitchen, clarified how the spaces work, and redid the molding, cabinetry, and millwork in a way that’s more delicate and finely rendered,” explains the architect. “We added some whimsical elements to the ornament of the space, including tulip-shape capitals on the colonettes in the family room.” The breakfast area’s ceiling detail resembling a tent with an oculus—inspired by an eighteenth-century ceiling pattern by British architect Robert Adam—remains intact from when the house was initially constructed.
Builder Mark Doughty, who had also worked on the original project, returned to help with the updates. “You wouldn’t necessarily know by looking at the house if it was built in the 1800s or now,”says Doughty. “It feels like an old home that has been really well taken care of.”
What started with a refresh of a few select areas eventually led to a full-fledged redecoration of the entire house with the help of interior designer Barbara Elza Hirsch, who advised on everything from bathroom and kitchen materials to lighting and furnishings. “The homeowners wanted something adventurous and a little quirky, which is just my style,” says Hirsch. “They were excited about saturated tones and texture. We modernized their sense of whimsy while implementing loads of color, making sure that when you look from one room to the next, the palettes speak to each other.”
Throughout, artwork from the clients’ existing collection mingles with new pieces selected with Hirsch’s assistance. She started from scratch when it came to the furnishings, designing several pieces and customizing others, all while ensuring that everything was consciously produced with the environment in mind (no plastics per the homeowners’ request).
Materials and finishes also needed to be both kid- and dog-friendly, as the clients’ grown children often visit with grandkids and pets in tow. “They are a laid-back couple,” says Hirsch, “so it was important that the home feels comfortable and not overly designed. New England style is typically more traditional, but these clients challenged me to go off the beaten path to find the unusual.”