This Renovated Home Embraces Traditional Details

April 24, 2023

Carpenter & MacNeille embraces historic inspiration and classic style.

Text by Alyssa Bird    Photography by Greg Premru    Produced by Karin Lidbeck Brent

Making something new appear as though it has always been there requires a deft hand. And although architect Rob MacNeille technically wasn’t starting from scratch in the case of this project outside Boston, the program involved a significant expansion that completely transformed the property. The clients who purchased the existing home—a modest 1950s reproduction of an eighteenth-century colonial—have six grown children and therefore needed additional space to host large family gatherings.

But it wasn’t just the main house that was calling out for attention: Carpenter & MacNeille touched every bit of the 4.5-acre property, from overseeing the landscape design to erecting a pool house and updating the outbuildings, including a two-bedroom guesthouse,
a woodshop, and a barn (a remnant from the horse farm that once occupied the land).

The vision was to create a five-bedroom farmhouse-inspired residence “that looks like it has evolved over a couple of centuries,” explains MacNeille, who ultimately removed portions of the existing structure to realize a final product that is more than double in size. “It has a traditional New England vernacular, with a red-cedar shingle roof and copper detailing.” Inside, each of the main spaces features a fireplace—which is typical of older homes in the region—while rustic oak flooring, beams, and paneling lend a timeworn feel.

According to the architect, the first order of business when reworking the residence was creating a spacious dining room that could seat fourteen people. In fact, the room has a large cased opening so a longer table can extend into the adjacent hallway during special occasions. Entertaining was top of mind in all aspects of the home, especially when it came to the expansive new family room as well as the kitchen and adjoining pantries (one for food and a butler’s pantry for displaying china). The oak details are carried into the light-filled family room, which features custom millwork, a fireplace, and space for the family’s baby grand piano.

“Music is a big part of their lives, particularly when they are entertaining,” notes MacNeille. “The family room is much bigger than any of the spaces in the old house, so it was a challenge to integrate it into a residence inspired by the eighteenth century.”

A critical component of making the finished product feel cohesive is the palette, which MacNeille’s colleague, interior designer Anne Alberts, kept soft and neutral, with the exception of indigo, green, and burnt sienna.

“The scheme reflects nature, from wheatgrass to evergreen,” says Alberts, who opted for durable materials such as quartzite, brick, and performance fabrics. “The homeowners can kick up their feet here. There’s a blend of old and new, pieces we reworked, and antiques we found that are not too precious and feel at home on a farm.”

And while the clients may not be active farmers, says MacNeille, they are, in fact, avid gardeners (with muddy boots in tow), and there’s a constant stream of dogs, cats, and people coming and going. “The residence has a level of sophistication, but it’s not overly
detailed,” continues MacNeille. “It feels approachable and lovely.”

Project Team
Architecture, interior design, and landscape design: Carpenter & MacNeille
Builder: Robert Lawrence Builders

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