Tour an Arlington Tudor Inspired by The Gardens Outside
March 2, 2022
A beloved garden sows the seed for a party-perfect makeover.
Text by Erika Ayn Finch Photography by Jared Kuzia
When interior designer Vani Sayeed first met her new clients in their Arlington, Massachusetts, Tudor, a Ping-Pong table stood beneath a popcorn ceiling in what would become the formal dining room. The kids, when they were little, crafted in the future wet bar, and a narrow corridor that now houses stone-topped built-ins served as storage.
But there was also a lush garden planted to showcase the splendor of each season, leaded-glass windows, and a late mother’s wish that her daughter live in a beautiful home. “My mother was famously blunt,” recalls the homeowner, “and she used to say, ‘I hope I live long enough to see that Ping-Pong table gone.’ My mom passed away before we started the renovation, but I like to think she’s looking down on us and happy to see real furniture in that room.”
With the garden as her inspiration and a hopeful mother in mind, Sayeed embarked on a project that would renovate and refresh the 1920s-built home’s dining area, entry, living room, great room, powder room, playroom, bedroom, and garden room. The craft space would convert into a jewel box of a bar, complete with teal cabinetry and papered walls and ceiling.
Sayeed’s vision for the space involved, among other things, raising ceilings and breaking through walls. Luckily, the homeowners knew exactly who to call for the heavy lifting. They had met Martin Conneely when their children were in elementary school together. He had overseen the home’s 2008 renovations, and he jumped at the chance to collaborate with Sayeed on this down-to-the-studs remodel. “It’s probably one of the nicest projects I’ve worked on because of the customization, the craftsmanship, and the finishes,” Conneely says.
The homeowners had overhauled the front landscaping in 2012, so the garden was well established when Sayeed came on the scene, seeking to bring the outdoors inside. Cypress trees grace the Schumacher upholstery on the backs of the host and hostess dining room chairs and on the drapery border, while birds and butterflies flit across the Osborne & Little paper in the garden room. “This project took a year, so I was able to see the spectrum of the garden and understand why my clients were so passionate about nature,” says Sayeed.
The eye also picks up on what Sayeed calls “melon shapes” in places like the dining room ceiling, the light fixture Sayeed found in India and hung in the bar, and the Baldwin hardware on the cabinetry. It all combines, sans Ping-Pong table, to create a space that makes the homeowners’ hearts—and perhaps the spirit of one discerning mother—blossom with joy.