A Suburban Boston Home Gets a Modern Makeover
December 29, 2021
A good-looking suburban Boston home becomes a stunner when visionary owners and a trio of design pros take it to the next level.
Text by Paula M. Bodah Photography by Michael J. Lee Produced by Karin Lidbeck Brent
When designer Leslie Fine and architect Marcus Gleysteen got together to renovate a clients’ home, Gleysteen already had more than a passing familiarity with the house. He had, in fact, designed the Weston, Massachusetts, dwelling just a decade earlier. Classic on the outside with gray shingles and white trim, the house took a contemporary turn within, with high ceilings, an easy-flowing floorplan, and streamlined architectural details. In the sleek, quiet interiors the new homeowners saw the perfect canvas for their own vision. Who better to make it happen, they imagined, than the architect who created that canvas?
Fine and Gleysteen worked closely from the get-go. “Leslie and I had a dynamic relationship,” Gleysteen recounts. “We designed everything together. We didn’t always agree, but we always managed to reach a consensus.” Marc Kaplan, whose Sanford Custom Builders was the contractor on the original house, joined the team early on, too.
Although everyone involved calls it a substantial renovation, sometimes requiring walls to be taken down to the studs, the essential geometry of the spaces didn’t change. Instead, the home’s transformation comes from the addition of lots of architectural details and an abundance of materials, from stone to metal to glass, that lend texture, sparkle, and a frequent “wow” factor. “The finishes are extraordinary,” says Kaplan. “The design is highly detailed and highly complex, and putting it all together, integrating the many different materials, required a huge amount of thinking and planning.”
In the family room, Gleysteen reworked the recessed ceiling, adding a grid pattern of soffits. Fine refinished the framing around the recess, giving the light oak a dark, almost-black stain. What was a serviceable black fireplace set into a white wall is now a show- stopper wrapped in stone with muted stripes of grays, plum, and blues. As arresting as the fireplace is, the room’s true marvel is the dark-stained oak bar inset with stainless steel and a backsplash of round glass tiles with a silvery, prismatic effect. “The tile is very elegant, very beautiful,” Fine says. “It really pops.”
Eye-catching details abound, from the living room’s cantilevered pool table of dark oak and stainless steel, to the acrylic desk in an office, to the knockout ten-foot-long Jonathan Browning light fixture in the Poggenpohl kitchen.
The color scheme throughout is a mix of warm grays and plums splashed with bright color in the form of a collection of paintings and sculptures the owners chose with the help of Jacqueline Becker Fine Arts Consulting Services. In some places, like the kitchen and the casual dining area, the gray is a light, airy version that feels elegant and clean. In the living room and formal dining room, the hues deepen to a more dramatic pewter and smoky plum. The palette moves another shade darker in the primary bedroom, where three walls of deep plum and a fourth that’s a sumptuous expanse of suede tiles create a cocoon-like space.
Fine and her clients strove for livability as well as beauty; much of the furniture, stylish as it is, wears durable fabrics like Ultrasuede and vinyl for easy maintenance. “The rooms are amazing and elegant, but they’re also approachable,” the designer says.
All three pros applaud their clients for their great taste, their deep involvement, and their bold vision. “This is one of the most creative and detail-focused projects we’ve ever done,” Gleysteen says. “We love it when clients let us draw cool stuff, then let us do it.”