This historic home on a leafy corner in Harvard Square was not living up to its potential. “The landscape was shaggy, and the house was tired,” says Alice Dunn, project architect at Charles R. Myer & Partners. “It needed a lot of refurbishing.”
The owners hired the Cambridge-based firm to rehabilitate the Arts & Crafts-style home, designed by prominent architect Ralph Adams Cram in 1892. Myer and Dunn took cues from original elements inside and out. The gut renovation included preserving and replicating leaded-glass windows, creating stepped moldings, adding skylights to draw light into the attic and through the center of the house, and reimagining the seven fireplaces with new Pewabic Pottery tile.
Dunn says, “The house is a wonderful mix of appropriate early 1900s features, mixed with some existing mid-century modern pieces.”
Somerville-based interior designer Kate Maloney worked with the homeowners, who have four children under 8, to select fabrics and furniture. “They’re very traditional,” Maloney says. “They wanted a classic design but also wanted little children to feel comfortable.”
Maloney used the dining room, off the formal entry, to establish what she calls “the flavor of the house.” Starting with the dining table, antique rug, and Sputnik chandelier the couple already owned, she added 1950s Paul McCobb dining chairs from Machine Age in Dorchester to match the light fixture’s mid-century modern whimsy. The Rose Cumming wallpaper pattern is true to the home’s roots, and the tailored mustard-colored window seat cushion, which echoes the stair runner in the entry, brightens the enticing enclave.
A swinging door leads to a quaint beadboard-lined butler’s pantry and a large but cozy kitchen. The architects took cues from the couple’s antique rugs for the color scheme, choosing a garnet-colored Viking range and painting the butcher block-topped island Hague Blue by Farrow & Ball. For the breakfast nook, Maloney commissioned a tiger maple table from Holmes Fine Furniture in Sheffield. Blue-stained Windsor chairs surround it. “I love that you can see the grain of the wood,” she says. “It adds another texture.” A seating area tucked into the opposite corner, decorated with a mix of vintage and new pieces, is a favorite spot for the kids to hang out while their parents make dinner.
Maloney calls the mahogany-lined library “the most soulful room in the house.” It connects to the kitchen through a pair of mahogany doors with panels of leaded glass punctuated by jewel-toned stained-glass dots. Across the room, double doors open to a new outdoor dining terrace. The library holds a baby grand piano and a seating area enlivened by a playful custom bench designed by Maloney’s associate Thiara Borges. The living room, a sunny space at the front of the house with two walls dominated by restored leaded-glass windows, is another intimate gathering place.
A gracious staircase ascends to the family bedrooms on the second floor. Here, too, built-in details, tiled fireplaces, and thoughtfully chosen furnishings blend modernity and tradition. “We reconfigured the squirrely stairwells, connecting the front one to the back,” Dunn says. The second-floor landing was also rearranged, creating a laundry room.
On the third floor, a 20-foot-long copper-bordered skylight floods the children’s playroom with sunlight. While cheerful pops of color accentuate the nooks and crannies, the décor resonates with the rest of the house.
“We maintained a constant balance between playful and traditional,” Maloney says. “It’s tailored and organized with little winks here and there.”
Architecture: Charles R. Myer & Partners, charlesmyer.com
Interior Design: Kate Maloney Interior Design, katemaloneyid.com
Contractor: Skinner Hill Construction, skinnerhillconstruction.com
Wallpaper Hanger: John J. Smyth, LTD
Upholstery Workroom: Partners in Design, partnersindesignltd.com
Decorative Painter: NRC Painting, nrcpainting.com
Leaded Glass: Pompei Stained Glass Studio, pompeiglass.com