HGTV’s Kristina Crestin Designs a Home on Massachusetts’ North Shore
June 8, 2023
At one family’s retreat, kids hike, chickens roam, and parents relax by a scenic estuary.
Text by Fred Albert Photography by Jared Kuzia
It all feels a bit like Brigadoon—if that magical realm were only twelve minutes from your front door. Residents of a neighboring town, the couple purchased the abandoned farm a decade ago and spent the next few years camping out in the derelict house that came with it. After familiarizing themselves with the setting, they commissioned a new vacation home from architect Steven Baczek, builder Steve Howell, and interior designer Kristina Crestin, co-host of HGTV’s Farmhouse Fixer.
With its prim white siding, metal roof, and cozy front porch, the resulting farmhouse presents a disarming face to visitors braving the dusty, half-mile driveway to its door. Step inside, however, and homespun reserve gives way to contemporary swagger and wall-to-wall windows that frame breathtaking views of the estuary below.
“This house is like a mullet,” the wife proclaims. “Business in the front and party in the back!”
The wife wanted a comfortable house that would be easy to clean, with compact bedrooms and large living spaces to foster a sense of togetherness. Oh—and lots of color. “She was up for anything,” Crestin says. Since colorful walls would be hard to contain given the open floor plan, the designer went with white (“She had to sell me on that,” says the wife with a laugh) and confined the colorful accents to doors, cabinets, and furniture, where they make a big impact but don’t overwhelm.
At mealtime, the family converges on the kitchen, where a flotilla of grass-green stools flanks a twenty-two-foot indigo-blue island illuminated by a huge Calder-esque pendant. “It is a giant kitchen, so this was an opportunity for a sculptural moment,” explains Crestin. The trough-style sink below is so large it’s serviced by two faucets and is even deep enough to conceal a drying rack.
Although there’s a nominal dining area at one end of the kitchen, most meals are enjoyed on the four-season porch, which Crestin painted a moody blue-black. “We liked the idea of a space that just felt different,” says the designer, who suspended a cluster of wire pendants overhead because they reminded everyone of the baskets used to collect eggs. “This is almost like a secondary living room,” Crestin observes. “You can open up all the sliders and feel like you’re outside.”
Despite its size (7,250 square feet, not including a 650-square-foot pool house and a 2,800-square-foot barn), the home produces as much energy as it consumes, thanks to architect Baczek’s zero-energy approach to design. Photovoltaic and hydronic panels are paired with ample insulation, a high-efficiency heating and air conditioning system, LED lights, and Schüco windows from Germany. “Those windows are triple-pane and super energy efficient,” notes Howell.
Heading downstairs one morning during a recent visit, the couple’s teenage daughter paused to take in the view and announced, “Gosh, I wish we lived here!”
Her mother was amused but understood the sentiment. “Beauty is good for the soul,” she says. “It affects how you feel, being in nature like this.”